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I Sailed with Magellan Paperback – September 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Despite its billing as a novel, I SAILED WITH MAGELLAN is actually a series of short stories that have locales and characters in common. All feature a teenage narrator named Perry and all are set in the Little Village community of Chicago during the early 1960s. Dybek lovingly and often humorously evokes this time and place through telling observations.
Poor families use old bed sheets for curtains and veterans order shots for friends who didn't come back from the war. It's a dangerous, often discouraging neighborhood, and in strong, unfussy prose Dybek describes "the daily round of life where bag ladies combed alleys and the homeless, sleeping in junked cars, were found frozen to death in winter. Laid-off workmen became wife beaters in their newfound spare time; welfare mothers in the projects turned tricks to supplement the family budget; and it seemed that every day someone lost teeth at one or another of the corner bars."
Fortunately, Dybek lets his lively characters --- including a junior high writing prodigy named Camille Estrada and a slob hitman named Joe Ditto --- run wild in this setting. Rather than engineering plots and scenes for them, Dybek simply lets them tell their own stories, a rare talent that gives the book a personal, unrehearsed quality. Plus, it makes for some truly weird goings-on.Read more ›
No doubt much of it is based on the personal experiences of author Stuart Dybek, who was born in 1942 and grew up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. Indeed, much of the book may well be personal memoir draped with but the thinnest of fictional garb. Still, it reads more like a novel (or a collection of inter-related stories) than like a memoir.
Those who are from Chicago and are now between the ages of 55 and 75 might treasure the book just a tad more than the rest of us, inasmuch as it features such places as Twelfth Street Beach, Sportsman's Park, the Rocks, Meigs Field, Douglas Park, the outdoor market on Maxwell Street, the Sanitary Canal, and the Baha'i Temple. (I certainly would treasure any novel half as good about Philadelphia - my hometown - during the same years.) But one need not be from Chicago to find the book special. What it has to say about memory, childhood and youth, and the human condition should speak to most, and especially to males who grew up in an urban, working-class setting.
The book abounds with lovable characters and with sparkling anecdotes.Read more ›
"I Sailed with Magellan" is a fun, satisfying, often poignant and sometimes hilarious depiction of a lower middle class largely Polish immigrant community in Chicago in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The stories, mix of cultures and voices come across as authentic, engaging and relatable. While I'm just a bit younger than this era I found the family vignettes, angst and conflicts of growing up and the shared friendships and aspirations all rang true.
There is one particularly hysterical story about a high school marching band playing while being lead into what is clearly the wrong neighborhood: Warning not to read that in a library. The Prom date is very funny and the "we didn't do it" not love scene is simply brilliant. Collectively it all portrays Perry Katzik's life and neighborhood which I am assuming is highly autobiographical.
I'd give it 5 stars if the stories came together a bit more. Others may not see that as a weakness. I liked the writing. There are nice jumps in time that work, there are a few overly boyish dialogues that I could have done without but that are nonetheless true to life. I was particularly impressed by Stuart Dybek's story of a talented young female writer where he needs to write in her voice and show her talent while still speaking from Perry's perspective and voice. It worked for me. There was good contrast that left me wondering how do you do that?
Hope others enjoy it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was recommended by a friend whose opinion I respect. The Author is an accomplished writer and I believe that this book is almost an American Classic.Published 4 months ago by Michael J. Moxley
Dybek is a brilliant writer and one of the most humorous writers I've ever read. His prose is often quite poetic and his descriptions of Chicago and its characters are funny,... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dennis Oneill
Hasn't just taken my beathe away. I don't read much but thought this would make me feel warm and fuzzy about growing up in Chicago.Published 20 months ago by Barbara Kaderabek
Beautifully written. Only a few stories really grabbed me. Would NOT wanted to have grown up in those parts of Chicago.Published on November 30, 2013 by Kelly Carter
As I studied the short story form in graduate school, this book quickly become one of my absolute favorites. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Kyle J Lang