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Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy
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Mister Sandman (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Barbara Gowdy

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3331733,108 (3.75)22
Member:ParadisePorch
Title:Mister Sandman
Authors:Barbara Gowdy
Info:Flamingo (1997), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy (1995)

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» See also 22 mentions

English (16)  Dutch (1)  All languages (17)
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Publisher synopsis: “The Canary family are unlike any other. Joan is exquisite, tiny, mute, plays the piano like Mozart and lives in a closet. Marcy is a nymphomaniac, while Sonja earns a fortune clipping hair-grips to cardboard and knits compulsively. Their parents keep their own habits secret for as long as they can.”

The secrets of the parents are that Gordon is homosexual and Doris likes to sleep with other women. The story reaches its climax when Joan reveals them to each other.

Well-written, but a bit bawdy for my taste.

(The title is derived, on one level at least, from the tunes that Doris always has running through her head. I kept hearing the beautiful tune Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream…. Here it is played by a master. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-c66SJPuUI&feature=autoshare)

Read this if: quite honestly, I’m not sure who should read this. 3 stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jan 17, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's taken me forever to review this book because I misplaced it and only recently tracked it down. After reading some of the reviews here, I expected to love Mister Sandman, but I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I liked it a lot, but it just didn't grab me the way it did other readers. I'm a fan of the funny, dysfunctional family, but the book made me sad more than anything. Maybe I shouldn't have read reviews, but I was expecting it to be really funny. It's at times moving, and it's well-written, but you might want to approach it with fewer expectations than I did.
  haloolah | Feb 4, 2010 |
Family dynamics...truth seen through eyes of brain-damaged child... odd, odd, odd. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was surprised to see this as an Early Reviewer book on LibraryThing because I knew it had been published in 1995. I also knew it was one of Nancy Pearl's Booklust 'must reads'. This is a re-issue, now with an introduction by Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love. Barbara Gowdy is a consisently good writer and here again we find strong characterization, this time with dark humour and frank sexuality. The Canary family are unconventional to say the least. Gordon and Doris Canary are emotionally dishonest with themselves as well as others. Their habit of lies and wildly exaggerated histories spills over into the lives of their daughters, Sonja and Marcy. We laugh at some of the ridiculous things they say but with a tinge of sadness because they resort to such self-deceptions to get through life. Gowdy's characters seem almost preposterous, although she is non-judgemental and compassionate towards them and we come to understand them better once we get to know them. The story is set in the 50's and 60's during which a third child is born into their midst. A mute but musically gifted and insightful creature, little Joan becomes the unwitting keeper of all the family secrets and ultimately its saving grace. We do care about the characters after all because they protect and care for each other. But I found the sexual bits disturbing. I've heard Mister Sandman compared to both Geek Love and Arrested Development but I have read neither myself so you will have to judge for yourselves. ( )
  posthumose | Sep 23, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was an enjoyable read about a rather out-of-the-ordinary family. Although this family harbors some fairly significant secrets, there is probably truth in the idea that people routinely hide their most intimate selves from the people with whom they live most closely. If you were a fan of “Arrested Development,” you will enjoy this book. ( )
  mymia | Jul 20, 2008 |
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...cocks a snoot at conventions, both moral and literary, and is so brilliantly crafted and flat-out fun to read that [she] makes jubilant sinners of us all.
added by GYKM | editThe Washington Post
 
This undeniably strange saga is related in beautifully polished prose shot through with witty asides, startling poetic images and a series of hilarious scenes that beg to be read aloud...
added by GYKM | editPublishers Weekly
 
Mister Sandman kidnapped me, enveloped me in a dreamlike haze, and dropped me back to reality breathless...an amazing achievement.
added by GYKM | editThe Ottawa Citizen
 
Her language is unpretentious, relentless, but full of sympathy for her characters...We can't get enough of Barbara Gowdy's intelligent, familiar, and yet bizarre characters.
added by GYKM | editHamburger Abendblatt
 
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156005778, Paperback)

This riotous account of "the family unit" was a smash hit in Europe, Canada, and England. In the Times Literary Supplement, author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale) praised Barbara Gowdy's novel as surprising and delightful, containing moments "at the same time preposterous and strangely moving." The Canary family guards many secrets, including the mystery of tiny daughter, Joan, who was dropped on her head at birth and has never spoken. Joan plays the piano like Mozart, yet has never had a lesson. The outrageous hilarity rises into a climax that creates a stunning new definition of family togetherness.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Barbara Gowdy's outrageous, hilarious, disturbing, and compassionate novel is about the Canary family, their immoderate passions and eccentricities, and their secret lives and histories. The deepest secret of all is harbored in the silence of the youngest daughter, Joan, who doesn't grow, who doesn't speak, but who can play the piano like Mozart though she's never had a lesson. Joan is a mystery, and in the novel's stunning climax her family comes to understand that each of them is a mystery, as marvelous as Joan, as irreducible as the mystery of life itself. In its compassionate investigation of moral truths and its bold embrace of the fractured nature of every one of its characters, Mister Sandman attains the heightened quality of a modern-day parable"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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