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Making Love to the Minor Poets of Chicago: A Novel Hardcover – March 9, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (March 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312204728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312204723
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,568,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Interlocking romances, academic jealousy and nuclear waste are the themes in Conrad's sprawling debut novel. Joanne Mueller, a poet, is one of the bigger names at a small Chicago suburban college in Lake Bluff. Once she was a protege of Vivian Reape, a writer with more talent for bureaucratic infighting than verse. Now head of the National Institute of Poetry, Vivian calls upon Joanne for help--or rather, on Jon, Joanne's estranged husband. Jon has an inside connection to a major government-financed project at a proposed nuclear waste dump, the Yucca Nuclear Depository, in Nevada. Since the dump will store toxic waste for 10,000 years, future generations need to be warned of its contents. The government has arranged for an artist, an architect and a botanist to create signs that will be understandable to people in the distant future. Joanne learns that Jon's uncle is spearheading the controversial project; but it's Vivian who is the string-puller extraordinaire, positioning herself as the poet who will be generously commissioned to write the timeless, toxic-warning poem for the site. Vivian considers Joanne her main competition, and manipulates a host of characters to undercut her, but even so, Joanne is selected to write the poem. Meanwhile, Sink Lewis, Joanne's hip, seductive poetry student, is making sexual conquests of the other students, and Joanne's former lover, Walter, has an affair with Rose, a bigwig on the Yucca project. Rose's striking resemblance to Joanne eventually figures in the convergence of the subplots, when radicals plan a scheme that affects all the major characters. Conrad's ability to let one plot spin off another fluidly lends the narrative energy, and though the prose is sometimes cumbersome, the story is ambitious, original and lively. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Conrad's first novel, much like Stephen McCauley's (e.g., The Man of the House, LJ 11/96) work maintains genuine regard for its protagonists and a keen appreciation for the foibles of modern relationships, gay and straight. Where Conrad differs, however, is in his farcical, sometimes far-fetched plot, which pits power-hungry poetry critic Vivian Reape against her protegee, Joanne Mueller, a professional at a small Chicago liberal arts college. Both Reape and Mueller covet the role of poet for the Yucca Mountain Project in the Nevada desert, whose epic ode will warn future civilizations about a nuclear waste storage facility. The narrative encompasses a broad cast of minor poets searching for love and truth through interconnected affairs: a dashing bisexual Lothari, a wealthy gay professor, a struggling bookstore owner, and a naive Socialist librarian, among others. While Conrad wisely avoids quoting most of his characters' poetry, his plot becomes increasingly improbable. Still, flashes of insight make this novel appropriate for large fiction collections.
Christine Perkins, Jackson City. Lib. Svcs., Medford, OR
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert J Burns on May 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful,well written novel,I could not put it down until the last page. Mr Conrad interweaves the lives of 20 plus characters that make you feel and care for them and hope things work out for them. Exactly what a good book should do, make you think about things, people and our own place in the world. His characters are smart, funny, attractive and just the kind of people you meet every day. A wonderful story with a slightly melancoly ending that left me wondering what happened to the rest of the characters. Check this out if you like contemporary fiction, it's Great.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because it was written by a local author, but I soon discovered that it's so much more. Conrad's characters are real, complex and fascinating -- and often hilarious. It's a dead-on satire of two disparate worlds that are both, nonetheless, ripe for satire: academia and nuclear science. While much of it will make you laugh out loud, it also possesses great depth, and the type of gorgeous sentences that stay in your head long after you've finished reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Not only is this book a smart and sharp take on the world of academic poetry, it is also a lovesong to Chicago. The city has never looked so lovely and so real on the page. It made me perfectly homesick.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Witty, Bitchy, insighful, romantic. I LOVED this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan M. Rivers on October 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Good work, James. An impressive first novel, but it could have been tightened up a bit. The story is in slight danger of bogging down under too many details. Still, a good, fast read with an interesting premise.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'll have to admit when I picked this book up, I had my doubts, love and nuclear waste don't seem to be the best of combinations. My doubts were shortlived. It was with supream surprise and delight that I devoured Conrad's prose as swiftly as possible.
The cast of charactors in this book borders on epic. Conrad works a kind of magic as he gently weaves the stories of each of the many charactors into an interconected whole, leaving you wondering if life has an almost ironic order after all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KH1 VINE VOICE on May 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I saw hints of good writing hidden beneath a lot of drivel in this book. Conrad really really needed someone to objectively edit this novel - it would have been so much better. I felt that the book really lacked any definite structure and that superfluous descriptions dragged on for pages. I was bored and frustrated for most of the novel. Good title, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brienne WAlsh on July 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Once I started reading this book, I had trouble putting it down. The plot is intricate, but engrossing. It appeals to a very wide audience, from gay to straight, old to young, poets to fiction writers. It is extraordinarily well written, and I enjoyed the characters until the very last page. I wish that it had never ended!
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