Family

Overview

Using letters and other family documents, Frazier reconstructs two hundred years of middle-class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them. He observes some of them during the British raid on Danbury, Connecticut, in the Revolutionary War; he follows others west as they pioneer in the wilderness of Ohio and Indiana; he visits the battlefields where they fought the Civil War. Frazier interviews old-timers, uncles, ...

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Family

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Overview

Using letters and other family documents, Frazier reconstructs two hundred years of middle-class life, visiting small towns his ancestors lived in, reading books they read, and discovering the larger forces of history that affected them. He observes some of them during the British raid on Danbury, Connecticut, in the Revolutionary War; he follows others west as they pioneer in the wilderness of Ohio and Indiana; he visits the battlefields where they fought the Civil War. Frazier interviews old-timers, uncles, aunts, cousins, maids, and a beer-store owner who knew his dad. He pursues the family saga in aspect from trivial to grand, hoping for "a meaning that would defeat death." Family is a poetic epic of facts, a chronicle of Protestant culture's rise and fall, a memorial, and a revised view of American history as romantic as it is cold-eyed.

Frazier's first book since his bestselling Great Plains tells the story of his family in America, from the early colonial days to the present. Using letters and other family documents, he reconstructs 200 years of middle-class life; visiting small towns where his ancestors lived, he discovers the larger forces of history that affected them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Frazier] is a writer of grace and charm."—The Washington Post Book World

"It is a stunning book, written in sentences and paragraphs concealing emotional depth charges that explode across the gap from page to reader."—Geoffrey Stokes, The Boston Sunday Globe

"Frazier takes the ordinary and clothes it with a sweetness that creates a special humanness for each family member."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Mr. Frazier, in this remarkable history of an unremarkable family, plays both roles, the gossip and the pedant, balances skillfully, then adds his own insights as a loyal family member."—David Willis McCullough, The New York Times Book Review

"A remarkable demonstration of Frazier's ability to write with rare, pure love and to make his feelings meaningful to casual passersby—his readers."—A Time magazine Best Book of 1994

"The most unusual, compelling, and warmly received book of the season."—New York magazine

"[Frazier is] a writer of uncommon grace and subtlety."—Chicago Tribune

"Family is a keeper—an oddball classic that somehow manages to lodge itself squarely in the American grain."—Malcolm Jones Jr., Newsweek

"Family grows from a look at one small, close-knit group of people into an appreciation of this whole country."—Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times

"A rich and ennobling book, a transcendent affirmation of individual and communal purpose."—Tom De Haven, Entertainment Weekly

Chicago Tribune
An essay on the American family, an institution whose inherent flaws Frazier explores with an unblinking eye.
Library Journal
Frazier, author of the best-selling Great Plains Farrar, 1989, illuminates the recent history of this country by crisscrossing the nation to track down the names and stories of relatives as far back as his great-grandparents. Though at first the past seems as orderly as the listing of such simple details as births, marriages, and occupations, we soon move past now-peaceful graveyards to the roiled accounts of what real life was like for the people who joined the westward migration, fought in the Civil War, prospered in the oil boom, and suffered the untoward effects of progress. By weaving in his own circumstances as a young lad growing up heir to hardworking, pious traditions, Frazier converts what could have been merely a hearty retelling of popular history into a searching tale of parallels that solder together 130 years like links in the chain of life. This entrancing saga will resonate powerfully for readers reaching their middle years as the 20th century ends. Larger libraries may want multiple copies.-Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress
Booknews
Frazier (Great Plains, 1987) spent five years sifting through papers handed down in his family for generations and researching the people and places of his ancestry to write an unusual book that melds history, genealogy, and autobiography. Frazier's awesome efforts to know as much as possible will inspire others to examine what they know about the facts and myths in their own family history. His drive to explore the details of his own identity, and his considerable talents for research and clear writing, are shaped by some all-important talents, in particular, his sense for what details of the Frazier family history and experiences speak to those outside his own circle (a tricky task), and his sense of mission--one that is beyond personal aggrandizement. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312420598
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 652,834
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, The Fish’s Eye, On the Rez, Family, and Travels in Siberia, as well as Dating Your Mom, Lamentations of the Father, and The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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