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Author
Ethan_Canin
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi, Stephanie,

Actually, the only one of my own titles--at least the only one that I can think of--that's from a song is this one, America America. The literal reference in the book is to the scene in which Senator Bonwiller finally realizes his chances are shot, and the narrator, watching him, foresees more than just the demise of a single politician; that's when Ray White plays his saxophone.

Which other titles might I be forgetting?

Best,

ec


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Krissen
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Registered: ‎08-24-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi Ethan; An example of what I am refering to, is when Corey brings a Christmas gift for Christian (who he has been occasionally kissing) and one for her mother. At the last minute, he gives the gift meant for the mother, to Clare (who he has seen as more of a rebel than anything else) In retrospect, he makes a comment that hints at this being a defining moment in his future.

   Overall, I had the feeling that Corey was painfully aware that he was a product of the choices he made that all began as he carefully dug around the roots of that glorious tree. (which was beautiful symbolism to me, but possibly accidental?) We can all make anything seem the way we want it to seem can't we?  ~Krissen~

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Krissen
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

PS---the event actually occurs on page 195--"that's when I took the other box from my pocket. I don't know how much this gesture ended up meaning in my life."  It was at this point in the book that I knew Clare was Corey's wife, and I also got the feeling that he had walked into something greater than the sum of his parts--that one day he would realize that he was in essence trapped, because his options would come from a smaller pool than they did the year before. As the book unfolds, Corey's world opens, yet his options grow fewer and squeeze tighter and tighter. 
Contributor
Blissterria
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Registered: ‎08-24-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

The other title that comes to mind is "Carry me Across the Water", lyrics as soulful as your writing. 

with respect

 

Stephanie

 

 

Author
Ethan_Canin
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi, Krissen,

Interesting that you picked up on that moment and knew that Clara would be his wife. It's a tricky line to walk, leaving enough clues that things seem logical in retrospect but not giving away plot points too early. Not many people pick up on that line, even though it seems fairly obvious when taken out of the book. If I get a consistent complaint about the novel, in fact, it's that some readers are utterly surprised--and baffled--that Clara is the one.

Still, in my mind, foreshadowing is more subtle--words and sounds that prime a reader for a later turn of events. This moment, on the other hand, is an overt contemplation by the narrator of a moment he is quite intentionally keeping secret until its time arrives.

Thanks for writing.

ec


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Author
Ethan_Canin
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Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi, Stephanie,

I didn't realize Carry me Across the Water was a lyric. What's it from?

ec


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Author
Ethan_Canin
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi, Krissen,

I forgot to comment on your point about Corey's choices being narrowed, paradoxically, by his great opportunity. I agree, and I think that's part of why Corey tells the story, although out of loyalty and modesty he can hardly admit it, nor hardly complain.

Best,

ec


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Blissterria
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Registered: ‎08-24-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Hi Ethan,

                        It is sang by Midnight Choir.The title is actually "Will you Carry Me Across the Water". I wish you much success on your book, it is truly wonderful.

 

Stephanie

Contributor
Krissen
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Registered: ‎08-24-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Thank you, Mr. Canin, for your comments. I can tell that you're as successful at teaching as you are writing. You certainly do make a person think. How I wish that I was fortunate enough to be one of your students. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to run into you sometime and get my book signed. Until then--keep scribbling.  ~Krissen~ 
Author
Ethan_Canin
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Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Thanks very much for the kind words, Stephanie. I've never listened to Midnight Choir, but I just looked them up: as far as I can tell--although I might be wrong about this--the album came out in 2003, which is a couple of years after Carry Me Across the Water, the book. But oddly enough, you're right in a sense: I wanted that title to have a sense of trial and trust, like a spiritual.

Again, best,

ec 


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Author
Ethan_Canin
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Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Thanks, Krissen. I'm taking a little break from writing for a while, but then I'll get back to scribbling. One thing I learned recently (with America America, in fact) is that it takes several months of working on a new book before you stop writing the last one.

Cheers,

ec 


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Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Mr. Canin -- my apologies for "dropping out" of this discussion.  I did buy and start to read America, America so I could participate, then have let other reading take priority this month.

 

Because I haven't read the entire book, this question may come from the left field, but since you will "go away," I'm going to try to pose it anyway.   I got a sense from both the publicity and from what I have read so far that the story is sort of a cautionary tale about the "little guy" getting involved in "big guy" politics.  Is that at all true of the book in your opinion?  Or, perhaps more generally, was there a particular message, either in general or about political involvement, you wanted before the public and discussed in these months before our presidential election?

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Ethan_Canin
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Is America America a cautionary tale about the "little guy" getting involved in "big guy" politics? Was there a particular message, either in general or about political involvement, that I wanted before the public and discussed in these months before our presidential election?

Good questions, Pepper, but I'd say the answer to both is no--emphatically to the first and more equivocally to the second. To me the book is still primarily a personal story--a man trying to decide, as one reviewer put it, whether he's been given a priceless gift by the Metarey family or been used by them. It's also about a man reviewing his past in light of now having had his own children. But Pepper, it's not in any way a warning about a little guy in big guy politics, at least not in my view.

In regard to the second question: I don't think novels are good transmitters of messages, but if there's a message I wanted out there this year, it's that politicians are invariably a mix of idealism, public-mindedness, personal ambition, national ambition, vanity, greed, corruption, and ruthlessness. The trick is to accept this fact.

Thanks for writing

ec 

 


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Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Thx for your response!  It will inform my reading.

 

How intentional was your weighting of this description:  "politicians are invariably a mix of idealism, public-mindedness, personal ambition, national ambition, vanity, greed, corruption, and ruthlessness."

 


Ethan_Canin wrote:

Is America America a cautionary tale about the "little guy" getting involved in "big guy" politics? Was there a particular message, either in general or about political involvement, that I wanted before the public and discussed in these months before our presidential election?

 

Good questions, Pepper, but I'd say the answer to both is no--emphatically to the first and more equivocally to the second. To me the book is still primarily a personal story--a man trying to decide, as one reviewer put it, whether he's been given a priceless gift by the Metarey family or been used by them. It's also about a man reviewing his past in light of now having had his own children. But Pepper, it's not in any way a warning about a little guy in big guy politics, at least not in my view.

 

In regard to the second question: I don't think novels are good transmitters of messages, but if there's a message I wanted out there this year, it's that politicians are invariably a mix of idealism, public-mindedness, personal ambition, national ambition, vanity, greed, corruption, and ruthlessness. The trick is to accept this fact.

 

Thanks for writing

ec


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Ethan_Canin
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin

Pepper,

I was definitely placing the fulcrum between national ambition and vanity. Altough personal ambition should probably be on the latter side, or at least directly over the pointy tip.

ec 


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Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Ethan Canin


Ethan_Canin wrote:

Pepper,

I was definitely placing the fulcrum between national ambition and vanity. Altough personal ambition should probably be on the latter side, or at least directly over the pointy tip.

ec 


I can relate to that metaphor!  Thx for your response!   Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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