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Philadelphia Fire: A Novel Paperback – January 26, 2005

2.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN is the author of more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Philadelphia Fire, and most recently the story collection God’s Gym. He is the recipient of two PEN/ Faulkner Awards and has been nominated for the National Book Award. He teaches at Brown University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061850964X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618509645
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is not really the story of Cudjoe but the story of story-telling itself.

The book explores the jagged edges between fictional protagonists (Cudjoe, then Caliban, and finally a homeless man named J.B.) and an ostensibly non-fictional speaker (a version of Wideman himself, hinting at family dysfunctions such as the incarceration of his son for murder). It also explores the jagged edges separating his own text from, and linking it to, precursory texts by Shakespeare, Joyce, William Carlos Williams, Robert Lowell, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Eldridge Cleaver, Marcolm X, and others.

If you're looking for a cohesive, traditional story, this is not your book. It purposely does not give us pay-offs in scenes and plot developments that it arranges for us to expect. But if you're looking for continual surprise and dislocation, stylistic bravado and beauty, and an often profound meditation on African America, on masculine anguish and self-delusion, and on the American problem more generally, this book is for you.
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By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read 'Philadelphia Fire' as a part of my MA course at The University of Sheffield, England, and, on the whole, enjoyed it. I did, however, find its stream of conciousness style confusing and difficult to read at times. It is rather 'heavy' and slow in certain points, and tends to jump from character to character (and to author/ narator) especially in the second and third parts of the novel. Its description and use of the City is excellent, and I am sure that many can relate to certain experiences encountered by Cudjoe, from reliving youth to revisiting ones old stomping ground etc.
On the whole, I found its style difficult, but do not let this discourage you, as the experience of reading this novel outweighs the sluggishness of certain points.
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By A Customer on December 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
This novel with its shifting points of view and often stream of consciousness style plays like a Cecil Taylor jazz piece . . . everything seems discordant but the underlying theme pulls it all together beautifully. It's a great novel about modern America, our strengths and weaknesses, our loves/obsessions and hates, our insights and blindness. Widemnan uses the fire bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia to take a snap shot of contemporary urban America.
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By Larry P. on November 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hard reading it is not clear if the author is talking about about the bombing/fire or some sort of misconcieved mental concept. Really a disappointment. Read the 100 pages and decided it was a waste of time and not worth the headache it was giving me.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this for school and it was just the author's voice that made me confused. Plus history is warped. Some of what he written is untrue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being from Philadelphia, this book miss some important facts that wasn't told in this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought it as a gift
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