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Spartina Paperback – April 28, 1998

63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dick Pierce, fisherman and boat-builder, lives on the Rhode Island shore in a backwater world of salt marshes, alcoholic fishermen, crab boats and old homesteads disappearing under new resorts for inland tourists. A stubborn man thoughtful enough to know that the world is becoming too small for men like himself, Pierce has a mortgage, a family, a "puny income from lobstering" and a dream: to finish the half-built boat in his backyard so he can fish for red crabs out in deep water, make some real money and raise himself and his family up. He is a classic American solitary hero, and Casey knows the sloughs of the Rhode Island shore as well as any fisherman. Spartina won the National Book Award in 1989. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A Rhode Island fisherman grows taciturn and restless in his 40s, until the unexpected occurs: an affair with a woman who has the power to draw out and challenge her lover. "Casey uses a simple, unadorned narrative style to create an evocative character study," wrote PW. This novel won the 1989 National Book Award.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375702687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375702686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Casey was born in 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. His previous novel, Spartina, won the 1989 National Book Award for fiction. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is Henry Hoyns Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia. He is literary executor of the estate of Breece D'J Pancake.

www.johndcasey.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Williams on January 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've read 'Spartina' a couple of times now and thought about it as a book I might want to suggest to my book club. While doing a bit of investigation on the price of used copies members might want to purchase, I came across some of the negative reviews here at Amazon. Although I'd never written a review previously, I felt compelled to try and add my voice to those who are surprised - in my case, astonished - with these reviews.

When reading literature, it seems to me that whether we like the characters or not is irrelevant. There are plenty of examples in great literature where the characters aren't people we 'like', but there is no argument as to whether or not the books themselves are worth reading. The same is true with 'Spartina.'

Personally, I did 'like' the characters in this book. Casey's writing gives us characters we feel we know by the end of the novel and, much like knowing the flaws of our friends and family members, we know the flaws of these characters and we know the reasons behind the flaws. We understand and we sympathize at the same time we're shaking our heads at their reckless decision-making. I never stopped 'liking' them even though they made their mistakes and I doubt most readers would.

Read this book. Enjoy it for what it is: a great novel with characters beautifully crafted - warts and all - by a wonderful author.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Solidago on June 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
It has been quite a while since I've read Spartina but I was compelled to post a short review in light of Spartina's 3.5 star average rating. The "Feminist Alert" review took me aback as I consider Spartina to be as good as contemporary fiction gets. I am a female and found this novel to be beautifully and thoughtfully written in the style of "A Thousand Acres." I will say no more as the other positive reviewers have already captured the worth of this story.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Vic on August 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a really great story, wonderfully well-written. The character is fully developed, both his good as well as his questionable sides...and he is very real. I think a lot of men his age will find a good character-connection with this story, and the struggles faced by the main character. I did. Casey has a great talent with words and story. This novel deserved it's National Book Award.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
This National Book Award winner for fiction should attract
two audiences. First, people who love boats, water, the
shore, and men at work will appreciate the clam's neck view
of one man trying to scratch a living out (literally) from
off the beach. Second, the protaganist weathers a stormy
personal life, as difficult for him as his dangerous
work afloat. The description of trying to survive a
hurricane in a wooden boat built by the protaganist's
own hands is worth the price of admission.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
I have unpleasant memories of the Old Man and the Sea from Junior High English class, so I purchased Spartina with some misgivings, as the premise of both books seemed similar. But, this is one of the most well-crafted books I have read in a long, long time. Unlike most popular novels, the book did not revolve solely around the plot. Unlike most literary novels, the book did not revolve solely around character development. Rather, both plot and character were woven together to create a splendid story that was hard to put down, even at 2 a.m. on a work night. The writing was intelligent without being self-consciously clever, and I kept thinking about the book long after I had finished it. Bravo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jack Tierney on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read a lot of third-rate fiction this summer, I decided to return to some of the literary novels I've loved in the past. I first read John Casey's SPARTINA when it came out in 1989. Re-reading it this weekend, I was reminded of all the reasons I've always considered it one of the best books I've ever read: deep characterizations, beautiful descriptions, realistic dialogue, heartfelt emotions. It's about a middle-aged man who lives with his wife and two sons on the shore of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. He is struggling to keep afloat financially while finishing years worth of work on a boat that will enable him to make a living as a commercial fisherman. But life is tough, the money to finish the project is hard to come by, and he is beset by his own weaknesses, including his anger and resentment toward those around him who have an easier life.

Give yourself the gift of time with this book. It's intelligent, poetic, and deeply satisfying.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By HamIAm on April 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought Spartina because of my interest in New England and memories of my uncle, who was a Connecticut boat builder in the '50s. What I found was perhaps the finest work of literature I have read since college, and that was 50 years ago. Dick Pierce is a fully developed character, not always likeable but always real. I couldn't always identify with him, but I could always believe him. The story was compelling; the sea and fishing descriptions were better than I expected, and the relationships that were really most of the book made me recommend it in the strongest terms to my wife and sister-in-law - even reading long parts of it out loud to them. Above all else, though was language and turns of a phrase that simply took my breath away. They were as beautiful as anything I have read anywhere, and I was an English major in college. I spent much of the book either on the edge of my seat, or close to tears. It is simply a work of art. Read it.
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