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Family Paperback – February 9, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0312420598 ISBN-10: 0312420595 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (February 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312420595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420598
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Frazier, author of the best-selling Great Plains (Farrar, 1989), illuminates the recent history of this country by crisscrossing the nation to track down the names and stories of relatives as far back as his great-grandparents. Though at first the past seems as orderly as the listing of such simple details as births, marriages, and occupations, we soon move past now-peaceful graveyards to the roiled accounts of what real life was like for the people who joined the westward migration, fought in the Civil War, prospered in the oil boom, and suffered the untoward effects of progress. By weaving in his own circumstances as a young lad growing up heir to hardworking, pious traditions, Frazier converts what could have been merely a hearty retelling of popular history into a searching tale of parallels that solder together 130 years like links in the chain of life. This entrancing saga will resonate powerfully for readers reaching their middle years as the 20th century ends. Larger libraries may want multiple copies.
Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

From the author of the widely applauded Great Plains (1987), about a 24,000-mile van trip across the Midwest, comes another good book--but inconsistently so. Frazier writes about his family's past, and although some parts are fascinating, others are rather tedious. Readers will envy Frazier's extensive knowledge of his family history and his access to so much extant documentary evidence. He's done his research well, and he brings into his account of his family's ups and downs a substantial amount of background information on social, economic, and domestic history from colonial times to the present. We meet his progenitors on a personal level, hearing about how they grew up, courted, made a living, and died and about their individual achievements and disappointments. At times the narrative sweeps along with the drive and fluidity of fiction, but at other times, it descends into a mere recitation of facts that only family members would care about. Still, this is an effective illustration of the richness of history on the level of ordinary people who are neither kings nor presidents, and given the popularity of the author's previous book and his high profile as a regular contributor to the New Yorker, expect demand. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, The Fish's Eye, On the Rez, and Family, as well as Coyote v. Acme and Dating Your Mom, all published by FSG. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

Ian Frazier started out as a humor writer.
bensmomma
Frazier did a monumental job of researching his family history and produced an eloquent family history that parallels the country's history as well.
Rick Richman
How wonderful his originality and his lack of trite expressions.
Elaine Holzapfel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on April 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've been thinking about this, and I've decided this is my favorite book, at least my favorite that I have read in the past 5 or 10 years.
It's pretty hard to say why, but let me give it a shot: the way his writing conveys his affection for his near family and his ancestors without losing his sense of humour about them. (Ian Frazier started out as a humor writer.) His beautiful descriptions of the countryside he travels through, country you might otherwise think was much worth looking at. His wonderful details about his family history make you feel like everyone's family is important.
Since I first read this book, I have developed a true genealogy fixation, trying to recapture the feeling Frazier invokes in this wonderful book. I wish he would write more.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Many of the books I love, such as Carolyn See's "Making a Literary Life" and Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's "Italian Days," are as much about their authors as their stated subjects. Ian Frazier's "Family" also is highly personal, yet remarkable in how Frazier presents his memoirs of growing up in Ohio, adds a meticulously researched history of his ancestors, and conflates it all into a profoundly moving meditation on a country, a society and the human condition. "Family" is a book that you'll read from cover to cover without being able to put it down, then pick up often to dip into, savoring favorite parts and the rich, supple excellence of Frazier's prose. Always poignant but never sentimental, "Family" takes us through two hundred years of the lives of various Fraziers, Wickhams, Hurshes, Bachmans and Chapmans--the genealogy that culminated in David and Kate Frazier of Hudson, Ohio, their son Ian, and his four brothers and sisters. Frazier leads us off into far-ranging but fascinating and germane tangents: Discussing a Civil War skirmish in which his great-great-grandfather Charlie Wickham fought, Frazier goes off into the life story of the leader of the opposing forces in that skirmish--Stonewall Jackson. Throughout the book, Frazier shows an unerring eye for the telling detail that throws situations and personalities into dazzling focus. He also makes us love each and every one of the family members, past and present, that he writes about, and moves us to tears with his descriptions of the deaths of his father, his mother, and his young brother Fritz.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
Ian Frazier's Family is not a book that one reads at a sitting, but it is rather something to be savored over a long read. I have put nearly six months into reading it so far and am not the least bit bothered at my pace. While the book is ostensibly about Mr. Frazier's family, it is safer to say that it is really about the nature of family, particularly the American family. It is also a fascinating history of the country as seen through the lives of this family. Mr. Frazier has spent much time in gathering simply every piece of information that he can possible find about his family. There are more names in this book than one can hope to ever handle. But the tone, the flavor, and the rhythm of this piece make it an irresistable read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on August 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved the style of this book. Each paragraph is incredibly packed with meaning and information. This book is history of the most enjoyable kind---the little stories that make up a person's life. Through seeing the patterns of the lives of the author's ancestors, both recent and far distant, we see patterns in history---especially religious history. We also see the history of small towns in the midwest, and of childbearing and rearing, and of education. The most enjoyable part of the book for me was the author's own nuclear family's tale. His parents are complex and very interesting people. I am a fast reader, but this book was impossible to read fast---you really have to slow and listen and enjoy it. Highly, highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1996
Format: Hardcover
In "Family," Ian Frazier manages a literary coup seldom
attempted, much less achieved:the telling of a personal tale
with such sensitivity and imagination that the personal is
transcended to become, quite possibly, the universal. The
story -- of his family's migration, settlement and
flourishing in America -- is at once both epic and
allegorical. Equal parts history, autobiography, and
geneaology, the story takes us from Frazier's family's early
haunts in colonial Connecticut (and a host of other places)
all the way into the contemporary interior lives of his
parents, siblings, and of course, himself. Along the way, we
are treated not just to stories of family life, but to
grand meditations upon the meanings of history, family, and
the ever-longed-for (in our time) "community." A generous book
from a brilliant writer ("Great Plains," "Dating Your Mom")
and regular "New Yorker"contributor, "Family" is a work of
American narrative that should take its place alongside other
masterworks such as Alex Haley's "Roots"and Norman Maclean's
"A River Runs Through It"as an offering of passion and insight
on the notion of belonging -- to our own families, and to the
often fractious and ever elusive "American family."

--Bronson Hilliard
Boulder, CO
May, 1996
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