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Poor George: A Novel Paperback – February 17, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Like a sealed bottle of pure mid-Sixties. . . . feels fresher after a third of a century than most novels written yesterday. -- Jonathan Franzen

The best first novel I've read in quite a long time. -- Bernard Bergonzi, New York Review of Books

About the Author

Paula Fox is the author of Desperate Characters, The Widow’s Children, A Servant’s Tale, The God of Nightmares, Poor George, The Western Coast, and Borrowed Finery: A Memoir, among other books. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Jonathan Lethem is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in Brooklyn and Maine.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (February 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321319
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Hamer on August 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Where has Paula Fox been all of my life? How was I to know her sentences listened and heard so clearly. She's so precise with her language and has no place for cant or the vocabulary of 'hyper realism'. If you read nothing else read Paula Fox. Thank you for reminding us how important the social novel is; some of us seem to have forgotten.
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Format: Paperback
George Mecklin is a teacher of English in New York. He is married to Emma, they're both in their early thirties and they live in the country, a small place called Harmon. George has got an unemployed and divorced sister, Lila. Claude is her young son. George goes to work, attends staff meetings, spends his evenings with Emma, worries about money...

It is precisely this uneventful way of life that makes Mrs Fox's novel interesting. It is the tedious and habitual way George leads his life, the utter emptiness and uselessness of his daily activities, almost as though he were living against his own volition. An "attitude of defeat" is a description used for Emma but it may equally adequately be applied to George, an attitude also shown by his clothes which hang on their hangers "like humble effigies of himself". Even his trying to help a lost youth, Ernest Jenkins, fails because George, "the goddamned fool", can only offer him dead heroes and dead poets. But George is lucid enough to be aware that he suffers from a profound disaffection with his life. "Poor George! I guess you have as many troubles as the rest of us" says one of the characters. Indeed, it is a novel about all the troubles one has to cope with in one's dreary everyday existence, masterfully put down on paper by Mrs Fox.
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Like Fox's masterpiece, Desperate Characters, the main character, George, is eviscerated from a lack of meaning in his life, in spite of his job as a teacher and his decent wife. A life devoted to provisionalism, prudence, hoarding, reason, the same kind of life embraced by the narrator in Melville's "Bartleby," proves to result in a spiritually bankrupt soul. George earnestly seeks in vain for meaning and in doing so the novel sheds light on the bleakness of provisionalism as the modernist philosophy which the American middle class championed so blindly in the 1960s, the era in which this novel is written. George may fail in his search for meaning, but the novel is a triumph of vigorous prose, muscular syntax, and an uncompromising, angry critique of the smug middle-class complacency that afflicts too many of us.
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By E Mark on August 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Why didn't she write more novels? Paula Fox is brilliant. Her metaphors and subtle use of sensory imagery take the reader to an embodied presence of mind that is resistant to the logic traps authors only driven by ideas.
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