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Rachel-K
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Early Chapters

Please use this thread to post ideas and begin discussions on Child 44 through the end of the chapter that begins, "West of the Ural Mountains, the town of Voualsk, 13, March" which ends on page 149 in my book, where Ilinaya frees herself in the woods and runs without looking back.
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maude40
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters

I can't believe the conditions under which the Russian people lived. I love books that weave the story line with history. Leo Demidov is so vulnerable. No matter what he does he can't win. His frustrations are so real they just jump off the page. I wonder if women living in those conditions weren't stronger than men emotionally. Raisa seems better able to handle things than Leo, but she doesn't have parents to worry about. Yvonne
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TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
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Re: Early Chapters



maude40 wrote:
I can't believe the conditions under which the Russian people lived. I love books that weave the story line with history. Leo Demidov is so vulnerable. No matter what he does he can't win. His frustrations are so real they just jump off the page. I wonder if women living in those conditions weren't stronger than men emotionally. Raisa seems better able to handle things than Leo, but she doesn't have parents to worry about. Yvonne





You're right - the conditions are extraordinary. Slightly surprisingly some people have asked me if I've exaggerated the details. In fact, almost everything comes from historical sources - digging for earthworms, chewing bark - both true. I guess there is some unfamiliarity with the period, certainly when I started the research I remember wondering why I didn't know more about this subject.

It is also true that not everyone was living in difficult conditions. However, those who lived well were in the minority. And my story is really about the people in the background of the history books, the people in the footnotes.

With regards to question of how men and women handle situations, I don't know if I can make any worthwhile generalizations. But it is certainly true that in CHILD 44 the female characters are intensely practical and agile survivors, the men less so.


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Simple1
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Registered: ‎06-02-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

The book is fascinating. For me personally, I know that I am reading a really good book when I can picture everything as if I am there, just outside the periphery of the story. The detail with which this story is told is remarkable. I believe that Rasa is able to better deal with the circumstances as they unfold because she is a survivor. She has faced death. While a soldier, I know that Leo has faced death as well. His experiences of survival come from a different place from that of Raisa. She lost her parents and is the only surviving member of her family. Once you experience certain losses in life, all other obstacles pale in comparison.
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TRS_Old
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Re: Early Chapters



Simple1 wrote:
The book is fascinating. For me personally, I know that I am reading a really good book when I can picture everything as if I am there, just outside the periphery of the story. The detail with which this story is told is remarkable. I believe that Rasa is able to better deal with the circumstances as they unfold because she is a survivor. She has faced death. While a soldier, I know that Leo has faced death as well. His experiences of survival come from a different place from that of Raisa. She lost her parents and is the only surviving member of her family. Once you experience certain losses in life, all other obstacles pale in comparison.





The amount of detail to include is always a challenge. I remember doing an essay at university (I did English Literature) on an unseen passage from a Victorian piece of prose. It was a description of a ramshackle country house and that's it - for more than two pages, describing how weeds were growing, how the paint was faded, the brick work was cracked, and the more it described the less I was able to see it. By the end, my mind was swamped with adjectives and I just couldn't put them all together.

Sometimes less is more. But sometimes less is not enough... the balance is, like I said, a challenge. There doesn't seem to me to be any rule for it.

Raisa and Leo are definitely very different in their approach to surviving. In the earlier post I think I said that Raisa is in many ways the consummate survivor. Leo is the one who gets them into real danger.


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syost77
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Re: Early Chapters

I know a summary-version of the Russian revolution and its aftermath, but is Major Kuzmin patterned after any one individual, or is he a compilation of nonfictional research?

Also, I thought how you portrayed Leo's roulette of confusion (pgs. 135-136), prior to proclaiming Raisa's innocence, brilliant. Imagine living under that regime, in which every thought could cost you your life.
syost77
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TRS_Old
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Re: Early Chapters



syost77 wrote:
I know a summary-version of the Russian revolution and its aftermath, but is Major Kuzmin patterned after any one individual, or is he a compilation of nonfictional research?

Also, I thought how you portrayed Leo's roulette of confusion (pgs. 135-136), prior to proclaiming Raisa's innocence, brilliant. Imagine living under that regime, in which every thought could cost you your life.




Major Kuzmin is entirely fictional... he's not even loosely based on anyone, as far as I'm aware. Although there might well have been a famous Kuzmin and I've forgotten about them.

That chapter was great fun to write. One of the wonderful things about a novel is you can create drama out of an entirely internal dilemma... in a movie that scene is basically just Leo saying "she's innocent!". It would be five seconds long!


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evollbach
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Re: Early Chapters


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote:




The amount of detail to include is always a challenge. I remember doing an essay at university (I did English Literature) on an unseen passage from a Victorian piece of prose. It was a description of a ramshackle country house and that's it - for more than two pages, describing how weeds were growing, how the paint was faded, the brick work was cracked, and the more it described the less I was able to see it. By the end, my mind was swamped with adjectives and I just couldn't put them all together.

Sometimes less is more. But sometimes less is not enough... the balance is, like I said, a challenge. There doesn't seem to me to be any rule for it.



Yes, some authors do opt for the "less is not enough," when they shouldn't. I get just like you described when an author goes on and on and on, describing details that really don't matter. Darn, I wish I could remember the particular author I complained about a month ago just for that reason. It might have been Richard Russo in Nobody's Fool. I do remember that book was a chore to read, although I know a lot of people disagree.

Anyhow, whoever it was, it wasn't you. Not too much, not too little; just right.

Beth
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evollbach
Posts: 48
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Re: Early Chapters



evollbach wrote:

Tom_Rob_Smith wrote:




The amount of detail to include is always a challenge. I remember doing an essay at university (I did English Literature) on an unseen passage from a Victorian piece of prose. It was a description of a ramshackle country house and that's it - for more than two pages, describing how weeds were growing, how the paint was faded, the brick work was cracked, and the more it described the less I was able to see it. By the end, my mind was swamped with adjectives and I just couldn't put them all together.

Sometimes less is more. But sometimes less is not enough... the balance is, like I said, a challenge. There doesn't seem to me to be any rule for it.



Yes, some authors do opt for the "less is not enough," when they shouldn't. I get just like you described when an author goes on and on and on, describing details that really don't matter. Darn, I wish I could remember the particular author I complained about a month ago just for that reason. It might have been Richard Russo in Nobody's Fool. I do remember that book was a chore to read, although I know a lot of people disagree.

Anyhow, whoever it was, it wasn't you. Not too much, not too little; just right.

Beth



I found the post to a yahoo book group where I talk about this.

"The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn. I think
this guy is one of those authors I complain about who writes and writes just
because they like the sound of their writing. This is supposed to be about his
figuring out what happened to his grandfather's brother and his wife and kids
during the Holocaust, and it is if you can get through all his other stuff and
all the unnecessary and uninteresting detail."

Beth
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tgem
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Registered: ‎08-06-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

Tom Rob Smith,
 
Just a comment on your comment that you found it slightly suprising that people can be unaware of the conditions that you so accurately describe in Soviet Russia.  I, too, find it suprising that people are unaware of conditions, past and present, in various countries.
 
I often post what I call BT (Buddhist Thought), since I read about Buddhism for about five years.  When I talk to people about Tibet, they're mostly unaware of the situation.  You mentioned you spent time in Nepal - they also have their set of hardships.
 
tgem


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote in part:  Slightly surprisingly some people have asked me if I've exaggerated the details. In fact, almost everything comes from historical sources - digging for earthworms, chewing bark - both true. I guess there is some unfamiliarity with the period, certainly when I started the research I remember wondering why I didn't know more about this subject.

It is also true that not everyone was living in difficult conditions. However, those who lived well were in the minority. And my story is really about the people in the background of the history books, the people in the footnotes.

With regards to question of how men and women handle situations, I don't know if I can make any worthwhile generalizations. But it is certainly true that in CHILD 44 the female characters are intensely practical and agile survivors, the men less so.


   
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TRS_Old
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Re: Early Chapters



tgem wrote:
Tom Rob Smith,
Just a comment on your comment that you found it slightly suprising that people can be unaware of the conditions that you so accurately describe in Soviet Russia. I, too, find it suprising that people are unaware of conditions, past and present, in various countries.
I often post what I call BT (Buddhist Thought), since I read about Buddhism for about five years. When I talk to people about Tibet, they're mostly unaware of the situation. You mentioned you spent time in Nepal - they also have their set of hardships.
tgem


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote in part: Slightly surprisingly some people have asked me if I've exaggerated the details. In fact, almost everything comes from historical sources - digging for earthworms, chewing bark - both true. I guess there is some unfamiliarity with the period, certainly when I started the research I remember wondering why I didn't know more about this subject.

It is also true that not everyone was living in difficult conditions. However, those who lived well were in the minority. And my story is really about the people in the background of the history books, the people in the footnotes.

With regards to question of how men and women handle situations, I don't know if I can make any worthwhile generalizations. But it is certainly true that in CHILD 44 the female characters are intensely practical and agile survivors, the men less so.







Hi Tgem...

Yes, I was in Nepal for about six months, teaching in a village in the Baglung region. I did go on a trek that took my very close to Tibet.

Nepal does have its hardships... including the current political instability which was brewing when I was there. I have to say, those hardships didn't jut out.

The village I stayed in was wonderful. It's interesting: whereas by western standards the village I lived in would be classed as basic - no electricity, it was four hours walk from the nearest road, etc, it was in fact a very prosperous village. Lots of farmers had livestock, the general atmosphere was upbeat and positive. I loved living there. I loved the family I was living with. The village was at an altitude of 2000M with incredible views of the mountains in the distance.

The teaching did involve taking class with up to 120 students... so I'm not sure how much I was usefully able to teach. I always got the impression the first two rows were listening and then the back rows were lost. It certainly made me realize how incredibly difficult teaching is as a profession.

In fact, I had much more contact with Buddhism in Cambodia since I lived right next to the Buddhist college, or academy, lots of young Buddhist monks, often with bright yellow umbrellas.


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evollbach
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Re: Early Chapters

This is the reason that history repeats itself. People could do it right the second (and third and fourth and . . .) if they knew it happened before.

Beth



tgem wrote:
Tom Rob Smith,
Just a comment on your comment that you found it slightly suprising that people can be unaware of the conditions that you so accurately describe in Soviet Russia. I, too, find it suprising that people are unaware of conditions, past and present, in various countries.
I often post what I call BT (Buddhist Thought), since I read about Buddhism for about five years. When I talk to people about Tibet, they're mostly unaware of the situation. You mentioned you spent time in Nepal - they also have their set of hardships.
tgem


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote in part: Slightly surprisingly some people have asked me if I've exaggerated the details. In fact, almost everything comes from historical sources - digging for earthworms, chewing bark - both true. I guess there is some unfamiliarity with the period, certainly when I started the research I remember wondering why I didn't know more about this subject.

It is also true that not everyone was living in difficult conditions. However, those who lived well were in the minority. And my story is really about the people in the background of the history books, the people in the footnotes.

With regards to question of how men and women handle situations, I don't know if I can make any worthwhile generalizations. But it is certainly true that in CHILD 44 the female characters are intensely practical and agile survivors, the men less so.





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