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Accordion Crimes (1996)

by Annie Proulx

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,873475,049 (3.4)109
E. Annie Proulx's "Accordion Crimes" is a masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent. Proulx brings the immigrant experience in America to life through the eyes of the descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Africans, Irish-Scots, Franco-Canadians and many others, all linked by their successive ownership of a simple green accordion. The music they make is their last link with the past -- voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance. Proulx's prodigious knowledge, unforgettable characters and radiant language make "Accordion Crimes" a stunning novel, exhilarating in its scope and originality.… (more)
  1. 10
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (eenerd)
    eenerd: Same formula of all the people tied together over time by a particular item or object.
  2. 00
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    Sandwich76: A dumb thriller to cleanse the palate
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» See also 109 mentions

English (45)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Abandoned this one. Each of the sections I got through was interesting enough, but I lost interest in the book as a whole and it began to be a slog for me, so after a couple of weeks of slogging, I abandoned it.
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
This book reminded me so much of [book:Girl in Hyacinth Blue|321577]. Proulx's book actually came first. In this novel, we follow a small green accordion. It is masterfully made by an Italian immigrant, spends decades with a German immigrant who loves it and plays it constantly, and then it moves on to other owners, becoming more rundown as it ages. In the end, it gives up its last gifts.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue is one of my favorite books, I loved how the painting is the main character of the book. I also like how it goes backward in time, tracing the provenance of the painting through the centuries. In this book, we are following the accordion forward through about 100 years. But each of these chapters focuses on the people around the accordion, and less on the accordion. The people have adventures, the accordion does not. In some of the chapters, the accordion barely makes an appearance. I think Proulx had a very interesting idea here, but could not quite flesh it out. Vreeland's similar idea works so much better IMO.

I listened to this on Hoopla, and there was accordion music sprinkled between some chapters, other chapter breaks were such dead silence that I thought it had paused itself. I'm not sure if there are issues with the Hoopla audio book (it also thought it was 45 minutes longer than it was), or if my download didn't work quite right. 3 stars because of the accordion music, the book itself is 2.5 stars for me--middling.

My 100th book of 2019! ( )
  Dreesie | Dec 24, 2019 |
oh boy... this is a tough one to rate. i adore annie proulx, and her writing is so good. but, man, did this book draaaaag for me, and i am not totally sure why. the book is a series of connected short stories, with the common denominator being an accordion. each character who ends up with the little green accordion is well portrayed by proulx, and some of the settings are very vividly created. and yet, i found it so clunky and disjointed. i never got into a good flow with this, and it feels like i've been reading this book for months and months. it was a clever idea to base these stories around the travels of the accordion, and the lives into which it landed. i wish i enjoyed reading it so much more than i did. 4-stars for the writing. 2-stars for the stories. ( )
  JooniperD | Jun 27, 2019 |
Annie is an American gold piece. A treasure. Always gives the best history class with topping around ( )
  paleporter | Aug 27, 2017 |
A Sicilian makes a two-button accordion and then goes to La Merica with his son, Silvano. There, they encounter racism and suspicion, are lumped together with all "Italians" and find themselves competing for jobs with black men. The story then unfolds following the accordion's travels to German immigrants in the midwest, to Mexican Americans in Texas, through time and various immigrant experiences.

This is probably one of the most complicated stories we've read for my library book club. The one story is essentially eight longish short stories detailing the lives of many characters, moving back and forth in time to tell individual's stories, all the while the accordion features in some way, small or large, sweeping through almost a century. There are moments of humor, but most of the tale is bleak and does not shy away from horrors of death or reversals of fortune. By the end, I was bracing myself for the next awful thing to happen. The writing is lovely, descriptive, and keeps you reading at a slower pace pondering these characters and their lives. WE will have plenty to discuss from the immigrant experience to the power of music to the intricacies of the plot. ( )
  bell7 | Mar 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proulx, Annieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krege, WolfgangTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szoka KatherineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willemse, ReginaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, MeganCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
My dad came over with a button accordion in a gunny sack, that's about all he had.
~ Ray Maki,
liner notes, Accordions in the Cutover
Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white" -- they would be only Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and others engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity.
~ Cornel West, Race Matters
Caminante, no hay camino,
Se hace camino al andar.

Traveler, there is no path,
Paths are made by walking.
~ Antonio Machado
Dedication
FOR
MUFFY, JON, GILLIS, AND MORGAN
AND
IN MEMORY OF LOIS NELLIE GILL
First words
It was as if his eye were an ear and a crackle went through it each time he shot a look at the accordion.
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Disambiguation notice
ISBN 0671570617 is for Whisper My Name by Fern Michaels
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

E. Annie Proulx's "Accordion Crimes" is a masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent. Proulx brings the immigrant experience in America to life through the eyes of the descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Africans, Irish-Scots, Franco-Canadians and many others, all linked by their successive ownership of a simple green accordion. The music they make is their last link with the past -- voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance. Proulx's prodigious knowledge, unforgettable characters and radiant language make "Accordion Crimes" a stunning novel, exhilarating in its scope and originality.

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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."
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