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Paul_Hochman
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Questions for Joseph Monninger

Joseph will be joining us today, so now's your chance to ask him all your questions.

 

Thanks for joining us, Joseph.

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maxcat
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I have one. What is the whole thing about bears and humans? Right from the start of the book, Mary asks Cobb if he is a bear and it became sort of a theme throughout at least 10 chapters where each of them would ask if others were bears. Can you enlighten us with your comments on this subject? Thanks.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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T-Mo
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Great question. I wondered this as well. I didn't think the meaning and relevance were very clear. 


maxcat wrote:

I have one. What is the whole thing about bears and humans? Right from the start of the book, Mary asks Cobb if he is a bear and it became sort of a theme throughout at least 10 chapters where each of them would ask if others were bears. Can you enlighten us with your comments on this subject? Thanks.


 

 

Author
Joseph-Monninger
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Good morning everyone....I'm new at this so I hope you'll bear with me as I get my comfortable in this environment.  I'll keep this post brief to make sure I am doing everything properly, then I'll go from there.  I see that some people have already posted questions and I'll get to them shortly.

 

Before I start, I wanted to thank everyone for participating.  It's wonderful to see so many avid readers talking about books.  I was a reader long before I was a writer and I continue to read relentlessly.  I just finished A Death on the Barrens -- the story of some young men on a canoe trip in Canada in 1955 -- that I highly recommend.  It's always tremendously satisfying to be "carried away" by a book, and Death on the Barrens accomplished that for me.

 

We have a snowy day here in New Hampshire and I've been out clearing the walks.  Happy Martin Luther King Day!  I'm going to post this to make sure everything is up and running, then settle in with a cup of coffee and see what's what.  One little note: please call me Joe.  Joseph is the way my books are titled, but I've never been a Joseph....always plain old Joe.

 

I also wanted to thank Barnes and Noble and Paul and Rachel (and anyone else I may have forgotten) for putting together a program like this.  What a treat it is.  I appreciate Simon & Schuster's willingness to produce so many ARCs.  Any author would be honored to be selected for a program like this.  As I mentioned in my initial post, it's rare that a writer has such immediate contact with readers.  I'm excited by the possibilities and I look forward to getting to know you all.   

 

Okay, now let's see if this thing works....

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Amanda-Louise
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi Joe!

 

What a fabulous and picturesque and thought-provoking book! 

 

I'm curious why you chose Huntington's Disease?  You mention that it's difficult to write accurately about a disease you do not have first hand experience with.  How did you even hear of the disease (I didn't have prior knowledge of it) and why was this the one for the book?

 

I guess I have another question - Freddy's disease status was never revealed although it was brought up.  Why didn't this play a part?

 

Thanks!

Amanda

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bookloverjb85
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hello Joe!

I do not have any questions yet, but I just wanted to say thank you for such a wonderfully written book!  I was immediately captured by the story and can't stop reading.  I am trying to stay with the schedule though, but I am finding it extremely difficult because I want to find out what happens next.  Thank you again for this amazing story!

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
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Joseph-Monninger
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi, Amanda...nice to meet you, even if it's just through email.  You asked why or how Huntington's?  I have a lifelong friend who is a biologist.  We fly fish on the Kennebago River in Maine every spring for the past 30+ years.  I love many things about my friend, but I especially love his active mind.  I store up my questions all year long  -- he specializes in the oxygen use of spring peepers (I'm not kidding, they are amazing athletes, some of the most spectacular in the animal world ) and then bombard him with them around the wood stove at night.  He often knows some cutting edge nuance or bio ethics thread that I hadn't known or heard about.  He told me the story of the leading researcher in HD who carries the HD gene but refuses to get a test because she doesn't want to compromise that aspect of her life.  That started my wheels turning.  As a simple plot device, I needed something that would be an adult-onset disease.  

 

Of all the aspects of the novel, I was most nervous about that element.  From my understanding, the mental deterioration is more trying than the physical.  I tried to walk a thin line and I'll leave it you to judge how (or how not) successfully I handled that.  I also tried to handle it respectfully.  But things have to happen in a novel, and that was the plot seed that had to grow.

 

Hope that makes sense and sheds some light....Joe   

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Amanda-Louise
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I thought Huntington's was perfect for this plot!  It was a ~relatively~ slow moving disease and one that he noticed first, which is thought was beautiful.  It forced him to deal with it prior to them having to deal with it together.  He had plenty of time to get out if he felt he couldn't handle it.  Plus, I think it will be forward a relatively unknown disease.  All your masses of readers will go and learn more about it - I sure did.

 

I can't help but wonder what happens to Cobb after Mary dies?  He's young - he must be about 40 right?  Does he go on and have another life, perhaps children, or does he spend his life mourning her?

 

Amanda

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

  You asked why or how Huntington's?   As a simple plot device, I needed something that would be an adult-onset disease.  

 

Of all the aspects of the novel, I was most nervous about that element.  From my understanding, the mental deterioration is more trying than the physical.  I tried to walk a thin line and I'll leave it you to judge how (or how not) successfully I handled that.  I also tried to handle it respectfully.  But things have to happen in a novel, and that was the plot seed that had to grow.

 

Hope that makes sense and sheds some light....Joe   


 

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BaseballMomma
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi Joe! I was wondering where you got the inspiration for the Chungamunga girls. I'm loving the book, and I can't wait to read more from you!

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Joseph-Monninger
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi....Bears, huh?  I'm not sure where that came from.  I seem to be surrounded by bears recently.  (I'm at work on a new novel and I have a polar bear in it...a real bear this time.)  I guess Wally's explanation is as good as any.  First Nation folks used to see the connection between humans and bears.  We have a similar footprint.  Bears figure in our myths.  I believe Scandinavian people -- and probably others -- used to talk about beserkers.  Beserkers -- not sure of the spelling -- tied belts made of bear fur around their bellies before going into war.  Then, with the help of various stimulants, they went beserk in battle.  So the crossover between bears and humans is well established.  Mary has her own personal mythology -- perhaps as a defense against HD -- that includes bears.  Bears are comical, after all, and hard to resist.

 

It may interest you to know that I was charged by a black bear one summer in New Hampshire.  It was ironic, too, because I had come back from an Alaskan fishing trip where I stood next to brown bears for entire days.  The brown bears never showed the slightest interest in me, but the black bear came rocketing out of a berry patch and got within 20 yards of me before it turned away.  I suspect it thought my black lab was a cub.  It was spring and they must have been eating in the berry patch.  I recall the hair on my neck stood up like a porcupine.  I grabbed my lab and held her next to me and shouted.  The bear veered off and rejoined two cubs shooting up the hillside.  My heart took half a day to calm down.

 

Bears are cool, I think.  I love seeing them.  I'm curious what you folks thought of the bears....

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coffee_luvr
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Good Morning Joe!

I feel very privileged to be part of this discussion and to be able to read your book.  I really am liking the way you intertwined nature into the story and brought the different locations to life in your writing.

I am wondering if you have personally visited all the locations you write about in this book?  I am interested in the kind of research of locations an author does in developing a novel like yours.

Thank-you for your time.

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Good Morning Joseph,Do you prefer Joe? I have read up to Chapter 11,and do not want EOTW to end..I have not read any other questions.My one for now ,because I have many.is "How has being here with us been?" I have truly never read a book such as yours,not even close.Very original..Many,many emotions unveiled..For now..Enjoy your time with us,because we love having you here.Will be back later..Susan, VtCozy.otherwise known as Vtc....

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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AIRKNITTER
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

"Good morning everyone....I'm new at this so I hope you'll bear with me as I get my comfortable in this environment."

 

Good Morning Joe,

Other than being very curious re the knock-knock jokes I now wonder if it is possible that YOU may smell like honey...hmmm.

Your story will stay with us for many, many years to come. Thank you.

Aine

Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.
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Joseph-Monninger
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Good morning....yes, I did visit all those places.  I've been to Yellowstone many times.  It's one of my favorite places in the world.  My son was in a Rotary exchange program in Indonesia, so I spent a month there...and did see aquariums full of turtles.  Freddy seemed like someone who should live there.  And as to the Allagash...yes, I kayaked it solo, as Cobb intended to do.  It took me four days to go 90 miles.  My wife and I try to kayak one river a summer.  I used to hike a great deal, but occasionally that felt like work....that pack, those miles, those hills!  Kayaking is a wonderful way to travel and to camp.

 

Regarding research....I wrote a book called Two Ton that took three years to research.  It's a book about a single night and a 1939 fight involving Tony Galento and Joe Louis.  I like the book very much -- it came out okay -- but it was exhausting to research.  I spent many afternoons in the Dartmouth Baker Library combing through old NY Times...

 

A quick story about research.  I once heard Robertson Davies interviewed.  If you don't know his work, I recommend it, especially The Deptford Trilogy.  This was at the 92nd Street Y.  Davies said the way a violin can get its voice back -- if it is lost -- is to bury the violin in sacred soil in a cathedral.  Then, after a certain time, the voice returns.  A woman asked him, where did you ever find such an idea?  He smiled and said, I made it up.  

 

In short, authors have to do enough research to make things feel genuine.

 

Doctrow said when asked how much research he did for a novel that he did "just enough."  So that's a long-winded answer to a short question.... 

Author
Joseph-Monninger
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-28-2009

Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Thanks for the questions about the Chungamunga girls!  When I kayaked the Allagash River I arrived at the waterfall -- named, aptly -- the Allagash Falls around dinner time.  You have to portage around it.  When I pulled up to the portage trail two girls -- maybe 12? -- met me and asked if I needed help.  It was strange to meet them there, but I gradually realized an entire crew of girls were camped beside the falls.  The girls were bored and they helped me portage.  They told me everything they had been doing -- they had been out camping for a month -- and invited me to dinner.  They had two female leaders, and I could tell the female leaders were a little freaked out that these girls had invited this strange man to dinner.  So I thanked them and camped a few spots away.  In the morning all the girls came to send me off.  They were incredibly sweet and wonderfully pre-adolescent...giggling, screaming, shouting, and so forth.

 

By the way, at that same spot a rabbit -- Bunny? -- came to my campsite and let me feed her.  It was a sweet moment.  Later, when I wrote the novel, I made the connection.  

 

The Chungamunga girls are/is one of my favorite parts of the novel.  It is indeed good luck to run into the Chungamunga girls on the Allagash... 

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Joseph-Monninger
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I do smell like honey when I am in the woods....

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pen21
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

I have read through Chapter 10, the section for this week.

The Indonesian section really made the book come together for me.

To see Mary and Cobb in two vastly different settings.

I really like Freddy in the book, he is a good sub character.

Looking forward to the rest of the book.

 

My question is during this piece of the process in getting a book on the shelf, today what is the part you like best? Can you give us a little insight into what your days are like.

Thanks, pen21

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dhaupt
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

                                          *****SPOILERS POSSIBLE******

 

Hi Joe,

Good morning to you too,

First of all I LOVED the book. Even though I found it extremely hard to read through my tears during the last few chapters.

I found your characters so eclectic in their variety and differences and yet they seemed to make a great extended family unit. I especially loved Cobb and his obvious devotion to Mary throughout her long and debilitating illness. And I was happy that they lived so much in the short time you gave them. This book seems more real to me than a lot of fiction and I know it will stay with me for a long time.

We've read a lot of books together here at First Look and for me this is the best yet.

 

My question is - did you find it as hard to decide whether Cobb would not only agree to but live up to Mary's wishes as he found it to do?

 

Congratulations on the best book I've ever read and I predict we will be calling this work a classic and will be enjoying it for generations to come.

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ambika22
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

Hi Joe, first of all thanks for writing such an awesome book! I have finished it and really liked it.

I have a question about the crows stories. Did you invented them or are they part of some sort of mithology and legends?

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DSaff
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Re: Questions for Joseph Monninger

What great inspiration!  :smileyhappy:

 


Joseph-Monninger wrote:

Thanks for the questions about the Chungamunga girls!  When I kayaked the Allagash River I arrived at the waterfall -- named, aptly -- the Allagash Falls around dinner time.  You have to portage around it.  When I pulled up to the portage trail two girls -- maybe 12? -- met me and asked if I needed help.  It was strange to meet them there, but I gradually realized an entire crew of girls were camped beside the falls.  The girls were bored and they helped me portage.  They told me everything they had been doing -- they had been out camping for a month -- and invited me to dinner.  They had two female leaders, and I could tell the female leaders were a little freaked out that these girls had invited this strange man to dinner.  So I thanked them and camped a few spots away.  In the morning all the girls came to send me off.  They were incredibly sweet and wonderfully pre-adolescent...giggling, screaming, shouting, and so forth.

 

By the way, at that same spot a rabbit -- Bunny? -- came to my campsite and let me feed her.  It was a sweet moment.  Later, when I wrote the novel, I made the connection.  

 

The Chungamunga girls are/is one of my favorite parts of the novel.  It is indeed good luck to run into the Chungamunga girls on the Allagash... 


 

 

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
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