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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions


Wrighty wrote:

katknit wrote:
There was also a lot of cruelty to humans that bothered me (although usually not as much as the animals. I wonder why that is?) but I did feel that it was part of the story.


Hi Wrighty,

I think we are so affected by cruelty to children and animals b/c they are more helpless and trusting than adults, and that makes them even more vulnerable and victimized.
Linda



************Possible Spoilers**************************************
You're right, they are more vulnerable and should be protected. Another thing that stood out to me was how hard it was to survive during the depression. People were literally starving because they couldn't find jobs. They were skinny, dirty, homeless, jobless, sick - these were the worst cases but it hit people hard. They would do almost anything to survive. That was hard for me to think about because that was a reality of that time period. These people were struggling so much already and then some of them were forced to endure the cruelty of their employers and other "bullies". And that was just torture for the sake of their own sick pleasure. It was unnecessary and only added to the victims woes. How much can they take before they give up? And to add even more to their misery, those that were inflicting the harm also lived an opulent life with an abundance of luxury. They flaunted their wealth, fine foods and clothes instead of using it to help those that were so desperately in need of aid. They allowed others to suffer, they caused others to suffer and enjoyed it. The victims were a source of entertainment. That was sickening to me and I wanted those people to suffer instead. The author did a great job of creating scenes that stirred up my emotions so much.


Has anyone read Victor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning? It is an account of his imprisonment at Auschwitz and his resulting search for ways of healing the mind and spirit. In it, he talks about the everyday life in Auschwitz and what people did to survive, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Its been years since I read it, I need to get a copy for myself, but I remember him talking about, even among the prisoners, there was some caste systems. And those who worked for the Nazi's, as we know, watching the other workers, being their bosses so that they might survive longer, maybe get better food and treatment and how they would hurt or turn in their fellow Jews for things, if it might help them. The prisoners did things they never thought they would ever do, just to survive and they had to find a way in their minds to make it ok. Some later, if they survived couldnt bare what they had done. Its an incredible psychological look into the lives of the tortured and enslaved by a man who lived through 3 death camps. I think the hardest times of all that we may face, whether in war, a depression,places like Darfur and many personal tragedies, will bring out our true nature and sometimes that includes a part of us that we did not know we were capable of, and sometimes it brings out the best in us that we didn't know we had the strength to do.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Rachel-K
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

I loved Frankl's book and think it fits very well into the context of the cruelty in the novel. The desperation of the depression surrounds the novel--doesn't it feel like the circus is a small island in the middle of it? There is tremendous cruelty, but also lots of food, and all of the working men seem to feel the threat of what might happen if they lost their footing with the show--Jacob is the only not to have seen much outside of his campus until now.
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KathyS
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Re: First Impressions - Circus - an island unto its own

This reminded me of what the circus life is; a small world within a large one. These people were family. You want to view families as being close, and yet distance keeps one from the another. They kept their boundaries pretty tight around them.

Kathy S.
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fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions



Wrighty wrote:

vivico1 wrote:

Wrighty wrote:
The animal cruelty really bothered me too, I hated it, but I still liked the story. There was also a lot of cruelty to humans that bothered me (although usually not as much as the animals. I wonder why that is?) but I did feel that it was part of the story. It didn't feel like it was just for entertainment purposes it was part of the theme. Everyone endured such hardships and struggled so much to survive. It was a bitter, brutal life at that time, not the pretty life the circus portrayed.


Wrighty, there's an interesting observation. I wonder if its really true, or is it that we tend to get more upset with cruelty to animals that we notice it more than cruelty to humans because we are in some respects desensitized to the violence in the world now. I have a feeling that if you really started numbering the scenes of violence or cruelty to humans in the story they will out weight the numbers you hear about the animals. It reminds me of how some laws still can do more to someone convicted of animal cruelty than of say, battery to a human. There are rapists who have gotten off lighter than those actually brought into court over animals. Neither is acceptable but there is something wrong in that.

I just reread this, and did you mean, the cruelty to humans didnt bother you as much as to animals? or did you mean, there were scenes of cruelty to humans but not as many as there were of animals? I took it as the latter at first, but either way, I guess its still about desensitization huh.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 12-08-2007 12:12 AM



I meant the first one, the animal cruelty in the story seemed to bother me more and you're right it is about being desensitized. Does anyone else ever feel that way? The human cruelty was horrific and also bothered me but it seems so common in our media, in our world in general, that I'm used to hearing about it. The animals seem more innocent and defenseless also. They don't often get the chance to fight back. I do feel that all of the cruelty served a purpose in the story though as harsh as it was. I'm glad I read this book.




Actually, the cruelty to humans bothered me a lot! I put all this in context. I think that cruelty of both humans and animals was the way things were back in the early 20th century. I feel that authors need to write about these issues to keep our eyes open. We need to understand how our present day laws developed and why there are rules that health care personnel and teacher must report any suspected abuse. How sad that we have to be legalized into being compansionate.
MG
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cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
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Re: First Impressions



Wrighty wrote:
The animal cruelty really bothered me too, I hated it, but I still liked the story. There was also a lot of cruelty to humans that bothered me (although usually not as much as the animals. I wonder why that is?) but I did feel that it was part of the story. It didn't feel like it was just for entertainment purposes it was part of the theme. Everyone endured such hardships and struggled so much to survive. It was a bitter, brutal life at that time, not the pretty life the circus portrayed.




I always loved going to the circus. We didn't to go often because it was expensive, so when we did it was awesome. There were 4 of us kids and when we went we were given a chameleon. I loved those little guys. The circus was glamorous, magical and exciting. I never knew what happened behind the scenes. Not only the animals being abused, the people too. I'm glad to know this, but am very sad. It ruins the circus for me.
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Pgibbs2341
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Registered: ‎11-07-2007
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Circus life and the Depression????? No thanks!

I whole-heartedly agree with Vivico1. There is something about this book that makes the reader have to dismiss it several times before reading it. I looked at the title and cover art several times and turned my nose up at it. I am not a huge fan of the circus or the Depression and wasn't looking forward to reading a book that was set so prominently in both. I had patiently sat through two seasons of HBO's Carnivale', a TV series set in the Depression era and tells the tales of traveling circus life, and was left confused depressed. The dirt, the cruelty to animals and general lack of cleanliness left me asking myself why did I bother? I started to hear positive feedback on Water for Elephants and was shocked. Friends kept pushing me and I finally broke down and purchased it. I was pleasantly surprised. Sara Gruen has not only sculpted a fascinating world of intrigue, but has managed to capture the subtle kindness and explosive anger of which a man often consists. I know it is true of me as a man. After I was done reading the book, I was left speechless and heart pounding. Like I had just been "red - lighted" or something. I loved the adventure WFE provided and I am glad I gave it a chance. A great ride!!
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ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Genderly specific

Pgibbs2341 wrote:
"Sara Gruen has not only sculpted a fascinating world of intrigue, but has managed to capture the subtle kindness and explosive anger of which a man often consists. I know it is true of me as a man. After I was done reading the book, I was left speechless and heart pounding. Like I had just been "red - lighted" or something. I loved the adventure WFE provided and I am glad I gave it a chance. A great ride!!"

This is very interesting, and touches on something that I was wondering myself. What does everyone think about a young woman writing as an old man? Does her style appeal to one gender more than another? Do you feel that she accurately portrayed what was going on inside the head of a 90 or 93 year old man?
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Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Genderly specific



ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341 wrote:
"Sara Gruen has not only sculpted a fascinating world of intrigue, but has managed to capture the subtle kindness and explosive anger of which a man often consists. I know it is true of me as a man. After I was done reading the book, I was left speechless and heart pounding. Like I had just been "red - lighted" or something. I loved the adventure WFE provided and I am glad I gave it a chance. A great ride!!"

This is very interesting, and touches on something that I was wondering myself. What does everyone think about a young woman writing as an old man? Does her style appeal to one gender more than another? Do you feel that she accurately portrayed what was going on inside the head of a 90 or 93 year old man?




I thought about this while I was reading too. It seemed very believable to me, but I'm only a 29 and 11/12's year old female.
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Pgibbs2341
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Re: Genderly specific

I think Sara Gruen did an excellent job finding a voice for a young Jacob and an old Jacob. Had I not looked at the cover, I would have assumed that a man's voice was behind the book. I am thoroughly impressed with her attention to detail. Under the roughest of male exteriors, often beats a heart of a tender soul. I think sometimes, hell most times, men are expected to be the ever steady presence in all of life's situations. Before everyone starts throwing rotten tomatoes at their computers, I realize their are many many exceptions to this statement. I am merely speaking of the men I have been graced to know in my life. Having just lost my Father last year and seeing him, through the course of his illness, have to adjust from being a man dependent on his physical prowess to transforming into a man dependent on others. Much like Jacob's life journey. The will was there, but the body was worn out. Jacob at 90...or 93 had a quick mind and a sharp sense of humor even though his body was crumbling around him. With my Father, little things were what his days consisted of towards the end. Sitting outside and making some phone calls, taking a ride in the car to a doctor's appointment or just riding shotgun on an errand I was running. It was and is hard to see someone have to make that adjustment. It certainly isn't natural.

Sara Gruen captured and shared a glimpse into the life of, albeit fictional, a good man. Did she do a good job ELEE...yes she did is my vote!
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ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Genderly specific

Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".
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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific

Just recently, I believe it was in a discussion with Anne Perry, about her writing as a male character - She said she would sometimes have to ask her brother what he thought of her writing in this male gender, and once in a while he would tell her [paraphrasing] to take some of the female out of the voice.

I don't have a problem with females writing in a male voice (Sara totally convinced me, and the tears were ok with me), but once in a while, I do have a problem with men writing in the female. I never can take my mind away from that fact. I keep asking myself: now, how would he know how I feel? :smileyhappy:
As a female, I guess it's okay for me to see men a little more feminine, or vulnerable.
Just my take.
K.

ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".


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Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific


ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".



I am the same kind of reader. It makes no difference to me who is telling the story as long as they do it well. I use my imagination too and can get pulled into the story without any regard to the author or narrator. Sara did a great job in my opinion. She spoke well through all of the characters and made it believable for me. I would think it's probably harder for most readers to accept a man telling a woman's story than the opposite. I think it can be just as effective but our society in general may be tougher to convince. I'd be curious to know if woman or men have a tougher time believing it.
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



Wrighty wrote:
I'd be curious to know if woman or men have a tougher time believing it.




That's an interesting question! I thought she did a very good job. I sometimes wondered, especially in the romantic scenes, if these wouldn't be the most difficult to handle across gender--do men and women expect different things out of those first long gazes and that first kiss, etc?
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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



rkubie wrote:


Wrighty wrote:
I'd be curious to know if woman or men have a tougher time believing it.




That's an interesting question! I thought she did a very good job. I sometimes wondered, especially in the romantic scenes, if these wouldn't be the most difficult to handle across gender--do men and women expect different things out of those first long gazes and that first kiss, etc?


These were the scenes I read with care! I hate it when I watch dialogue that way! I couldn't help myself....But I couldn't find any flaws in Sara's writing...it all seemed 'natural' between the sexes... if that's the word to use.

Kathy S.
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Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".



I must be a lenient and forgiving reader too because I never think about the sex of the author and the sex of the characters and did the author do a good job writing characters of the opposite sex. I do definitely think about whether or not the author did a god job on the book as a whole, but never look through the lens of gender.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific - The female voice

The one male author who has completely captured the female voice, is Silas House.
A Parchment Of Leaves
[and his other novels]
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



KathyS wrote:
Just recently, I believe it was in a discussion with Anne Perry, about her writing as a male character - She said she would sometimes have to ask her brother what he thought of her writing in this male gender, and once in a while he would tell her [paraphrasing] to take some of the female out of the voice.

I don't have a problem with females writing in a male voice (Sara totally convinced me, and the tears were ok with me), but once in a while, I do have a problem with men writing in the female. I never can take my mind away from that fact. I keep asking myself: now, how would he know how I feel? :smileyhappy:
As a female, I guess it's okay for me to see men a little more feminine, or vulnerable.
Just my take.
K.

ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".







I certainly agree with you Kathy S., it seems when a man writer writes female, it seems he is just not soft enought or doesn't show the soul of a woman seeping out. I did like Wally Lamb's "Coming apart" and did think he captured that soul thing but his is the only book that I agree on that has that effect. I feel a woman can get down to the core of a man's thinking and why we can I guess because so little they express to us, that we can make up most of the manly stuff.
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



kiakar wrote:


KathyS wrote:
Just recently, I believe it was in a discussion with Anne Perry, about her writing as a male character - She said she would sometimes have to ask her brother what he thought of her writing in this male gender, and once in a while he would tell her [paraphrasing] to take some of the female out of the voice.

I don't have a problem with females writing in a male voice (Sara totally convinced me, and the tears were ok with me), but once in a while, I do have a problem with men writing in the female. I never can take my mind away from that fact. I keep asking myself: now, how would he know how I feel? :smileyhappy:
As a female, I guess it's okay for me to see men a little more feminine, or vulnerable.
Just my take.
K.

ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".







I certainly agree with you Kathy S., it seems when a man writer writes female, it seems he is just not soft enought or doesn't show the soul of a woman seeping out. I did like Wally Lamb's "Coming apart" and did think he captured that soul thing but his is the only book that I agree on that has that effect. I feel a woman can get down to the core of a man's thinking and why we can I guess because so little they express to us, that we can make up most of the manly stuff.





I forgot to say that Sarah Gruen did a marvelous job writing as a man. There was no time while reading, did I feel he sounded female. It was a beautiful book.
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Genderly specific



kiakar wrote:


kiakar wrote:


KathyS wrote:
Just recently, I believe it was in a discussion with Anne Perry, about her writing as a male character - She said she would sometimes have to ask her brother what he thought of her writing in this male gender, and once in a while he would tell her [paraphrasing] to take some of the female out of the voice.

I don't have a problem with females writing in a male voice (Sara totally convinced me, and the tears were ok with me), but once in a while, I do have a problem with men writing in the female. I never can take my mind away from that fact. I keep asking myself: now, how would he know how I feel? :smileyhappy:
As a female, I guess it's okay for me to see men a little more feminine, or vulnerable.
Just my take.
K.

ELee wrote:
Pgibbs2341,

Thank you very much for sharing your post. I am interested to hear about other people's perspectives because I am a very lenient and forgiving reader. I guess I read with my imagination because I seem to identify with narrators without reference to their gender roles and rarely have any problem relating to them. (I have no problem identifying with the knight in shining armor or the damsel in distress, depending on whose telling the story.) I just wondered if it was like that for others, or if they really have to be "convinced".







I certainly agree with you Kathy S., it seems when a man writer writes female, it seems he is just not soft enought or doesn't show the soul of a woman seeping out. I did like Wally Lamb's "Coming apart" and did think he captured that soul thing but his is the only book that I agree on that has that effect. I feel a woman can get down to the core of a man's thinking and why we can I guess because so little they express to us, that we can make up most of the manly stuff.





I forgot to say that Sarah Gruen did a marvelous job writing as a man. There was no time while reading, did I feel he sounded female. It was a beautiful book.


Absolutely, Linda....
BTW...No H in Sara :smileywink:
K.[Sara]
New User
libraryclerk
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-13-2007
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Re: First Impressions



rkubie wrote:
Please use this thread to share your expectations and first impressions as you dive into "Water for Elephants." If this isn't your first time reading it, please share how you first discovered the novel!





Just a short statement that I like going through BOOK PAGE and liked the review. I listened to this on a CD and was absolutely fasinated. I loved the two voices, David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones, they did a wonderful job. I enjoyed the book from the begining.
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