Among the Wonderful

Among the Wonderful

3.43 (418 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In 1842 Phineas T. Barnum is a young man, freshly arrived in New York and still unknown to the world. With uncanny confidence and impeccable timing, he transforms a dusty natural history museum into a great ark for public imagination. Barnum's museum, with its human wonders and extraordinary live animal menagerie, rises to become not only the nation's most popular attraction, but also a catalyst that ushers America out of a culture of glassed-in exhibits and into the modern age of entertainment. In this kaleidoscopic setting, the stories of two compelling characters are brought to life. Emile Guillaudeu is the museum's grumpy taxidermist, who is horrified by the chaotic change Barnum brings to his beloved institution. Ana Swift is a professional giantess plagued by chronic pain and jaded by a world of gawkers. The differences between these two are many: one is isolated and spends his working hours making dead things look alive, while the other has people pushing against her, and reacting to her, every day. But they both move toward change, one against his will, propelled by a paradigm shift happening whether he likes it or not, and the other because she is struggling to survive. In many shapes and forms, metamorphosis is at the core of "Among the Wonderful." Pursuing this theme, the book weaves a world where upper Manhattan is still untrammeled wilderness, the Five Points is at the height of its bloody glory, and within the walls of Barnum's museum, ancient tribal feuds play out in the midst of an unlikely community of marvels.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 459 pages
  • 139.7 x 236.22 x 30.48mm | 703.06g
  • Steerforth Press
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1586421840
  • 9781586421847
  • 2,389,707

Review quote

An "engaging novel from newcomer Stacy Carlson. The great strength of this book is Carlson's evocation of time and place." -- "O, The Oprah Magazine " "Carlson ably exploits this historical milieu, describing the milling crowds in the exhibition halls; the malodorous, dangerous alleyways of the slum called Five Points; the swampy, still-wild edges of Upper Manhattan. . . . [she] writes sensitively, often beautifully, of the desire to be free of the gaze of others, of the misery of serving as a mirror in which others may see themselves." -- New York Times Book Review "Phineas T. Barnum opened his American Museum in lower Manhattan in 1841, and it is here Stacy Carlson sets her novel "Among the Wonderful"--a story that, like its subject, contains multitudes and makes the heart leap. The sheer number of ideas in play here is something of an acrobatic act: Carlson touches on the era's changing concept of research and scholarship, New York City's expansion, the beginnings of social conscience, xenophobia, hucksterism, the intersection of science and popular culture, loneliness, objectification, faith. And, yes, love--at the center of this tale of marvels beat two very human hearts. . . . Every one of these characters has burrowed their way into my own sense of wonder, and they'll stay with me a long time. I very much look forward to whatever Stacy Carlson comes up with next." -- Lisa Peet, "Open Letters Monthly" (http: //www.openlettersmonthly.com/likefire/pocket-review-among-the-wonderful-by-stacy-carlson) Carlson's "portrait of mid-19th-century New York is as finely hatched as any, with gritty Five Points teeming with malice and child neglect and society ladies kicking off suffrage meetings with spiritual sessions. But what draws you in are her two narrators, each fumbling their way toward the rest of humanity, toward what is wonderful about being part of the world." "-- East Bay Express" "Carlson (sets) her story before the dawn of tshow more

About Stacy Carlson

Stacy Carlson's work has appeared in "In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Writing, Inkwell," and "Lumina." She won the 2003 Dana Portfolio Award, given for three book-length manuscripts, and was awarded residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California and Galleri Svalbard, in Norway. A native of Seattle, she now lives in Oakland, California. www.amongthewonderful.com.show more

Rating details

418 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 14% (59)
4 35% (146)
3 36% (151)
2 10% (42)
1 5% (20)
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