A review by grayjay
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann


Ducks, Newburyport is an experimental novel taking the form of mostly one, long, list sentence, many beginning with the phrase “that fact that”. Ellman's style approximates the stream-of-consciousness of an unnamed woman living in Ohio as she goes about her day. Through the references she makes, the word plays and associations, the open carry guys, the school shootings, Julie & Julia, hating the Aurora Borealis, Uranus' ocean of diamonds, the Wetsueten, fake news, and old movies, the reader is able to build a picture of this woman, and by extension, the cultural moment she lives in.

It is the kind of novel that walks a very fine line between tediousness and masterpiece. I enjoyed the challenge, but I found it difficult to take in more than twenty-page chunks. Perhaps it is just a tedious masterpiece. It maybe depends on the reader. At over 1000 pages of one sentence, it takes devotion to get through.

There is a pay off however—all though it doesn't seem like it at first, there is a plot evolving slowly through the glimpses of this woman's day, it it builds satisfyingly to a climax and resolution.