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Mac's Backs will host a special discussion of Lucy Ellman's epic novel, Ducks, Newburyport. Not for the faint of heart, this 988-page tome will keep you turning pages until you reach the utterly satisfying end. All adventurous readers are invited.


Baking a multitude of tartes tatins for local restaurants, an Ohio housewife contemplates her four kids, husband, cats and chickens. Also, America's ignoble past, and her own regrets. She is surrounded by dead lakes, fake facts, Open Carry maniacs, and oodles of online advice about survivalism, veil toss duties, and how to be more like Jane Fonda. But what do you do when you keep stepping on your son's toy tractors, your life depends on stolen land and broken treaties, and nobody helps you when you get a flat tire on the interstate, not even the Abominable Snowman? When are you allowed to start swearing? With a torrent of consciousness and an intoxicating coziness, Ducks, Newburyport lays out a whole world for you to tramp around in, by turns frightening and funny. A heart-rending indictment of America's barbarity, and a lament for the way we are blundering into environmental disaster, this book is both heresy--and a revolution in the novel.

Lucy Ellmann's first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A LamentDot in the UniverseDoctors & NursesMimi. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and she has written for the New York TimesWashington PostGuardianIndependentIndependent on SundayTimes Literary SupplementTelegraphNew Statesman and SocietySpectatorHeraldScottish Review of BooksTime Out (London), Art Monthly, Thirsty BooksBookforumAeonThe Evergreen, and The Baffler. A screenplay, The Spy Who Caught a Cold, was filmed and broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. She edits fiction for the Fiction Atelier (, and abhors standard ways of teaching Creative Writing, which she considers mostly criminal. Though American by birth, she lives in Scotland.

"Ellmann captures the pathos of the everyday, how one might use pie crusts and film synopses to dam in pain. She also allows the narrator's avoidance to suggest a greater amnesia, an American reluctance to face its past and its ongoing brutalities. The narrator lives in a country whose mythic propositions hang in the same limbo as her run-on sentence...Ellmann's commitment to compilation and description suggests a resistance to hierarchies. It also flickers with tenderness. The time and care that she lavishes on her narrator seem like their own form of political speculation--that every individual is owed an unending devotion, and that such devotion, applied universally, might change the fate of the world." --New Yorker

"An unputdownable rant by an anonymous homemaker and pie baker in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Our narrator streams a running commentary on small-town life, marriage and re-marriage, gun violence, the rise of hate in Trump's America, and her analysis of Little House on the Prairie. It all ratchets up to a startling climax that rewards the reader for their persistence." --Grace Harper, Mac's Backs (Cleveland, OH)

We will meet at Hunan on Coventry, just down the street from Mac's Backs at 7 p.m. Please email if you are coming. Thanks!



Event date: 
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
1820 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
Ducks, Newburyport Cover Image
ISBN: 9781771963077
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Biblioasis - September 10th, 2019