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crookedfingers
October 3rd, 2019 
There’s so much to say about Lucy Ellmann’s wondrous novel, Ducks, Newburyport: ostensibly it’s about an Ohioan housewife deep in thought while peeling apples and prepping to make a tart. It’s also about a mountain lioness searching for her cubs and attempting to survive in her shrinking natural habitat. But even more than that, it’s about tackling the novel as a form and modernism as a lens for the human condition.
At over a thousand pages, it’s a stream-of-conscious narrative that reads so freely, it takes on eerie similarities to how we scroll through our social media newsfeeds. The book is a perfect example of publishing as an art, a medium based on amplifying voices and social issues rather than the all-too-often trade fixation on bottom-line sales and marketability of a book and its author. It’s also grabbing the attention of critics and readers everywhere, perhaps most important of all—it has been nominated for the 2019 Booker Prize.

Ducks, Newburyport is a complex book about a complicated time. It reads like an outpour of humanity beckoning to be heard. I spoke with Lucy Ellmann about narrative rhythm, ecological disaster, the meaning of “big books,” and more.
Michael J Seidlinger: It will come as no surprise, and I normally hate asking this question, but I got to ask, how long did it take you to write the book?

Lucy Ellmann: Seven years. And throughout, I wondered if I’d ever finish it. The work got more and more intense. I saw no one, barely even saw my own husband! (I think he was the guy cooking the meals.) I did nothing else but work on the book, if I could help it – or worry about it when I wasn’t doing it… Oi veh. What a mug’s game.

All real writing is literature and men don’t own that. It belongs to us all.

There’s this anxiety that you’ll die before you finish writing a book—I think everyone has it. These 3:00 a.m. jitters. It just means you must work even harder on it.

My father once told me that when you reach a tough juncture in what you’re writing, it’s actually a sign that you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. This advice, correct or not, serves me well through many a tough juncture.

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‘Did we really massacre Indians, enslave Africans and poison rivers for this hellhole?’

Lucy Ellmann: Consumed by consumerism, the US is now the worst boy scout jamboree in history

Mon, Jul 8, 2019, 05:45 Updated: Mon, Jul 8, 2019, 10:53

Lucy Ellmann

Lucy Ellmann: ‘Due to a certain fatigue with conventional narrative, 'Ducks, Newburyport' is essentially one long sentence, with plenty of commas.’

Lucy Ellmann: ‘Due to a certain fatigue with conventional narrative, 'Ducks, Newburyport' is essentially one long sentence, with plenty of commas

You mean we massacred the Indians, enslaved the Africans, cut down all the trees, poisoned all the rivers and imprisoned all the animals for THIS, this hellhole of bombast and hamburgers and opioid addictions and cardboard-box houses and pretend ideas?

You mean we used up all the oxygen on 4th of July firecrackers and forcing kids to pledge allegiance to the flag every day, drank Coke till we choked, spat tobacky till we puked, fought cancer (but only for ill people with lots of money), nestled in Nestlé’s, slurped slurpees, burped burpees, handed on herpes, Tasered the wayward, tortured a million billion chickens (then fried and ate them), just so people can drive around and shoot each other, and create GoFundMe sites to pay the hospital bills?

And yet Americans still blather on about how “great” the place is. They’ll salute it until the whole shebang’s awash in radioactive waste. They’ll be clinging to the roof, barbecuing steaks up there, talking god and cars and rape fantasies until there’s nothing left alive but a few DDT-resistant bugs.

They seem weirdly oblivious to the past and future. Also, the present. Are they indifferent, intentionally unaware, or just too damn busy makin’ a buck? Consumed by consumerism, they wallow in their plasma screens, coveting the next dynamite Apple doodad or the ultimate in ugly trainers. They have ruined the Earth, without a qualm, all so that they can drink beer, make Sloppy Joes, watch football, listen to incessant rock music, wank away on their air guitars, object to the public display of bare female nipples, worry about whether the mailman shut the mailbox properly, and choose a new euphemism yearly for going to the toilet.

How can a woman thrive in a world saturated in patriarchy and porn?

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It is 10:18 AM Thursday morning here in west Michigan. It is a cold gray rainy morning. I had to turn on the heat this morning because the house was cold. I am thankful for a warm house in a cold dead zone.

I got up this morning around 6 o'clock AM, so I have basically been up only four hours. I feel presently like I have been up for hours. But I really have only been up a short period of time today.

I got up and made myself for breakfast oatmeal. After making oatmeal messed with our main computer and wrote in my paper diary. I then ate my oatmeal and messed some more with our main computer.

I have been reading this morning from a book titled, 'How To Disappear-a memoir for misfits' by Duncan Fallowell. I have not gone anywhere this morning. I did go outside this morning to feed our birds and put clean water in the bird bath. I also took garden hoses into our storage area down in the lower level of our house. Winter is quickly approaching and it is time to put away our garden hoses for another year.

Last night I filmed a video and read before going to bed from a book titled, 'Reformed Ethics-Created, Fallen, And Converted Humanity' by Herman Bavinck Edited By John Bolt. I also read last night, 'Carthusian Spirituality-The Writings Of Hugh Of Balma And Guigo De Ponte' [The Classics Of Western Spirituality].

I do not know what I will do today. I will close to drift.
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