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Jeanne-ND91
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

We open with our only childhood scene so far after the first pages of the novel. Does Vaclav become more "human" for us, if not more humane, toward his boys? We get, for example, an image of Vaclav making breakfast for the young boys and watching them eat, warning them to be careful with their mother's dishes. How does such a scene fit with the man who would put yokes on his sons for plowing? To me it's slightly better, he is actually almost showing feelings. But he is more concerned with the wife's possessions instead of the boys. Still don't like him.

 

Why does Karel turn his truck around after watching a boy and his father hunt along the roadside? He realizes that he can change things and have a great relationship with his son, unlike the one he had with his dad. He wants more which is great.

 

What does Sophie's teasing of him tell us about their relationship? I think they have a strong relationship, infidelities aside. He seems to really love her and his daughters, and I think she really loves him, enough to forgive his indiscretions, especially the night his son was born.

 

Why did Karel hire the twins, Joe and Raymond? Why did he feel some affinity for the boys? How do you compare their characters with Karel's now that we've seen them in action? I think he understood what happened with their dad and why it happened. He thinks they can be trusted and doesn't realize that they are more damaged than he sees in talking with them.

 

This part of the book was much easier for me to read. It flowed a lot better and I could follow the story better. Karel became more likeable to me and I felt for Sophie. His home life is very different than he had growing up, I'm glad he was able to find some happiness because he was very lonely, sad, abused during his childhood.


Jeanne Langen
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JaneM
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)


Rachel-K wrote:

Love so many of the observations in this thread!

 

Writing this visceral and complex can be demanding. "Unsettling" is a great word for it. Maybe it's especially surprising for those of us who read a lot and read quickly? You get used to flying through pages. And here we are, reading over the cereal bowl, or with a radio or television on--and get hit by pages that actually make us stop whatever else is happening because we need to give it our whole attention.

 

 

 


To continue with this discussion on descriptive writing, I would agree with you, Rachel, that  when I read, I sometimes skip a lot to chase the plot narrative.  This is particularly true for me with fast paced books, such as "The Girl" series by Stieg Larrson, or books by Dan Brown.  It's all about the story and what will be unfolded next.  And in most cases, you have haven't missed much by flipping pages.  But this book is quite different.  It's a challenge to the reader to get the most out of it.  Every word, every phrase has significant meaning and a beauty unto itself.  We saw a little of this type of writing in Under This Unbroken Sky, but certainly not to the extent that Bruce provides. 

 

Reading it is almost a mind game, to piece together the clues that are tossed out here and there about something that happened in the past, while reading a story line that is happening now.  Like in the movie Momento or Inception, the viewer wants to see it again and maybe again, to find what they missed the first time through so they finally have a complete picture.

 

This is a book that bears re-reading several times, to enjoy the descriptive passages (or skipping over those that are too brutal -- like you do when you peak through your fingers covering your eyes in a really scary movie!), or to piece together the timeline and puzzle out the motivations of the characters from scenes that have not yet been revealed. 

 

It's not often that I experience a book that I would like to re-read, but this is definitely one that is worthy of that compliment.

Jane M.
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nbmars
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

I so agree with you all about the tobacco spit!  And the squicky cow!  LOL


LadyMin wrote:

 

Oh yes, I definitely have to agree with you here. Too vivid in what I would call some of the more ... ummm... icky moments. The cow, the tobacco, and the one that got me, the description of the smell of Elizka the next morning. Unfortunately for me I was reading that part while enjoying my breakfast. 

flouncyninja wrote:

I disliked this section for much of the reason I liked the first third of the book - the vivid descriptions.  It just became too overwhelming with the descriptions of chewing tabacco and the death of the cow with her half born calf.  These might be particular "squick" moments for me, but there were too many vivid descriptions of events and actions that made me feel a little ill.  I guess that's what I get for reading this when allergies have given me a weak stomach to begin with.  :smileyhappy:

 

 


 


 

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nbmars
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

We open with our only childhood scene so far after the first pages of the novel. Does Vaclav become more "human" for us, if not more humane, toward his boys? We get, for example, an image of Vaclav making breakfast for the young boys and watching them eat, warning them to be careful with their mother's dishes. How does such a scene fit with the man who would put yokes on his sons for plowing?

 

To me, this does not make Vaclav more human.  All it says to me is that he is still wrapped up and self-absorbed in his own pain.  He seems to think of himself as a bereft husband, and of the horror and unfairness of it all, but is pretty much oblivious to the fact that he is also a father,  and that his kids feel pain and loss too, and moreover, need to be loved.  In fact, one wonders how he could have truly loved his wife and then totally turned off any feelings of caring for his sons.  Can someone who is capable of love only open the spigot up for one person?

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babzilla41
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

Why does Karel turn his truck around after watching a boy and his father hunt along the roadside?

 

I think it finally "hit home" that he had a son!  Watching the boy and his father together made Karel realize that he was going to have that sometime soon - he'll have the chance to be a real father to his son. A son he could have a relationship with beyond just having someone to share the burdens of farming.  He had left so abruptly following the boy's birth that he didn't give himself the opportunity to revel in the fact that he finally had a son.

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Tarri
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 

This section of the book really brought the characters alive for me.  I really like Karel, although he definitely has faults.  He loves his children and they love him.  I think his past gets in the way of having a complete and loving relationship with Sophie, but it seems as if he really does care for her.

 

Discussion Questions

We open with our only childhood scene so far after the first pages of the novel. Does Vaclav become more "human" for us, if not more humane, toward his boys? We get, for example, an image of Vaclav making breakfast for the young boys and watching them eat, warning them to be careful with their mother's dishes. How does such a scene fit with the man who would put yokes on his sons for plowing? 

 

I didn't feel that Vaclav was more human in these chapters.  He is still a hateful, mean, abusive father.  Yes, he makes the boys breakfast, but that is expected.  He reminds them to be careful of their mother's dishes, because he doesn't want anything to happen to the dishes of his dead wife.  I feel bad that the picture was ruined, but for the boys  not Vaclav. 

 

Why does Karel turn his truck around after watching a boy and his father hunt along the roadside?

 

Like so many have said, I think he subconsciously realizes what could be and what he is possibly messing up.

 

What does Sophie's teasing of him tell us about their relationship?

The way Sophie treats Karel shows, I think, that Karel is a good man/father, but a man with faults and no idea how to be a good husband.  I chose to believe that the birth of this child will be the catylst to turn Karel into the kind of husband who deserves Sophie. 

 

 

 

 

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babzilla41
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

What does Sophie's teasing of him tell us about their relationship?

 

It shows us that they have an "easy" relationship; they are comfortable with each other.  She obviously loves him in spite of his wandering nature - which so far she has turned a blind eye to; not sure if she has any other choice in that matter since women didn't just up and leave their husbands during that time period.  Since the birth of their son, she's proven that she is a strong woman, maybe one to rekon with and if Karel knows what's good for him, he'll keep it at home!!

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Bonnie_C
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

Taking time to watch the father and son as they hunted was a defining moment for Karel.  He realized at that moment that he could continue on his way and become the distant father as Vaclav was to him, or he could turn around and become the father he should be.

 

I felt Karel did a lot of reflection in this section of the book.  I hope at some point he comes to the conclusion that he may be a better man than any of his brothers.  He has a caring family and a farm that he can call his own.  He is beholding to no man unlike his 3 brothers who are mere puppets of their rich father-in-law.

 

Bonnie

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MSaff
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

Good Evening Everyone,

 

  This section of the book has sparked some more interest in me and I have been able to read more with anticipation as to what is going to happen next. 

 

  I think that Karel turns his truck around after watching the father and son hunting, because he has some pangs about his own relationship with his family and how it is going.  Yes Karel has some growing to do and he needs to be a faithful and loving husband as well as a good father to his children.  With the birth of his son, I think that he sees what could be in his life, following see the boy and his father.  Their relationship appears to one of love and respect, and the father appears to be enjoying his time with his son, while teaching him.  There doesn't appear to be any tension between the two and I want to believe that Karel wants that type of relationship with his new son.

  As for why Karel hired the twins, Joe and Raymond, I think that he was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, seeing himself in them at their age.  Unfortunately, in this section we read that the twins are still up to go good, and at one point, when Karel was sitting in his truck, watching his brother Thom, I thought that they may come to some kind of understanding and maybe become friends again as well as brothers.  I don't know if that will happen now.  This twins are evil and despite Karel's attempts, they are just to far gone.

 

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Hi all, please use any of the following question to continue our discussion of Wake of Forgiveness!

 

 

Why does Karel turn his truck around after watching a boy and his father hunt along the roadside?

 

Why did Karel hire the twins, Joe and Raymond? Why did he feel some affinity for the boys? How do you compare their characters with Karel's now that we've seen them in action? 

 

 

 

 


 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Hi all, please use any of the following question to continue our discussion of Wake of Forgiveness!

 

 

 

We open with our only childhood scene so far after the first pages of the novel. Does Vaclav become more "human" for us, if not more humane, toward his boys? We get, for example, an image of Vaclav making breakfast for the young boys and watching them eat, warning them to be careful with their mother's dishes. How does such a scene fit with the man who would put yokes on his sons for plowing? 

 

 


Like the wedding photo, the dishes are reminders of Vaclav's wife.  They mean a great deal to him and I think Vaclav's fear is likely that he will lose a piece of himself if her memory dies, therefore he guards the things that remind him of her, (i.e., the picture and the dishes). He's trying desparately to hold on to that part of himself and to her.  He's also doing the best he can with the boys, in the way he thinks she would do things and this includes making sure they are careful with her dishes.  This is his way of honoring her and perhaps a way to talk about her with the boys without being sentimental.

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 


Rachel-K wrote:

 

Why does Karel turn his truck around after watching a boy and his father hunt along the roadside?

 

 


Karel sees what he would consider a picture-perfect father/son moment.  He realizes that he will someday have the opportunity to create moments like that one if he chooses.  He recognized the mutual respect the father and son showed and the enjoyment the two of them got from being together.  Karel also noticed that the father wasn't the best of outdoorsmen; they were having a good time, but the boy wasn't actually learning a great deal about the proper way to hunt.  On the other hand, Karel had learned precious lessons from his father about hunting.  Karel would be able to re-create this scene with his own son, but he would show his son all the valuable lessons his own father had taught him about hunting and Karel was grateful for that.  Karel's tip of the hat showed the boy that he did well and also told the dad that he was doing a good job with his son.  The moment didn't go by unnoticed.

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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pen21
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 


CAG wrote:

I just wanted to make a comment about several readers finding the "vivid descriptions" in this story as somewhat overwhelming. I do respect that opinion but for me those "vivid descriptions" are what made the book seem so real to me both in the first and second sections. I like my books to feel real, the characters, the settings etc. The descriptions are what made me see Bruce Machart as a talented writer. I am interested in what anyone else has to say and how the descriptions add or take away from this story as far as others are concerned. The differing opinions are what makes these discussions so interesting to me.


 

The vivid imagery in all the scenes of the book show such wonderful writing skills. And it makes the book come alive for me. I like when a fiction book can bring a scene to life for me, to make it real. Life can be crude, horrible, sweet, wonderful, etc. But bringing each type of life to a state that makes me think it is real, is such a great feeling.

Luanne

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pen21
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 


Vermontcozy wrote:

Complex as we might perceive him today,abusive as he is,His rage outweighs for me,any loving or caring moment he  seems to have towards his sons.. Karel is a dreamer,a sensitive and loving man..Just seeing the father and son together,must've brought tears to eyes,in my world,so turning around ,going home,he wants to be all he never knew a Father could be,loving,proud ..That particular scene was so outstanding.   Sophie and Karel are very much in love,she has never seen a side to Karel,that might exist somewhere deep down inside of him,he has only shown her tenderness and love,including his own Daughters..There is no fear of him in his house....The twins will have another post from me...


I agree Sophie sees a good side in Karel. Sophie and the kids are loved and shown tenderness. Karel has many faults, but I think that Sophie sees them. I am sure she has suspicions and hears the gossip about Karel, it is a small town. But Sophie in my opinion is a strong woman. I think she could deal with what life might throw her way and survive.

 

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pen21
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

 


JaneM wrote:

Rachel-K wrote:

Love so many of the observations in this thread!

 

Writing this visceral and complex can be demanding. "Unsettling" is a great word for it. Maybe it's especially surprising for those of us who read a lot and read quickly? You get used to flying through pages. And here we are, reading over the cereal bowl, or with a radio or television on--and get hit by pages that actually make us stop whatever else is happening because we need to give it our whole attention.


To continue with this discussion on descriptive writing, I would agree with you, Rachel, that  when I read, I sometimes skip a lot to chase the plot narrative.  This is particularly true for me with fast paced books, such as "The Girl" series by Stieg Larrson, or books by Dan Brown.  It's all about the story and what will be unfolded next.  And in most cases, you have haven't missed much by flipping pages.  But this book is quite different.  It's a challenge to the reader to get the most out of it.  Every word, every phrase has significant meaning and a beauty unto itself.  We saw a little of this type of writing in Under This Unbroken Sky, but certainly not to the extent that Bruce provides. 

 

Reading it is almost a mind game, to piece together the clues that are tossed out here and there about something that happened in the past, while reading a story line that is happening now.  Like in the movie Momento or Inception, the viewer wants to see it again and maybe again, to find what they missed the first time through so they finally have a complete picture.

 

This is a book that bears re-reading several times, to enjoy the descriptive passages (or skipping over those that are too brutal -- like you do when you peak through your fingers covering your eyes in a really scary movie!), or to piece together the timeline and puzzle out the motivations of the characters from scenes that have not yet been revealed. 

 

It's not often that I experience a book that I would like to re-read, but this is definitely one that is worthy of that compliment.


I agree. Every word is important in this book. Some books you can fly through, but you forget them just as fast. This book will stick with me. The images and descriptions of this era just brings it alive. What a wonderful read!

 

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JuneC
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

Does anyone else find it interesting or unusual that in spite of their mean spirited, self-engaged father who shows no signs of affection, the Skala men appear to be just the opposite with their children? It seems they are warm, playful and loving.   How did they manage to accomplish this without a decent role model?  I was also pleased to see that they could be affectionate and helpful to their wives,once again without an example set for them.

 

Is it   Nature/nurture?   Their mother's personality?  The women they married? What do you think?

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chellealora
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

When Vaclav is making his boys breakfast and watching them eat it does show that he is human.  It is mostly his bitterness of losing his wife that possibly makes him seem so cold hearted and mean, he just can't seem to get past her death and maybe takes his frustration out on his boys by hooking them to the plow.  One can see that he loved his wife because he so much wants to keep the material things that he still has of hers.

 

Karel turned his truck around after witnessing a special bond between a boy and a father, which he never had so to speak and realizes that he now has an opportunity to break the cycle or make it right by having a loving relationship with his son.

 

Sophie and Karel's relationship seems loving, there may be some emotional attachments of Karel's mother that he holds on to by being with Sophie.

 

I think Karel hired the twins because he seen himself and his brothers in them.  There mother was the one who nursed Karel and maybe there is a maternal connection too.  Karel seems like an outlaw at times and does what he pleases when he pleases and the twins are like that as well.  Although I think Raymond is the more "naughty" twin whereas Joe seems more laid back and doesn't necessarily want the conflict and trouble.

 

I have finished this book sometime ago, I couldn't put it down.  It was riveting!

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BookWoman718
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)


blkeyesuzi wrote:

 


Like the wedding photo, the dishes are reminders of Vaclav's wife.  They mean a great deal to him and I think Vaclav's fear is likely that he will lose a piece of himself if her memory dies, therefore he guards the things that remind him of her, (i.e., the picture and the dishes). He's trying desparately to hold on to that part of himself and to her.  He's also doing the best he can with the boys, in the way he thinks she would do things and this includes making sure they are careful with her dishes.  This is his way of honoring her and perhaps a way to talk about her with the boys without being sentimental.

 


 Vaclav doesn't see that the most precious things Klara left behind were her sons.  If she were there, she might scold at a broken dish, but she probably would take a whip to Vaclav rather than let him harness their sons like oxen.  OK, that might be MY reaction...  but in any event, she sure wouldn't still be looking tenderly at Vaclav if he tried anything like that.  He's blind to plain truths, he's totally selfish.  In the end, he got pretty much what he deserved. 

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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

I am still figuring out,or trying too The Twins.   No family,probably doing all of this for a while,stealing,it couldn't be the first time..I don't know them or what drove them to steal,from Karel,where have they been living,etc...Everything changes..Karel is angry,we have not seen that anger for a while,actually  not since he left his father to die;;He is on a mission.find the twins,Confront them....Seeing his brother,needing his brothers,everything changes for me.... Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)


JuneC wrote:

Does anyone else find it interesting or unusual that in spite of their mean spirited, self-engaged father who shows no signs of affection, the Skala men appear to be just the opposite with their children? It seems they are warm, playful and loving.   How did they manage to accomplish this without a decent role model?  I was also pleased to see that they could be affectionate and helpful to their wives,once again without an example set for them.

 

Is it   Nature/nurture?   Their mother's personality?  The women they married? What do you think?


June  I agree ,In spite of all the Skala men have been through,as far as I can see in this section of the book,the women they married have given and nutured them ,a side of life they never knew..Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Middle Chapters to "Testaments to Seed," (p.212)

[ Edited ]

 


flouncyninja wrote [bold added]:

 


CAG wrote:

I just wanted to make a comment about several readers finding the "vivid descriptions" in this story as somewhat overwhelming. I do respect that opinion but for me those "vivid descriptions" are what made the book seem so real to me both in the first and second sections. I like my books to feel real, the characters, the settings etc. The descriptions are what made me see Bruce Machart as a talented writer. I am interested in what anyone else has to say and how the descriptions add or take away from this story as far as others are concerned. The differing opinions are what makes these discussions so interesting to me.


I completely agree that Bruce Machart is an incredible writer to create such vivid descriptions that they leave me feeling a bit ill inside.  That doesn't happen with bad writing.  I guess this novel is just a little too far outside my comfort zone in the sense of the cruder aspects of his characters' daily lives.  It's a very real world with real characters; perhaps I'm just a little too sensitive to spend my free time immersed in that world for too long, so I've found in this second section that it's taken away from my enjoyment of the plot at times.  But that's all on me, not the author.

 


 

Flouncy Ninja -- I'm not convinced that's all on you, "not the author."  As I have said elsewhere, I still haven't figured out what Machart has been doing with all the sensory attention to dung, outhouses, and other bodily secretions, animal and human.  At one point, when I was musing on the topic, I asked myself, where are the lilacs or apple trees or whatever other fragrant harbingers of pleasantness one might incur in Lavaca County, Texas, at the turn of the century.  Then I told myself probably I was being unduly feminine.  Still, the earth, the hay, the rivers, spilled beer have scents.  Somewhere along the line I stumbled across this quotation from Norman Mailer: "the ancient redolent odor of plowed land".

 

But the place that finally got to me was the paragraph on p. 150 beginning "Still, these were days of a generous, ever-yielding landscape, days of bright red wagonloads of tomatoes come summertime, of railcars piled with maize and dimpled, rust-colored sweet potatoes, of dense bales of hay, of cattle herds ... spared the foot-and-mouth outbreaks...[of] way up north, of steers so plentiful that the slaughterhouse pens ...stayed full and the stench of the Yoakum tannery could water one's eyes from a half mile away...."

 

Amidst all those rich, earthy smells of fall, why is the stench of the tannery the one that Machart calls to our attention?  What has the author been (obviously? unconsciously?) evoking via the olfactory senses throughout the novel?

 

Other readers, please give me some ideas.  For me, the answer I posit (life reeks) is too simplistic for the novel.

 

Pepper

"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