Ducks, Newburyport: One extraordinary sentence 1,000 pages long

Book review: Lucy Ellmann has produced one of the outstanding books of the century so far

Lucy Ellmann: ‘This isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.’

Lucy Ellmann: ‘This isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.’

Mathias Enard’s novel Zone consists of a single sentence lasting 512 pages, ending with a full stop. Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones has a single sentence lasting for 216 pages and ends unpunctuated, floating away on the Mayo breeze.

Now, in Ducks, Newburyport, Lucy Ellmann has written a continuous sentence (punctuated only by commas and ending with a full stop) which lasts for close to 1,000 pages, a total made difficult to calculate due to an auxiliary story which nuzzles into the main text every so often. This is written in a more conventional fashion, unlike every other part of the novel which works as a continuous flow of thoughts and associations; an approach that is not in any way gimmicky.

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