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Box Socials (1991)

por W. P. Kinsella

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
294667,603 (3.46)6
"A whimsical portrait of 1940s-era small-town life, crowded with everything from owl-calling contests to raucous, five-day Ukrainian weddings. It's a delightful comic ramble, written in quirky, digressive style. . . . Richly textured."--Los Angeles Times Here's the story of how Truckbox Al McClintock, a small-town greaser whose claim to fame was hitting a baseball clean across the Pembina River, almost got a tryout with the genuine St. Louis Cardinals--but instead ended up batting against Bob Feller of Cleveland Indian Fame in Renfrew Park, Edmonton, Alberta. Along the way to Al's moment of truth at the plate, we learn about the bizarre, touchingly hilarious lives and loves of just about anyone who ever passed through New Oslo, Fark, or Venusberg. Full of the crackle of down-home folk tales, by turn randy, riveting, and heart-breaking, Box Socials is the triumph of Kinsella's career. Praise for Box Socials "Wonderful . . . Charming and funny . . . If you've never been to a box social, go to this one."--Fannie Flagg, The New York Times Book Review "A sweeping comic work . . . Welcome to the seductively poetic fictional world of W.P. Kinsella."--People "A story filled with nostalgia about a time when the game was played on real grass and was called on account of darkness. . . . A down-home style that resembles the humorous voice of Garrison Keillor."--The New York Times… (mais)
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Sometimes a tale's telling serves merely as the delivery of plot (as is the case of most airport novels). And sometimes the telling itself completely overshadows the plot. Box Socials fits into the latter category. The narration is disarmingly hilarious. I imagine it was quite difficult, a bit of a nightmare, for W. P. Kinsella to write. The narrator uses (what I assume is) language and sentence structure to capture the rhythm of the gossip that one would encounter in rural, small town Alberta. He does this by adopting a set of descriptors and situations that are endlessly repeated throughout the novel, each repetition becoming funnier and funnier. Character Grunhilda Gordonjensen is bulldog-faced, and the reader will be reminded that bulldog-faced Grunhilda Gordonjensen is bulldog-faced every time she's mentioned. Alberta has terrible winter storms, or as the narrator explains, are "good old freeze-the-balls-off-a-brass-monkey" Alberta blizzards. Every time a terrible winter storm is mentioned, the narrator will stop and detail how it would be better to call it a "good old freeze-the-balls-off-a-brass-monkey" Alberta blizzard. I'm going off-topic here, but ya know how everyone describes Baroque era classical music as "math"? If you've ever played an instrumental piece, even an easier version of an instrumental piece, by the likes of J. S. Bach, or sung the Alleluia Chorus by Handel, you'd understand what they mean. Baroque music is patterns, patterns, variations of patterns, all intricately woven in such a way that it's never uninteresting to the ear. In a weird way, the narrative style of Box Socials strongly reminds me of this. It's Baroque music, except that the notes are gossipy descriptions and the overall piece is absurd.

On a personal note, the Canadian setting was a little lost on me, but I enjoyed and related to the Norwegian Lutheran-ous of the characters. It's not as on-target as something you would expect from Garrison Keillor (Kinsella confuses Lutheran liturgical forms with the fire-and-brimstone of other Protestant groups), but it was still fun to read. ( )
  Sylvester_Olson | Jul 1, 2018 |
Wow. Ok, now I know why I couldn't get help knowing what I was getting into from the other reviews. This isn't just a story. Anybody who tries to read it as such is indeed going to be frustrated by the repetitions and the Keillor-esque vibe.

Certainly anyone approaching it from Kinsella's baseball stories will be frustrated by the lack of baseball except as frame & symbol. I had a bit of an advantage over some readers as I've already read many of Kinsella's 'Indian' stories and a few others, and I knew there was going to be at least a whiff of tragedy and some *L*iterary depth.

Well, I was right. As just a plain old good story with some interesting characters and some bits to make one cry. the whole thing could have been accomplished in about 1/3 the pages. But it's more than that. The annoying repetitions are like a chorus (Greek or rock, reader's choice). The faux memoir perspective is both soul-wrenching and ironic. There's humor, tragedy, joy, sex, love, loss, etc....

I can't believe I'm saying this, but: a *L*iterary analysis would be much more valuable than anything I can write. It's a book that would be appreciated and enjoyed more, even by lay readers like me, if re-read, discussed, analysed.

Which is not to say that it's not worth reading unless you're a professor of *L*iterature. If you skim over the repetitions and read for the bits that are the story & characters, with an open mind and some patience, there are some beautiful elements that might just make your heart ache. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is a pretty good set of stories depicting life in small rural communities during the Depression and early 1940s, unfortunately marred for me by some authorial tics, like repeating endlessly tag lines and adjectival clauses that weren't all that great the first time around. All in all, however, I liked and appreciated the way Kinsella hangs character studies and compassion on a baseball frame. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
My first Kinsella, read in 1998.
I had to re-read the first chapter, since I was busy paying attention to the run-on sentences the first time through, I lost the meaning.
A look at life on the Prairies in the '40s - non-idealized, I think.
Well worth the read. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Nov 5, 2008 |
An offbeat humorour telling of recollections by Jamie O'Day about life in rural Alberta, Canada in the 1940's, this is a set of mostly comic pieces about the denizens of his childhood at a time when the major sports were baseball, fighting and furtive sex, mostly told via a background of box socials, a country tradition in which the girls and women would each make box lunches, to be bid upon by the boys and men, with the winners getting to share the lunch with the lady who made them. The story is uneven but frequently hilarious, marred by Kinsella's choice to frequently repeat the same descriptive phrase throughout the story, kind of like Arlo Guthrie in "Alice's Restaurant" ("...with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one..."). But the whole book is partly redeemed by a poignant and heartbreaking bit about Jamie O'Day's own box social, and is easily the best part of the book. The rest is amusing and diverting, but that's about it. ( )
  burnit99 | Jun 16, 2008 |
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"A whimsical portrait of 1940s-era small-town life, crowded with everything from owl-calling contests to raucous, five-day Ukrainian weddings. It's a delightful comic ramble, written in quirky, digressive style. . . . Richly textured."--Los Angeles Times Here's the story of how Truckbox Al McClintock, a small-town greaser whose claim to fame was hitting a baseball clean across the Pembina River, almost got a tryout with the genuine St. Louis Cardinals--but instead ended up batting against Bob Feller of Cleveland Indian Fame in Renfrew Park, Edmonton, Alberta. Along the way to Al's moment of truth at the plate, we learn about the bizarre, touchingly hilarious lives and loves of just about anyone who ever passed through New Oslo, Fark, or Venusberg. Full of the crackle of down-home folk tales, by turn randy, riveting, and heart-breaking, Box Socials is the triumph of Kinsella's career. Praise for Box Socials "Wonderful . . . Charming and funny . . . If you've never been to a box social, go to this one."--Fannie Flagg, The New York Times Book Review "A sweeping comic work . . . Welcome to the seductively poetic fictional world of W.P. Kinsella."--People "A story filled with nostalgia about a time when the game was played on real grass and was called on account of darkness. . . . A down-home style that resembles the humorous voice of Garrison Keillor."--The New York Times

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