Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Fiction  (Read 25179 times)
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #1395 on: March 15, 2008, 04:11:14 PM »

Thanks so much, hoffman, that really helps.  I think I got the history/legend as chain-smoking image (as well as history/the past as just about everything else that exists--almost puts Faulkner to shame) but there were many times in the reading when I wondered if Foer was imagining anew or re-imagining what went before.  I'd like to read the book again but can't decide whether to seek some exigesis or just a guide to references beyond my ken.

I did think of Sophie's Choice when the men were told to spit on the holy scripture or various members of their family would be killed--it was significant that one would only spit if it were his son that was threatened.

It seems Foer lets humans off the moral hook for doing whatever is necessary to preserve themselves and family/progeny from extinction, wonder if there will come a time when that will be necessary on a planetary level--do I meander into the realm of sci-fi or "are we there yet?"

My daughter picked up Everything Is Illuminated and was quite taken with Alex, asked me if she'd like the book. I was stumped as to what to tell her.  I don't think she's read any magical realism and might get lost, or she might just get into the tale without wondering about the veracity of parts.  Then, too, her only exposure to the Holocaust so far has been the standard Ann Frank.  It comes to me this very moment that my first was reading Exodus at about her age (at least, the movie that prompted reading it came out not long before).  Hmmm, must think more about this...

I wonder how others forumites first learned about the Holocaust. Anyone (other than those old enough to have had contemporaneous knowledge/info/news) care to comment? 

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pugetopolis
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« Reply #1396 on: March 15, 2008, 05:35:21 PM »



Faulkner—and now the great debate begins…

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qpowellx
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« Reply #1397 on: March 17, 2008, 02:48:31 PM »

« Reply #1374 on: February 23, 2008, 12:39:00 AM » 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Qpowellx....don't know if you check this on the week-ends, but I finished The Air We Breathe.  Maybe not as good as H2O, but Barrett does a fine job."

Hoffman, I was away for a month.  I just read your above message today.  What a reading adventure I have had.  When I left town, I was reading H20, and thought that I had it in my suitcase, but had left it at home.  At this place where I stayed is a book exchange...on the beach.  I picked up and began to read SNOW, by Orham...a wonderful book about a writer who goes back to Turkey (for a funeral) after a twelve year absence and begins an investigation of suicides of Muslim girls...for various reasons.  One having reacted to being denied the right to wear a black scarf to school, another for  mother in law abuse, another by a husband and on and on.  The book is full of history and a great exposition about the holocaust of the Armenians and so forth.  Well, on my way to the car one day, I lost the book! Dropped it somewhere in the mess I was carrying. So, I switched to Alex McCall Smith, and began to read about the lady detective in Botswana.  I promised my self to order SNOW from Amazon as soon as I got home, and I did.  In the meantime, I saw in the British newspaper today that the Alex McCall Smith books are under attack as being bias and presenting infanticide in a too focused way. I liked the three that I had read so far.  They are quick and short.  So, I am now looking for my copy of H20 which I will have time to finish before SNOW arrives and I can finish it.  Sometimes, books, the physical things that I hold in my hand, give me as much trouble as my friends or seem to be like herding cats.   Oh, when I got back couple days ago, had trouble signing back in to Elba!!!. Wow.  And how are you.  Q
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Donotremove
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« Reply #1398 on: March 17, 2008, 04:18:21 PM »

Qpowellx, "bias in narrow focus of infanticide" in Smith's Botswana books?

I've read all the Botswana books, some of them again.  Precious Ramotswe and her husband (now--hope that doesn't spoil anything for you) JLB Matekani (of the TL Okweng Road Speedy Motors with the two mechanic helpers Charlie and an un named younger apprentice,) along with Mma Makurtsi (and her zany ideas) are too delicious.

Good luck on keeping all your books in hand.  That's a problem at my house, too.  I know the book is around somewhere, but where exactly?   Smiley
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qpowellx
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« Reply #1399 on: March 17, 2008, 07:22:49 PM »

DOnotremove,  here is the news item!!!  Yes, I love these books.  I am starting number three after I read SNOW.  I love Precious, her father, the auto repair man; and, did you know that the BBC (?) has turned it into a series or perhaps a made for tv movie, I am not sure which.  I won't stop.  Thanks.  here is a clip of the GUARDIAN article.  Q




Best-selling author attacked over 'tribal stereotypes'

Portrayal of infanticide by 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' writer is condemned

  Independent.co.uk  Web 
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Change font size: A | A | ABy Paul Bignell
Sunday, 16 March 2008


Award-winning author Alexander McCall Smith, whose best-selling books about a Botswanan female detective are printed in more than 30 languages, is accused by human rights campaigners of stereotyping tribal groups in Africa.


The hugely successful Scottish author drew criticism over his claims that infanticide is practised routinely in Botswana. But one of the stars of the TV adaptation of his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency leapt to McCall Smith's defence.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, a charity that campaigns for the rights of indigenous peoples, claimed that the stereotyping of tribal people, in literature and elsewhere, as barbaric and primitive can adversely influence how they are treated by governments and the wider community.

He argued that the idea of Bushmen practising infanticide has been used by authorities against the recognition of the land rights of such tribes as the Gana and Gwi Bushmen of the central Kalahari game reserve in Botswana. He suggests some of the ideas may have come from McCall Smith's books.

"It is not difficult to show how the false portrayal of tribal peoples, whether by novelists or experts, can do real harm," said Mr Corry. Singling out McCall Smith's second novel in the series, Tears of the Giraffe, Mr Corry points to the author's depiction of infanticide: "When a Mosarwa woman dies and she's still feeding a baby, they bury the baby too... That's the way it is."

"That is not the way it really is," Mr Corry said. "McCall Smith's character presents as habit something that is in fact exceedingly rare. His books portray Botswana in a very rosy light, but the reality for the Bushmen is very different. Their experience is one of repression, bullying and persecution by a government that seems determined not to let them go home, despite what their courts say."

The timing of the attack comes just ahead of the dramatised BBC version of the first book in the series. The adaptation, by Anthony Minghella and Richard Curtis, to be shown on Easter Sunday, stars Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe, the first female sleuth in Botswana.

British actor Idris Elba, who also stars in the drama, which was filmed on location in Botswana, defended the author. He said: "Alexander McCall Smith's stories are fictional and I think that the characters, as in anything you write, are embellished and exaggerated a little. Mr Corry should definitely take that into mind while making these statements. I feel being in Botswana and being among the Botswanan people, I didn't get any sense of 'oh my God, they're disrespecting our culture or our feelings'. I commend Mr Corry's argument and attempts to protect, but I think he should put it into perspective."

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rmdig
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« Reply #1400 on: March 17, 2008, 08:11:25 PM »

qpowellx --

I must say I found Snow rather nattering, but I finished it.  As for Precious Ramotswe and her clinically depressed beau, they are very close to my heart.  There have been times when I despaired that they are only fictional characters.  Sometimes "light" reading provides the deepest insights.  I am also a huge fan of R. K. Narayan.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1401 on: March 17, 2008, 08:24:43 PM »

Qpowellx....You do have the most interesting travels.  I've never read the McCall mysteries, but I did read Snow shortly after it was published in English.  I remember at the time that there was a feeling of grace and elegance about Pamuk's writing that I quite enjoyed.  I also was intrigued by the contrast of the foreign-ness and otherworldliness of Kar with its religious and political trappings, and the familiarity of the poet, Ka.  Every time I turned a page, I expected to come across one of Ka's poems.  I had to keep reminding myself that the real writer here was Pamuk, and I don't think he writes poetry.
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qpowellx
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« Reply #1402 on: March 17, 2008, 08:55:10 PM »

Hoffman, I went to the website because I had the same feeling about the writing--the poetry.  I was struck by this sentence==


"Apart from three years in New York, Orhan Pamuk has spent all his life in the same streets and district of Istanbul, and he now lives in the building where he was raised. Pamuk has been writing novels for 30 years and never done any other job except writing. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages."


has "never done any other job except writing.", kind of says it all. 

Well, Amazon.com says that the book shipped. So, I wait. Q 
 
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qpowellx
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« Reply #1403 on: March 17, 2008, 09:04:47 PM »

rdig, I plan to  plow through as many of Precious' adventures as I can keep up with.   This week I have to self and came home to a broken TV!  No husband here watching basketball games and I won't get it fixed to a week. 

In the real world they say that a major battle is being waged on the basketball courts.  Oh well. I am sure that someone will tell me who wins.  Here in North Carolina, people, strangers, talk to each other all of March during March madness; in supermarkets, at the cleaners, looking across self service gas pumps. I expected to hear sounds of dismay about Bear Sterns today and then remembered, those are the rich people sobbing today.  The harm will trickle down to the rest of us before long. For now, basketball reigns.      Q
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #1404 on: March 17, 2008, 11:46:26 PM »

I have also read all the Precious Ramotswe books and sent them along to dowager aunt who agrees they do rather run out of steam toward the end, but don't pretend to be more than they are.  I am a bit boggled that any part of them is being politicized. Somebody needs to sit down with a cup of bush tea, if you ask me.
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Donotremove
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« Reply #1405 on: March 18, 2008, 10:58:08 AM »

Qpowellx, the garage owner/mechanic is Precious' beau not her father.  Thanks for the article from The Guardian.  As Nytemps says, " . . . sit down with a cup of bush tea . . ." is right.  The Bushmen DO get a raw deal in Botswana (for real,) and I think that Smith brings that out.  Be sure to read the books in sequence.

Rmdig, " .  . . clinically depressed beau . . . " is soooo right.  Smiley

Smith also writes stories about a block of homes and their occupants in Edinbough, Scotland.  I've read several but I only really liked the first two.  The little feller that is convinced his Mother is out to get him is too funny.
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qpowellx
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« Reply #1406 on: March 18, 2008, 05:10:18 PM »

Yes, Donotremove, I know that Precious' father was a cattle farmer and the garage repair guy wants to marry her.  She has quite a support system. I will let you know when I am farther in.  Q
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« Reply #1407 on: March 19, 2008, 12:59:26 AM »

Qpowellx, the garage owner/mechanic is Precious' beau not her father.  Thanks for the article from The Guardian.  As Nytemps says, " . . . sit down with a cup of bush tea . . ." is right.  The Bushmen DO get a raw deal in Botswana (for real,) and I think that Smith brings that out.  Be sure to read the books in sequence.

Rmdig, " .  . . clinically depressed beau . . . " is soooo right.  Smiley

Smith also writes stories about a block of homes and their occupants in Edinbough, Scotland.  I've read several but I only really liked the first two.  The little feller that is convinced his Mother is out to get him is too funny.


I went looking for the article but was distracted before I found it because I saw the headline that Anthony Minghella is dead. He was the maker of the film about Smith's story-line; and was best known for his film,The English Patient.
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barton
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« Reply #1408 on: March 19, 2008, 11:26:13 AM »

RIP Arthur C. Clarke, one of the grand masters of the sf genre. 
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1409 on: March 19, 2008, 12:19:14 PM »

I somehow had the idea that all of Smith-McCall's mysteries were set in Scotland.  And the Ladies' Detective Agency ....I pictured a group of little old Miss Marples solving crimes. 

I'm thinking I'll take a look at the first one.
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