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Frances Johnson Paperback – June 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Verse Chorus Press (June 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189124129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891241291
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Should Frances Johnson leave her hometown of Munson, Fla. to search for chicken-beak oil, the missing ingredient for Dr. Palmer's secret balm? Or should she marry Mark Carol, the new doctor in town, though he hasn't proposed and there's little indication that he's even interested? Frances's military-history obsessed boyfriend, Ray Garn, encourages her to do the latter, even though Ray and Frances are currently living together. Meanwhile, outside town, there's an undersea volcano that erupts with some regularity. If Frances's life sounds random, that's because it is. What makes the book compelling, much like Levine's debut novel, Dra—, is its play of words and images, its irregular pacing and its capture of what it means to be trapped in a life with meaningless choices. Frances spends a night with a man who lives in a cave, discovers a scar on her leg that may or may not be a tumor and kisses her boyfriend's brother for no apparent reason and to no apparent consequence. Each vignette has a strange, almost possible quality. "For how long will Frances Johnson go in circles?" the omniscient narrator asks rhetorically at one point. Readers of this pocket-sized book will indulge her as long as she likes. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Levine always manages to surprise her readers with twists that are often hilarious and often slightly disturbing. If it feels like we've been here before, underneath this dance floor, gazing up at the townsfolk above, it is not because we've seen this landscape in other fictions, but maybe in a half-remembered dream. Levine is one of the most interesting writers working in America today, startling and idiosyncratic in the best sense. ----Stephen Beachy, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN

This is a comedy of manners, and there is an inkling of Austen in Levine s delicate and deadpan assault on our culture s heterosexist, heterogeneous dictates. But the feel of the novel is more fanciful than programmatic. Each sentence operates in the same manner as the overarching narrative: shifting shape, defying expectation . . . --Jason McBride, THE BELIEVER

More About the Author

Stacey Levine wrote My Horse and Other Stories (PEN/West Fiction Award), The Girl with Brown Fur, and the novels Dra--- and Frances Johnson (Finalist, Washington State Book Award). A Puschcart Prize nominee, her fiction has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Fence, Tin House, The Fairy Tale Review, Seattle Magazine, The Washington Review, Santa Monica Review, Yeti, and other venues. She has written for The Chicago Reader, The Seattle Times, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Her one-act play, Susan Moneymaker, Large and Small, was published by Belladonna Books NYC. She received the 2009 Stranger Genius Award for Literature. Her fiction has been translated into Danish and Japanese.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A reader on March 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Frances Johnson is stuck: in a passionless relationship with her longtime suitor, Ray; in the small town, Munson, where residents eat hard crackers for every meal; at the edges of her own self which Frances, at age 38, characterizes as neither woman nor girl. Most of all, Frances Johnson is stuck beneath the oppressive infantalizing of a blaring mother who criticizes Frances' wardrobe and relationships with equal verve. This is a simultaneously poignant, hilarious and heart-wrenching tale of individuation with all the sparse, existential humor of Beckett, the off-beat metaphorical imagery of Kafka, and the poetic, textured syntax of Duras. Once again, Stacey Levine shines as one of contemporary fiction's most gifted voices.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cecilia E. Kirk on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Frances Johnson is a deeply funny, haunting book that obsessed me during the weeks I read it. Stacey Levine's prose is simple, but it leads you in directions you never expect. Like her first novel, Dra__, Frances Johnson seems in a submerged way to be about sexuality, and also identity, individuality, stuntedness, the endless circularity of human feelings. Levine sets her story in a drab landscape and renders it in prose that is often laugh-out-loud funny. Echoes of Kafka's bleak yet empathetic vision are frequent, as are moments of Jane Bowles and possibly Carson McCullers.

Levine sets her novel in Munson, a fictional Florida town where conformity is a mania-the only mania. There is virtually no other energy on hand. So while Frances lives in semi-contented mutual lassitude with boyfriend Ray, she is repeatedly urged by other characters to find someone better, specifically the almost camp figure of Mark Carol, a Hollywood-style doctor bachelor who arrives in town just in time for the biggest event of the year - the town dance. Even Ray urges Frances toward Mark Carol: "Frances ... everyone in town wants you to begin your life in earnest; we both know it's true!"

Levine keeps asking, in the book, `Where will Frances Johnson end up?' We watch Frances crash around in darkness, fall asleep, run from one person to another for advice - do anything but move purposefully forward. Will she sense her real desires, and will she be able to do anything about them? That's the question the book daringly poses - after all, it's a question that confronts all of us - while the story seems to putt around in weird, obscured landscapes getting basically nowhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By wordtron on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the most unusual, original novel i read this year. brilliantly weird and funny. a kind of modern-day fable. every sentence sneaks open the strangeness of reality. makes most writing seem dull and safe. but it's not unapproachably avant-garde. it's ve...morethe most unusual, original novel i read this year. brilliantly weird and funny. a kind of modern-day fable. every sentence sneaks open the strangeness of reality. makes most writing seem dull and safe. but it's not unapproachably avant-garde. it's very earthy and droll.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good but an acquired taste, then the pages turn themselves
Enjoy the book with a cup of tea and a comfortable chair
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