BuffySquirrel> ok, hands up who's read the book
BuffySquirrel puts up hand
DaveFragments> I have
Kiersten> Umm...I've started it. I'm really, really busy adding to my rejection collection.
BuffySquirrel> so, who liked it?
Kiersten> I like it so far.
evledtr> This book is a classic.
BuffySquirrel> anyone really didn't like it?
DaveFragments> I liked it but I found the detail tedious and I was 150 pages into it screaming "where are you going?"
BuffySquirrel> so, bit slow for you dave? I thought it moved along fairly fast given the wealth of detail.
DaveFragments> in the book, I did reach the point of wanting less "thoughts" more substance And I thought it took too long to explain what the Bishop's Bird Stand was.
BuffySquirrel> i agree, dave it did seem to assume that you knew what a bird's stump is
Kiersten> Yes, what IS a bird's stump?
Xenith> I thought that was part of the "mystery"
BuffySquirrel> a bird's stump is a flower vase. but the bishop's bird stump isn't a flower vase, it's ironical: that's the bishop's IDEA of a flower vase cos he wouldn't buy one
DaveFragments> It's a piece of ugly junk with flowers in it.
Kiersten> Oh. Not at all what I had pictured.
BuffySquirrel> i think that is a flaw. . . unless you are meant to wonder for pages and pages and pages where you're too engrossed even to go get the dictionary
Xenith> you don't get to see it until the characters see it on stage
BuffySquirrel> that's true, xenith
Xenith> though coming down the river was a bit slow
BuffySquirrel> but i was very busy laughing at the poor narrator not realising he had the cat
Robin> I loved it. And I didn't expect to. The dialogue in this was absolutely SO well done.
BuffySquirrel> and all the things that nearly happened to the poor cat! i bought my dad a copy and he loved it
Kiersten> Well, I wasn't expecting much after it was compared to "The Water Method Man" but it was MUCH more appealing than that book.
BuffySquirrel> so it's obviously been a hit with a broad readership
Robin> I liked it a lot - and it was a totally different kind of novel for me.
DaveFragments> I started my fast read that's like a scan - yes
Kiersten>I think it's the most charming and effective use of first person I've ever read. I've always found first person to be very self-indulgent, but I think Willis does it incredibly well.
BuffySquirrel> hmm, that's interesting kiersten. self-indulgent in that it's a projection of the writer?
Kiersten> yes, Buffy, either you feel like you are getting all of their thoughts or you just want the narrator to SHUT UP. This was entertaining. I couldn't do it. First person is exhausting. I wrote a short story (it got published even!) and I don't think I'll ever do it again.
Robin> I like first person if it's done well - if it isn't then I agree- yuk.
BuffySquirrel> i hate badly done first person. it gives first person a bad namE!
Xenith> when it's good, it's very, very good but....
Robin> Yep- this was GOOD first person.
Kiersten> I haven't even gotten to the part where he finally realizes he has a cat.
BuffySquirrel> but you knew, right?
DaveFragments> I wondered what was so special about that cat. That's the problem with the Slipstream time travel gimmick
BuffySquirrel> cat is a "misplaced object". . . . or not
Robin> I enjoyed that whole slipstream thing. It reminds me of the way we think.
DaveFragments> I understand the time paradox and what happens as alternate history, but the cat didn't seem to have any importance until she reveals she brought it from the past.
BuffySquirrel> i thought there was a fuss about the cat, with it being The Only Cat in the World ohmygod
DaveFragments> PArt of the payoff is the Butler telling off the daughter about "running with the in crowd" and not having opinions of your own
BuffySquirrel> my dad pointed out that it's quite wrong to compare the butler to Jeeves Jeeves was a gentleman's gentleman, not a butler
Kiersten> I did like the nurse in the beginning, going off on how much better use the money could be put toward. That's how I feel about a lot of people's pet projects.
Robin> Can I say that I loved the 'old timey' chapter set ups?
Kiersten> There were a lot of very funny asides. And the section when he is time-lapsed and getting ready and the victorian tutelage is blending with everything else was great.
Xenith> I liked the time-lagged stuff too Kiersten
DaveFragments> But they were timelagged because of Lady Sphincter (I hope that's her name)
Kiersten> Schrapnell, Dave dearest. A little different.
BuffySquirrel> Schrapnell cos bits of her fly off and hit anyone within range
BuffySquirrel> i thought the cat was Suspiciously Quiet i mean they said it was time-lagged, but it was Very Quiet for a Cat in a Basket
evledtr> I thought the seance was the funniest part, though I now don't remember why.
DaveFragments> Seance was good.
BuffySquirrel> almost every victorian book has to have its seance
BuffySquirrel> has anyone read Three Men in a Boat?
BuffySquirrel> did you think it had anything of the same feel?
Xenith> the stuff at the beginnings of the chapters didn't work very well
BuffySquirrel> you mean the short little introductions? i think those divide opinion a lot
DaveFragments> What's his name Cormac McCarthy does that chapter summary stuff too.
BuffySquirrel> i tend to skip stuff like that. Dune is full of it. i mean, why not just read the summaries and skip the novel?
Xenith> in 3 Men, the chapter summaries added something, often that wasn't in the narrative whereas in this one, they were just alist of things that happened
BuffySquirrel> i think that's a good point
Robin> I love the quotes and the chapter sum stuff. And the humor tossed in throughout - without fanfare.
DaveFragments> I think it is pretentious and silly to add "stuff" to the beginning of chapters.
Robin> I like it - it sets it up for me. I read the ends of books first. I like knowing.
Kiersten> Beginning of the chapter asides sometimes frustrate me because I spend the chapter trying to find the information.
Robin> OK- so I'm the only one who liked the way this was structured?
Kiersten> I didn't dislike it.
DaveFragments> I've read chapter summary stuff that bears no meaning to the story. It's just there to create atmosphere (I hate that gimmick)
Robin> I mean- the set up of the chapters, etc.
evledtr> I didn't read the opening chapter lists, but it didn't bother me that they were there, as I assumed it was a nod to 3 men in a Boat.
Xenith> didn't miss much by not reading them
DaveFragments> That's another thing that can create somnolence in a reader - if they read the other book, they know the reference but if not, then it's a bore
Xenith> some of the references were not obvious, I think
evledtr> I hadn't read the other book, but didn't find it a bore. There was hardly any of it.
DaveFragments> I could find the stuff this telegraphed to the reader. Maybe doing that is unfair, maybe not.
Kiersten> I had the worst Victorian Lit class in college; maybe this will help me feel better about the era.
DaveFragments> It's cutely Victorian and well researched, but I wouldn't consider it a historic example of Victorian Era life
BuffySquirrel> no most certainly not! but it's a romp, so it probably doesn't matter
Kiersten> Oh, I certainly don't think it's Victorian. I just hope that by making light of it I can get over the horrors of that mind-numbingly boring class.
evledtr> We see only one family.
BuffySquirrel> and a pretty strange one
BuffySquirrel> at least she doesn't make the mistake of thinking ponderous = victorian i've read a lot of imitation Victorian and it's usually dreadful
DaveFragments> My dearly departed doggie is greatly missed but I never treated it like Ned treated Cyril. My stars man, get some testicles
Xenith> depends on the dog
Robin> I liked some of the sentences so much I underlined them -yeah, i'm a geek, sue me).
Kiersten> There were some great lines, Rob
Robin> I have the paperback- and on page 173 is one of my favorites - the sentence that is the second para. Loved it.
DragonSlayer> going to quote for us?
Xenith> mine's gone back to the library
DragonSlayer> mine's in one of five twenty-book-high stacks
DaveFragments> I have the book club hardback - - it's got 400 some smalelr pages of tiny type
Kiersten> Type it out for us, Robin?
DragonSlayer> that'll keep her busy :D
Robin> "She also fell very slowly, and during the time it took her to collapse onto the carpet, I registered a number of impressions:" is the sentence. The reason I loved it and noticed it is because that's the way people think - they do think in slow time-fast time like that - and to me, this mirrored the book so well, and this whole slipstrema approach, but brought to a moment.
DragonSlayer> cool, Robin--thanks for sharing :)
DaveFragments> Did anyone find the discussion of ULTRA, the Enigma Machine or Coventry strange?
Xenith> had no idea what ultra was
DragonSlayer> Dave posted a page on ULTRA. a bit late perhaps :D
DragonSlayer> i had great fun working out who was going to be The Mysterious Lover
Xenith> I guessed Mr C early
DaveFragments> THey telegraphed it as the Butler with all that Peter Wimsey talk
DragonSlayer> well, i knew the cat was in the basket, even if i didn't guess mr C! lol
Xenith> there is a quote at the start of one of them chapters about using a false name in a country house
DragonSlayer> ah that should have tipped me off
Xenith> although because of that, I did think it was Terence for a while
DragonSlayer> what did people dislike? apart from it being a bit slow
Xenith> I reckon the bulldog should have been a fox terrier
evledtr> I disliked nothing.
DaveFragments> That's it with my dislikes - slow
Kiersten> Mostly my only complaint is that I have to focus a lot. And with my two-year-old climbing all over me any time I try to erad, that's kind of hard. It's why I read a lot of YA these days.
Robin> I didn't think it was slow at all. Not everything has to zing along to make me happy. i like to think as I read.
evledtr> I went to a Connie Willis reading once at a....conference.
DaveFragments> how did she sound in person?
Robin> What was her voice like at the conference?
Kiersten> She seems like she would be terribly clever and fun to talk to.
DaveFragments> The book has a great sense of humor.
evledtr> Anyone here read Doomsday Book?
Kiersten> No--is it very similar?
Xenith> I don't think so
DaveFragments> No, I got a stack of unread books
Robin> This is the first book like this that I've read.
evledtr> It's not funny, but it has Mr. Dunworthy and the Net.
DaveFragments> Well that net sets up the plot - the time paradox
evledtr> No doubt Dragonslayer has read it.
Kiersten> Do all of her books intersect?
DragonSlayer> the time traveling folk also appear in Firewatch, which is a short story about the Blitz
Robin> Is this an actual series then? Or looser than that?
DragonSlayer> it's looser than that i think
evledtr> And while they don't use the net, Lincoln's Dreams and Passage involve going into the past. It's a Connie Willis specialty. Doomsday Book involves accidentally going back to the time of the plague and getting trapped. It would be Robin's cup of tea.
Robin> Why? I'm not disagreeing- just wondering.
evledtr> More like Lit Fic.
DragonSlayer> it's a device that she uses in various ways Doomsday Book is very different--it's a sad book i think in a series you would expect more continuity of feel
DaveFragments> The bombing of Coventry is still controversial. Some still believe that Churchill knew in advance.
Robin> Sounds like the Pearl Harbor thing.
DaveFragments> Yes, very much the same - - someone knew something was wrong but not what and couldn't act on it at the time. The Allies in WW2 actually did send spotter planes out to fool the Nazi's They did disseminate bad info about how they found Rommel - She has that history correct
Robin> I'm not so worried about the history being absolutely accurate - as long as it's in the ball park- because I think accurate histroy is so often in the 'eye of the beholder'.
Xenith> history changes a lot
Kiersten> So--what do you think about writers who always use the same theme/style? Stick with a good thing, or branch out?
Xenith> Kiersten: depends if they're relying on it because it's easy & works, or they're exploring parts of it/developing ideas/you know
Kiersten> Ah. I've read some authors and just gotten tired--feels like they're writing the same thing over and over. And then there are the ones who are amazing writers, and although there are similarities, there's enough difference. Marilyn Robinson's two books come to mind. I'll have to check out more of Willis'.
DaveFragments> She didn't invent the fact that Coventry was bombed and the implications of it. She didn't invent ULTRA and all it implies
Robin> I think most authors travel repeatedly through the same territory. Hemingway. Fitzgerald.
evledtr> If you're successful and want to make money, you give 'em what they want. Which is what they loved the first time around.
DaveFragments> Robin: I was like that for 20 years - only read the same stuff over and over. Then I joined a book group and they cured me of that
Robin> Sounds right to me, EE. I have to tell ya, Dave, that if it weren't for EE's idea about switchin genres around, i'd have stayed in my comfort zone.
Xenith> reading the same thing all the time
Robin> Glad you did it the way you did it, sparky.
DragonSlayer> heh, the book is safely in my comfort zone
Kiersten> Hey, if someone paid me to write, I'd write whatever they wanted. It's definitely fun reading something I wouldn't have known about otherwise.
DragonSlayer> hacks used to do well not sure how it works now but there is work for hire out there if you look
Kiersten> Yes, but you have to find the work first...
DragonSlayer> find sites for book packagers
DaveFragments> I joined the "Gay and Lesbian" book club at Border back in the 80's and when that ended, I joined the literary group. I knew I shouldn't join "mystery" or "Sci-Fi" that's all I read from when I was a kid.
DragonSlayer> sometimes when i stray outside SFF i find i bring my reading approach with me which can be fatal to more literary books
Robin> I studied literary fiction - and have read it for quite a while. But really- if well-written, i'm seeing the whole lit fic thing is a construct. I'd say this is well-written enough to qualify. plus, some of the utter crap that passes for lit fic now is self-serving scab-picking schlock.
DragonSlayer> i think a lot of litfic feels like it's written with eternity in mind
Kiersten> Yeah, I'd totally qualify this as lit fic.
DragonSlayer> but what's "eternal" is popular fiction. the litficcers would have a fit! loll the stuff people read
DaveFragments> oooh - I know lots of Sci-Fi that way (self-serving scab-picking schlock)
DragonSlayer> well Sci Fi is almost by definition schlock as opposed to science fiction :)
DaveFragments> The entire Star Trek franchise ruined me for time travel stories
Xenith> (bit slow there squirrel)
DragonSlayer> i was restraining self, Australia
DragonSlayer> would you recommend this book to your friends, folks?
DragonSlayer> you really loved it, EE?
evledtr> I'm a sucker for time travel and good humor. Best of both worlds.
DaveFragments> I'm going to take it up to my Mother to read, maybe my Niece's 13 year old DragonSlayer> i love time travel
DaveFragments> It's a fun book to read and that sense of humor is enough for me not to badtalk it
DragonSlayer> hard to find good time travel books tho
Xenith> too many bad ones, yes
Julie> what do you consider a bad one?
Robin> I'd recommend this, even to my nose in the air friends.
DragonSlayer> i hate the whole go-back-in-time-to-stop-x and discover-you're-the-one-who-causes-x
DragonSlayer> mostly i read them in slush Julie trying to think of a published one offhand
Xenith> and ones that rely on their clever & original (haha) idea rather than good writing & characters
DragonSlayer> i think bad books fade more quickly, thank goodness
DaveFragments> Bad Sci Fi - Aliens land and try to take ove rworld and someone has the only one of a kind special ZAP gun that defeates them in 30 seconds. YAWN!
Robin> I kinda like the time travel thing - because if ANYONE goes back in time, even in their own lives or the life of a loved one - finding root causes is what's gonna happen.
Xenith> unless they're really, really bad
Julie> Dog is a time travel book?
DragonSlayer> yes well, it uses time travel as a device there's lots more to it than that
evledtr> It's set in the future, but most of it takes place in the past.
DaveFragments> In this, the slipstream or net gimmick of time travel is sufficiently simple to not intrude on the story
Kiersten> Yeah, it's really treated as such a given it's not a big deal.
DragonSlayer> it's all in how you use it
evledtr> There were a few times I wanted her to quit yammering about slippage and get on with it.
DragonSlayer> yeah, it did get mentioned a lot
Robin> But beautifully done.
DragonSlayer> i liked when the narrator ended up in the Wrong Place and nearly fell off the cathedral
Xenith> it got a bit confusing and it was all due to something 500 years in the future?
DragonSla}er> time travel's futsy like that
DaveFragments> I thought that was a little gimmicky - they were manipulated from 600 years in the future
Xenith> here is everyone running around thinking they're the centre of the problem and oh you're not! haha!
Robin> Yeah. I'm more used to being manipulated by the past, but ya know..
DragonSlayer> it's ironic that they don't realise while they're manipulating that they too are being manipulated
DragonSlayer> it demonstrates human egotism
DaveFragments> The best that science can say right now, is that even if time travel is possible, you cannot change the past.
DragonSlayer> well, time travel IS possible . .. . for particles anyway
Robin> Boy would I like to though. Change things.
DragonSlayer> ah, meddling!
Robin> Damnb straight.
DaveFragments> The premise is that no matter how you try, the past is fixed. That means no alternate realities or histories
DragonSlayer> that's the premise, but it may be wrong
Robin> I'd do what we all fantasize about - I'd go back to about sixteen. and do almost all things differently.
evledtr> I'd go forward in time to see what I was going to miss.
Julie> good thought, EE.
Robin> I'd start over so I wouldn't miss what I now know I need and care about.
DragonSlayer> i'd go back in time and give my younger self judo lessons
DragonSlayer> and a pony
Kiersten> lol, Buffy. I'm great with my past. I'd like to see what's coming.
Robin> My past is..checkered.
Kiersten> Yes, but infinitely more interesting than mine ; )
Julie> I would like to go back I think.
Robin> Well, I guess we can see the appeal of this type of novel, huh?