A Novel

Book - 2019
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"Three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley"--
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062862853
Branch Call Number: FIC MCCRACK 2019
Characteristics: 373 pages ; 24 cm


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Mar 12, 2020

I just couldn’t get into this book. The writing style was too twee for me. It seemed like the author was so impressed with her language she forgot about engaging the reader. This is the only book I have ever given myself permission to stop reading halfway through.

Maybe it suddenly got better in the second half, but I doubt it.

CCPL_Carly Jan 09, 2020

Excelling at quirkiness, this long-awaited third novel from Elizabeth McCracken is an outlandish family saga that is chock full of whimsical details and oddball characters, with the genealogy of a bowling alley at its heart and soul. Bowlaway should have special appeal to those familiar with New England eccentricities, but any readers drawn to peculiar settings and characters should be charmed by this tale.

Dec 30, 2019

This book is on a lot of "best of" for 2019 and I just couldn't get into it. Set in a candlepin bowling alley open by the best character in the book feminist Bertha Truit. Goes through the various decendant and their relationship to the bowling alley. It has interacial marriage, grief stricken parents who lost children, musicians and artist. Though there are some profound paragraphs I could barely finish the book.

Oct 10, 2019

Goodreads reviews of this book are differing citing both its excellent writing and haphazard jumble of characters and lack of plot. I especially liked the first part with the main character Bertha Truitt, a buxom, brash, stranger who arrives unconsciously and mysteriously in the Salford Cemetery in the 1800’s and quickly brings her chutzpah and candlepin bowling to town. The book radiates out from her and those whose lives she touches. As in life, some of these characters are more interesting than others and the book plods along, for me especially in the last third. Thematically, I appreciated its looking at the role of family history, ancestry, what it means to have parents and a family or to be an orphan. In this book, neither provides an inoculation against the vicissitudes of life. There is a spiritual component around talk of nature, religion, ghosts, and a replica Bertha doll that leaves the last scene with a fellow, now an old man, who as a young man first found her those many decades before.

Some favourite passages:

Pg.44 “In the mornings he would walk. He was a man of nature, he could go miles along the river...At the start of a walk, alone and moving, the sun at his back or cold rain down his collar, he was more himself than under any other circumstance, until he had walked so far he was not himself, not a self, but joined to the world. Invisibly joined. Had a religion been founded on this, purely this, he would have converted...Proof of God? Proof was in the world, and the way you visited the world was on foot...Your walking was a devotion.

Pg.65 “Margaret did not want to strive to understand the world. She wanted the world to simplify, so that she might understand it.

Pg.219 “She’d worn her most ostentatious clothes because she knew that the best camouflage was a kind of flagrancy: you didn’t have to worry how people took you so much if the first thing they noticed was that you were rich.”

Pg.243 “She believed in God for the same reason anybody does: it is unbearable to think that our private thoughts are truly private.”

Pg.306 “Gin was the soup of the day. He drank it. He had been so good.
Now he said it to his mother, weeping. ‘I’ve been so good.’
She answered bitterly, ‘Well, it surely doesn’t seem like you enjoy it.’
What good was goodness if you did it miserably, they both thought, but in different ways.”

Pg.363 “The moment Ethan had died...Joe’s inclination had been to join the army, though he was eighty years old and a pacifist. There must be some way to be shipped far away from home and killed, for a good reason, in another country.”

Jun 02, 2019

I read the first 72 pages of Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. It was a Peak Pick at the library, and I picked it up on a whim. It did not appeal to me. Both the characters and the story are quirky. With so many books on my list to read, I hate to waste my precious reading time on a book I don’t especially like.

Apr 23, 2019

Entertaining, and it taught me about a whole new sport.

Mar 15, 2019

Heard this author on the news hour and I liked what she had to say about life


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