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Melissa_W
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STATE OF WONDER: Chapters One - Three

Please use this thread for discussion of Chapters One - Three of State of Wonder.

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Melissa_W
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The extension ruler

Already on page 2 Patchett has a great use of imagery:

 

There was inside of her a very modest physical collapse, not a faint but a sort of folding, as if she were an extension ruler and her ankles and knees and hips were all being brought together at closer angles.

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Melissa_W
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Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon  
Just in case the book isn't familiar the book Anders references in relation to Dr. Swenson's article is Lost Horizon by James Hilton.  It was presented in a list of British dystopics we could choose from in my British Literature class (one of the other's was Brave New World, which was what I chose to read).

Plot synposis:
While attempting to escape a civil war, four people are kidnapped and transported to the Tibetan mountains. After their plane crashes, they are found by a mysterious Chinese man. He leads them to a monastery hidden in "the valley of the blue moon" -- a land of mystery and matchless beauty where life is lived in tranquil wonder, beyond the grasp of a doomed world.

It is here, in Shangri-La, where destinies will be discovered and the meaning of paradise will be unveiled.

The tie in with what Anders meant was that there is a suspension of time while in this Shangri-La - in Lost Horizon it means long life, in State of Wonder is means an entire lifetime to start a family (no reproductive pressure).

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Melissa_W
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Freedom from reproductive pressure

In Marina's flashback, the reader is filled in on Annick Swenson's research focus: an Amazonian tribe where women continue reproduction from menarche until death without the onset of menopause.

 

Vogel the drug company has invested in this idea with the (obvious though unwritten aim) of transmuting those findings to modernized populations.  Although this is medically very improbable there probably is a market in a drug to reverse menopause in women who have onset in their 20s or 30s without the side effects of current hormone therapy.

 

But, while we're talking hypothetically, there is another population of women for whom the spectre of "reproductive pressure" - the pressure to find a partner and have children before your ovaries decide they've run out of eggs - looms very large.  Might that drug be attractive to them?

 

So then, given the fact that a modernized society has lifespans averaging in the high 70s/low 80s - with menopause starting in a mid-40s or so - would you want the possibility of starting a family in your 60s, your 50s if presented with the opportunity to banish menopause?  (A shorter lifespan for the Amazonian tribe is also given as an aside - the epidemiologist in me would like to see the data for Swenson's paper)

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Melissa_W
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Who's read HEART OF DARKNESS?

Heart of Darkness  

I just was looking for a quick head count.  I already see some parallel's to Conrad's most famous short novel - it is on many HS/college reading lists but I didn't want to assume.

 

Apocalypse Now

 

Having seen Apocalypse Now would also work, to some extent.

Melissa W.
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optic_i
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Re: Who's read HEART OF DARKNESS?

Great tie in Melissa !  

 Yes I did see some parallels  with Apocalypse now  too, very early on. 

 I haven't read The Heart of Darkness yet, but now I want too. 

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optic_i
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Re: Freedom from reproductive pressure

I know that I would not want to have children in my 50's or 60's. Because when they are teenagers then I would be in my 70's or 80's. Lol  I know some men still have children that late in life but they will need lots of help, their younger wives will fill in more.  

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optic_i
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Re: The extension ruler

[ Edited ]

That is so true Melissa about the imagery. This is my first book by Patchett and I find her writing style takes you away to one place and then she comes back and drops you back into the time and place of the story line. Like she is effortlessly distracting you from one moment to the next. But never distracting from where she wants you to go in the story. 

 

All I know at this point in the book, is that there is something wrong with Dr.Swenson.She seems to be a mythic figure to everyone at the pharmaceutical giant (19 building complex) in Minn. Vogel. However it appears Dr.Swenson has gone rogue in Brazil., deep in the Amazon doing research.  

 

I found myself so emotional while reading about Anders. When Mr. Fox & Marina went to see Karen, Anders wife.  

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streamsong
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Re: The extension ruler

Yes, the scene in chapter one where Mr Fox and Marina visit Karen to tell her of her husband's death is a neat bit of writing. Would we have cared about Karen and (finding out the puzzle of what happened to Anders) without this scene?

 

 

Melissa_W
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Re: The extension ruler

I think it helps to give Marina another side and also give a character largely off-page (Anders) a backstory we care about.  If the story had simply opened with Mr. Fox coming in to tell Marina that a colleague died while tracking down an errant researcher, and that she was being sent to finish the job, it would have much less emotional impact.


streamsong wrote:

Yes, the scene in chapter one where Mr Fox and Marina visit Karen to tell her of her husband's death is a neat bit of writing. Would we have cared about Karen and (finding out the puzzle of what happened to Anders) without this scene?

 

 


 

Melissa W.
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optic_i
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Re: The extension ruler

I agree , I found myself thinking NO! You can't tell her now ! She has to pick up the boys from school. Her whole life is about to collapse, she won't be able to talk to anyone. I also really liked how the author thought to use the dog. Knowing this Marina kept the dog inside and knew Karen would need something comforting to hold on too. I thought that felt so sad and so very real.  

 

Also I never knew people could have such a bad reaction to malaria drugs.Marina's vivid scary dreams.  

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chadadanielleKR
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Re: Who's read HEART OF DARKNESS?

There are of course, it is all well explained in this analysis.

I read Hart of Darkness while studying English and I saw Apocalypse in my late teens, I was very impressed at the time.


optic_i wrote:

Great tie in Melissa !  

 Yes I did see some parallels  with Apocalypse now  too, very early on. 

 I haven't read The Heart of Darkness yet, but now I want too. 


 

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optic_i
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Re: Who's read HEART OF DARKNESS?

Thanks for the link ChadadanielleKR." this analysis"  

 

What stood out for me was the comparison of "worship " of the Brando character in Apocalypse Now. And The legendary work of Dr. Swenson. And how they both have someone searching for them alone. 

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optic_i
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Re: STATE OF WONDER: Chapters One - Three

I found some pics of the Amazon.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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streamsong
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Re: STATE OF WONDER: Chapters One - Three

Beautiful photos optic_i . Thanks for sharing. They give a real feel as to how 'other' the Amazon environment is.

 

I haven't read Heart of Darkness or seen the movie, Apocalypse.  I see HOD is available full text online. Is it of enough interest to start a discussion/read of it? (Oh, what I'll do to avoid income taxes!)

 

This is going to be a bit of a challenge to participate by listening to the audiobook since I can't flip forward and back to confirm things, 

 

In chapter 2, Marina is sleeping with Mr Fox and wakes with a bad dream. And yet he is still Mr. Fox. No first name-- a la the second Mrs de Winter. Is he a nonentity--or perhaps we are to be paying attention to his last name--Fox-- as in clever or perhaps sly as a fox.  As the chapter goes on, he reveals more odd details about the Amazon research.

 

 

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optic_i
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Re: STATE OF WONDER: Chapters One - Three

It really is " Other" isn't it. So diversified, I will try to find some plant pics too. Some are just so prehistoric looking. 

 

Yes I think " Heart of Darkness " would be an interesting read too. :smileyhappy:  

 

I never thought of how an audio book would be a challenge for a discussion. But yes I can see how it would be a little harder to find certain points without page numbers. But don't worry, I have lots of help with a Nook and still mess up too. Lol   

 

Yes it is strange how Marina and "Mr.Fox"  have such a formal relationship. It's like they are a Boss subordinate relationship that they can't really move beyond. Good observation on Mr.Fox's name too Streamsong.    

 

This really happened in my( spellcheck )

Mr Fox's came up as moron. Maybe just my browser but so far I agree. Lol 

 

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Fozzie
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Re: The extension ruler


Melissa_W wrote:

Already on page 2 Patchett has a great use of imagery:

 

There was inside of her a very modest physical collapse, not a faint but a sort of folding, as if she were an extension ruler and her ankles and knees and hips were all being brought together at closer angles.


Yes, I noticed this passage too.  

 

I like the writing style used in the book.  It is very serious, isn't it?  Little if any humorous passages to break up the tone.

Laura

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Fozzie
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Re: Freedom from reproductive pressure


Melissa_W wrote:

 

 

So then, given the fact that a modernized society has lifespans averaging in the high 70s/low 80s - with menopause starting in a mid-40s or so - would you want the possibility of starting a family in your 60s, your 50s if presented with the opportunity to banish menopause?  (A shorter lifespan for the Amazonian tribe is also given as an aside - the epidemiologist in me would like to see the data for Swenson's paper)


No, I would not want that opportunity.  I had my children when I was 30 and 34.  Children are physically demanding and there is a reason that women are not able to have them later in life.  I think children benefit from financially and emotionally stable parents, but not from parents so mature as to have started physical decline, which begins at around age 40.  Also, in their 50s, many people care for aging parents, which would take away from the time parents would need to spend with children.  To everything there is a season.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Who's read HEART OF DARKNESS?


Melissa_W wrote:

Heart of Darkness  

I just was looking for a quick head count.  I already see some parallel's to Conrad's most famous short novel - it is on many HS/college reading lists but I didn't want to assume.

 

Apocalypse Now

 

Having seen Apocalypse Now would also work, to some extent.


I have not read Heart of Darkness or see Apocalypse Now.  I think I'll pick up Heart of Darkness at the library.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: The extension ruler


optic_i wrote:

That is so true Melissa about the imagery. This is my first book by Patchett and I find her writing style takes you away to one place and then she comes back and drops you back into the time and place of the story line. Like she is effortlessly distracting you from one moment to the next. But never distracting from where she wants you to go in the story. 

 

 


This is a great way to explain the writing style.  Several times I have found myself "startled" when the narrative comes back to itself again after an aside from the past.  It is a great technique.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.