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The Shadow Catcher: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0743265201 ISBN-10: 0743265203 Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster Hardcover Ed

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Simon & Schuster Hardcover Ed edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743265203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743265201
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wiggins (Evidence of Things Unseen, etc.) takes a magnificently Sebald-like approach to fictionalizing the life of photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952)—along with that of a woman named "Marianne Wiggins." The book opens as Wiggins presents her newly completed Curtis novel to a Hollywood agent. Curtis photographed American Indians in the early 20th century, and Marianne attacks the common image of Curtis as a swashbuckler who risked his life to photograph his favorite subjects. Even as she shows that Curtis staged the shots, and was an absentee husband and father at best, the agent is enthralled. Marianne, ambivalent, arrives home to a phone call that her father is in a Las Vegas hospital—the father who has been dead for 30 years. From that quick setup, the novel moves seamlessly back and forth between Marianne's painstaking research into Curtis's life and the journey she undertakes seeking closure with her father's past. Photographs taken by Curtis and from the Wiggins's family album, which she approaches from multiple angles, give the story several layers of immediacy. Curtis emerges as a fascinating, complex figure, one who inhabited any number of American contradictions. Suffused with Marianne's crackling social commentary and deceptively breezy self-discovery, Wiggins's eighth novel is a heartfelt tour de force. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The Shadow Catcher is Marianne Wiggins's eighth novel. Over a career that has spanned more than 30 years and included a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Evidence of Things Unseen (2003), the author has built a reputation as a stylist and a storyteller with an eye for distinctive, character-driven material. Her latest effort plays with the "traditional" novel in ways that make reviewers sweat. The book's mixed critical reception-certainly more positive than negative-likely has as much to do with questions of what to make of a novel so difficult to pin down as with any specific grievances over what Wiggins attempts here. Not surprisingly, the more straightforward narrative with Curtis and Clare resonated with reviewers more.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I found it confusing, disjointed, and boring.
Ruthie B
The history part is very interesting as well as the development of the story.
carolyn sutcliffe
All went well and received the book on time as promised.
Sibyl Goerner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mae on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Shadow Catcher" is a highly enjoyable novel. The frame story uses a device that seems to be coming up in a lot of very recent books: the main character, who tells the story, has the same name as the author, and seems to have many similar characteristics. "Marianne Wiggins" -- the character who might be the author -- begins with some observations about artwork: "Let me tell you about the sketch by Leonardo I saw one afernoon in the Queen's Gallery in London a decade ago, and why I think it haunts me." (p. 1)

The first two chapters could possibly be autobiograpical: the narrator is a writer, trying to sell a script to an unnamed Hollywood personality. She lives in LA and obsesses about traffic and alterate ways to avoid the worst congestion. She knows about celebrities. She has a home and a car. Her book is about Edward Curtis, photographer, who created the common understanding of what it looked like to be an Indian. All the details of her life could be either truth or fiction: it's not a critical matter.

On page 43, the novel turns to "her" book. It starts with the early life of Edward Curtis's wife Clara, daughter of a painter whose works are no longer desired because photography has replaced his skills. We see how she and her younger brother happened to travel out to the territory of Washington to live with his family. As Clara meets Edward Curtis, we meet him. As he develops into a skilled and artful photographer, we see him through her eyes, and we find out how she teaches him what she's learned about painting: the link to the first thoughts of "Marianne Wiggins" and her passion for Renaissance Italian art.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For two years Marianne Wiggins traveled the country doggedly researching Edward Curtis, the famous and highly controversial American Indian photographer and ethnologist. Wiggins wanted to write a novel about this man. She wanted to get inside him--understand him, and write a novel that exposed the real human being behind the legend.

Curtis' life only recently became public domain: he is dead and all his children are dead. Now, he is fair fodder for historical novelists. But Wiggins is not a genre historical novelist. She is a gifted literary novelist, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, a writer of formidable originality. Why would she undertake a project like this? What alchemy did she have in mind?

When she began her quest to dig into Curtis' life, Wiggins was in love with the idea of the man--the handsome, creative, rugged, bigger-than-life, self-made frontiersman. But the more she researched, the more she began to dislike him--the more she wanted to drop the project altogether. But she persisted, and this persistence actually becomes an integral part of the novel. In looking for the story in Curtis, she finds the story in herself, her own life, her own relationship to her father. Wiggins' historical novel about Edward Curtis eventually leads us deep into the psychology of magical explaining--of myth making for mental health's sake. The result is pure literary gold.

So what alchemy does Wiggins ultimately deliver in this novel? The work is actually two novels in one: one set in Curtis' early years and the other set in the author's present. The construction is liberating--pure magic pops up unexpectedly throughout. Wiggins creates a compelling, transcendent, soaring work of fiction.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By K. L. Cotugno VINE VOICE on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is hard to know where to begin praise for this book, there are so many different mysteries to be solved. Wiggins has managed to incorporate themes of race, identity, holocaust, personal freedom, responsibility, and has even added touches of humor that make the reader laugh out loud. There was a section that almost made me put the book down, where it slid dangerously close to romance novel, but remembering the early, contemporary scenes that so thoroughly engaged me, I kept at it, and was very very glad I had. That section was weak for a reason, which although not spelled out, became apparent in the resolution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on February 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story weaves the past (1850-1950) and the present (post 9-11) where Wiggins, the author and also the narrator, tells the story of the legendary (but complicated) life of photographer Edward Curtis (and his family) along with her own introspective and retrospective look at her father's life. Both men were in search...were on the run...were absent and disappearing fathers...who left a trail of consequences behind.

Human beings are not what they seem to be on the surface - there are nuances and shadows which we will never fully understand - yet in many ways, we are all connected between the past and the present. Here are a few words from Wiggins' book to give you a flavor of the beautiful writing you can expect:

"I watch the smoke braid and rise into the tree, a shadow branching growth, a ghost, and I think about the ways that lives can intertwine, the way one life touches on another, our lives and all the lives of others a long continuous tread - a train - of independent yet contiguous action."

If you enjoyed this gem of a book, you'll love Wiggins' "Evidence of Things Unseen," a National Book Award finalist.
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