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lonelyfilly
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎09-17-2008
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


nfam wrote:

This is a very ambitious book. I believe the author is trying to give us a rounded picture of her era. She does this by introducing a number of disparate characters that supposedly were frends at Oberlin. I applaud the author for taking on such a challenging assignment, but I'm finding it very hard to appreciate the book. We jump from character to character. Just when I get interested in Emily and her relationship to Dave and Curtis we're off to someone else. I can't even say that the reactions of the characters from one chapter to the next are particularly consistent. Sadie is a case in point. I understand her background and her relationship with her family. When she goes to meet Caitlin who she doesn't even like on a day when she's supposed to be meeting her parents, it doesn't ring.

 

Sorry, but this book doesn't hang together for me. There's too much backstory interspersed with the action. The general general advice given to writers today is, "Show don't Tell." For some reason, Ms. Smith Rakoff has decided to ignore the advice and write primarily in terms of what happened before. It doesn't make me want to read more. I keep putting the book down and wonder why I'm going ahead with it. 


 

This is exactly how I felt while reading this book. I had the hardest time focusing on what was going on for all the rambling about the past and all the superficial crap these characters where obsessed with. I really couldn't relate well with most of this story, and the things the characters did and felt and were interested in.

That said, I did relate to one aspect of Beth. At the end of chapter 7, when she's had her breakdown out shopping with her mother, she finally realizes that marrying Will is what she should and will do. But at the same time, she admits she still loves Dave, and is afraid she'll have to love her husband and Dave at the same time. I have felt that, so it touched me a bit. 

Other than that, I really didn't like this book very much, and it was hard to go on and finish, though I did. I just had to know what became of them.  

Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway.
-John Wayne
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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


maude40 wrote:
The chapter on Dave was very intense. Like some of the other people posting have said, I'm feeling a little more for him than before. He needs to find his way as he's going through life on hold relying on others to find his way for him. Yvonne

 

I had to put my 2 cents in on this one. :smileywink:  Once I read more about Dave, I felt no sympathy for him.  Since his friends are moving on and growing up, he needs to find his own way.
Contributor
colibrarian
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

I'm not sure Dave's male perspective adds much to the story except that it becomes clear to me that he is the character I dislike the most. For me all of the characters are a bit hard to like at times but Dave is just over the top.  His perspective made me wonder how he has any friends at all.

 

I realize there are, indeed, people as self-centered and immature as Dave but he just gave off so much negativity I couldn't wait to be finished with his chapter.

 

It's a bit frustrating, though, that we spend a chapter with a character that typically ends with a big event in their life only to find the next chapter has fast forwarded us months into the future and the resolution has been extremely glossed over.

Correspondent
jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

I'm surprised Sadie has not told Lil about Tuck.  Maybe it is yet to come in another chapter.

 

The chapter about Beth is my favorite so far.  It was great to see her  examine her feelings about Dave and Will.  I still don't understand why she is marring Will. She would be better off without either man.

 

I don't feel that Dave's male perspective made any difference to the story.  He needs to get a grip on life and grow up.

Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


Lil_Irish_Lass wrote:
Dave is the stereotypical mid to late 20's male. They want to continue living the wild college life (drinking, sleeping around, no responsibilities); but can no longer get away with it as easily as the did while in college. He doesn't have a drinking problem, he's just a 20 year old; drinking heavily especially in socially stressful situations, is very common and seen as normal in many social circles.

Even though I am female, I can connect with Dave on a level that I haven't been able to reach with any of the female characters. I've known many Dave's... I've dated many Dave's - and they always end the way he and Beth did. Dave has a lot of growing up to do and he's at a slight disadvantage having mostly female friends who of course will be moving on with their lives and maturing emotionally and career wise so when he is taking a little longer to "get there" he's going to get frustrated.

Knowing what you SHOULD do with your life and WANTING to do it are two very different things. It is a feeling so many people feel upon graduating from college after spending 4+ years working towards a degree and then realizing that you have no clue what you want to do with your life. "The trouble was that while he had very strong feelings about what he didn't want to do, he possessed only an extremely vague idea of what he did want to do." (pg 173) - sums up what I am still experiencing 4 years after graduating from college and I think is a main cause of how Dave acts around his friends who he sees struggling - but all in a career they want to be in.

Lil Irish Lass,

 

I agree with what you are saying here. Knowing a number of people, both male and femaie, in similar positions, I can understand.

 

I would even go further though, that Dave doesn't know what he wants with most parts of his life, not just work, but relationships, friendships, life... he knows what he doesn't want (i.e. to be alone) and that makes his decisions (to kiss emily), rather than knowing what he wants and allowing that to make his decisions, like so many people expect that he (and others) should.

Inspired Contributor
sgregg88
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


detailmuse wrote:
I began the book thinking the characters were alien to me, but over time the book has really taken me back to my own late-20s and so much seems familiar! The characters are immature but I wonder how any of us would sound, even right now, if an omniscient narrator had access to our interior thoughts, fears, whines, wishes, etc.?

I agree - reading diaries of that time and talking with my friends, i can identify with these characters in some ways...

Inspired Correspondent
jclay26
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

I was at first a bit frustrated with these chapters. I had to set the book down for a couple of days and then pick it back up. I realized it is because they are so full of details and that this is a book that should be read slowly and absorbed rather than read through quickly. I am disappointed about the events that we miss that are just lightly referred to, such as Sadie and her new beau, Beth and her husband. I wanted to see these scenes and how they evolved. It is odd to have such a detailed wedding for Lil but not for Beth. Also, in Chapter 9 we are led ahead and realize that Sadie has never told Lil about her husband having an affair and actually brings his lover and her husband to the party. I find it hard to believe that Sadie can sit there with Lil, still hang with her and not mention that her husband is having an affair. To me it seems that these deep friendships are not friendships at all. Maybe if Sadie has separated herself from Lil and the others I could buy that she didn't tell Lil. I also think that Dave is a jerk for kissing Emily because he doesn't want her to be with anyone else even though he does not really want her. I also found it interesting at the end when Meredith tells Sadie that Dave is in love with her. Hmmm....
What you have to do...is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself. - Tim O'Brien; The Things They Carried
Inspired Correspondent
jclay26
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


lonelyfilly wrote:

nfam wrote:

This is a very ambitious book. I believe the author is trying to give us a rounded picture of her era. She does this by introducing a number of disparate characters that supposedly were frends at Oberlin. I applaud the author for taking on such a challenging assignment, but I'm finding it very hard to appreciate the book. We jump from character to character. Just when I get interested in Emily and her relationship to Dave and Curtis we're off to someone else. I can't even say that the reactions of the characters from one chapter to the next are particularly consistent. Sadie is a case in point. I understand her background and her relationship with her family. When she goes to meet Caitlin who she doesn't even like on a day when she's supposed to be meeting her parents, it doesn't ring.

 

Sorry, but this book doesn't hang together for me. There's too much backstory interspersed with the action. The general general advice given to writers today is, "Show don't Tell." For some reason, Ms. Smith Rakoff has decided to ignore the advice and write primarily in terms of what happened before. It doesn't make me want to read more. I keep putting the book down and wonder why I'm going ahead with it. 


 

This is exactly how I felt while reading this book. I had the hardest time focusing on what was going on for all the rambling about the past and all the superficial crap these characters where obsessed with. I really couldn't relate well with most of this story, and the things the characters did and felt and were interested in.

That said, I did relate to one aspect of Beth. At the end of chapter 7, when she's had her breakdown out shopping with her mother, she finally realizes that marrying Will is what she should and will do. But at the same time, she admits she still loves Dave, and is afraid she'll have to love her husband and Dave at the same time. I have felt that, so it touched me a bit. 

Other than that, I really didn't like this book very much, and it was hard to go on and finish, though I did. I just had to know what became of them.  


I agree. We are missing vital information on some really important events and that is very frustrating to me. I am glad I am not alone. I feel like there are tons of details that are not necessary and bog down the story while the important details that we are yearning for are just not there or are mentioned in a round about way. I keep having to put this book down for a few days and then pick it back up. I, too, want to know what happens to them, but I feel like I may be left hanging in the end. I wish I could have seen Beth's wedding. I really would have liked to see Sadie tell Lil about Tuck. I am left with more questions than answers and that really bothers me. If we skipped around and then came back to where we left off with a character I would be okay with that because it would build suspense. I keep thinking that is going to happen only to be disappointed when we are thrown forward with no detailed explanation of what happened previously. I feel like this could have been a much shorter book with less unnecessary history details and more focus on the life changing events that are occurring. I want to be witness to what is happening right now, not to a past that is over and long gone.

What you have to do...is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself. - Tim O'Brien; The Things They Carried
Frequent Contributor
Readingrat
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎09-26-2007
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

Since the version of the book we are reading is not the final format of the book, I'm beginning to wonder if this book is supposed to be a collection of short stories - all inter-related due to the fact that the characters all know each other - instead of a traditional novel.  I too find all the jumping around from character to character and the irregular time line a bit disconcerting.  It seems that just when I get interested in a character, boom, we're off to someone/somewhere/sometime else.  I can only hope everything gets tied up at the end.
Inspired Contributor
gosox
Posts: 69
Registered: ‎10-14-2007
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

[ Edited ]

Just a couple of thoughts about these chapters:

I thought it was interesting when Mrs. Bernstein read a Times magazine article about how "kids of Beth's generation lived in a state of perpetual adolescence." (p150) Certainly an observation that many on this discussion board had already expressed!

 

Does anyone else think that Beth has come to this point in her relationship with Will because she has "cured him" of his problem? (p156) After her breakdown while shopping with her mom, I can't help but think that she feels she has gone too far to back down from this marriage. Pretty sad!

 

I am a bit confused about Dave. On page 185 there is some discussion of his life after breaking up with Beth. It mentions that he started hanging around with the queens and spending his weekends at Rochester's gay clubs. What is his story? The following chapter doesn't give anymore understanding of him either - ending with Meredith's comment that Dave loves Sadie.

 

 

Message Edited by gosox on 01-27-2009 08:01 PM
Distinguished Wordsmith
aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


gosox wrote:

 

(snip)

 

Does anyone else think that Beth has come to this point in her relationship with Will because she has "cured him" of his problem? (p156) After her breakdown while shopping with her mom, I can't help but think that she feels she has gone to far to back down from this marriage. Pretty sad!

 

 


 

Gosox,

I do think Beth got to the point of marrying Will because she thought she cured his "problem". It seemed she thought maybe if she could fix that, she could fix anything between the two of them. I wonder though if his problem ever existed or what the deal was because all that's said is it seemed to have disappeared and she liked to think she cured him. Hard to believe though that is was never discussed between the two of them again. I for one would definitely have some questions.

April
Inspired Contributor
Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine


bookworm_gp wrote:

 

Beth has grown and developed, something we love to see in a character. But I would also have loved to see some of that process. She jumped from point A to point B and we don't experience it with her.

 

 


I found that a lot in these chapters.  I kept going back and trying to see if I missed something

Inspired Contributor
drbjaded
Posts: 41
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

   

I have to agree with a few of the others with the flashbacks and backstories it's really hard to read this book.  I have a hard time getting through some of the chapters.  Sometimes I feel I need to take notes to keep up with the characters and the names the author brings into the story. 

 

I think Beth is doing the best of the three in that she is finally settling down with Will.  Even though she still seems to want Dave (and I have no clue why) she's ready to marry Will.  Sadie seems to be doing well with "Agent Mulder" even though she failed to tell Lil about Tuck and his wanderings.  As for Dave .... I really can't stand him.  He's a HUGE LOSER!  Meredith did the same thing to him that he did to Beth.  I'm glad he got a taste of his own medicine.  It seems Dave has no direction.  No goals in life.  Very self-centered.  No job plans.  No commitments. 

 

Julie :womanvery-happy:

"You cannot love life until you live the life you love."
Wordsmith
marciliogq
Posts: 244
Registered: ‎02-22-2008
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Re: Chapters Six through Nine

[ Edited ]

It was one of my favorite chapters. In Sadie's place I wouldn't know how to lead on that situation. Telling my friend about her husband's betrayal or cheating on her and I myself is not an easy decision. The agility of the chapter and the same time the atmosphere of digressions during the conversation made this a special part for me. Every detail was analysed, the dissimulation and not worry of the cats allied to Catlin's behaviour, the kitchen, the sofa full of cats pee indicating a dirty place and revealing the inner of her owner as a continuum of that frame. Catlin, all the time, tried to catch Sadie to her side, her attention, her opinions, to give her the certainty she, Catlin, was a very modern person, free of any social rule. On the other hand I think Catlin is a frustrated person that involves herself in protests as a way to escape of her own radicalisms.

 

Message Edited by marciliogq on 03-20-2009 05:21 PM
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