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Frog: A Novel Paperback – March 15, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of five well-reviewed but relatively obscure novels and eight story collections, Dixon may achieve a higher profile with this novel, a National Book Award finalist. Opening portentously with the protagonist's trip to Kafka's grave, this 860-page Joycean monolith deftly portrays the urban nightmare as cosmic comedy, though some readers will doubtless be put off by chapter-length paragraphs, free association, time shifts and voice changes. Howard Tetch, angst-ridden college professor, had an old nanny who smeared his face with excrement as a boy; now he has violent outbursts toward his own daughters and fantasizes his wife's death. His Dublin is Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. With a fine sense of the absurd, Dixon tells dozens of stories--how Howard's father, a dentist, went to prison; the tragic decline of Howard's suicidal, invalid sister, Vera; his violent adolescent street life; the apparent death at sea of his newsman brother, Alex. Then Dixon mixes the deck, giving alternative, mutually exclusive versions of some subplots, as if the world were splitting into parallel universes before our eyes. Readers attuned to the author's run-on style may warm to a cunning, sexy, audacious performance; others will find this an arty bore.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Frog is a complex and paradoxical character: petulant, compulsive, overbearing, hostile, and self-righteous, but also imaginative, loving, kind, and strong. No matter how exasperating he gets, it's still hard not to care about him. His story is a nonsequential patchwork of flashbacks, real and imagined stories, and retellings from various perspectives. Dixon, best known as a gifted short story writer, demonstrates his mastery of the novel here, imaginatively expanding on a variety of themes like a great jazz soloist. Although some will be totally confused after the first 200 pages, the patient reader will be held spellbound as Dixon weaves his web of many versions. While this is not quite the " Finnegan's Wake of our generation" as the publishers claim, Frog 's labyrinthine structure, rapid-fire wordplay, vivid descriptions, and raw emotional power are all reminiscent of Joyce. Highly recommended.
- Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. at Chico
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (March 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805048839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805048834
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It took me two months, but I finally finished Frog. This is one heck of a book. Not for the faint of heart or the casual reader. It's not necessary heavy in content (although it can be a heavy book because of it's almost 800 pages...ha, ha..yeah), but Dixon's writing style can leave your brain in a fuzz. Basically, he's a stream of thought writer who does not believe too much in dialogue or sentences or even paragraph breaks. This can be tiring for even the most avid reader. Once you realize the style is not going to change, and what the paragraph breaks mean (more towards the middle / end of the book), then you can easily get along with Frog.

My favorite parts of Frog is "Frog's Sister" and "Frog Fragments." I found these part more interesting than any others. While the writing style is the same, the stories are more coherent. "Frog's Sister" is about his sister, which you will meet here and there before you get to her own chapter. I found it really sad, sometimes disturbing, and a bit funny at the same time. "Frog Fragments" contain stories about past loves (one as a teenager and one as an adult) plus a mix of other subjects. The only way you know that you've moved onto another vignette is that the paragraph ends. This is not the case of all Dixon's writings, however.

I will say that Frog is definitely worth the time. It's a great read for those that read throughout the day but may not have the time to really sit down and read. You read about the same people over and over, and while you'd think this gets tiring, it doesn't, it merely helps you as you plow through the 700+ pages of Frog.
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By A Customer on July 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a compelling, engrossing novel that chronicles the past, present, and possible futures of a highly disjointed consciousness. Dixon's voice is an inimitable reflection of the self-doubting, over-thinking mind. Many of these interlinked stories contradict each other (e.g. the wife's name changes), and this leads one to suspect that perhaps Dixon was assembling a stew of his stories in an almost randomly novelestic form, regardless of their contextual suitability with each other. That's too bad, and it's sure to frustrate readers seeking consistency and continuity in their books. It might be best to suspend your expectations of novels and just appreciate Dixon's amazing storytelling skills. Even if the novel is appreciated simply as a collection of often interrelated stories, it's still a fascinating trip through one individual's consciousness. This is one of my all-time favorite books. If you like unique voices, you won't be able to put this one down. Dixo! n is America's best-kept secret.
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Format: Paperback
this is the only dixon book I have read, but I will certainly be reading others. At times this book shows its debt to joyce, but certainly not in a way that distracts from its overall beauty. it is hard to write after joyce and still come off as relevant. it seems one of the best ways to live in Joyce's shadow is to acknowledge it and then sit beneath it - telling stories that work because of their simple beauty and humanity rather than their status as opuses or classics (which Joyce's are).
dixon's greatest innovation in this book is his ability to capture the workings of the imagination and its power over the human experience as a whole. he reels off possibility after possibility in hypnotic sucession, leaving the reader wondering what actually took place. There is a chapter, "Frog fears" which alone justifies Dixon's technique, which I've seen described as pretentious. The act of writing a book is pretentious to begin with, and so is every choice of word and action which must be made by the author. The results justify what is done, and in this chapter fear is captured almost perfectly.
this story is very human. it deals with the human experience with compassion, and it feels very good to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is where I'm supposed to tell you what I thought of the book. I'm afraid it will take more than one paragraph, though. I like to keep my paragraphs to no more than four sentences. I just realized that was the third sentence, so this must be the fourth and I guess I'll have to use a semi-colon or dash; this is a very strangely written book.

There are 769 pages like the above paragraph; better written though. He writes sentences that are days long and his paragraphs run on for about a month. Some of them even make some sense.

If you like in-depth character studies then immediately scroll to the top and click on the "Order" button. Howard Tetch is the most insecure person in the world and you will learn about every minute of his life (and several versions of each to boot).

I have no idea how to rate this book. Dixon obviously wrote the book he wanted since he had hundreds of pages in which to change if he had been so inclined. I liked it. I didn't like it. I liked it again, I think. I'm glad to have read Dixon and perhaps will try some more. So, four stars for inventiveness and stamina (his and mine).
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