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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 83 reviews
HALL OF FAMEon November 16, 2008
I discovered this book through a recommendation from Amazon when I was ordering several turn-of-the 20th century novels. Written in 1899, by a young author who died in 1902 at the age of 32, the setting is San Francisco, the characters are flawed, and the story is filled with strong brutish images of greed.

The main character, McTeague (who is never given a first name throughout the book) was brought up in the mining camps, and apprenticed himself to a traveling dentist at a young age. When the story opens he is a dentist, living in a small apartment house and earning a living through this trade. When the innocent Trina needs some dental work, he falls in love with her and wins her away from his best friend Marcus whose seethes with anger and wants revenge.

McTeague and Trina plan to marry and at first are delighted when Trina wins $5,000 in a lottery. But as the story unfolds, the couple's happiness becomes tainted as Trina hoards her money. Other characters are introduced to support the theme of greed. There's the Mexican maid who sells whenever she can steal to the Jewish man who lusts for gold. There is the elderly man and elderly woman who are too shy to admit their attraction for each other. And then there are the dogs which always seem to be in the background and support the animalistic nature of the evolving plot.

There is success followed by utter failure and the rapidly changing relationship between McTeague and Trina into that of sadism and masochism. At times the book is hard to read. But it's also hard to put down. At the beginning I was a bit frustrated by the author's long descriptions of scenery and furnishings and let my eyes slide past them to look for the action by the characters. But the story is about things owned and things lost. And so there was a reason and an importance to all those long descriptions.

The conclusion is raw, brutal and inevitable. It was also perfect.

I consider this book a little-known hidden gem. I'm glad I discovered it and found out that novels written during this time period are not all about manners and the sheltered world of the elite.
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on June 26, 2017
There was good character development. But the last few chapters were just gruesome. And it began with a nice love story. I did like the spelling of the words when the German people were speaking English.
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on June 15, 2017
Bought this because I read it years ago and it is such an amazing book. Sad the author died so early. Gritty.
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VINE VOICEon April 2, 2010
"McTeague" by Frank Norris, an author who had a prolific career considering his short life, is highly regarded as a work of realism. And on that premise, it delivers, with characters full of flaws and a story that examines the darkest sides of human nature. Set in San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, its horror and brutality are still shocking in today's world.

The story begins with a portrait of McTeague, a large, somewhat bumbling dumb giant of a man who works as a dentist and finds no greater pleasure than drinking steam beer and playing on his concertina. His only aspiration for success is to one day hang a gilded tooth outside of his window as a sign of his profession. But his bachelor ways are changed when Trina Sieppe enters his life, the cousin of his one and only friend, and McTeague suddenly finds himself in love. Through sheer force rather than any ordinary type of courtship, McTeague persuades Trina to marry him, and she is lucky enough to win five thousand dollars in the lottery. They begin a life of success after success, but Trina refuses to touch the money she has won, becoming greedier as their marriage goes on, which begins to cause problems, especially when their luck takes a turn for the worse. McTeague deserts Trina, intent on seeking revenge for her loving money over him, and the ending of the novel is dark, tragic, yet fitting for what Norris has crafted.

There are various subplots in "McTeague" all of which seem to revolve around the negative impact that the desire for wealth can have on people. It is a dark tale, as one could guess with a subtitle like "The Brute" - full of unscrupulous characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Norris' writing is somewhat stilted at times, he is often repetitive, and the Swedish accents of Trina's family are a chore to read through. However, Norris embellished his story with a wide array of symbolism that ties the main plot and subplots together, making the bleak ending a fitting coda to the story that he has painted of real life.
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on January 8, 2000
Although this book was published 100 years ago, it rivited my attention as no modern author has recently done. The characters are broadly drawn, and are certainly flawed people, however I was able to enter this story completely. I felt the love pangs of the elderly couple, pitied Maria Macapa, and hoped that Trina and Mac would somehow persevere in spite of Marcus' treachery. I have not been able to get their stories out of my head. I saw Eric Von Stroheim's movie "Greed" which translated this book to the silent screen. It's also a marvel!
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on December 9, 2016
The times were different and I fell into the atmosphere of hope held by the less educated in early nineteen hundreds San Francisco. But personal growth was missing entirely. It became frustrating that the interesting, but emotionally dull McTeague never learned a single lesson about love.
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on March 16, 2017
A story of sorrow and despair. Not a light read or uplifting story.
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on February 12, 2007
I purchased this book because my daughter was reading it in college. I was not familiar with either the title or the author, but a quick web search allowed me to rectify that shortcoming quickly. It is a gut wrenching view into the early city life of San Francisco. Marriage, money, and ignorance are the main charaters presented through names that soon become the face of the story.

Norris, the realist, doesn't waste time on the way the world could be, and he doesn't even speculate on the way things are; he rather cuts to the reality of the time and, like a snapshot, gives us that which an observant eye would see if present. The violent ignorance manifested by the characters stuns, and I was amazed and intrigued by the actions of individuals I had become close to through the events of the story.

Be forewarned, those sensitive to sterotypical descriptions of race will be shocked, and those without patience for the actions of brutally ignorant settlers will be sickened. Nevertheless, for a picture of the probable behavior of the settlers of the west, this is a fine read.
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on February 5, 2017
great read
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on April 27, 2016
Needed this book for a modern American literature course. The plot was pretty dark and I liked it. However, this particular copy of the book had no table of contents and looked like it had been printed illicitly with the original document/file name as the header on each page.
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