Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport is a literary feat of gargantuan proportions, a 1000-page Ulysses for our times, and it’s also been nominated for this year’s Booker Prize. As a result, the book world’s gone a bit mad for it. So if you’ve been observing the headlines from afar but have yet to dip your toe into the (admittedly) quite large pool that is Ducks, here are ten reasons why you should take the plunge.
#1 The fact that it’s been nominated for the Booker
We mentioned that one already, didn’t we? But it bears repeating, as it’s proof after all that we aren’t just trying to rope you into reading a 1000-page brain splurge but a real literary achievement that, to our immense pleasure, is getting the praise and recognition it deserves.
#2 The fact that book reviewers just won’t shut-up about it
‘Lauded’ doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to Ducks. Here are just some of the things people are saying:
…it is the great female modernist writers of the early 20th century that Ellmann fits with most assuredly […] a wisecracking, melancholy Mrs Dalloway for the internet age. – Catherine Taylor, The Financial Times
…stuck between insanity and genius […] you’d have to be mad to read this book, but you might be glad you did. – John Self, The Sunday Times
…this is a novel that rewards perseverance, is truly unique, and feels like an absence in your life when you finish it. – Alex Preston, The Observer
The fact that the writing has a beautiful cadence and rhythm. The fact that I haven’t even mentioned all the hilarious, salty comments about Trump […] The fact that this isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far. – Declan O’Driscoll, The Irish Times
This 1,000-page monologue of an angst-ridden US homemaker fretting about love, loss and the state of the nation is an unabashed triumph – Ian Sansom, The Guardian
…what could possibly turn out to be the most important novel of the decade […] This is a novel for the idea of America today, for readers in the roiling, constant flow between the self and the other, and the self and nationhood. – Alex Marraccini, LA Review of Books
Is it any good? Oh my word, yes. … No other novel published this year is likely to have a stronger claim on the attention of contemporary and future readers – David Collard, Literary Review
#3 The fact that it’s about the times we live in now
Trump. Gun control. Internet porn. Medical bills. Motherhood. The climate crisis. Bad grammar. Too many kinds of sandwich. Written from the perspective of an Ohio wife trying to make sense of the world we live in, Ducks covers A LOT of ground. It’s radical, angry and it cuts to the bone of every modern madness you can think of.
#4 The fact that you can say that you’ve read a 1000-page book
…and one sentence (kinda) stream of consciousness. Your friends will be so impressed.
#5 The fact that one Ducks owner live-tweeted reading the whole thing
From start to finish, and all of its been collected here. It’s a wonderful, witty and insightful read-a-long, and just a tiny insight into the fab reading community that is springing up around this book. Read Ducks, tweet about it, tell your friends.
#6 The fact that you’ll be supporting an amazing indie publisher
Printing a 1,000-page book does not come cheap. It’s a risk and an expensive one. One that even the big publishing houses will rarely take, especially when that book is so radically different from anything currently on the shelves. But Galley Beggar Press, who published this brilliant book, is the kind of publisher that takes risks, and champions authors they believe in.
So by buying this book you’ll not only be supporting the fantastic scene that is UK indie publishing, but a literary powerhouse who is providing a vital platform for tomorrow’s writing talent.
#7 The fact that it’s really, really funny
This book will make you laugh a lot. It might make you cry as well, but that only makes it all the more worth reading.
#8 The fact that Galley Beggar Press has a book club where you can chat about it
Remember that fab reading community we mentioned? Well for the first time the publisher has set up an online forum (complete with a live chat session every Sunday) where they can all hang out. It’s a really wonderful, novel idea and worth a look in.
#9 The fact that it’s part-narrated by a mountain lion
Uh-huh. You’ll just have to read it to find out what that’s about.
#10 The fact that if you start reading 10 pages a day RIGHT NOW you’ll finish it before Christmas
And when you put it that way, we think there’s really no excuse.
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann is out now from Galley Beggar Press (9781910296967, p/b, £14.99)