Item description for Abbeville by Greg Michalson Jack Fuller...
Until the dot-com bubble burst, George Bailey never gave much thought to why his grandfather seemed so happy, but then George's wealth vanished, rocking his self-confidence, threatening his family's security and making his adolescent son's difficult life even more painful. Returning to the little Central Illinois farm town of Abbeville, where his grandfather had prospered and then fallen into ruin, flattened during the Depression, Feorge seeks out the details of this remarkable man's rise, fall and spiritual rebirth, hoping he might find a way to recover himself. Abbeville sweeps through the history of late-19th through early 21st century America-among loggers stripping the North Woods bare, at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, with French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun, into the abyss of the Depression, and finally toward the new millennium's own nightmares. At the same time it examines life at its most intimate. How can one hold onto meaning amidst the brutally indifferent cycles of war and peace, flood and drought, boom and bust, life and death? In clean, evocative prose that reveals the compexity of people's moral and spiritual lives, Fuller tells the simple story of a man riding the crests and chasms of the 20th century, struggling through personal grief, war, and material failure to find a place where the spirit may repose. An American story about rediscovering where we've been and how we've come to be who we are today, Abbeville tells the tale of the world in small, of one man's pilgrimage to come to terms with himself while learning to embrace the world around him.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.1" Weight: 1.15 lbs.
Release Date Jun 17, 2008
Publisher Unbridled Books
ISBN 193296147X ISBN13 9781932961478
Reviews - What do customers think about Abbeville?
" 'Money can be like fire.' " Aug 4, 2008
This George Bailey's life isn't so wonderful. The 2000 dot com bust forces him and his family to undergo painful financial contractions. George is also worried about his son, Rob. The teenager doesn't see worth in himself and George wants to find a way to reach him. Feeling adrift, George returns to Abbeville, home to his ancestors, to remember his grandfather's life there:
Karl Schumpeter grew up in this farming village in Illinois in the waning part of the 19th century. He learned to fly fish up in the North Woods when his father sent him to learn the logging business with his Uncle John. Karl emulated his uncle when he returned to Abbeville by "thinking big." He built a modern grain elevator and installed a dynamo for electrical power. He was the town banker and the sheriff for a while. Karl was at Verdun during the Great War and when he returned was able to exert leadership that kept the town isolated from the devastation of the Spanish influenza. Karl's expansive business philosophy could not, however, withstand the Great Depression. As George notes, " 'It had never occurred to me that one day I might be wiped out by the market the way Grandpa had been.' " Karl did his utmost to shield his bank depositors and his overextended brother, but his guilt over his own bad judgment prompted him to docilely accept a plea bargain from a vindictive district attorney, who, when they were young, had wanted to marry Cristina, Karl's wife. After nearly two years in prison, he returned and "purged himself through sweat." Gone was his determination to take risks for the sake of progress and personal enrichment. Instead, he took simple jobs: he became the industrious school janitor and the postman. George, in reviewing his grandfather's life, sees the parallels. " 'Money can be like fire,' " Karl said once. George, caught like his forebear, in a serious economic downturn, understands the simile.
In France during World War I, a priest told Karl, "In this life God's grace is nothing you earn, nor is punishment the proof of sin. This is the first great mystery, and it is only made bearable by the second, which is love." Karl remembered those words twenty years later when he was about to enter the state prison, and he thought, "Maybe a man could only live if he didn't fight the forces that tossed him about. Maybe he could learn to love them as he was supposed to love God." ABBEVILLE considers the cycles that humanity rides. It considers how much is the aggregate of human error and how much are effects beyond human control. It does this in luminous language that pins us into the highlights of Karl's life and how George and Rob may learn from him. This novel is filled with sterling insights about the human condition and how the beauties of the natural world may be the balm and the correction for our tendencies to exalt ourselves and our abilities to influence our environment and our time. The lessons of fly fishing trump those of empire building, if you will. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
Another superb novel Jul 19, 2008
This short, poignant, loving and lovely book will increase Jack Fuller's reputation--and about time.
Mr. Fuller is the author of half a dozen outstanding novels--and is a friend of mine. I don't believe I am writing as a friend: I cannot imagine a reader who wouldn't fall in love with this book.
It is a tale of five generations in a family, but the patriarch runs away with the book. Karl Schumpeter, the banker, philanthropist, and almost everything else in Abbeville, has a grandson named George Bailey--but it's Karl who will bring to your mind a more worldly Jimmy Stewart. You'll meet half a dozen characters you will enjoy thinking about, but Karl's story will stay in your mind a long time.
If you like Abbeville as much as I did, you may want to read Fragments, Fuller's excellent Vietnam novel, or The Best of Jackson Payne, the story of a jazz musician.
"Fortune is not the outcome of a test. Good or bad, it is the test." Jun 20, 2008
Opening in 2000, with the return of middle-aged George Bailey to the desolate home and community of his grandfather in Abbeville, in central Illinois, this novel traces the fortunes and misfortunes of several generations of the same family. George has recently lost his considerable personal assets in the crumbling of his venture capital business, and his temporary return to Abbeville, where his grandfather achieved unprecedented success before losing everything in the Depression, is an attempt to figure out how his grandfather put his losses behind him and went on. Karl Schumpeter, George's grandfather possessed an unwavering ethical sense and a staunch sense of responsibility to his family and community, and he managed to persevere, serving as a model for his children, grandchildren, and community at large.
Like Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, by Steven Millhauser, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997, this novel has an enormous scope, and in its attempt to show the panorama of American history over more than a century, it shows major events from the late 1800s to the present and their effects on families and communities. The logging industry and industrialization of rural areas at the turn of the century, World War I and its battles, the Crash of 1929, and World War II all affect the main characters, their wives, and children. Because of the long time frame, the reader comes to know the characters in terms of their reactions to seminal events, but the characters are not as fully developed as they might have been in a novel with a smaller focus.
Author Jack Fuller vividly recreates the atmosphere of the logging camps, the frantic activity of panicked citizens who are about to lose their life savings in the Crash, the torments of war, and the personal rivalries and vendettas which often accompany small town life. Karl Schumpeter, George's grandfather gives life and inspiration to his family and to Abbeville, even as he loses his bank, his grain storage facility, his general store, and all his local assets. His loyalty and his empathy for others make him an admirable character across time and place. George, visiting the old homestead and its memories hopes to absorb some of life's lessons in Abbeville.
Alternating among generations, the narrative is fast-paced, but that pace, and the scale of the time frame, lead to a novel in which the author develops his themes of ambition, entrepreneurship, honor, and responsibility, somewhat at the expense of character development. When George is visited by his teenage son, with whom he takes a fly-fishing trip, like the trips he made with his father and grandfather, his son is ultimately able to learn some of the lessons passed on through the family for five generations, continuing the novel's themes into another era like a multi-generational morality play. n Mary Whipple
Fragments (Phoenix Fiction Series) The Best of Jackson Payne: A Novel News Values: Ideas for an Information Age Convergence (Phoenix Fiction Series) Biography - Fuller, Jack William (1946-): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online
great saga Jun 3, 2008
George Bailey felt he lived "A Wonderful Life" until the dot.com collapse wiped out his wealth; worried about the impact on his family, he thinks back to his youth when his grandfather seemed contented whether he was wealthy or broke. Needing inspiration to get past his gloom and doom, George goes to the place of his nineteenth century roots, Abbeville, Illinois.
This is where his grandfather Karl Schumpeter began working at as a clerk at his uncle's logging company before going to Chicago during the 1893 Exposition to trade in grain futures. After getting married, Karl returns to Abbeville where he thrives as a banker. In his late thirties Karl goes to France as part of the ambulance corps as WWI ignites Europe. However after the Great Depression's Black Tuesday, Karl makes illegal loans to friends and family; he goes to prison for his actions. Always upbeat, he feels he disgraced his family; he was never quite the same, but once back with the love of his family never stopped trying. Now his grandson, George fears he will fail his family too.
Using the cycles of the twentieth century as a backdrop of rise and fall at a family level, Jack Fuller provides a great saga of an individual's spirit embraced by his values to survive war, economic disaster, personal loss of loved ones and pride; yet through it all Karl kept rising like a phoenix. Fans will want to join George on his odyssey to discover how his ancestor remained optimistic even as he felt humiliated when he was caught in the American nightmare; staying upbeat is easy when you live the American dream. This is an excellent look at the impact of momentous events on people through a deep look at a caring person who would not make a footnote outside of his family.