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Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall Hardcover – May 7, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this minimalist collage hints at two banalities: the first is the soul-smothering kind against which the fictional Ken Sparling, the character and narrator, battles by splicing daily incidents, surreal little anecdotes, erotic fantasies and anxiety-laden daydreams; the second is the kind that Sparling, the author, doesn't quite evade as his first novel ultimately succumbs to its own two-dimensionality. The author is a Toronto librarian and an editor for Gutter Press; his narrator works on a computer terminal in a Canadian library, where he obsesses over Tutti, his couch potato of a wife, whose life seems to revolve around television, Hollywood hunks and food fetishes. The narrator's overriding concern is his infant son, Sammy. Yet, while he repeatedly declares his great love for the boy and muses on the rewards and frustrations of fatherhood, he is too self-absorbed to communicate that love effectively. And while the fictional Sparling relives the trauma of his parents' divorce when he was six and reminisces about his mother, father and stepmother, we never come to understand his feelings about them. Sparling is at his best when riffing on the desperate search for meaning, the mind's waywardness or our inability to feel. In sometimes stunning images, he celebrates language as a source of renewal. But when it stands alone, naked amidst a rubble of pop-culture references and weary irony, this argument that language is handmaiden to the reinvention of the self sounds like it comes from an author who doth protest too much.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Toronto-based Sparling's debut is a short, elliptic, school- of-depression chronicle of married life that never quite convinces the reader of its reason for being. The teller of this sometimes briefly captivating non-story, one learns early on, is named Ken Sparling--a seeming declaration that author Ken Sparling is going to pick at that irony-laden meeting point between the fictional and the real: a plan that offers slender hook on which to hang a tale. Ken Sparling is 36, lives in Ontario, works in a public library (he drove a bus before that), has a wife named Tutti, a preschool son named Sammy. The daily life of these three--breakfast, meals, TV, going to work, using the car, going to bed--fills these slender and often rather dismal pages, while underneath, it seems, there lurks a profound angst the cause of which, nevertheless, remains unclear. Sparling's despair may be the result of his parents' divorce when he was a boy, though tiny glimpses of said parents give the reader little foundation for understanding and less for empathy, while Sparling goes on insisting that he's in pain (``Listen, how much more of this do you think I can take?''). Whether Tutti and he stay together isn't spelled out, but Sparling's book-long tone of self- pity on the way to this irresolution can sometimes be amusing as literary satire (``You want the weather? Watch the weather network. Okay? I am not the fucking weatherman'') and sometimes enticing as to its aesthetic implications (``I wanted to tell the truth. But you try telling the truth. Just try it sometime''), though just as often it remains predominantly adolescent and dismissive. ``The universe keeps striking the same note,'' Sparling declares in a revealing philosophic moment. ``I suddenly realize there has only ever been one note.'' Fiction, in all, that's trying hard to be serious, but isn't yet energized by the substantive power of a real subject. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (May 7, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679426582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679426585
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,156,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 29, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I really thought this book was an interesting read. It is billed as a novel, but it isn't one in a coventional sense. It is hard to tell if there is even any fiction in it. There are moments in this book, lines, paragraphs that are wonderfully clever and profound. It is easy to read, but hard to understand. There is little flow to this book, and so all you have is the text, not any rhythm or expection of what will come next. If you expect to understand, you will probably be disappointed. If you expect to be amused and to look at literature in a new way, you should rather enjoy Dad Says He Saw You At The Mall.
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Format: Hardcover
While working in a bookstore I spotted this interesting little book and read it in one sitting.What impressed me was the unique style in wich it was written.Almost as if the author left a sheet of paper in his typerwriter and casually added a paragraph or two as he was living it.My only regret is that there isn't anymore to read.It's refreshing to see an author willing to throw away the "traditional" method of writing , stick his neck out , and bare his soul.Granted this book is not for everyone , but if you have an interest in literature that is off the beaten path , then this is one for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really, really enjoyed this book. It has been a while since I read it (think I read it back in early 2013) but I couldn't put it down. Forgive me for the details- I'd love to give a more thorough review but my mind is full of details of other books.
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Format: Hardcover
Sparling is some kind of genius. His work is transcendent, opaque, difficult and wonderful. His reinvention of prose is magical to witness. This book got a great review in the Toronto Star, but the US-based Amazon bookstore doesn't seem to have too many reviews from outside good old America. Buy Sparling, buy Canadian!
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