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A Field Guide to the North American Family Paperback – March 29, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher; First Edition edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935613243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935613244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Garth Risk Hallberg is the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family and was selected by Richard Bausch as one of 2008′s “Best New American Voices.” His short stories have been published, most recently, in Glimmer Train, Canteen, and The Pinch. Essays have appeared in Slate, More Intelligent Life, and the Best of the Web anthology. A 2008 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction, Garth teaches at Fordham University. He’s finishing up his first novel and a story collection.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Saikali on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The first thing I noticed as I made my way through Mr. Hallberg's finely crafted novella was how long I was lingering on each page, part of me wanting the present moment to never end, but knowing that many delights awaited me on the next page. And the one after that.

Each page presented another angle on the Hungate-Harrison story, a bit of the puzzle explored both with words and a thematically-linked photo. From one page-chapter to the next, the point of view would shift, the tone would adjust. You'll find yourself quietly taking it all in, marvelling at the language and the sheer inventiveness of the whole damn thing.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By O. Ramirez on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"63 entries, each comprising a chapter of text and a visual artist's response to the entry's title."

I was hooked on that alone. Then I sat down and read it. I'm about 3/4 done and have to say that this is unlike anything I've read before. In the video game industry there is a term call "replay value." After you're done with it would you play it again or is the fun gone after once through?

This book has much "reread value." Cool concept executed well.

Use the link for more info.
[...]
[...]
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Rules on July 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Honest and direct, Halberg's 'A Field Guide to the North American Family' taunts you from the shelf as another ironic humor book. The novella presents itself as an actual field guide, but instead of chronicling the biology of families as a species, it chronicles the emotions and events that take us from childhood to adulthood. The loose narrative can be read from cover to cover in alphabetical order, or at complete random, either way you'll be picking up the pieces of these shattered lives. All of the self-doubt felt on a daily basis, and through a lifetime, are on the table, with foot notes on how you got there. Guide words like "Phase" are cross-referenced with "Boredom", "Freedom" and "Sibling Rivalry", the stories attached to each entry offer another piece of the puzzle, another explanation as to why things happened the way they did. Essential for anyone who likes to feel bad about themselves, reminisce about times you felt empty, or wonder about where things went wrong.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This brilliantly desgined and crafted book should be a must read for anyone looking for something to calm the soul and warm the heart. A fascinatingly original idea the author develops the idea put forward by Sebald Austerlitz and brings it to an American setting, offering us a rare insight into the lives of two American families, the Hungates and Harrisons through photographs and brilliant writing. A very nice set piece narrative completes this book that should be referred to as a veritable art work.

Readers will not be disappointed.

Seth J. Frantzman
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Format: Hardcover
Garth Risk Hallberg, with some major help from his many photographer friends and designers Christopher D. Salyers and Eliane Lazzaris, has created a unique book in A FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN FAMILY. This completely fascinating 'novella' is a compendium of brief one-page thoughts titled alphabetically and matched with a photograph that illuminates the words written. And as if this weren't clever enough, the entire book is a marvel of design, taking the form of a notebook one would take on a journey, a collection of musings, paraphernalia, variations in paper types and typefaces, and printed in such a way that the reader feels almost guilty about opening the cover of someone's private diary, so intimate is the structure and the content. This is an art book - but it is so very much more.

Hallberg subtitles his book 'Concerning chiefly the Hungates and Harrisons, with accounts of their habits, nesting, dispersion, etc., and full description of the plumage of both adult and young, within a taxonomic survey of several aspects of family life'. He keys his narrative to a history of two North American families of four members each on Long Island who have interacted as neighbors through similar marriages and early family life until the father of one family dies, an act that alters the way each of these people reveal their old and newly won idiosyncrasies in their reaction to love, death, material goods, habits, fidelity and infidelity, grief, divorce, angst and many other transitions that go bump in their lives.
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