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Fall of Frost: A Novel Hardcover – March 27, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
You might wonder, "how can one disagree with fiction?" Indeed, how. Fiction is neither true nor false, as it is a product of the writer's imagination. Only a traditionalist would confuse Hall's fascinating work with a biography, and Hall makes it very clear that he is not in any way pretending to present a biographical account of Frost. As a descendant of the poet, I have fond memories of the man, yet Hall's work neither affirms or undermines those memories. It does, however, incite reflection.
Biographers and historians--I was once among the latter--are restricted by their genre to examining almost exclusively the "exterior" or public lives of their subjects, as there is no way to "prove" what might have been going on in another person's head. Over the past generation or more, a newer genre that one might call "fictional biography" has emerged, and Hall's Fall of Frost is a fine exemplar. It examines the "interiority" of Frost, unapologetically working with the facts of Frost's life, Hall's own reading of Frost's poems, and Hall's own splendid imagination. By my reading it works quite well as an enjoyable and often amusing (yet at turns dead serious) riff on Frost-isms. We have Frost-isms today because Frost the poet-as-public-man has, thanks to myriad writings about him, eclipsed Frost the friend, great-grandfather, or rival. His work and life are now an integral part of our American cultural space and as a consequence, he can now become an altogether different type of literary figure--perhaps a post-human one.Read more ›
My own reading of the novel is very positive. Anyone who has read far enough in the reviews to reach mine, already knows that the book has 128 chapters that range back and forth in place and time. Written mostly in third person, there are a few passages in second person, addressed from Hall to Frost. These are unusual techniques but I believed they worked. At least they worked for me.
Hall's exposition of Frost's life follows many threads at once - his naive politics, his ineffectual farming, his awkward career of sinecures in academia, his frustrating family life, and through all of these threads, his poetry. Each thread is introduced in early chapters and developed in middle and later ones. We come to understand them not by seeing his life as a sequence of phases, but as a whole composed of antecedents and consequents, each one shedding light on the earlier as well as the later parts of his life.
Frost is presented as a garrulous, difficult man. He cares deeply about his family but doesn't know how to give anything of himself to them. Very serious about his work as a poet, he feels alternately pleased with himself and incredulous that anyone would be pleased with him. He is more than slightly out of joint with the reality around him. He needs to cast his experience into words, not so much in order to understand the world, which he never seems to do very well, but to understand his own feelings.
I don't know anything about Robert Frost. I'm not able to judge whether Hall's view of the man is accurate.Read more ›
Now, for the first time, a novel about Frost has been published in America. I say `novel' because the publisher (Viking) calls it that on the dust-jacket. But Fall of Frost, by Brian Hall, is a bizarre blending of fact and fiction.
Mr Hall is at pains to justify his approach in an `author's note'. His aim is `to trace what I consider important contours of Frost's extraordinarily lush and difficult mental landscape....' I am not sure what a mental landscape is - lush or otherwise. More straightforward is Hall's desire `to accommodate more speculation than nonfiction generally allows.'
If you like a novel that engages your emotions and your intellect, that draws you into the situations and characters depicted by the author, that takes you page-turningly along from beginning to end so you can see how a character develops through time -this is not the novel for you.
The book contains 128 untitled and usually very short `chapters' (most of them range from a few paragraphs to two or three pages). They are in seemingly random order. I can only suppose that the author's study was covered with piles of paper - 128 piles to be exact - and one day he scooped them up, in no particular order, numbered the piles and sent the manuscript to his publisher. Some piles contained his notes from biographies, others his quotes from letters, and still others his creative writing, i.e. imagined dialogues between Frost and his children, or Frost's internal monologues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brian Hall is a master of writing and doesn't fail to amaze. This book is a piece of art that traps a mans life into words and transforms them into thoughts so well developed that... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Midnight24
This novelized biography was so beautifully written and so poignant… I'm one of those folks who think knowing about an author's or poet's life enriches the experience of reading... Read morePublished on March 18, 2014 by Katie V. Atwood
What a beautifully crafted work. I read this book with high expectations and it exceeded them all. This book is wonderful and written in such a distinctly poetic way that Frost... Read morePublished on December 8, 2012 by Ionia Froment
What really struck me about "Fall of Frost" was the novel's unconventional structure. Instead of following the chronological timeline most biographic novels take, Hall's book is... Read morePublished on January 13, 2011 by Zachary Cole
Tried to read this book even through I was warned about the format from the previous reviews. I looked forward to reading a novel about my favorite poet, Robert Frost, but believe... Read morePublished on November 24, 2009 by bookworm
I wanted so bad to like Brain Hall's new novel, Fall of Frost, but I couldn't. It wasn't the odd and difficult structure that got to me. Read morePublished on August 12, 2008 by Armchair Interviews
Brian Hall's Fall of Frost is a fictional account of the life of Robert Frost, the beloved American poet. Read morePublished on August 11, 2008 by G. Dawson
I am a patient reader. I love a long book with a clear story. Hall's previous book, "I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company," is one of my favorites. Read morePublished on May 22, 2008 by Free2Read