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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of print, but well worth the search
Every individual remains entitled to their own taste, but as Roger Ebert once observed in regard to movies, there are some that if a person didn't like they "just didn't get." Whitney Otto's highly original, engaging, and meticulously fashioned "How to Make an American Quilt" falls firmly in that category. Weaving together her subject as device, metaphor, and...
Published on November 19, 2007 by J. A Magill

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, but the movie was better
I read the book only because I loved the movie. I expected the book to contain more storyline and depth, but I was terribly disappointed in finding that the movie in fact was by far, more informative. The book itself was very original: comparing a quilt to love and life. It's blend of fiction and non-fiction was done successfully by Otto. However, one thing that lacked...
Published on April 17, 2000 by Judy


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, but the movie was better, April 17, 2000
I read the book only because I loved the movie. I expected the book to contain more storyline and depth, but I was terribly disappointed in finding that the movie in fact was by far, more informative. The book itself was very original: comparing a quilt to love and life. It's blend of fiction and non-fiction was done successfully by Otto. However, one thing that lacked in Otto's book was a main character. It seemed that there were numerous supporting characters, and an attempt to create the main character Finn, and yet Finn had the least lines out of all of them. If more info and depth was written about Finn, then Otto's book would have been as successful as the movie. However, because it lacked in this factor, I was majorly disappointed and gave it only 3 stars when it deserved 5.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting concept....., May 6, 2002
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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How to Make An American Quilt by Whitney Otto
HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT is a patchwork of lives that make up a quilting group. The ladies all live in Grasse, California, a small town outside of Bakersfield. Whitney Otto wrote this short novel by interspersing chapters dedicated to quilting, in-between chapters dedicated to each of the quilters in the group. What I didn't figure out right away was that each chapter that described the quilting related to the character description of the next quilter. Each person was different and therefore each quilt that could be created by each woman, had different aspects to it.
I have to confess I found the chapters on quilting a bit dull, and it is probably because I am not a quilter. I love to look at quilts; I love to feel them. But reading these chapters on the process of quilting was trying my patience. However, I understood what the author was attempting to do, to compare a quilt to a group of women whose lives were patched together and somehow made them one.
The chapters that talked about the history of each character were very interesting, and I saw how they all were somehow connected to the others. Reading the book was a walk through history, as the women were of varying ages and spanned generations. We got to see Hy and Glady Joe as they are now, in their old age, but also what they were like in their younger years. We saw Anna and her daughter Marianna grow and mature as black women living in a white society. And then there is Finn, who is the narrator of the book. She is the one that is building this patchwork of people, helping to tell the story of women whose lives are somehow intertwined.
I found this book very easy to read, but I didn't find it as interesting as I think it could have been. I feel the author missed her mark, although I give her points for the idea.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of print, but well worth the search, November 19, 2007
By 
Every individual remains entitled to their own taste, but as Roger Ebert once observed in regard to movies, there are some that if a person didn't like they "just didn't get." Whitney Otto's highly original, engaging, and meticulously fashioned "How to Make an American Quilt" falls firmly in that category. Weaving together her subject as device, metaphor, and over-arching theme, Otto introduces us to her cast of characters all women whose lives are knitted together by their participation in a quilting circle. Some are close, others have no other thread connecting them, but each have a story. Yet Otto uses the quilt metaphor to its full effect, not only through the narrative, but interspersing between these women's stories short sections on the subject of that craft, each of which elucidate some emotional point which she explores in the next woman's story.

Each story stands as distinct, yet serves as an integral part of the greater whole; like patches in a quilt, together their assembled scraps simply took my breath away.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How to Make an American Quilt~, January 18, 2002
By 
In How to Make an American Quilt you will meet the ladies of the Grasse Quilting Circle. Glady Jo, her sister Hy, and friends Anna, Marriana, Constance, Sophia and Em gather once a week in Glady Jo's home to assemble quilts. Their current project is to assemble Hy's grand-daughter, Finn's, marriage quilt. It is during this process that we get a glimpse into each of these women's love stories and learn what stitches & fabrics their individual marriages are made up of.
I felt slightly disadvantaged reading this novel, after having seen and loved the movie dozens of times. When I realized the movie was based on a novel by Whitney Otto, I couldn't wait to delve into it. Because I love the movie so much, I found it very hard to be objective while reading the book. To it's credit, the movie follows the book very closely. The novel does provide some additional tidbits, but overall, I didn't feel that I learned a whole lot more from the book.
This book was well written and uniquely drawn, tying in the intricacies of quilt making with each woman. What we learn from the story is how different and complex marriages can be in various shapes and forms, but the common string that binds them all is one of love.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good novel, August 21, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Make an American Quilt (Paperback)
I saw the movie, How to make an American Quilt, a long time ago and then it was shown on tv. I really liked the movie, even the second time seeing it, so I decided to read the book. Wow, the book was just as good as the movie, actually a lot better! I dissagree with the review that says that the book was geered towards a certain type of people because I definately am not a 60 year old lady who lives in a small town but I still enjoied the book a lot. I loved all of the little lessons I learned from it. I definately reccomend this book to anyone and everyone.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A woman's work is never done, April 27, 2004
By 
Kris (Oxnard, CA) - See all my reviews
I listened to the audio book. I learned how life might have been like near Bakersfield, California, during the Depression. That was interesting, even though things did seem a little slow. Probably, that's exactly how it was, slow, and if you like action, this audio book will seem real slow, too.
But interesting. One thing you can avoid, making it probably more like the movie that some reviewers seemed to like, is that the quilting instructions are minimized on the tape. You can just kind of sleep through those. I did, because I couldn't make heads nor tails of them. If quilts had something to do with Grecian art, I'd have to say, "it was all Greek to me," but they don't, so.....it's all Grasse to me.
The only thing, I think, this analogy thing can be a crutch for an author (some reviewers called it a metaphor, I'm not choicy).
Talk about a quilt, talk about a life. Or vice versa.
In that sense, the story reminded me of the Legend of Bagger Vance, a golfer's version of the Bhagavad Gita. It was one of the most boring things I had ever heard, and golf also ranks up there. But it did make me think about the Gita (don't become attached to the results of your actions, or "just do it").
The men in Whitney Otto's story seem pretty weak, by and large. The white people seem pretty conflicted about race, and that's probably an accurate reflection of Bakersfield in the 1930s, if not today.
Diximus.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, February 5, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Make an American Quilt (Paperback)
I love how this is one of those books with so many different levels. Yes, I thought it was a great read but it had so many aspects to it. I loved how the quilt instructions in the book would foreshadow what was to come in a quiet, straightforward tone, and then the chapter that followed would be a story of love or adultery or loss or whatever each of these women had to handle in their own way; a story they synthesized down to a square on a quilt (one of the few art forms that used to be open for women to express themselves). It gave the book a quilt-like pattern of its own. It also was a great change to see women who didn't just jump at the chance to get married - who realized how marriage opened AND closed possibilities for their lives, whether or not they loved the man. I know I get too analytical since I'm just completing my degree in literature but I hadn't read anything by this author before and expected just a fun book and then it turned out to be one I've been thinking and talking about ever since.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is why moveable type was invented, November 6, 1998
This review is from: How to Make an American Quilt (Paperback)
This is an utterly magical book, delicately put together like lace -- if you have a triple digit IQ and like to read, this book will delight you.
I cannot believe that anyone would slam this book. Every word glows as though it was made from light fashioned by tiny, happy elves. This is the kind of book that will make you a better person for having read it.
Ignore the movie. Read the book.
Hey, that art student with the thin wrists who smells like dope sure seems familiar to me -- not sure why...
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., August 2, 1999
By A Customer
I loved this story. I could relate to the characters. But that's not why I decided to write this review. I want to tell people something about this. I am sick of book-bashers. No novel, no matter how bad in your opinion, should be called bad literature or ragged on. You can say why you like or dislike something, but don't try to encourage or discourage people from buying the book. This story is pivotal. For me, reading it was an enchanting experience. I loved the characters, (especially Glady) and it was very moving. (I was a little disappointed that Constance changed the roses from yellow, though. Chickie's roses were yellow!) But there are dislikable qualities, too. I didn't like the fact that Finn cheated on Sam. It was pointless, and had little to do with the rest of the story. And I didn't especially like Sophia. Also, I really wondered what happened to Marianna's father. Did he even know about her? They didn't say enough about him. But for those of you who call it the most promising novel of our time, and also those who call it the worst novel of the century,I think that you should see it for what it really is: a book. It's all a matter of tastes, of likes and dislikes. People are like snowflakes--there are no two alike. So if you're reading these reviews to try and decide whether or not you want to buy this book, I suggest that you ignore these reviews. Read the summary and see if it sounds good to you. It's not likely that you will share an opinion with one of the reviewers, even if you do have the same general perspective. Each one of us is different, and this book is just an example of how different we all can be. (And also, how similar.) Read it for yourself, or rent the movie before you decide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Think like a Quilt when you read this one, July 20, 2007
If you like those kinds of books that start at point A, proceed through B, C, and D, before ending at E, well, think again. Whitney Otto has designed a story as complex, as colorful, as historical as any quilt imaginable.

I'm not a quilter; I'm a mystery writer and editor. I'd like to think, though, that I do with words what my sister, a quilter, does with fabric, blending the silks and satins and flour sacks of nouns with the velvets and corduroys and cotton of verbs. HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT does just that. This is the deeply moving story of a group of quilters, women of varied ages and backgrounds. Watching their lives unfold like the joining of fabric squares is a joy from start to finish.

HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT? How to make an American life.
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How to Make an American Quilt
How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto (Paperback - April 12, 1994)
$15.00 $10.86
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