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May 2011 Book of the Month: As Meat Loves Salt

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Tue May 3rd, 2011, 12:56 pm

So far, it isn't the sort of book I want to read quickly. It's one of those books I read a little, put it down to digest, then go back to. I think the beginning seems a little slow because it's first person narrative--more stilted than flowing in its style--and the story is being revealed in slow but subtle increments with much going on beneath the surface. We are limited by what Jacob chooses to tell us or acknowledge to himself.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri May 6th, 2011, 12:20 am

Speaking of covers, my book has the older cover of the man (see first attachment). I didn't realize just how appropriate that cover was until I looked it up. It's apparently the painting, The Wounded Man, by Gustave Courbet. It currently resides in the Musée d'Orsay, and I thought the history, described here, was interesting. I also found a film by this name on IMDb which was described by one reviewer as one of the great unknowns of gay cinema. On Wik, I found another self-portrait of the artist which I can't resist posting as well. Doesn't he look a little like Johnny Depp?
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Fri May 6th, 2011, 5:33 am

I didn't realize just how appropriate that cover was until I looked it up.
Amazingly appropriate. Although I couldn't ever call Jacob heroic, his suffering does lead him to strive with such intensity to become a less violent, less selfish person that the striving itself does seem to have a certain heroic quality. His extremely impulsive nature and his limited capacity for empathy make it extraordinarily difficult for him to grow in the way that he wants to grow. And yet he does strive mightily and achieves some fractional success, if never enough to get the stable love relationship that he wants.

It's so intriguing that the woman was replaced by a sword. It almost seems as though McCann might have been inspired by some type of subtle symbolism within the painting.
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Sat May 7th, 2011, 9:38 pm

Yes, the woman replaced by the sword and a red blood stain added over the heart do seem very symbolic for this tragic story of love and betrayal.

I finally finished this today. Sometimes I come across a book that cannot be completely absorbed in one reading. That's true for this one. I think I will need to go back and re-read this again someday. So much lies under the surface or is revealed only in glimpses and partial truths. I think it would take at least a second reading to pick up on all of it. I'm still trying to sort out certain parts of it in my mind.

So do you think Ferris really loved Jacob? Or was Jacob as replacable as Nathan or even Joanna? Ferris's relationship with Jacob reminded me a little of Frankenstein with his monster. He may not have created him, but he bore a certain responsibility for him. No matter how much Jacob tried for normalcy and love, he was never going to be able to deny the beast when circumstances pushed him beyond the brink. I did wonder who was more the serpent in the relationship -- Ferris or Jacob? This is definitely a story that leaves you wondering who is the ultimate betrayer. Maybe it was because Jacob was narrating, but I never quite felt like I had a handle on Ferris. I don't think I was meant to.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Sat May 7th, 2011, 9:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

annis
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Post by annis » Sat May 7th, 2011, 10:48 pm

Warning- possible spoilers for those who haven't reached the end yet!

It's a while since I read the book, but my feeling is that Ferris initially saw Jacob as a lost and friendless soul and took pity on him, without having any understanding of Jacob's possessive nature and insatiable need for love and approval. Ferris became ambivalent as he found the relationship increasingly oppressive and wanted to move on, especially after Jacob's violent sexual attack upon him. His inability to bring the relationship to an end properly leads to his almost cruel actions in sidelining Jacob in favour of Caro.

And yes, the "wounded man" is a particularly apt image for Jacob, whose emotional development appears to have damaged by the early loss of his father, though there may well have been other factors at work like repressive, guilt-laden religion. Jacob certainly exhibits many of the symptoms of a sociopathic personality. I found the ending very disturbing. Despite professing love for Ferris, rather than lose him to a woman, Jacob took a voluptuous pleasure in watching Ferris' destruction at the hands of a bullying local landowner - if I can't have you, nobody will.
Last edited by annis on Sun May 8th, 2011, 12:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Brenna
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Post by Brenna » Sun May 8th, 2011, 12:07 am

Yeah, I bailed on this book. I even skipped a few chapters to see if I could get into it, but nope. I will say that I agree with annis' description of Jacob and also that the ending was difficult to digest (yes, I will read the end of the book that I don't finish, just so I can see what happens!)
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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Sun May 8th, 2011, 10:06 am

I'm half-way with this book. I'm finding it interesting but not sure I'm enjoying it as I thought I would. I really enjoyed the author's second book, The Wilding, but the storyline of this one isn't really grabbing me.
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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Sun May 8th, 2011, 10:32 am

Oh dear, I'm about to start reading this! perhaps it's one you have to be in the right "mood" for?
Currently reading: "Pine" by Francine Toon

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sun May 8th, 2011, 10:40 am

I enjoyed the beginning and then it got a bit bogged down in the Civil War, but it's now picking up. So it's not that I'm not enjoying it altogether and I may change my mind by the end of the book. It has some good ratings on Amazon, etc. It could be one of those memorable sort of books where you think back on it later and decide that you actually rather enjoyed it.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Mon May 9th, 2011, 1:06 pm

[quote=""annis""]Warning- possible spoilers for those who haven't reached the end yet!

I found the ending very disturbing. Despite professing love for Ferris, rather than lose him to a woman, Jacob took a voluptuous pleasure in watching Ferris' destruction at the hands of a bullying local landowner - if I can't have you, nobody will.[/quote]

Yes, the ending is very disturbing. I didn't interpret Jacob in that scene as taking voluptuous pleasure, though. Jacob did plan on having his vengeance and abandoning Ferris and the community to the landowner's thugs, but he did not plan on being there to witness it. The thugs arrived a day earlier than Jacob was warned. I saw Jacob as galvanized by what he witnessed, unable to act but also unable to look away. I didn't see him as taking pleasure in it. When he looks into the eyes of the leader with the long fingernails, he's horrified that he's seeing himself.

There are several unanswered questions in the book. What happened to Izzy? Was Caro as innocent as she seemed in the beginning? What really happened between Caro and Zeb (Zeb drops some hints, but isn't forthcoming, and Caro later plays a dangerous mind game with Jacob)? Did the brothers have an incestuous relationship?

I went back and read the scene near the beginning when the servants are gathered together discussing the pamphlets. Their conversation takes on a whole new meaning when you read that scene again... debating incest, a brother's bastardy, Jacob's jealousy of Zeb rubbing shoulders against the young man he later murders.

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