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S P R A W L Paperback – August 23, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The run-on text of Dutton's archly comic first novel (after story collection Attempts at a Life) forms, literally, a block of prose: the book itself is nearly square in shape, and the story consists of a single long paragraph. The unnamed narrator lives in a sprawling suburb with her husband, Haywood. In lieu of a conventional plot, there's a series of observations and reveries, prompted by such events as the narrator and Haywood seeing a movie in which the blonde heroine says "magnificent" as her "eyes shine with tears." Elsewhere, the narrator shares the minute rituals of a pet cat, has a 19th-century daydream inspired by a sunny morning, and dissects her appearance in a mirror and the dinner on a table. As the narrative proceeds, some change is seen, largely in Haywood's disillusion with marriage and with his wife's increasingly brittle musings. This experimental novel is best read in a single sitting and, like the photographs that inspired it, can be viewed in any number of ways, with a different effect each time.
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Review

Danielle Dutton's S P R A W L reads as if Gertrude Stein channeled Alice B. Toklas writing an Arcades Project set in contemporary suburbia. --The Believer

Borrowing techniques from both fiction, poetry, and visual art (particularly photography), the book not only infuses each object . . . with a Vermeeresque glow but arranges it into part of a verbal still life. The result? A fresh take on suburbia, one of reverence and skepticism. The beauty of S P R A W L resides in its fierce, careful composition, which changes the ordinary into the wonderful and odd. S P R A W L in fact does not sprawl at all; rather, it radiates with control and fresh, strange reflection. --Bookforum

In the long line of novels about the vapidity of suburbia, Dutton s has a narrator who may be one of the most likable. Aloof and hilarious, she dissects their lives with the casualness of a cynical scientist. --TimeOut Chicago

Borrowing techniques from both fiction, poetry, and visual art (particularly photography), the book not only infuses each object . . . with a Vermeeresque glow but arranges it into part of a verbal still life. The result? A fresh take on suburbia, one of reverence and skepticism. The beauty of S P R A W L resides in its fierce, careful composition, which changes the ordinary into the wonderful and odd. S P R A W L in fact does not sprawl at all; rather, it radiates with control and fresh, strange reflection. --Bookforum

In the long line of novels about the vapidity of suburbia, Dutton s has a narrator who may be one of the most likable. Aloof and hilarious, she dissects their lives with the casualness of a cynical scientist. --TimeOut Chicago
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Siglio; 1 edition (August 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979956234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979956232
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book so much that I actually used it as an example for a significant portion of my Master's thesis on the concept of suburbia in contemporary literature. I don't normally write reviews on Amazon, but I felt compelled because this one was so poorly reviewed...then I realized it was poorly reviewed by college students who seemed annoyed at having to read a challenging book. This book has neither traditional plot nor traditional layout, but deals instead with a conceptual approach to the experience of a space. It is a very, very, very good read...

Besides, if you love literature, surely you'll agree: poor reviews from confused college students almost always mean a book is at least worth a shot.
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Format: Paperback
What a wonderfully strange and delicious novel that will put you in the mind of a modern-day "Mrs. Dalloway." Danielle Dutton's voice is assured, playful and sensuous. Somewhere out there, Virginia Woolf is smiling.
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Format: Paperback
In the summer, when I am walking around my neighborhood, doing the laundry, making some sort of meal, I think of this excellent take on suburbia, domestic life, possession, and consumption. Like Dutton's other work, the writing performs its subject; that is, these lines are sprawling and nervous, amassing objects, observing, like a still-life painting, the detritus of the everyday.
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