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bentley
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Maria_H wrote:
*You* do?! Well, didn't you just make my day.


bentley wrote:
You tried; we forgive you.





If that is all it takes...well?? (lol)
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Maria_H wrote:
*You* do?! Well, didn't you just make my day.


bentley wrote:
You tried; we forgive you.



LOL! lol hehe. Ok, you two, you got me cracking up. I am sure Maria will sleep better now knowing we "forgive" her lol. That was just killing you wasnt it Maria lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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fordmg
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Stewart,
In surfing another WEB site, I saw a listing for you with a totally different picture.  Have you recently changed your hair style?  That seems to be what makes you look different from the picture on B&N page.   I know it seems to be an irrelevant question, but I was wondering if you changed your style to promote your new book.
MG
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Bonnie824
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I may have missed the window here by being out of town for Father's Day weekend

I tried skimming some of the questions/responses before posting, so I got the idea you based this novel somewhat on two or more different cases and I already knew you had researched missing/murdered people crimes well.
 
So, my actual question is about how you write. Do you generally base novels on news type ideas you expand on and change to fit fiction formats? Did you make up any of your books strictly from imagination with no real story/stories behind them? and Do you think you might right a true crime non fiction book one day?
 
TIA
Bonnie
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DSaff
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hi, Stewart! Thank you so much for sharing your book and time with us. I have to admit that I hadn't read any of your books before this one, but read "Last Night at the Lobster" in preparation. I also have "The Good Wife" waiting for me, and have enjoyed your style. I hope I am not repeating  questions that have been asked but, have you always wanted to write or did you fall in love with it after actually starting the process? Do you love/hate (have favorites) any of your characters and why?
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
Mr. O'Nan,
 
I apologize if any of this is repetitive. (I find it hard to read through every post)
 
I really enjoyed your book.  Along with others, I found it frustrating.  But, in a real way.  It did feel like a work of nonfiction.  I commented on another board that it reminded me very much of a story that would be featured on Dateline or a similar program.  We knew what others knew or thought of Kim.  It was a mystery in the truest form.  I was very afraid that you were going to end the novel without Kim being found.  I'm very glad that you didn't do that.  But, I could have seen it going that way and I think I would have been ok with it because the rest of the novel seemed so real and unfortunately, many people go missing and are never found.  I'm from Illinois and kept thinking of the Stacy Peterson disappearance. 
 
My question is . . . Did you every consider writing an ending without Kim being found? 
 
Thank you for sharing your work and your time with us!!


Message Edited by niknak13 on 06-17-2008 01:27 PM
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cocospals
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hello Mr. O'Nan,
 
After previewing a passage from Songs and knowing it would be weeks before it arrived, I read Last Night at the Lobster.  I truly felt like I was tucked away in a corner booth watching the action and interaction amongst the characters. I could see the storm outside, I could hear the characters talking and I wanted so badly for the manager to just walk out with a memento from the restaurant.  Then Songs arrived and I was so disappointed. I just couldn't relate to any of the characters, except JP. And maybe that is because I have two boys and can see them feeling "lost" and seeing them being taken under someones wing which is what I feel Kim's dad did.
 
Gayle
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



nmccarthy wrote:
My two favorite chapters in the book dealt with the strengthening of relationships that could just have easily disintegrated through this tragedy.
 
I thought the chapter, Last Summer, in which Nina and Elise hiked to theirs and Kim's childhood watering hole, wrestled their fears crossing the trestle and jumped the 30 feet to the water below, was very well written. My heart was pounding during this whole scene.
 
I loved the symbolism of this journey for Kim's close friends - they needed to feel alive again, they need to regain their confidence, they needed their friendship to survive this tragedy.
 
My second favorite chapter was Catch and Release, where Fran and Ed tip toed through each other's mine field of emotions and totally different coping mechanisms to forge a relationship based on openness and a willingness to respect their individual coping styles. I developed a new-found respect for both Ed and Fran in this chapter.
 
I was under the impression that many marriages and relationships fall apart after the loss of a child. Did your research bear this out? For those relationships that survived, what characteristics in the surviving family members and friends can be attributed to the saving of the relationship? Did you consider these attributes when you developed your characters?
 
I thought you did a fine job presenting the gut-wrenching emotions, self-inflicted guilt, helplessness and inability to move forward or plan a future that families probably encounter during such a tragedy. Thank you for sharing your forthcoming book with all of us. I look forward to reading your past publications as well.
 
Nancy
 
 


Thanks so much for reading the book, and for your comments.  I like what you said about how these relationships could have easily disintegrated.  It's true--the book's really about endurance, and people trying to hold on to each other.
 
I didn't look heavily into how many couples break up after a tragedy of this sort, but it certainly weighed on my mind, as Fran and Ed have very different ways of dealing with the anger and hurt and sadness.  I think, in their case, they come to the realization that all they really have is each other, and that's really driven home when Lindsay leaves for school.  I think they both realize they can't go on by themselves and need the other for support.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Everyman wrote:
Thank you again, Stewart (if I may be so informal) for your incredibly generous gift of your time and information. I'm impressed that you are spending so much time here, that you are obviously not only reading but thinking about all the posts made, that you are giving complete and thoughtful answers to all the questions, and that you are open to and not defensive about comments from people who had concerns about the book.

I am very impressed both by you and your editor.

And I'm glad to see that you got your apostrophe! :smileyhappy:

Thanks.  Well, it's an honor to have people read your work.  They've given up their time and put forth real effort.  They could have been reading other books, or doing other things.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:


Everyman wrote:
Where did the idea of Mimi come in. Was that something that really happened in the case you loosely based Songs on? Or in some other case? Or did you invent her basically out of thin air? She seems a bit deus-ex-machina.

And isn't it usual in a case that gets this much publicity for there to be at least one false confession? (And indeed, Wade's may be.) Did you consider and reject the idea of including a false confessor for some reason (perhaps because it would distract from the close focus on the family and intimate friends), or did you not consider that possibility as a plot element?

Mimi was there from the beginning. She's based on a woman in real-life who became obsessed with a missing persons case and did indeed find the body, years after everyone else had given up.
Yes, it's absolutely true that Wade's confession could have been a false one, until the body of the other woman was where he said it was. I weighed having another false confessor, but figured there were enough false leads in the book already.



As I mentioned before, I had no problem with the details as you wrote them. The details I thought were very good, the people fell flat, BUT not going there again. You were kind enough to let me express myself on that. What I found interesting tho, and one thing I had NO problem with that several seemed to, was the appearance of Mimi and her finding Kim. Some felt this was just too implausible and just a quick end for an ends sake. Now I have no problem with it happening this way at all because some time ago, I saw on tv, some show like 60 minutes or dateline, about these people who spend their days on the internet hunting missing people. They do it because they want to help, they do not get paid, they just want to help and also as one said, its their way of being a detective. There was one woman who was instrumental in finding TWO missing people! There are a lot of people out there that do this and are good at it and will stick with it when others give up. There are websites you can go to that give information on missing people, trying to get anyone to help. I think you mentioned Fran running across some of these in the book. So for me, for Mimi to suddenly pop up having found her worked for me.

Also, since we are mentioning her, I will say there is one point I did feel like we finally got inside someone's head deeply and that was over this with Ed. That it bothered Ed so much that it was Mimi who found her and coming to grips with the reason being that he had not found her, that some "crazy" or "odd" woman had and he hadn't and that just got to him so much was finally a piece of that internal look I was waiting for. I don't know that I would have thought that's what bothered him about her, or even that he was bothered beyond her being a bit off, if you had not let us inside him for that, to his truth that was not an easy thing to face. That is truly what I wanted to feel from all of them, not what some thought I was saying was missing, sadness or hysteria, but actually feelings, good or bad that allowed me to really know them and what was happening inside them, of course they were sad but what were they thinking or what changed because of this event. I guess a father could feel that way about someone like her finding Kim and not himself, but I wouldnt have thought about it, without that great insight. It really made me think.

Thanks, yes, there's a whole army of armchair detectives looking for missing people or trying to solve cold cases through the internet, and I tried to make the reader understand that by devoting space to the phenomenon early on in Fran's sections (and also through the Crimestoppers hotline bit).  But, like Ed, some readers will chafe at this "solution" because there was no way they could see it or solve it from the clues given.  it comes out of the blue for the reader, just as it does for Ed.
 
Good point too, about that moment where Ed makes explicit what bothers him the most about Mimi finding Kim.  That's one place where I stepped in and delivered the meaning to the reader on a platter--a real major chord to finish a section.  It's the kind of thing that has to be used sparingly, at least in a book that operates the way I wanted this one to operate.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Peppermill wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:


Peppermill wrote:
Mr. O'Nan -- thank you for sharing your book and for your time with us. I have been quite fascinated with your writing style in SFTM, even though I don't know the technical literary terms to describe it.

Your cover letter to us rather implied that you struggled with this plot line to get access to the stories of the people closest to Kim. As you know from the discussions here, as readers we have had a fairly wide range of reactions to what you have provided us -- in fact that some of us have had divergent reactions to various characters or to the same character at different points in the novel.

My question is what authors (writings) and teachers have most influenced your portrayals of characters and how do you characterize those influences? (The word play is unintended, but a substitute word like "describe" doesn't seem right either.) What is at the top of your reading pile for further self-development of your skills in writing characters?

A third question -- how do you describe your own journey in writing characters -- both within the context of SFTM and across your years of writing?

Please know that this is a book whose characters I am highly likely to remember -- both for your portrayals and for the discussions they have generated here.

Thanks for reading the book, and for your comments. The point of view I'm using in Songs is the third-person limited. It can mimic omniscience, but it tries mostly to stay close to one character at a time. I've tried to portray each of the major characters by their actions and gestures, their daily routines and overall hopes, relying on allusion and concrete detail (their selective apprehension of the world) rather than overtly telling the reader how to feel about them. I try to leave room for the reader and supply shared details so they can add their own memories from their own experiences in similar situations. It's a risky strategy, in that I'm trusting the reader to help create the character incrementally, detail by detail (clue by clue), sentence by sentence, scene by scene, but the payoff is that if the reader does this, they become a participant in the book and feel it that much more deeply. Some of the writers who do this well are Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, William Maxwell, Larry Woiwode and Alice Munro. It's a patient approach, and not for everyone, but it seemed to fit this particular situation, and these people. Right now I'm re-reading all of William Maxwell.
In terms of my journey of writing characters, I guess I see that people in most situations have things that they have to do (inevitabilities), that they most likely will do (probabilities), and that they could do (possibilities). Then I ask myself, knowing what I know so far about this person, what they would REALLY do, and try to answer as honestly as I can.





Stewart -- thank you for your response. You introduce me to a couple of writers whose works I do not know and reinforce my desire to spend more time with Ms. Munro, who I understand is still probably better known and respected among her fellow writers than the general public. (I do like what I have read of her and agree with your assessment of her strengths in drawing characters.)

The one comment I should like to make is that I don't think a writer (or any one else, for that matter) can ever dictate someone else's feelings -- i.e., I hold strongly to the view that we are each responsible for own feelings and emotive reactions. But, one of my frustrations with your characterizations at times has been the seeming expectation that the feelings of those characters can be surmised from their actions. Even though we all do such, any communications training that I have received has suggested that it is very tricky, if not dangerous, ground to assume feelings based on actions. Knowing a character's (or person's) feelings is no necessary predictor of the reader's feelings, although knowing the feelings of a character can aid empathy and understanding of why a specific characters takes a particular action. That is, it is critical to distinguish the character's emotions/feelings from the reader's.

And, it is true, that sometimes neither the characters nor we can specifically identify the operant emotion, but that can often be all the more reason for some exploration of that ambiguity. Also, while the character himself or herself may not recognize whether he/she is acting out of shock or panic or fear, a third person narrator has the privilege of giving clues -- which you do sometimes do, but which too often I only guesstimated or played with after considering several views expressed in the discussion.

Pepper

Message Edited by Peppermill on 06-17-2008 12:59 AM

Thanks.  There's a fine line between providing clues and steering a reader.  I do think the characters' feelings can be surmised by their actions and how those actions are portrayed (and often viewed by the characters themselves--what they do or don't notice).  I don't think there's any behavior by any of the characters in here that's mystifying to the reader, or impossible to fathom.  It may be that I ask more attention from readers than they're willing to give, but my goal is that the book can be understood by general readers from the ages of 15 and up but will also reward re-reading by literary readers.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



bookhunter wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:

...During the writing of the book, we lost touch with our daughter Caitlin, who was off at college.  She didn't call home one weekend like she was supposed to, and then when we tried to call her, her voicemail was full.  None of her friends had seen her, and she hadn't been to class or to work.  She hadn't used her bank account in two weeks, or her cell phone.  Eventually we had to call the police, who went to her dorm room, where she was sleeping, having been sick in bed for two weeks with the flu... 



Mr. O'Nan,
 
One reason I responded so strongly to this book is because our family is much like the Larsen's of chapter one.  Our oldest is soon headed off to college and my heart was my throat while reading Songs.  I said in one of our discussions that you created a "perfect storm" of fear and loss for me.  The book captures well the particular fears parents of teenagers and young adults have. 
 
It was difficult and painful for me to read, and while I don't think I can say I enjoyed the book, it has certainly haunted me.  I have already shared the story with friends and family (but not my daughter!)
 
Was it difficult for you to write?  How does a writer tackle such emotional topics?  Are you in a funk during the entire writing process, or can you leave it at 5 and "go home" with it out bringing these emotions and fears with you?
 
Thanks again,
Ann, bookhunter


Thanks, and yes, as a writer you carry these emotional topics with you the entire time you're writing the book but also for years afterwards.  That world becomes part of your world.  This book was particularly hard to write because of what I'm making my characters go through.  There's not a lot of comfort there, where I wish there would be some, since I care for all of them.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



BookWoman718 wrote:

Mr. O’Nan. Thank you so much for making your book available and for being so generous with your time in this discussion. As I had posted in a message and question to your editor, I was one of the lucky readers who was familiar with your work, excited about having an advance copy of one of your novels, and completely fulfilled in the actual reading. You made me feel as if I were in the story somehow, a neighbor or friend, seeing how the family and others react, trying to make sense of conflicting bits of information, frustrated with dead ends, the whole panoply of reactions, thoughts and emotions that one would go through. Although I was curious in that way that we all are now - we want the inside scoop on whatever story we hear - the fact is that I don’t take a close look at accident sites either. As you said in one of your answers, the specifics of what happened don’t really matter. Kim is gone. We know enough to imagine the horror these people are living.

I especially want to thank you for your answer about Mimi being based on a real person because I was wondering if you created her to demonstrate some deeper truth about the story, e.g., to add another layer of the unknown to all those the family was already experiencing. Here comes someone ‘out of the blue’, certainly surprising this reader, but once again, making me feel as though I were standing beside the family, who were dumbfounded as well.

I think my favorite book of yours was “Wish you were here.” I loved the complexity of the family and their relationships to one another and to the family place. It was another one where you put me right in their midst. So thanks for that one, and for your other gifts to the reading public, and for this latest, in all its heartbreaking hopefulness.



Message Edited by BookWoman718 on 06-17-2008 02:36 AM

Thank you so much.  That's well-put:  Mimi being yet another unknown and outside factor coming in to change the Larsens' lives.  Even this deliverance makes them (or at least Ed) feel helpless.  Fran isn't averse to accepting help from others, and knowa that there are people and organizations across the country and the world who might assist them, but Ed is too much of the lone wolf, accustomed to self-reliance (which, with his financial problems, is a trait that's already being eaten away by things beyond his control).  He still somehow needs to be the hero of his story, when he really can't be.
 
Thanks for liking Wish You Were Here.  You'll be pleased to hear I'm working on its sequel.  In fact, this afternoon I just finished a scene with Emily and Arlene and Margaret.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



ClaudiaLuce wrote:
Dear Mr. O'Nan,
Let me start this off by telling you how grateful I am for you allowing us to preview this novel, especially in this open discussion manner!  I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I love the fact that you allow ME to interject my own emotions onto the characters, while they are portraying the emotions you have given them as well.  I love your style, the type of characters and the characterization that you utilize.  Perhaps because I am so used to teaching adolescents to read and to use their imaginations, I am grateful that you allow me to use mine to fill in the "gaps".  I certainly did not expect a true crime story when I started this book!
 
I enjoyed the fact that you began this strand of mystery in Wish You Were Here and brought it fully to life in Songs for the Missing!  Both books were very entertaining reads, ones that I could not put down.  I have purchased several more of your books to read this summer because I do like your style and the way you let ME interpret the story.  Not many authors let us do that.  Thank you for that! 
 
I, too, have gone days without hearing from my grown daughter while she was in college.  Boy, that does lead to panic attacks, doesn't it?  The overwhelming relief that they are okay when you finally here from them, along with the urge to shake them silly because they haven't called!!  Perhaps that is what you need to have experienced to understand Fran and Ed at the beginning of your book.  That letting go, but holding on that comes with a high school graduation and the knowledge that your child is growing up and attempting to become more and more independent before completely leaving the nest.
 
I felt that Lindsey was adequately developed, if you understood what she was experiencing.  But, you had to be willing to put yourself in her place in order to understand where she "was coming from".  Sometimes, I hate to say, I think that many readers do not attempt to do this anymore.  They want authors to lay everything out in the open for them.  I am so thankful that you allow the reader to apply their experiences to your characters, once they take into consideration what the characters' circumstances are!!
 
Thank you again for allowing us this wonderful opportunity to preview this book!!  I must admit I would not have discovered your work if it hadn't been for this novel, but I am so grateful that I did!!  I have several of your books to read over my summer break and am looking forward to delving into more of your characters!!
 
Gratefully,
 
Claudia


Thanks so much for reading the book, and Wish You Were Here too.  I think they operate in similar ways.  As you say, we get the context of each character and then have to understand where they're coming from, even when they themselves don't quite understand what's going on with them.
 
That letting go is so hard--the end of being a parent day-in and day-out.  It's a change that everyone knows is coming--as you say, with Kim's graduation--but they're not sure how it's going to effect them.  When Lindsay thinks about Kim being gone, she's not sure what to feel--relief or sadness?  Likewise, Kim thinks she's going to finally be free, but also thinks she might be wrong and that she'll lose everything that made her life secure.  And look at JP and Nina when they go off to school--they think they're becoming different people (as Kim imagines on the very first page of the book) but they can't run from who they were.  So for me, as a novelist, that age was rich in change and feeling, and helped underscore the other, more surfacey anxieties in the novel.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



bentley wrote:

Everyman wrote:
Thank you again, Stewart (if I may be so informal) for your incredibly generous gift of your time and information. I'm impressed that you are spending so much time here, that you are obviously not only reading but thinking about all the posts made, that you are giving complete and thoughtful answers to all the questions, and that you are open to and not defensive about comments from people who had concerns about the book.

I am very impressed both by you and your editor.

And I'm glad to see that you got your apostrophe! :smileyhappy:




I am "also" glad that they got your name right and you got your apostrophe (I looked again and saw that they did not and alas won't). You have a great editor and he was most gracious with his time as you are being. I have to disagree with you about the characterizations and the lack of details; but I understand the point you are making from your perspective. However, what you are stating was your intent is often the fault that is cited with modern day writing by some. Readers finish a book and they really can't tell how they felt about it. It leaves them feeling out of sorts; not a good feeling..not a bad one either. There can be strong emotional empathy with the situation or not; but at the end they still did not have any facts to go on. As a reader, I felt the same way when I completed The Sister (another advanced reading copy)as one reviewer mentioned. And I for one never thought your book was about the details but about the emotion you were creating. There were many parts of SFTM which were very quietly powerful and I applaud you for that.

I think that everyone here has spent a good deal of time "trying" to get to know your characters; but there were details that were in fact included which do not add up and others that were not included that should have been (MHO).

Your explanations tell us the reasons and your intent and I respect those of course. I wish you the best with this book and appreciated the opportunity to read and discuss it with fellow board members and with you. Thank you again.

Bentley

Message Edited by bentley on 06-17-2008 09:49 AM

I'm not sure I'd lump this one in with "modern day writing."  The approach I'm using has been the industry standard since Flaubert, and is valued for its clarity and intimacy.  True, many writers still cling to the Victorian omniscience of Dickens (or, later, Conrad), but its archaic heaviness tends to infuse any subject matter with a kind of comic overkill ("The lieutenant's heart sank as he gazed over the smoking remains . . .).


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



BookSavage wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


BookSavage wrote:
Thanks so much for joining us in this discussion.  I will admit off the top that I did not enjoy this book at all.  I hope that does not keep you from answering my question though.  I have many questions about the way you wrote this book, but I will confine it to one for right now.  Why did you choose to not include more about JP?  I really liked his character and wanted to become connected, but felt like he never developed and participated enough in the story to allow me to do so.  Thanks again for joining us in this discussion.


Thanks for reading the book.  Sorry you didn't like it better.
 
J.P.'s relationship with Kim is the least intense, in that he's already kind of lost her before she disappears.  Their understanding is that they'll split after the summer, and he's been wounded by this, and so he's been holding himself apart from her.  Her disappearance changes this, perversely, to a closer (idealized, guilty) relationship, but eventually he drifts away from her (and from himself, it seems) after learning about Wooze and surrendering to his helpless crush on Nina.  So in a way his development is negative, falling away from her and away from the center of the book, though Kim's place in his life will be indelible.  So naturally, toward the end, he gets fewer pages, proportionally, than Lindsay or Fran or Ed or even Nina, whose feeling grow deeper and stronger with time.


Wow! I did not see JP that way at all.  I really felt as though his relationship was the most intense.  Amazing how differently I read it to the way you wrote it.


J.P.'s relationship with the real Kim isn't nearly as deep and intense as his relationship with himself, or his relationship with the idea of Kim once she's gone, or the later, idealized Kim.  He only went with Kim for a few months (Easter through July), and it wasn't a relationship that was going anywhere, more of an end-of-school/summer hook-up, even if he wished it was.  He was never Kim's equal in their relationship, or in the high school's or the town's social circles.  He was just lucky to be with her for this short time (which is essentially over when the book starts), but he wants to do the right thing, and he kind of envies the Larsens' family life, so different from his own, so he tries his very best to impress Ed, and to apologize to Fran, but understands that once they find out about the drugs, that they'll blame him (which they do) rather than Nina or (God forbid) Elise.  His feelings are strong, no doubt, especially his guilt and sadness, but they're more about him than they are about anyone else.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

BookSavage wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


BookSavage wrote:
Thanks so much for joining us in this discussion. I will admit off the top that I did not enjoy this book at all. I hope that does not keep you from answering my question though. I have many questions about the way you wrote this book, but I will confine it to one for right now. Why did you choose to not include more about JP? I really liked his character and wanted to become connected, but felt like he never developed and participated enough in the story to allow me to do so. Thanks again for joining us in this discussion.


Thanks for reading the book. Sorry you didn't like it better.
J.P.'s relationship with Kim is the least intense, in that he's already kind of lost her before she disappears. Their understanding is that they'll split after the summer, and he's been wounded by this, and so he's been holding himself apart from her. Her disappearance changes this, perversely, to a closer (idealized, guilty) relationship, but eventually he drifts away from her (and from himself, it seems) after learning about Wooze and surrendering to his helpless crush on Nina. So in a way his development is negative, falling away from her and away from the center of the book, though Kim's place in his life will be indelible. So naturally, toward the end, he gets fewer pages, proportionally, than Lindsay or Fran or Ed or even Nina, whose feeling grow deeper and stronger with time.


Wow! I did not see JP that way at all. I really felt as though his relationship was the most intense. Amazing how differently I read it to the way you wrote it.



I agree with you. That shocked me because I never would have thought of his part as being the least intense! See, now if we could have gotten inside someone in the story more, maybe we would have got this but from what I read, I even thought he might be a first person narrator because of what I presumed were his feelings, especially being hated so by Fran, which was never explained and I still don't get. Ok, this book really has left me now with the feeling I did in fact read a news story about a girl going missing and I have no more insight into the players then I do when I hear it on tv or from others and get what little I did feel wrong. :smileysad: What a book could do about this kind of situation, this one just didnt do. I think I just read a bad Lifetime Special. Oh well. I give.

Please see my comments to booksavage about J.P.
 
Fran dislikes J.P. because she sees him as a bad influence on Kim, and has from the start of their brief relationship.  He's a long-haired, bad-grade-getting dude from across the tracks, not exactly a great catch in Fran's eyes.  Fran is unhappy about Kim's partying, and since she's out partying with J.P. all the time, and presumably sleeping with him, she sees J.P. as someone who could ruin her life (since Fran's plans for Kim include her going to college, getting a good white-collar job, getting married, having children, etc., whereas J.P. seems to have no direction and is from a lower economic class--i.e., he lives with his mother in a neighborhood the Larsens have long ago abandoned).  That's just to begin with.  As the action progresses, Fran comes to hate J.P. because she believes that he introduced her to Wooze and to drugs and sold drugs with her (which he did), and then lied about that to the police, thereby interfering with the investigation into Kim's disappearance and making it that much harder to find out what happened to her.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Maria_H wrote:
I tried!

I swear.

But no apostrophes are allowed on this platform. It doesn't care much for any kind of punctuation.


Stewart_ONan wrote:

That apostrophe's tricky. Hotel clerks can never find my reservations.
It's like Fitzgerald.



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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



fordmg wrote:
Stewart,
In surfing another WEB site, I saw a listing for you with a totally different picture.  Have you recently changed your hair style?  That seems to be what makes you look different from the picture on B&N page.   I know it seems to be an irrelevant question, but I was wondering if you changed your style to promote your new book.
MG


It may be a newer picture.  The one on the B&N site is from a German photo shoot from a while ago.


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bentley
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Stewart_ONan wrote:


bentley wrote:

Everyman wrote:
Thank you again, Stewart (if I may be so informal) for your incredibly generous gift of your time and information. I'm impressed that you are spending so much time here, that you are obviously not only reading but thinking about all the posts made, that you are giving complete and thoughtful answers to all the questions, and that you are open to and not defensive about comments from people who had concerns about the book.

I am very impressed both by you and your editor.

And I'm glad to see that you got your apostrophe! :smileyhappy:




I am "also" glad that they got your name right and you got your apostrophe (I looked again and saw that they did not and alas won't). You have a great editor and he was most gracious with his time as you are being. I have to disagree with you about the characterizations and the lack of details; but I understand the point you are making from your perspective. However, what you are stating was your intent is often the fault that is cited with modern day writing by some. Readers finish a book and they really can't tell how they felt about it. It leaves them feeling out of sorts; not a good feeling..not a bad one either. There can be strong emotional empathy with the situation or not; but at the end they still did not have any facts to go on. As a reader, I felt the same way when I completed The Sister (another advanced reading copy)as one reviewer mentioned. And I for one never thought your book was about the details but about the emotion you were creating. There were many parts of SFTM which were very quietly powerful and I applaud you for that.

I think that everyone here has spent a good deal of time "trying" to get to know your characters; but there were details that were in fact included which do not add up and others that were not included that should have been (MHO).

Your explanations tell us the reasons and your intent and I respect those of course. I wish you the best with this book and appreciated the opportunity to read and discuss it with fellow board members and with you. Thank you again.

Bentley

Message Edited by bentley on 06-17-2008 09:49 AM

I'm not sure I'd lump this one in with "modern day writing."  The approach I'm using has been the industry standard since Flaubert, and is valued for its clarity and intimacy.  True, many writers still cling to the Victorian omniscience of Dickens (or, later, Conrad), but its archaic heaviness tends to infuse any subject matter with a kind of comic overkill ("The lieutenant's heart sank as he gazed over the smoking remains . . .).





Stewart,

That is obviously not what I meant; but I am sitting her smiling. I do not see this very Flaubert like; nor did I feel intimate with the characters aside from the growth that I did see in Nina and Lindsey. I read a great deal and I read all kinds of books from a variety of authors both classical and modern. And I certainly did not have in mind the example you chose.

What I have shared is what many others have tried to share; I did feel that your book as I said previously was more about the emotional climate you were creating rather than about the details; because there really were very few regarding Kim and why or how her unfortunate incident occurred.

I actually like your writing style (sentence structure and the like); however, I was quite clear in previous posts to the one which is quoted above what I felt was lacking and why. And I noticed there were quite a few others who felt similarly. On the whole, it was a satisfying book for me. I enjoyed the experience and the discourse and once again thank you for your response. I wish you the best with SFTM and wish you every success in the future.

Bentley
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