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Super-Literary HF

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri November 19th, 2010, 9:31 pm

[quote=""Miss Moppet""]
I don't read very much litfic because I like the books I read to be (a) entertaining and (b) easily comprehensible. Fortunately I have succeeded in finding books in this category which are both - Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife comes to mind. But the super-literary stuff, in HF or outside it, is too rich for my blood. [/quote]

I am glad to hear you and others say this, because it tells me I am in good company, and that my dislike of lit fic doesn't necessarily I am intellectually-challenged!

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wendy
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Post by wendy » Fri November 19th, 2010, 11:09 pm

[quote=""Leo62""]I can't remember the end very well! Doesn't the Judge finally catch up with & kill the Boy...or something like that? What was it that bothered you wendy?[/quote]

Thanks for making me analyse my reaction Leo62! Firstly, I was not sure whether the boy was sexually molested and / or killed (because of all the peodophile hints earlier in the book). Secondly, what connection the Epilogue has to the rest of the story (is "the boy" now "the man" - if so, does "rape" / "violence" represent the price that has to be paid for Manifest Destiny? - if not, what does the coming of the settlers / railroad signify in relation to the rest of the tale?) But mostly I think it was my emotional response. After so much human bloodshed I had become desensitized to brutality until it came to the killing of the bear. Then it felt wrong to react to the killing of an animal while remaining relatively unmoved by all the violence to humans! So I think it was my own response that most bothered me, if that makes sense.

Texas
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Post by Texas » Sat November 20th, 2010, 12:02 am

Thank you! That is so funny....Never heard it before.

Texas
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Post by Texas » Sat November 20th, 2010, 12:02 am

Sorry--somehow this is out of order. I was saying the "wallbanging" phrase is funny, not, not, the posts above.

My bad.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:17 am

And you thought a "wallbanger" was an alcoholic drink. :D

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Katherine Ashe
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Post by Katherine Ashe » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:18 am

I have quite a problem with excessive violence and the insensitivity it produces. Does it carry over into life though? I think not for people who are of reasonably healthy psyche to begin with, judging from the anguished responses of our young people in Iraq and Afghanistan who no doubt have seen a lot of violence in films before being exposed to the real thing.

Then there are those who may be moved by art to commit horrors in reality. Do we have a responsibility to not provide inspiration? How far toward reducing us to writing pablum could that lead?

For myself, when I find a scene of sex or violence getting just too vile I peek ahead to see where the scene ends and read on from there. Too many of those and the book gets pitched, literally, into the garbage. I will not even donate it to my local library.

Regarding the greater sympathy for animals -- that was expressed brilliantly, I thought, in the film The Queen, where Elizabeth breaks emotionally only in her futile effort to save a magnificent elk. Hemingway loved to ridicule people who had more sympathy for animals than for fellow humans, but I think it common. It was used in the film as the principal link of sympathy between the audience and the Queen. One can learn much from that film to the point of how immense dramatic power can be generated without resorting to sex or violence. Would the power be so great if the subject were not a living person so familiar (superficially) to us? Can what worked in The Queen find adaptation in HF?
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Katherine Ashe
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Post by Katherine Ashe » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:26 am

Thank you Boswellbaxter. I followed your suggestion and Diamondlil's instructions of how to upload a picture and, as you see, it came out sideways at the bottom of my post. If I can't get some other help I shall have to continue imageless. Perhaps one can only provide a picture when one joins?
Thanks for getting me this far.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:42 am

I love elephants and the 16th century, so I downloaded the Elephant's Journey to my kindle. I must say, although I like the author's voice and way of putting words together, his punctuation (or lack thereof) doesn't do anything for the story and seriously gets in the way of the reading experience.
I felt the same way at the beginning, especially about the lack of quotation marks, which frequently meant I was confused about who was speaking and had to go back over a stretch of dialogue to figure it out. However, it became easier to follow as I got used to it, and I warmed to the novel just because of the author's voice and his wry take on things. It's almost more like a humorous essay, in some ways, than it is a novel. Still, it won't appear on my "Best of 2010" list. I want to be emotionally stirred and moved by a novel, or else given such a new and intriguing perspective about some aspect of history relevant to the present that reading the novel is an enlightening and/or profound experience. The Elephant's Journey is a little on the lightweight side (especially for literary fiction). Also, I was disappointed not to get to the know the elephant better. The style of the novel doesn't make for a strong emotional connection with any of the characters, elephant included.

Anyone reading the novel in English is reading a translation. However, I assume the translator's omission of quotation marks, paragraph breaks, etc., is justified by Saramago's original Portuguese.
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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Sat November 20th, 2010, 3:34 am

[quote=""Katherine Ashe""]Thank you Boswellbaxter. I followed your suggestion and Diamondlil's instructions of how to upload a picture and, as you see, it came out sideways at the bottom of my post. If I can't get some other help I shall have to continue imageless. Perhaps one can only provide a picture when one joins?
Thanks for getting me this far.[/quote]

If you want to add an avatar (like the dog in my post), click "User CP" on the upper left hand of your screen, and then go to "Edit Avatar." You can download a picture from your computer there. (You can also add a signature line too through the "User CP.")
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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat November 20th, 2010, 3:55 am

[quote=""Michy""]And you thought a "wallbanger" was an alcoholic drink. :D [/quote]

There actually is an old twist to the Harvey Wallbanger (well actually several) but I will behave myself. PM me if you want the gory details from my bartending days ;)
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