A Story of San Francisco

Cover image for


Author: Frank Norris
Published: 1899
Language: English
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 55.7
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 1,582 5318

"Since Bret Harte and the Forty-niner no one has written of California life with the vigor and accuracy of Mr. Norris. His 'McTeague' settled his right to a place in American literature; and he has now presented a third novel, 'Blix,' which is in some respects the finest and likely to be the most popular of the three."--Washington Times. (Made into the film Greed by Erich von Stroheim in 1924.)

Show Excerpt

ide of his hand. Bull-like, he heaved himself laboriously up, and, going to the window, stood looking down into the street.

The street never failed to interest him. It was one of those cross streets peculiar to Western cities, situated in the heart of the residence quarter, but occupied by small tradespeople who lived in the rooms above their shops. There were corner drug stores with huge jars of red, yellow, and green liquids in their windows, very brave and gay; stationers' stores, where illustrated weeklies were tacked upon bulletin boards; barber shops with cigar stands in their vestibules; sad-looking plumbers' offices; cheap restaurants, in whose windows one saw piles of unopened oysters weighted down by cubes of ice, and china pigs and cows knee deep in layers of white beans. At one end of the street McTeague could see the huge power-house of the cable line. Immediately opposite him was a great market; while farther on, over the chimney stacks of the intervening houses, the glass roof of some hu


Average Rating of 4 from 1 reviews: ****

Hard to read, harder to put down

McTeague is a big man and he is for the most part strong, simple minded, docile and obedient not unlike a draught horse. He meets Trina, who is small, pale and delicate not unlike a child’s doll. He is overwhelmed with her fragile beauty, she feels safe enclosed by his great strength. They determine to marry and by a miraculous stroke of luck, just before they marry, she wins a lottery, securing their future.

But Trina has a problem; she likes to count her money much more than she likes to spend it and it is after all, her money.

And then things begin to go bad…. very bad.

The characters in this book form an odd combination. McTeague, Marcus and Trina seem to come straight from Zola; realistic, flawed and tragic, while the supporting cast Mrs. Baker, Grannis, Maria and Zerkow seem to have been dropped out of a Dickens’ novel. However, the style is unquestionably Zola, tough, gritty and uncompromising.

In the end, a great piece of American literature although sadly, often overlooked.

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