The giant's house

Elizabeth McCracken

Book - 1996

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FICTION/McCracken, Elizabeth
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1st Floor FICTION/McCracken, Elizabeth Due Jun 3, 2022
Subjects
Published
New York : Dial Press c1996.
Language
English
Item Description
"A romance."
Physical Description
259 p.
ISBN
9780385340892
0385314337
Main Author
Elizabeth McCracken (-)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A platonic, decorous and achingly poignant love affair between a young man who suffers from gigantism and a librarian who is 14 years his senior is the focus of this remarkable debut novel. McCracken is not merely a born raconteur; she is also an assured stylist and an astute student of human nature. Narrator Peggy Cort, spinster librarian in a small town on Cape Cod, first becomes aware of James Sweatt when he comes into the library with his grade-school class. At age 11, James is already 6'2" and destined to keep growing. Peggy finds herself drawn to the gentle, lonely young man, both because he fills a void in her own life and because she is in effect adopted by James's loving but eccentric family. The reader is mesmerized by this low-key narrative, first lured by Peggy's alternately acerbic and tender voice, then captivated by James's situation and intrigued by his family, later engulfed by pathos as James's body begins to fail and, finally, amazed by a turn of events that ends the novel with a major surprise. McCracken also invests the narrative with humor, sometimes through Peggy's astringent comments and more often through the use of minor characters who add vivid color and their own distinctive voices. One thinks of Anne Tyler's Illumination Night as the closest comparison to this brilliantly imagined chronicle of a peculiar, unique relationship. And like Tyler, McCracken (who also wrote the well-reviewed short-story collection Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry), shows herself a wise and compassionate reader of the human heart. BOMC selection. (July) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

YA-As a librarian, Peggy Cort is fully able to provenance the quotation "Whoever lov'd that lov'd not at first sight." But she finds it impossible to establish why, at 26 years of age, she is so instantly obsessed by James Sweatt from his first appearance across her desk. He is 11 years old, overly tall, with a faraway look and unusual interests that bring him often into her Cape Cod reading room. This is an unusual story of fascination developing into an abiding, supportive devotion. James is far from average. By the age of 19 he is over 8 feet tall, the giant of the title. So unique is he in his physical form that he carries with him only a vague and disturbing medical prognosis. His adolescence in a 1950s small town is as gently average as his extraordinary physical demands can render it. Supported by the loving acceptance of family and community, James would yet have been isolated but for Peggy's singular recognition of him as her someone to cherish and nurture. With nothing of the freak about it, this is an involving and moving romance.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Library System, VA

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Befriending an adolescent boy who is ostracized for his unusual height, bereft Cape Cod librarian Peggy Cort finds a soulmate in James and comes to love him as he grows into a man who is eight-feet tall. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

“McCracken mixes the proper amount of lunacy with exactly the right amount of sorrow. The blend is reminiscent of such late-20th-century treasures as The Accidental Tourist, The World According to Garp, or A Confederacy of Dunces.”—Denver PostThe year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt– the “over-tall” eleven-year-old boy who’s the talk of the town–walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they soon find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted. In James, Peggy discovers the one person who’s ever really understood her, and as he grows– six foot five at age twelve, then seven feet, then eight–so does her heart and their most singular romance.Praise for The Giant's House“Remarkable . . . McCracken has wit and subtlety to burn, as well as an uncanny ability to tap into the sadness that runs through the center of her characters’ worlds. This book is so lovely that, when you’re reading, you’ll want to sleep with it under your pillow.”—SalonA true marvel . . . thoroughly enjoyable from its unlikely beginning to its bittersweet end. . . McCracken knows all kinds of subtle, enticing secrets of the heart and conveys them in silky, transparent language.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Lovely . . . a tribute to the quiet passion of people trapped in isolation.”—Los Angeles Times “Fascinating . . . The reader finds herself entangled, body and soul, in this tender and endlessly strange novel, which is in all senses a hymn to human growth gone haywire and to a love so big it can’t hold its own magnificent limbs upright.”—Elle“Such is the incantatory power of McCracken’s eccentric tale that by its close we are completely in the grip of its strangely conceived ardor. . . . McCracken is as original a writer as they come. . . . I fell in love.”—Daphne Merkin, The New Yorker