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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

First, Stewart, thank you for your participation and support of this First Look at your soon-to-be-released Songs for the Missing. The discussions generated here by your book have been a privilege and a gift.

Second, please comment on the selection of Bubble Boy as the movie Lindsay is watching in the opening chapter and on the choice of Madeleine L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander as the authors Kim is reading. I can rather guess the irony and foil of Bubble Boy to the main story, but I am confused as to why Kim was "trying to call back that lost time" (of being a girl, p. 5). A Wrinkle in Time could have symbolism in its very title; I don't know the Lloyd Alexander writings beyond the on-line bookstore listings.
"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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Stewart_ONan
Posts: 119
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



ek wrote:
Thank you Mr. O'Nan for allowing us to read your book Songs for the Missing in the First Look Club.  I have read two of your other books and really enjoyed Snow Angels.  I wasn't sure if I knew what "the secret" was but it looks like I did.  I like things spelled out for me, but I love reading and appreciate the opportunity to read another book by you.
Elaine


Thanks so much for reading Songs, and for your kind words on Snow Angels.  And I'm sure you got what the secret was.  J.P. spells it out several times.  The saddest thing is that he knows the secret is minor compared to what's happened to Kim, yet, out of misplaced teenaged loyalty, he keeps it until Nina basically tells him not to.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Peppermill wrote:
First, Stewart, thank you for your participation and support of this First Look at your soon-to-be-released Songs for the Missing. The discussions generated here by your book have been a privilege and a gift.

Second, please comment on the selection of Bubble Boy as the movie Lindsay is watching in the opening chapter and on the choice of Madeleine L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander as the authors Kim is reading. I can rather guess the irony and foil of Bubble Boy to the main story, but I am confused as to why Kim was "trying to call back that lost time" (of being a girl, p. 5). A Wrinkle in Time could have symbolism in its very title; I don't know the Lloyd Alexander writings beyond the on-line bookstore listings.

You're entirely welcome, and thank you for your time and attention.  They're a privilege and a gift as well.
 
I chose Bubble Boy because it would appeal to Lindsay's quirky sense of humor, as well as her age and peer group, but also because the main character, an insulated innocent, leaves home and ventures out into the not-always-kind world to find his destiny.  Plus, as a bonus subtext, the actor who plays him is also the star of Donnie Darko, a more sinister (and much better) movie about a teen in a small town with lots of secrets, and about waiting, and untimely death, and sacrifice.
 
L'Engle and Alexander specialize in fantastic and often parallel worlds (the stories mostly mock-epic and heroic in tone) written for "young adult" readers, meaning 10-14 year-olds.  Technically, Kim is too old/sophisticated/jaded for their work (or she sees herself as too old for it but indulging in a retro pleasure).  Her reversion to this kind of fiction shows how torn Kim is about becoming the independent young woman she says she wants to be.  She's caught between girlhood and adulthood, and has a natural anxiety about giving up the world and life she's used to--as she herself thinks as she's driving with Lindsay that first day.


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Maria_H
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.



Stewart_ONan wrote:


chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I suppose, as blkeyedsuzy says, it alludes to the songs dedicated to all the missing at the different remembrance ceremonies or on the radio.  Kim's is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but other people have their particular songs.





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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Maria_H wrote:
I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.



Stewart_ONan wrote:


chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I suppose, as blkeyedsuzy says, it alludes to the songs dedicated to all the missing at the different remembrance ceremonies or on the radio. Kim's is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but other people have their particular songs.






Yeah Maria, it could almost be called "Psalms for the Missing" huh, because psalms were songs often sung out of personal experiences. Of course most were songs of praise but they really were born of something more, and in a book about someone going missing, all those affected would surely have their own psalm about it.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Maria_H wrote:
I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.



Stewart_ONan wrote:


chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I suppose, as blkeyedsuzy says, it alludes to the songs dedicated to all the missing at the different remembrance ceremonies or on the radio.  Kim's is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but other people have their particular songs.





Well-put.  And maybe also the idea of songs almost as offerings to the departed, the way the church says a mass for the dead.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Maria_H wrote:
I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.



Stewart_ONan wrote:


chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I suppose, as blkeyedsuzy says, it alludes to the songs dedicated to all the missing at the different remembrance ceremonies or on the radio. Kim's is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but other people have their particular songs.






Yeah Maria, it could almost be called "Psalms for the Missing" huh, because psalms were songs often sung out of personal experiences. Of course most were songs of praise but they really were born of something more, and in a book about someone going missing, all those affected would surely have their own psalm about it.

Nice.  All the psalms borne of suffering, or the psalms sung to give oneself courage.


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Stewart_ONan wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

Maria_H wrote:
I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.





Yeah Maria, it could almost be called "Psalms for the Missing" huh, because psalms were songs often sung out of personal experiences. Of course most were songs of praise but they really were born of something more, and in a book about someone going missing, all those affected would surely have their own psalm about it.

Nice. All the psalms borne of suffering, or the psalms sung to give oneself courage.



I think both. I think that it is through our sufferings that courage can be born and also faith and hope. We are not here on this little planet to never be tested, that would make us stagnant and not much more than before we were born. Everyone's test may not be the same, and some may seem harder than someone else's but I am of the opinion that each of our tests, or pains are our own and not to be gaged against another's. Our pain and how we handle it is our own and so is another person's. If we come out singing in the end, be it to give us courage, or because now we have it or to share what we have learned with others to offer them hope, then maybe that truly is a psalm.

This is why I could not judge the characters in your book, or would not. I didn't think Fran was bad because of this or that or Ed's way of coping was wrong because of this or that. Judging how they reacted to the situation didn't seem the point and to me shouldnt be the point. But thats why I did want to know so much more about what each was thinking, feeling, more details about that and not from their actions. Our actions are often very different from what we are really feeling. I didn't want to guess, I wanted to share with them, the most of what was inside them that could be said. I don't think this is handing things to me on a platter or giving me so much that I won't think on things myself, quite the contrary. The narrator of this tragedy was the god of them all, knowing them all completely. I wanted to hear the psalms of their minds. I don't know if it would make me judge them this way or that, but I do know it would help me understand them, as real live people and through their intimate psalms, maybe I too would grow or learn something more than whats in my own mind. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

Maria_H wrote:
I guess we can apply our own interpretation to the title.

Mine was not so literal, as I considered "Songs" to reference the lament and heartbreak of each person Kim left behind.





Yeah Maria, it could almost be called "Psalms for the Missing" huh, because psalms were songs often sung out of personal experiences. Of course most were songs of praise but they really were born of something more, and in a book about someone going missing, all those affected would surely have their own psalm about it.

Nice. All the psalms borne of suffering, or the psalms sung to give oneself courage.



I think both. I think that it is through our sufferings that courage can be born and also faith and hope. We are not here on this little planet to never be tested, that would make us stagnant and not much more than before we were born. Everyone's test may not be the same, and some may seem harder than someone else's but I am of the opinion that each of our tests, or pains are our own and not to be gaged against another's. Our pain and how we handle it is our own and so is another person's. If we come out singing in the end, be it to give us courage, or because now we have it or to share what we have learned with others to offer them hope, then maybe that truly is a psalm.

This is why I could not judge the characters in your book, or would not. I didn't think Fran was bad because of this or that or Ed's way of coping was wrong because of this or that. Judging how they reacted to the situation didn't seem the point and to me shouldnt be the point. But thats why I did want to know so much more about what each was thinking, feeling, more details about that and not from their actions. Our actions are often very different from what we are really feeling. I didn't want to guess, I wanted to share with them, the most of what was inside them that could be said. I don't think this is handing things to me on a platter or giving me so much that I won't think on things myself, quite the contrary. The narrator of this tragedy was the god of them all, knowing them all completely. I wanted to hear the psalms of their minds. I don't know if it would make me judge them this way or that, but I do know it would help me understand them, as real live people and through their intimate psalms, maybe I too would grow or learn something more than whats in my own mind. :smileywink:

 
I'm glad you didn't judge the characters, but I do wish you felt you knew them more intimately, since that was my aim--for you to step into their shoes and feel what it's like to be them for a while.  But sometimes, for whatever reason, a reader and a book don't connect.  Thanks for trying anyway.  I do appreciate your time and effort.


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Stewart_ONan wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:




Nice. All the psalms borne of suffering, or the psalms sung to give oneself courage.



I think both. I think that it is through our sufferings that courage can be born and also faith and hope. We are not here on this little planet to never be tested, that would make us stagnant and not much more than before we were born. Everyone's test may not be the same, and some may seem harder than someone else's but I am of the opinion that each of our tests, or pains are our own and not to be gaged against another's. Our pain and how we handle it is our own and so is another person's. If we come out singing in the end, be it to give us courage, or because now we have it or to share what we have learned with others to offer them hope, then maybe that truly is a psalm.

This is why I could not judge the characters in your book, or would not. I didn't think Fran was bad because of this or that or Ed's way of coping was wrong because of this or that. Judging how they reacted to the situation didn't seem the point and to me shouldnt be the point. But thats why I did want to know so much more about what each was thinking, feeling, more details about that and not from their actions. Our actions are often very different from what we are really feeling. I didn't want to guess, I wanted to share with them, the most of what was inside them that could be said. I don't think this is handing things to me on a platter or giving me so much that I won't think on things myself, quite the contrary. The narrator of this tragedy was the god of them all, knowing them all completely. I wanted to hear the psalms of their minds. I don't know if it would make me judge them this way or that, but I do know it would help me understand them, as real live people and through their intimate psalms, maybe I too would grow or learn something more than whats in my own mind. :smileywink:

I'm glad you didn't judge the characters, but I do wish you felt you knew them more intimately, since that was my aim--for you to step into their shoes and feel what it's like to be them for a while. But sometimes, for whatever reason, a reader and a book don't connect. Thanks for trying anyway. I do appreciate your time and effort.




Hey, at least while you have been here, you have explained much more about the characters, and who they were and what they felt and why. A lot of your convos with us clarified some things and some things surprised us. So really, maybe in a way, it was letting us inside your head about them that counted. Here, I came to understand them through your eyes, their creator. Interesting place to be!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:




Nice. All the psalms borne of suffering, or the psalms sung to give oneself courage.



I think both. I think that it is through our sufferings that courage can be born and also faith and hope. We are not here on this little planet to never be tested, that would make us stagnant and not much more than before we were born. Everyone's test may not be the same, and some may seem harder than someone else's but I am of the opinion that each of our tests, or pains are our own and not to be gaged against another's. Our pain and how we handle it is our own and so is another person's. If we come out singing in the end, be it to give us courage, or because now we have it or to share what we have learned with others to offer them hope, then maybe that truly is a psalm.

This is why I could not judge the characters in your book, or would not. I didn't think Fran was bad because of this or that or Ed's way of coping was wrong because of this or that. Judging how they reacted to the situation didn't seem the point and to me shouldnt be the point. But thats why I did want to know so much more about what each was thinking, feeling, more details about that and not from their actions. Our actions are often very different from what we are really feeling. I didn't want to guess, I wanted to share with them, the most of what was inside them that could be said. I don't think this is handing things to me on a platter or giving me so much that I won't think on things myself, quite the contrary. The narrator of this tragedy was the god of them all, knowing them all completely. I wanted to hear the psalms of their minds. I don't know if it would make me judge them this way or that, but I do know it would help me understand them, as real live people and through their intimate psalms, maybe I too would grow or learn something more than whats in my own mind. :smileywink:

I'm glad you didn't judge the characters, but I do wish you felt you knew them more intimately, since that was my aim--for you to step into their shoes and feel what it's like to be them for a while. But sometimes, for whatever reason, a reader and a book don't connect. Thanks for trying anyway. I do appreciate your time and effort.




Hey, at least while you have been here, you have explained much more about the characters, and who they were and what they felt and why. A lot of your convos with us clarified some things and some things surprised us. So really, maybe in a way, it was letting us inside your head about them that counted. Here, I came to understand them through your eyes, their creator. Interesting place to be!

Thanks again. 


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ClaudiaLuce
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Mr. O'Nan,
 
After reading some of the comments that have been made here, I had to say that I am thankful for your style of writing and for you allowing me to project my experiences and feelings into your characters.  I am not a reader who has to have everything spelled out for me - that ruins novels for me - it gives no place for my imagination to run.  Perhaps that is why I have enjoyed your novels that I have read so much!!
 
Being a teacher, I try to express to my 7th graders that the best way for them to allow themselves to enjoy reading is to let the words paint pictures in their minds - let the books become movies inside their heads.  Unfortunately, a lot of people who read these days have no imaginations and want everything laid out and explained to them.  Thankfully, there are still authors, like you, out there who allow some of us to read as reading should be.
 
I came to know Fran intimately, not through your conversations, but through your writing.  She reacted just as I thought she would - as a mother who was also an emergency room nurse; frightened by the situation, but calm, collected, and proactive.  This was how she was trained to react.  It seems strange to me that other readers never caught on to this fact, but ......
 
I hope you have still been working on Emily et al's next big debut.  One question about that - will their missing person be mentioned in the second book?  Just wondering - I'd like to know what happened to her.  I would be willing to bet money that Ken would too.  He was so invested in her emotionally.  And I would like to know what he did with the photo series that he shot of the gas station and the missing posters.  Only because YOU are writing a sequel.  You have to know that I made up my own ideas about what he did with those and how famous he became because of them!  Just like you wanted me to --------
 
Thank you once again for allowing us the pleasure of Songs for the Missing.  And thank you so much for graciously spending so much of your time with us!  I have enjoyed the conversation.
 
Claudia
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -
-- Sir Richard Steele
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