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Staggerford: A Novel

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Originally published: New York: Atheneum, 1977. This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

One of the Greatest Books Not Called a Classic

Reading this book is like settling into an old chair. Staggerford is a caricature of every rural Midwestern town. You recognize the characters, but Hassler knows them intimately.This novel starts with the pretense of chronicling ordinary days in one seemingly average man's life. It trails along with the lulling, monotonous pace of routine. As it progresses, the reader is drawn deeper into the disappointments, regrets, and aspirations of a handful of quirky but endearing characters, all tied to the main character, Miles Pruitt. The serene landscape and lives of Staggerford are spontaneously rocked by life's inevitable truths. Lies quickly unravel and havoc takes hold. The whole of the book's slow portrait serves to heighten the intensity of one moment. Then, just as quickly, the town settles again into the quiet passing of uneventful days.

The Book that Changed the Way I Thought about Books.

I first read Staggerford because I had friends who were students of Mr. Hassler at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. They said such wonderful things about him, that I decided to take a look at his first novel. By the time I finished it Staggerford had affected me so profoundly that I couldn't read another book for weeks. Only once before had I been so exhilrated (and disturbed at the same time) by a story: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.Why is Staggerford so affecting? Because the characters are not small-town hicks living in an isolated, backwards community. They have real ambitions, real quirks, and real drama in their lives. What is so remarkable about them is that while they are not ordinary people, they are also just like us, which is a refreshing paradox to find in fiction.Mr. Hassler's genuine affection for his characters is not sappy or syrupy, but is amusingly tempered by a small-town practicality that allows him to "tell it like it is."If you are looking for other Hassler books to dig into, I'd like to recommend something other than A Grand Journey and Dear James. Although I greatly enjoyed those two books, I'd like to suggest Rookery Blues and The Dean's List as examples of Mr. Hassler's incredible ability to build an amusing, unusual, and utterly real small town community.

staggerford has become my standard book recommendation

Jon Hassler's books are deceptively simple, containing wonderful writing about everyday people in small-town Minnesota. I say that the writing is deceptive, because in spite of the settings and protagonists, the books have none of the hallmarks of, well, hallmark. The humor is abundant, but not folksy, the subject matter is life and sometimes death, without being melodramatic or contrived. Staggerford, his first novel, is a great place to start. I've given Staggerford to at least 30 people as part of a birthday or wedding or Christmas gift, and all of the recipients -- of many different reading preferences -- have thoroughly enjoyed it and most have gone on to read more Hassler. While it may not change your life, it's a perfect book for a summer's day on the porch with an iced-tea or a winter's night with hot chocolate.
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