Cover Image: The Field

The Field

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Member Reviews

Gorgeously written, deeply melancholic vignettes told by the dead,  all of them buried together in a poorly-tended cemetery. Each gets a turn to share what they remember of their life story--what impressions they still remember, even after death. I loved the way these stories intersect. I loved the way some of the voices share memories of a single event told from different perspectives. I especially loved the vignettes that were more a series of vivid life impressions, rather than a story per se. Sometimes the memories of the dead consist of very small, and yet significant sense impression. The touch of a spouse. Seeing the boy who bullied you as a child many years later, while he is in the act of tenderly embracing a woman. The way each voice in turn describes their memories with nearly pointillistic detail, tiny moments that have stuck in the mind even after death, reminded me of the oral-history works of Walter Kempowski.
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A collection of stories, as told from the perspectives of the inhabitants of a small-town graveyard. Each individual story is usually fine, but I found it hard to really get into the book as a whole, perhaps because of the lack of connection between the stories -- occasionally you'll get a twinkling of one of the other characters in the background of a story, but for the most part there's less connection than you might expect from a small town where presumably there'd be a lot of overlap. The standout for me was one story with about a man with a gambling addiction and then the following story, from the point of view of his wife, providing a different perspective on the same events, so the lack of other instances of these interconnections felt like a missed opportunity. The graveyard conceit also meant I couldn't help but compare it to <i>Lincoln in the Bardo</i>, which is a hard act to follow; I found myself just itching to read that again instead.
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I like the overall message of connectedness we share, and there are some interesting characters and perspectives presented. Seethaler is a talented writer and skillfully created this engaging tale. Probably best for literary fiction fans.

Thanks very much for the free review copy!!
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The Field is a gorgeous, quiet book, filled with the deceased voices of Paulstadt. The stories weave together, yet each voice is distinct and independent. The translation is also lovely, and doesn't feel "translated" - the language is smooth and rich, and I can only imagine the translator did the German justice. 

Thanks to NetGalley and House of Anansi Press Inc. for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
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