ducks, newburyport by lucy ellmann

“ducks, newburyport” was my 2021 doorstopper. as always, i picked it up at random, lured in by the blurb on the cover. lesson number one – do not trust book opinions from cosmopolitan. the only other book i hated so much was “war and peace”.

“ducks” excelled at making me feel suffocated, angry, and dumbfounded all at the same time. the protagonist was written as incredibly infuriating person. she is dim with occasional flashes of some intelligent thought, but mostly it’s jumbled sludge of utter mediocrity. all this time i tried to parse whether lucy ellmann was intentional with such portrayal, or it was accidental. i was not successful.

parts about the lioness were the only relief in the form of proper grammar, structure, and narrative amidst the rest of the word vomit. juxtaposed against the most uncoherent stream of consciousness they looked like some genius prose. but when re-read in isolation, the illusion doesn’t hold up.

to summarise, “ducks, newburyport” made me feel like a duck who has to waddle through metric ton of mud to get a billfull of edible grass. and even that tiny bit is not tasty and barely nutricious.

if you treasure your time, do not ever spend it on this book.