Accordion Crimes, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


The third novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Shipping News', 'Accordion Crimes' spans generations, continents and a century and confirms the hallucinatory power of Proulx's writing. 'Accordion Crimes' is a masterpiece of story-telling that spans a century and a continent.

It opens in 1890 in Sicily, when an accordion-maker and his son, carrying little more than his finest button accordion, begin their voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans.

Within a year, the accordion-maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynch mob, but his instrument carries the novel into another community of immigrants: German-Americans founding a new town in South Dakota.

Moving from South Dakota to Texas, from Montana to Maine, the nine instantly compelling and intricately connected sections of the novel illuminate the lives of the founders of a nation, descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Germans, Irish, Scots and Franco-Canadians.

Through the music of the accordion they express their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance.




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8 quite long stories about immigrant life in the US all linked by their involvement in some way with accordian music, but also sharing deprivation, hardship, misery, depravity and isolation. All the immigrants are on their own, it vividly shows up the lack of state help, but none of them seem to have loving friends or relations. She certainly knows a lot about accordian music, but I should hate to be trapped in a railway carriage with her talking on the subject. She has a compulsion to lists, which are paraded before you, the writing is a bit like a stream of consciousness.I wondered whether she was really going for a sort of black humour, a subtitle could be "99 horrible ways to die violently", but surely life isn't really this bad, even in the USA?

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