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Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx
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Accordion Crimes (original 1999; edition 1996)

by E. Annie Proulx

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Book description
For her third novel, Annie Proulx decided to focus on the American immigrant experience, a topic that had intrigued her for some time. Proulx told interviewer Sybil Steinberg she wanted to write "about the cost of coming from one culture to another. I wanted to get a sense of that looming overculture that demands of newcomers that they give up their language, their music, their food, their names."
Haiku summary

A tale of immigrants centered on an accordion brought to America in the 1880s. After its Italian owner is murdered, the instrument passes into the hands of other ethnic groups--German, French-Canadian, Mexican, Polish, Norwegian--and the novel describes their ceremonies, dreams and hates. By the author of The Shipping News.… (more)

(summary from ISBN 0684831546)

Late in the 1800s, a Sicilian craftsman painstakingly designs and builds an exquisite musical instrument that will be his ticket to success in America. As the family prepares to leave on their trip, paralysis incapacitates the man's wife, who must be left behind, but determination carries him on to New Orleans. In a land where immigrants are viewed with contempt and suspicion, the accordion maker is accused of murder and acquitted of the crime--but later hanged by an angry mob. His small green accordion then travels from one unlucky owner to another until its ignoble destruction in 1996.… (more)

(summary from ISBN 1419307959)

Accordion Crimes opens in 1890 in Sicily as an accordion maker completes his finest instrument - nineteen polished bone buttons, sleek lacquer - and dreams of owning a music store in America. He and his eleven-year-old son, carrying little more than the green accordion, voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans. Within a year, the accordion maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynching mob, but his instrument carries Proulx's story into another community of immigrants, the German Americans, founding a town in Iowa. Again, the accordion is witness to an astonishing array of tales as Beutle, Messermacher, Loats and their families make and lose fortunes in the new land.The little green accordion falls into the hands of various immigrants who carry it from Iowa to Texas, from Maine to Louisiana, looking for a decent life. Descendants of Mexicans, Africans, Poles, Germans, Norwegians, Irish, Basques and Franco-Canadians, they work their way into a harshly racist American culture at the cost of their identity, language and traditions. The music of the accordion is their last link with the past - voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance - but it, too, is forced to change.… (more)

(summary from ISBN 185702575X)

Accordion Crimes opens in 1890 in Sicily as an accordion maker completes his finest instrument - nineteen polished bone buttons, sleek lacquer - and dreams of owning a music store in America. He and his eleven-year-old son, carrying little more than the green accordion, voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans. Within a year, the accordion maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynching mob, but his instrument carries Proulx's story into another community of immigrants, the German Americans, founding a town in Iowa. Again, the accordion is witness to an astonishing array of tales as Beutle, Messermacher, Loats and their families make and lose fortunes in the new land. The little green accordion falls into the hands of various immigrants who carry it from Iowa to Texas, from Maine to Louisiana, looking for a decent life. Descendants of Mexicans, Africans, Poles, Germans, Norwegians, Irish, Basques and Franco-Canadians, they work their way into a harshly racist American culture at the cost of their identity, language and traditions. The music of the accordion is their last link with the past - voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance - but it, too, is forced to change..… (more)

(summary from ISBN 1857025083)
Book descriptions

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684831546, Paperback)

Proulx found fertile, if rocky, soil for her first two novels (Postcards and The Shipping News) in the far northeastern corner of North America. In Accordion Crimes she ranges much further afield. The novel follows an accordion from the hands of its maker in Sicily in 1890 until it is flattened by a truck in Florida in 1996. In the intervening century it passes through the hands of a host of unlucky owners and their kin: Abelardo Relampago, who dies from the bite of a poisonous spider; Dolor Gagnon, decapitated by his own chain saw; Silvano, cut down in the jungles of Venezuela by an Indian's arrow.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684195488, Hardcover)

"Accordion Crimes traces the long odyssey of a button accordion, an instrument made by a Sicilian who immigrates to New Orleans in 1891. Imprisoned in a round-up of Italian suspects after the political murder of the chief of police, the accordion maker is lynched, and his accordion falls into the hands of Apollo, a black steamboat screwman. The instrument begins its long, erratic voyage through 20th-century America, passing through the hands of the descendants of slaves, immigrants and their children, some of whom learn that the cost of becoming American is to surrender the private definition of self.

"Accordion Crimes is alive with vividly drawn characters who sometimes meet violent, strange ends, and who, at other times, succeed in a hard world. Filled with indelible images, Proulx's latest novel is charged with sardonic wit and is, at different turns, darkly hilarious and heartbreakingly sad. What we see as the accordion weakens and disintegrates is a haunting and ominous sense of what is America.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 185702575X, Paperback)

The third novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Shipping News', 'Accordion Crimes' spans generations, continents and a century and confirms the hallucinatory power of Proulx's writing. 'Accordion Crimes' is a masterpiece of story-telling that spans a century and a continent. It opens in 1890 in Sicily, when an accordion-maker and his son, carrying little more than his finest button accordion, begin their voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans. Within a year, the accordion-maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynch mob, but his instrument carries the novel into another community of immigrants: German-Americans founding a new town in South Dakota. Moving from South Dakota to Texas, from Montana to Maine, the nine instantly compelling and intricately connected sections of the novel illuminate the lives of the founders of a nation, descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Germans, Irish, Scots and Franco-Canadians. Through the music of the accordion they express their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:09 -0400)

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