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The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread: A Novel Paperback – April 22, 2008
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“‘The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread is a brilliant piece of writing--a book to put on the same shelf as Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders. What was it like to be a kid at mid-century in the midwest? Read this book and see.” (Stephen King)
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll delight in meeting 9-year-old Morris Bird III.... I loved this book when it was first published in the early ‘60s, and I am just thrilled that a whole new generation of readers is going get to meet Morris, too.” (Nancy Pearl)
“Purely wonderful...Belongs on the same shelf as TOM SAWYER and PERNOD.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Delightful...universal enough to send a twinge of nostalgia through any ex-boy.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Morris Bird III...is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that nobody will deny....Mr. Robertson is a tremendously good writer.” (The New Yorker)
“A vividly depicted story...a recreation of a time and place that will stir nostagic smiles...tense narrative...You’ll remember Morris Bird III.” (Associated Press)
“Engaging...will keep the reader solidly engrossed.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Morris Bird III...may be the most appealing child since THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.” (Nashville Tennessean)
“Spellbinding...superb...the narration is perfect...unforgettable” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
About the Author
Don Robertson (1929-1999) wrote eighteen novels, including two others featuring Morris Bird III: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread and The Sum and Total of Now. The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened was made into a movie starring James Earl Jones.
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Top Customer Reviews
And you know what? I am eternally grateful to Stephen King for introducing me to this beautiful, hilarious, and heartbreaking story.
Told from the perspectives of a handful of characters in the moments leading up to and just after a gas explosion in Cleveland in 1944, the primary focus of this book is Morris Bird, III (always referred to as Morris Bird, III), a nine-year-old who decides that he wants to be a hero. Morris Bird III's idea of heroism might be different from yours, but to him, this one thing he wants to do will make him a hero. He will skip school and walk across town to visit his best friend who moved away a few months earlier. Along the way, Morris Bird III meets people who help him, just as he - perhaps unknowingly - helps them. We also see how the explosion affects characters close to Morris Bird III's home.
Parts of this book will make you laugh out loud, and parts will make you cry. I used a grant to purchase a class set of this for my high school English students to read, and they love it. It's different from the normal English class fare, which I know they liked, but they also fell for Morris Bird III. I sure did.
I struggled to find it, years later when it was out of print, because my original copy had been lost during a number of moves. I paid an exorbitant amount of money in order to have it for my own children, and I'm about to buy multiple copies again to have on hand and to give away because it's a story that resonates no matter how long ago it was written.
WITHOUT BEING PREACHY, this story demonstrates and exalts the qualities we all want to see fostered in our children, and aspire to possess ourselves.
You admire the folks who ran into the towers on 9/11?
Morris Bird III personifies the qualities that allowed them to do that, and makes them feel real and accessible to youngsters (like I was when I read it). Unforgettable!
The author tells us at the start the story will climax with the greatest industrial disaster in Cleveland history, the October 20, 1944 East Ohio Gas Co. explosion and fire. The actual fire takes up very little of the end of the story, which seems to have disappointed some of the reviewers here. GTSSB is not a story about a fire any more than "Huckleberry Finn" is a story about a river. It's a story about a nine-year old boy who commits an act of minor cowardice and decides, after hearing stories of historical courage from his teacher, to challenge himself to a personal journey of discovery. As Morris makes his way through unfamiliar streets to find his best friend whose family has moved, we meet other characters, some noble, some not, whose lives will touch one another on this grim Friday afternoon.
I got so caught up in the story that I pulled up a map of Cleveland on my computer and followed Morris' journey. The streets are still there exactly as described and the story is so plausible I felt it might have been a work of history rather than fiction. The characters are fictional but the rest of the story and tragedy, unfortunately, is not. GTSSB reminds me a lot of another favorite, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. Robertson's writing is not as fluid as Irving, but Robertson was a newspaper writer and tends toward more spare writing, not always a bad thing.
If you are inclined to episodic fiction this may not be the book for you. If you like character studies set against the backdrop of history, you owe it to yourself to discover this forgotton gem.
I bought this as a gift for one of my sons who is living blocks from where all of this took place.