1. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    Book of the Month Discussion

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by The Freshmaker, Oct 1, 2008.

    Friends, WritingForumites, bookworms, lend me your eyes!

    This thread is for the discussion of monthly books voted on by you!

    I hope that this will be fun, interesting, and insightful.

    FYI/Rules:
    • There will be a loose schedule for completion of the book. This is just to keep everyone on track. It is not mandatory that you follow this schedule.
    • It's okay if you read ahead, or have read the book before. However, we want to avoid spoiling the book for those who haven't gotten there yet. So, if you want to discuss something about the book that we aren't yet up to in the schedule, please enclose it in spoiler tags.
    • Um...I know there was something else I wanted to put here. If anyone thinks of it, please let me know.

    Happy reading!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps you meant to introduce the first monthly selection?
     
  3. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    October

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    Schedule
    Basically, the goal for this month is to read three chapters for every five days. Easy, right?
    Oct 5: (read through) Chapter 3
    Oct 10: Ch. 6
    Oct 15: Ch. 9
    Oct 20: Ch. 12
    Oct 25: Ch. 15
    Oct 30: Ch. 18
    Oct 31: Finish

    This looks like a good one. I can't wait to start! No reading tonight, though. Tonight is swing dance night. <happy or sad emoticon here>
     
  4. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    I was getting to it! Guh!
     
  5. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    So...how 'bout them readins?

    I'm thinking that the main character didn't seem sufficiently devastated over his wife's death and infidelity. I mean, this is a guy who is in prison for three years. The only thing he really really wants to do is go home and be with his wife. And then she dies. That's basically all his hopes gone right there. But, not only does she die, she also dies cheating on him with his best friend. Yet his attitude is more indicative of him having stepped in dog poo.

    I don't know, maybe he has a bad case of acute stress disorder and it hasn't really hit him yet?
     
  6. 143inexd
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    Okok, I just saw this post and they have the book at the university library so I'm going to get it ASAP and join in!
     
  7. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    I'm using your link, Fresh, so I'm not sure where ch. 3 ends.

    I thought their "relationship" seemed really forced early on. One small scene in particular, of Shadow imagining what would happen once he got back home, and how

    I remembered Margaret Atwood did such a scene in Oryx and Crake (Jimmy spends time with Oryx in his room and she orders pizza), but the difference is that while Atwood was able to establish how important those trivial memories of Oryx were for Jimmy just by having him remember the shape of her nails, Gaiman doesn't really do much to convince....

    Then he hits us again with this:

    All he seems to do is carry her; All she seems to do is giggle. It's romantic when you're the couple in love doing that, but pure cheese when it's fictionalized.

    Otherwise, it's good so far. Conversations can get a bit to clipped and bland for my tastes in certain parts, but the story is enjoyable. Iceman is by far probably the most interesting character. I couldn't help but chuckle at the political incorrectness that spewed out of this guy's mouth when he was talking about Greeks.

    Too bad he all but disappeared after the first few pages. I wonder what happened to him?

    I've only read so far as when the "man in the pale suit" has a job for Shadow. I think I'm going to buy the book sometime this week as the online format is a bit confusing. I hate not knowing which page I'm on.
     
  8. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    I'm...not really sure how I feel about this book. It's not a bad book. It's interesting and well-written. However, it's not really gripping me. I don't feel an overwhelming need to finish it.

    I find Shadow to be kind of a dull character. He doesn't show much emotion or interest in anything. Besides his coin tricks, he doesn't really do much interesting. Everything he does or says is very predictable.
     
  9. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Really? This is one of my favorite books. I just couldn't put it down. Just keep reading on; it gets better.

    Plus, I think Shadow's reaction was a true one. He was numb. He's not a real emotional guy, so a proper reaction for him would be one of complete numbness.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not necessarily. Just because you're not an emotional person doesn't mean you don't care or have an understanding of what is socially appropriate behaviour in emotionally charged situations. Someone who is not emotional can still try to say empathetic things. Admittedly, I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure how relevant my comments are, but anyway...
     
  11. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    It's his wife, who died while having sex with his best friend. He acted shocked and numb. He didn't cry out in rage or sink into depression, but he acted numb. I'd say it's a valid emotional response.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the person, that really is a valid response. He was in shock, probably, and couldn't process it, so his brain decided not to process it at all.
     
  13. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    If you hadn't noticed, the voting is over, and Ender's Game is our book for December. You have a good long month to get a copy if you would like to participtate in the as-yet mostly ignored discussion thread.

    So...

    Pertaining to the book that we're still supposed to be discussing...

    I kinda feel like an idiot for not picking up on the Low-Key/Loki thing at the beginning of the book
     
  14. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    Come on! Has no one finished this book yet?
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I just cracked open American Gods this weekend. I was surprised to find that Neil's writing talent is not limited to graphic novels. His wrinting in the beginning passages was very smart, in both senses of the word: it was intelligently written, and is crisp and well organized.

    I admit, I expected him to be out of his element without the pictorial element to carry the visual aspects, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    I haven't gotten far enough in to discuss the broader aspects of the plot and character development yet, but I wanted to kick off the discussion with something, anyway.
     
  16. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    I finished it about a week ago (while I was standing in line for four hours to vote!).

    Without giving anything away, I think that I would have liked this book more if it had focused more on the gods than on Shadow. However, it's a testament to Gaiman's strength as a writer that, even during the slow parts, I still wanted to keep reading. Overall, I liked this book a lot. I just think it could have been a lot more exciting than it was.

    I was inspired to pick up a copy of one of his other novels, Stardust because I loved the movie. However, I got it home and found that my brand new copy was missing about 24 pages, and had a duplicate set of pages 213-244. As you might imagine, this hinders my reading. So now I have to see if the publisher will send me a new copy, since I no longer have the bookstore receipt.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would take it back to the bookstore anyway. They might be willing to do an even swap, since you can easily demonstrate the defect. If not, it may be time to look for a better bookstore.

    It costs them nothing, they'll return it to their supplier for credit or exchange as defective stock.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm about halfway through the book, and my interest is waning. But keeping the focus on Shadow is all that holds the book together at all, in my opinion.

    I just can't get very much into the concept. And when he started in with television and tech guy as the new gods, I wanted to say "gimme a break!"

    As impressed as I am with his ability as a writer, the story just isn't grabbing me.
     
  19. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    I actually enjoyed the little aside stories about the immigrants coming to America, bringing their gods with them. I thought that those were the most interesting parts of the book. That, and I really liked the character of Mr. Ibis. I would have liked to see more of him.
     
  20. The Freshmaker
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    Well, it's December. The book this month is Ender's Game. Is anyone even up for doing this?
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sure. The premise for the book was fairly simple, illustrating that you don't have to have a complicated or even revolutionary story idea to write an outstanding novel. It has the feel of one of Heinlein's early novels.

    I also enjoyed how the name Andrew was twisted into Ender, making for a much snappier and evocative title.

    Mr. Card breaks one of the rules I go by, using a different typesetting to set off the "Chessmasters'" point of view leading into each chapter - or perhaps that was a publisher choice. Nevertheless, it does make it stand out successfully in this case, almost like a separate but related story running alongside Ender's story. However, Card's writing is sufficiently crisp that if it were even set off with only a section mark, it would still read well. He's not depending on the font change, but it does make it even clearer.

    Also, Card does something else I believe in - he introdocuces the main character right away by placing him in jeopardy, so we get to see what he's made of long before we are given any idea what he looks like.

    The novel excels at walking the line between hard science and speculative fiction. The laws of physics are clearly pointed out, and when they deviate from expectation, the extraordinarily perceptive main character sees the significance right away - and yet manages in a very believable way to miss the one intuitive leap that would give away the whole scenario.

    This is one of the finest pieces of science fiction I have read in a long time. Not as astonishing and wondrous as some of the works of Larry Niven or Arthur C. Clarke, but good solid SF, well grounded in the human characteristics.
     
  22. Rei
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    Yeah, I've always liked that pattern in his Ender/Bean books. Those dialogue bits at the beginning also add a nice hint of suspense before you are able to put the pieces together and figure out who they are. He also doesn't overexplain things. It's a very different reality than our, but he trusts his audience to understand. Instead of going into a big spiel about birth rules, he only mentions it when it's logical within the story and as a way to help show why he is special. It also helps introduce the personalities of his brother and sister.

    I love that he trusts his readers. It's very clear in the way he writes. I forget his name, but there is a screenwriter that had a very good way of putting it that I think applies to novels as well. "Give the audience two plus two. They'll come up with four on their own."
     
  23. marina
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    I first read Ender's Game in 4th grade and last read it about a year &1/2 ago. The thing that strikes me about it is when I first read it I was really taken by the way the adults so coldly manipulated these gifted children. In later readings, I've been taken more so by how lonely Ender became dealing with the role of leader and the brilliant strategies he would devise. I wonder if this book is discussed at any of the military academies--now those would be interesting discussions to eavesdrop on.
     
  24. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    That drove me crazy, how they felt it was necessary to isolate him. I'm no expert on what it takes to make a great leader, but I'm sure there could have been a less cruel way of achieving the same goal.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Results matter more than how they achieve them, especially when the survival of the human race is at stake. I thought it was very plausible, knowing what little I do of military thinking. Look at the things they do to recruits in Basic Training, all to improve their odds of survival later on.

    Even Ender realized the rationale behind it, as frustrating as it was.
     

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