Tags:
?

Votes for July!

  1. The Night Watchman - Louise Erdritch

  2. The Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

  3. An Unkindness of Magicians - Kat Howard

  4. A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M Miller Jr.

  5. Watership Down - Richard Adams

  6. Neuromancer - William Gibson

  7. The Wasp Factory - Iain M. Banks

  8. The Martian Chronicals - Ray Bradbury (Short Stories)

  9. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California

    July WF Book Club Poll

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by EFMingo, Jun 23, 2020.

    Thank you everyone who has participated so far in the discussion on Carrie Fisher's autobiography so far. I'm hoping we get a few more readers to post their thoughts on the book and continue the discussion. I've collected together here a few novels or short collections to choose from for July based on input from members, and few extras. Please vote for your top two!

    I would also like to note that August will be a genre specific month. I would like to do Westerns, as it's a little touched on genre that often has entire sections devoted to it in bookstores. Please leave any suggestions for the genre here in this thread. Thank you for your continued participation!
     
  2. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Oooh Westerns, I used to read a lot of those and then I phased out of it. My go-to author was Louis L'Amour so I'll submit his book Comstock Lode.
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2017
    Messages:
    1,516
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    The Land of Whimsy
    Louis L'Amour is my favorite western author as well. Where the Long Grass Blows was a good one as far as I remember.
     
    EFMingo and Dogberry's Watch like this.
  4. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,348
    Likes Received:
    3,413
    Is No Country for Old Men considered a Western? I submit that or When the Legends Die by Hal Borland if we're not counting McCarthy.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  5. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2018
    Messages:
    1,144
    Likes Received:
    2,013
    Location:
    Texas
    Great list! One I've read and four more have been on my to read list for a long time. It would be nice to get around to reading one of them.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,488
    Likes Received:
    18,211
    Location:
    Scotland
    If you're looking for pure genre Westerns, there is no better writer of these (in my opinion) than Elmer Kelton—who was a 7-times Spur award winner. He died only a few years ago, and is output was prolific. Unfortunately very few of his books are available on Kindle—most are paperbacks. My favourites of his are : The Good Old Boys, and the sequel The Smiling Country. But they are all good. They are what I'd call 'realistic' genre Westerns—in the Louis L'Amour mold, but maybe more believable, IMO. Elmer Kelton really knew his stuff, and lived in the places he wrote about.

    However, there are so many other great Westerns (topic) in fiction:

    Fool's Crow, by James Welch (set in 1870 in northwestern Montana, among the Blackfoot. Los Angeles Times Book Review said: "An extraordinary novel ...plunges the reader with startling abruptness into an Indian world, a world in which reality is idyllic and bitter, hard-edged and magical.")

    The Big Sky, by AB Guthrie (a book that follows a group of people moving from Kentucky—with the ultimate destination Oregon—in the early days of the Old West 1830-1843. A Foreward by Wallace Stegner says: "The story sweeps westward from Kentucky to St Louis and up the interminable Missouri, through Omaha and Pawnee country, past Ree and Sioux country, into Stoney and Big Belly and Blackfoot country, and there, riding on the boil of its own excitement, it waits out its climax.")

    and of course, the classic:

    Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson (one of my favourite books of all time—a simple, perfect re-creation of the 'real' old west of the 1870s, as experienced by one family. It's set in a part of Texas where the author himself actually lived)

    If you're going for non-fiction, there is none better than:
    We Pointed Them Northa memoir written in a lively, humorous style by genuine trail-driving cowboy Teddy Blue Abbott. It has laugh-out-loud moments, but is truthful about cowboy life and the cowboy trail-driving era and its aftermath.

    I'm not attracted to the mythological Western of the White Hat/Black Hat shoot-em-up variety. The story of the real 'west' is far more exciting, unpredictable and amazing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
    Xoic, EFMingo and Dogberry's Watch like this.
  7. Zeppo595

    Zeppo595 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2019
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    206
    It might be a bit long, but I've always wanted to read 'Lonesome Dove.'
     
    EFMingo and jannert like this.
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,488
    Likes Received:
    18,211
    Location:
    Scotland
    That's a good one, as well. I've read it. It's not my favourite 'Western' by any means, but it's good.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  9. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    Thank you for the suggestions!

    I admit, I haven't dived into this genre as much as I probably should have. I grew up loving Western movies, watching all of them with my father almost every night. It's an oddity that I never started the literature involved with Westerns until much much later.

    I'm getting some good novel suggestions, so I'm going to put up one of my favorite short story authors in the modern Western sense: Annie Prouxl with Close Range: Wyoming Stories. The stories I've read from it so far are gritty, yet touch on modern issues through the lens of the Western people. Her stories are heavily driven by the realistic characters and the vast, beautiful landscapes she details. But my favorite thing about her is her use of almost poetic tone and theme throughout.

    Only a few days left to vote! Looks like there's a runaway winner, but that is subject to change like last time. I'm excited to see which takes it! And also, any more suggestions as far as Westerns for next month's polls are very welcome.
     
    jannert likes this.
  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,488
    Likes Received:
    18,211
    Location:
    Scotland
    Oh, yes, I've read these Annie Proulx stories and they are really good. I guess I didn't think of them as genre Westerns ...more as stories set in the modern West.
     
  11. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    True, maybe won't. I'll try to find something else more genre specific. As you can see, I haven't spent much time with the genre.
     
  12. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    Okay everyone, sorry for the late reply, but I've been on vacation for a few days and didn't quite make it over here. The winner for the July WF forums book club is Watership Down by Richard Adams. I remember reading it around a decade ago for a literature based class focusing on animal perspectives (which was excellent) and I loved it. I'm hoping my second read through will be just as good or better. Remember to pay close attention to common trends in the craft of the work as well to discuss where Adams succeeded in his writing, and as importantly, where he didn't. Thank you all for keeping this alive, I look forward to seeing you by the 20th of this month!

    Here is a free online copy of the text for those of you who don't want to purchase the book, or already have it like I do: https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.65825/2015.65825.Watership-Down_djvu.txt
     
  13. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2017
    Messages:
    1,516
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    The Land of Whimsy
    Excellent. Looking forward to it.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  14. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    1,704
    Likes Received:
    2,676
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    This might not be the place for this discussion (@EFMingo feel free to split it off to its own thread if necessary) but I'm very hazy on what's meant by craft. The only thing I can think of is story structure and POV, but I suspect there's a lot more we should be focusing on. Are there websites or resources that can give us an idea how to approach this—what kind of stuff we should be looking for? Or maybe we could have a discussion about it ourselves somewhere?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020 at 6:56 PM
  15. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,348
    Likes Received:
    3,413
    Thought I had this one, but it turns out it's a book called Water Babies by someone else. Not uhhh... Not sure what that's about, but I've heard great things about Watership Down.
     
  16. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    POV is definitely an element of the craft to be focused on. Structure can be kind of broken up though. Plot is generally split down the linear and non-linear line. I guess you could call it the basic structure, but a lot of elements influence the structure as well.

    I like to think the important element of description does a lot for the structure of the story. The way the description guides and envelopes the plot and its characters gives a lot of life to the story and widens out the image the author wants to give the reader. In craft analysis for description, it's good to look at things like diction presented. A key item to watch out for in analyzing description is to identify over and under writing. Both, if used properly can actually be good things. H. P. Lovecraft is an overwriter, but the descriptions hold throughout and produce a clear tones and use of setting. The enjoyment of this style is very preferential. Same applies in complete opposition with authors like Raymond Carver whose descriptions leave a bare-bones structure lying out in the open for a bit of interpretation. What I would like to look at with description is what approaches they took with their descriptive language, and what effects that had on the reader.

    Setting is a huge element that readers often overlook. Sometimes authors do as well. If used properly, an author's use of setting can frame the narrative, often holding keys to its interpretation. It can color the tone of the story, as Lovecraft likes to do with it, or it can even be a character in itself, as was presented in some of Ray Bradbury's short stories. What I want to look at with setting here is how the setting influenced the story and framed it. I want to see if the setting influenced how a story was read, and what it brought to the table to grab the reader's attention. Or even how it was entirely missed. That happens often.

    Characterization is a huge element as well. There's the basic idea of round and flat characters which I'm sure we understand, but both have their places in literature. Identifying characters that evolve and grow is important, but so is paying key attention to those that don't is important as well. Something to look at here is are the flat characters intentionally flat, or erroneously so. You could also look at how the author would use the character to drive their narrative. Characters are usually the vehicle of the plot or drivers of the themes. I try to identify how the author intends to use their characters. This can be helpful in our own work to identify characters that really just don't need to ever be introduced.

    Tone is usually a subtlety driven by description or plot device, but its use brings as much color to the work as rounded out characters and settings. It also shows the reader how the author intends the work to be read. This is where key word choice becomes critical. With the works we read, I want to see if the author used intentionally divisive words to try and guide the reader in mood and thought. I want to see if this got heavy-handed and unnecessary, or if it really brought out the work through its subtlety.

    With dialogue, I want to look at how it was implemented into the chapters. This is where we can see a good amount of the failings or successes of the work. We want to look at the effects of natural speech in the writing, dialects and their implementation if present, and the specific identities. When the reader looks at the speech patterns of a character, can they readily identify who the character is without the need for tagging? Well done characterization through speech hardly needs tagging at all. That's another spot we can scrutinize as well. Is the author heavy-handed in guiding the reader on who's speaking. Dialogue is also the hive for unnecessary adverbs. We can look into this critically as well.

    Lastly, I want to touch on summary and scene. Does the author frame their scenes well? Do each of these selected scenes bring something to the table? Does the summary of telling movements between scenes give the reader the information they need to move on, or is it too reaching and outright boring? As writers, we should look closely at this to identify what each scenes brings to the table. A lot of times, even in published literature, it brings nothing. These are items ready to be hacked off, but the author couldn't let them go for whatever reason. Let's take a look at where this happens, and try to identify ways to prevent it in our own writing.

    These are just a few elements to look at, and only touched on in short. I'm sure you are well aware of them, but looking critically into someone else's work for them I find to be especially helpful in the improvement of my own writing. This is really the main purpose of this book club, for me at least. As writer's, we should be looking into the elements of style and literature keenly to see what actually works as intended, and what falls flat. Chances are, we make far more mistakes in our writing than we can feasibly identify without studying other literature for its successes and failings. I know this was super general, but please let me know if you, or anyone else for that matter, has any questions on what my goal is here.
     
  17. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    1,704
    Likes Received:
    2,676
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Thank you @EFMingo that's an excellent breakdown. I did a little searching for Novel Analysis and what you wrote agrees in general with what turned up.
     
    Rzero and EFMingo like this.
  18. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    3,481
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    I've also posted a few links of things to watch out for while writing in the Editing section of Resources here on this site. These give clear ideas for things to watch out for in the books we read as errors in description and dialogue go. I've only read a few elements of writing books, but I'm hesitant to recommend any because only parts of them I found useful.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice