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ande
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The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

[ Edited ]
Book Explorers:
 
So now we come to the end of the The Spirit of the Place. What do you think?
 
Was it satisfying? Did all the threads come together for you? Or did everything get tied up too neatly for you?
 
Did Orville's relationships turn out in the end to be what you suspected in the beginning?
 
What surprised you?
 
What are the larger lessons of this book? Do you believe in the possibility of redemption? Thinking about the characters, who is redeemed, who is not? Have you known redemption in your lives?

Suffering plays a central role in the novel, not just in the medical elements but also in each of the movements of the characters. Can you look at this prevalence ofsuffering, and try to see if it leads to more suffering, or to understanding and action for the good? What does Orville’s hearing the words “Don’t spread more suffering around” (when he is on the train) mean, and where does it come from?

Samuel Shem is thinking about writing a sequel, set on 2003-4). Where do you think each of these characters will be in 20 years?
 
Let's discuss all this. Can't wait to hear what you have to say!
 
REMINDER: Starting next Monday (June 23) for the week author Samuel Shem will be posting his thoughts and will answer questions/discuss any aspect of the book, medicine, "Columbia" -- whatever.  
 
Ande
 
 
 


Message Edited by ande on 06-16-2008 12:12 PM
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IBIS
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

[ Edited ]


Did Orville's relationships turn out in the end to be what you suspected in the beginning?
What surprised you?
Ande

The interesting aspect of The Spirit of the Place was how predictably  the ending was for me... from the beginning, Orville's experiences defined a specificity of character...  shy smalltown boy... that it surprised me how long it took for him to find his place in the universe.
 
Celestina's character was everything that did not ring true for Orville... I didn't see much future in their relationship... it was an instance of oil not mixing with water... When Miranda came on the scene, I felt a click... these two were a good fit.
 
I felt impatient when the plot wavered back and forth... Celestina coming to Columbia? Orville going to join her in Italy?.... Why couldn't Miranda and Orville recognize their inevitable destinies as clearly as I, the reader did?
 
I hoped that Orville would "see the light" and remain in Columbia... take over Dr. Bill's practice... marry Miranda... give her children a father.... have a great family life.
 
It took him FOREVER to see what I, as reader, saw as inevitable.
 
IBIS


Message Edited by IBIS on 06-19-2008 10:33 AM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

** Was it satisfying? Did all the threads come together for you? Or did everything get tied up too neatly for you?
 
Yes, it was satisfying that (as IBIS says) Orville finally went "home" not only to Miranda but to Columbia itself.  I was surprised that the General Worth did end up getting razed, which was nice to see that *everything* wasn't neat and tidy!
 
** Did Orville's relationships turn out in the end to be what you suspected in the beginning?
 
Yes, but like Dorothy in _The Wizard of Oz_ , Orville had to learn on his own that "there's no place like home", and his home is Columbia.
 
The themes of suffering and redemption are huge, and too vast for me to process and write about right now.  Will try to post more about that before the end of the weekend.
 
I love the idea of Shem writing a sequel set 20 years later!  He could do a great job with flashbacks to show us some of the teenage angst Cray suffers, "typical" ups and downs in a marriage, and Penny and Orville coming together over a shared tragedy (unlike the death of Selma, which they didn't share together in mourning).  Not to wish any more suffering on these characters, but I'd like to see Orville and Miranda conceive a child together in love, so Orville, Miranda and the child she's carrying at the end of _Spirit_ don't wonder if it was this unintended pregnancy that kept them together.
 
Looking forward to reading Shem's posts next week. He's reading at bookstore in town and I hope to get in to hear him.
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Readingrat
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

Everything tied up nice and tidy for me. Although it wasn't until the story was completely done that I stopped expecting some additional breakage at the end. When Orville jumped off the train and then everyone was running toward the train tracks, I kept expecting a second train to come along and hit someone. lol
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ande
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

I, too was surprised by the razing of the General Worth. Good move by Shem -- I respected his choice not to have everything work out nicely.
 
Ande
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ande
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

Oh, my. Someone getting hit by the train -- I hadn't thought of that. Glad that form of breakage didn't happen.
 
Ande
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meme1
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

I agree that I was surprised by the razing of "Worth", but that was really the only surprise for me. It was inevitable that he would stay in Columbia and with Miranda.
meme

~~ Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

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harleyhoney
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Re: The Spirit of the Place discussion: Week 3 (June 16) discussion

The ending was very satisfying for me, as was the entire book.  Mr Shem really had me going there at the end.  I thought that Orville was actually going to leave.   Maybe, I thought, it would be OK, maybe Celestina was who he really DID need.  But I kept shouting at him "Get off the train!  Get off the train!  This HERE is your life!  GET OFF THE TRAIN!"  I'm so glad Orville heard me.  :smileywink:

I was surprised with the destruction of the hotel.  I was thinking that perhaps Orville’s money was going to save and restore it.  I wondered what role Henry Schooner would play and there it was in his last scene telling Orvy the truth he didn't want to hear.  Orville ran and here he is, running again.  "Running' from the woman who loves you - you don't even see it, do you?  Runnin' from that sweet boy who loves you like a father?"  "Can't run from a town.  Y'find another town just like it down the road."

 Great to see Selma at work preserving Olana with Orlando Durney.  Frederick Church - the oddball.  "The man didn't fit in anywhere, really, except here in Columbia.  Here, a lot of oddballs have, and do."

The scene in the hospital with Orvy shaving and tending to Bill was beautiful.  It shows how much Orville has grown in his relationships.

I’m not sure how I feel about a sequel.  I just don’t want to risk anything bad happening to Miranda, Orville, or any of the kids.  But I would love to hear how everyone is doing and of course, love all Miranda’s little Columbian history lessons.

Thank you for letting me be a part of this excellent ARC.

Nancy

 

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