Great Novels With One Memorable Flaw

There are novels we love that might contain one disliked — even cringe-worthy — scene, element, or subplot we could do without. But we still love the books…most of the time.

Why do some great novels have a memorable flaw? I hate to break this to anyone, but authors aren’t perfect. 🙂 It’s hard to do anything as difficult and time-consuming as writing a book without the occasional misstep.

I thought about this while reading Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That last week. The 2010 book is fantastic — perhaps the best 21st-century novel I’ve had the privilege to read. It’s exquisitely written, devastatingly sad, wickedly funny, and wonderfully inspiring as Ms. Shriver (this Lionel is a she) focuses on two star-crossed families, overrated consumerism, exploitation of the powerless, and the profit-driven mess of an American medical system (two characters have fatal diseases). Plus there’s pitch-perfect dialogue — including some amazing rants — from the novel’s memorable cast. And the tropical-island ending? Wow! But there’s one subplot about a botched penile enlargement that — while sort of germane to the book’s themes and something that indirectly brings two other characters together — is rather gross and not truly needed. Yet…what a novel!

Another health-crisis-filled book — Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper — has a disturbing plot twist near the end that’s very hard to take. A twist so disturbing that it knocked the otherwise-excellent novel down enough notches to make me doubt I was glad to have read it.

In Elizabeth Berg’s Open House, protagonist Samantha makes a humiliating/embarrassing attempt to give her unlikable husband oral sex many weeks after he had coldly left her — even though the novel had already made it abundantly clear that Samantha’s self-esteem was low at the time. Fortunately, Samantha more than got her act together by the end of the mostly great book.

One of the most famous examples of a clunky moment in a terrific work is the epilogue that ends The Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final Harry Potter book. Those few pages showing Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and others 19 years later are rather tedious and awkwardly written. But Rowling’s series is so wonderful that the rare false note is okay — and, heck, the epilogue ended up inspiring the new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Turning to older classics, there are missteps in three outstanding novels by three giants of 19th-century American literature. Mark Twain’s iconic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes the repellent section in which Tom Sawyer treats the escaped slave Jim cavalierly. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables is magnificently moody and melancholy until the authorial gears switch to a happy ending that doesn’t seem right. Pierre proves that Herman Melville didn’t need a sea setting to write eye-opening fiction (the book features a possibly incestuous relationship), but Melville goes off the rails when his bitterness over Moby-Dick bombing with 1850s readers and critics caused him to have Pierre laboriously write a difficult-to-read book that’s greeted with total contempt.

Then there are terrific novels with memorable segments that would have been perfectly fine in smaller doses, but drag on too long. They include the death scenes of Little Eva in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Natty Bumppo in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Prairie, the wedding-day festivities in Emile Zola’s The Drinking Den, the orgy of eating in Honore de Balzac’s The Magic Skin, and so on.

What are some novels that you love even though they have a fairly major flaw? What is that flaw?

For travel and other reasons, I’ll be skipping a column the next two Sundays (June 19 and June 26), but still checking the blog from time to time!

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

141 thoughts on “Great Novels With One Memorable Flaw

  1. Dave “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” the first Novel by Rachael Joyce, she received 2012 Man Booker Prize.
    What a book what a journey from a monotonous life Harold was having for decades with a marriage gone stale and they were not even on speaking terms.
    Then one day Harold receives a letter from an old acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy. Queenie is dying at a hospice that is 627 miles north of Harold’s home near the English Channel . He was surprised to hear from her whom he has forgotten so he wrote back a line and was on his way to P.O to mail it but kept on walking.

    The whole world then opened up for him, the nature all the folks he met along his journey. Slowly the long line of pilgrimage started following him which became a hindrance. Harold started missing his wife and his Son who only speaks with his wife .

    The writer took her readers to its climatic end to the devastating moment which will shatter one`s heart. A critically acclaimed book but I wish I could change the last chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bebe, for mentioning that novel again! TERRIFIC description — it sounds so interesting. I have to read it someday. Sorry the last chapter wasn’t as good as it could have been — I’ve noticed that a number of great novels have a last chapter that’s at least a bit disappointing.

      (Currently flying back from CA to NJ. Excellent — albeit pricey — on-board wifi!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh the simple pleasure comes with a price tag, why not ? it is not every day to take trips being away from all that coming from the endless media circus.
        It is going to be pleasant this weekend I am sure you will be having that in NJ.
        I need to start cooking family members coming tomorrow for the weekend, and here I am not doing it. But the house got cleaned, lawn was mowed , watered my potted plants.

        Oh not every book has a happy ending as we want, it is a beautifully written journey , disappointing to me for the shock I went through which I have endlessly expressed before.
        Welcome ( almost) back 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Interesting — some last chapters are “disappointing” because they’re sad yet they totally fit with the novel. Other last chapters, whether happy or sad, are disappointing because they aren’t as good as the rest of the book.

          Glad you’ll be having good weather this weekend as you host guests! A lot of work for you, bebe, but I hope it will be fun, too.

          Yes, it IS nice to get away once in a while. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Afternoon Dave I have a book to write about on Topic but i`ll take my time and post another day since you will not be posting another blog upcoming week.

    ” The early Stories of Truman Capote”, Recently rediscovered in the archives of the New York Public Library and what a collection of short stories it is. Fourteen stories written in his teenage years and tells what a gifted writer he was. I am not sure why I have not read a Capote book before.
    His gentleness, compassionate way at looking at characters, studding each one of them at such an early age was uncanny. He poured his heart to the misfits perhaps he became one of those.

    Now I still have two stories left to finish and I recommend this book to anyone to be a wonderful summer read.

    Now the one i just read was catty to the point of being dangerously ( once you read you will know why I said that ) hilarious..” Kindred Spirits” two women sitting and musing .
    Truman writes..” Mrs. Green and her two-hundred odd pounds luxuriously consumed the major portion of a three seat couch”…
    The visitor Mrs. Rittenhouse ” Her face was thin , but constructed along stern lines as though molded by rigorous discipline ….with a single stricken expression”.

    All these when Mr. Capote was a teenager.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, bebe — I had no idea Truman Capote was such a precocious writer as a teen! And it sounds like he had a wide range — both kind and cutting. (That Mrs. Green and her weight line is indeed rather disturbing even as it’s humorous.) Thanks for describing his early work so well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Some of the stories will pull your heartstrings , that particular one is wicked about two conniving ladies and all that came from a teen.
        The other ones I liked about his writing he brushes through the stories and leaves a lot to your imagination and not divulge into gory details.
        Like reading a fine artist at work.
        On the other hand we have read so much about his relationship with Harper Lee .
        I remember decades ago watched some interviews with him on PBS how he talks in his sing song ways with all his mannerisms, I could not take him seriously then.

        Liked by 1 person

          • ” Have the potential for coloring ” great line Dave, I enjoyed 14 short stories the re -read forwarding of Alt because he was going thorough most of the stories.
            And Capote had a habit of ” coloring ” the truth, and later in his life he was on drugs and booze and hardly wrote anything. Was busy going around high society, television events and what not. I am sure you knew all about that Dave.
            He had a job at New Yorker early on and was fired for offending David Frost.
            Some character he was 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        • I saw Truman speak locally (back in the ’70’s when we still cared about speaking engagements from literary authors). It was in a concert hall, I was among the first in. It wasn’t reserved so I just walked up to the front row, directly in front of the podium. I was probably about six feet away from him. Of course, he was so short I could barely see his little head emerge from the podium. It is quite an experience to hear that voice read that brilliantly written prose–the discrepancy between the sound of the voice and the sound of the words he’s reading can be quite jolting…even if he doesn’t weep himself through the reading, as he did when he read “A Christmas Memory” six feet away from me (sniffle, sniffle….” I didn’t realize this story would be so difficult to reeeeead….sniffle, etc.).

          Liked by 1 person

          • That was a lifetime experience Bob watching Capote live . I have to admit on TV was not paying much attention to what he was saying instead I was breaking out into laughter. Perhaps that and various other factors I never did read any and this book blew me away. His compassionate side devoid of and kind of racism and yet his humorous almost catty way getting into the skin of another was interesting. I intend to read more of him.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Now that my first year in China is winding down, and getting easier, plus I have a lot more vacation time now, the one thing I really disliked about “Huck Finn” was the hijacking of the novel by the loathsome characters, the King and the Duke. I didn’t mind a few chapters, but at almost a third of the book, it is way too much space for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear from you, Eric! Sounds like you had a VERY busy teaching year. Glad you have a more relaxing period coming up.

      The King and the Duke were fascinating characters in their loathsome way, and certainly excellent vehicles for Twain’s satire. But I can see how there could have been somewhat less of them, as you note. I guess Twain couldn’t resist devoting a lot of space to scoundrels. 🙂

      Like

        • Very true on both counts, Eric. Nice fictional characters can often (not always) be a bit on the boring side. And not-nice characters do indeed give us a lot to think about. What will they do next? Who do they remind of us in real life?

          Like

      • There will always be a place in my hard little heart for the Great Nonesuch.

        I consider that portion of the novel to be a great service to Americans, in that it shows there have always been Brits, though thankfully few, who can put flim and flam together and thus take advantage of our gullibility and tendency to assume that greater sophistication, artfulness and insight resides in them than in ourselves, and so such types have a bit of a history of fascinating us former colonials while more than occasionally being a bit disingenuous as to true intent. See Piers Morgan, Anna Wintour, Richard Quest for contemporary manifestations.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Dave, I just tried to comment on a thread you and jhNY had going about VHS tapes, but for some reason it wouldn’t post. So here goes again, but there were only two VHS tapes I kept after my purge of most of the rest of my tapes. They were “Shadowlands” starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, based on the book by C.S. Lewis (“Surprised by Joy”), which is still being offered at exorbitant prices by Amazon. The other movie, which I must say is one of my favorite movies ever, “Ruby in Paradise,” that was a winner years ago at the Sundance Film Festival, starred a very young actress by the name of Ashley Judd. She was phenomenal in the role of Ruby. I’ve been looking for years for this film being put on DVD; Imagine my surprise when I checked on line today that the entire movie can be viewed there. I’m so looking forward to watching it once again. Btw, I’ll be missing your columns for the next few weeks, but I hope you will have a great time with your family and your other travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Katlib, I agree with you 100% on ‘Shadowlands’ and ‘Ruby in Paradise’. ‘Shadowlands’ has been in my ‘saved’ queue on Netflix for 10 years now, unchanged. Just checked on Amazon and a new copy runs around $55 plus shipping/handling. ‘Ruby’ is slightly less but still not really accessible. ‘Shadowlands’ is available to buy on Amazon video for around $20, which I MIGHT consider sometime as it could get repeat viewings. I just wouldn’t have a physical copy of it, which is fine. I have a tiny apartment anyway and space is at a premium. There are about 10 movies that I can think of right off hand that even got some critical acclaim at the time they were released, that really do stand the test of time, and which are either not available in the U.S. at all, or are in cheap lowtech formats. Oh, the injustice! Unfortunately, even us ardent fans don’t think of these films as often as we might because there’s absolutely no attention being paid to them and therefore no reminder to ensure that they stay uppermost in our consciousnesses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand completely, bobess, when they will put out on DVD such terrible movies, yet will take a pass on such great ones as “Shadowlands” and “Ruby in Paradise.” I think you’re the only person I know who enjoyed the latter film, even though Siskel & Ebert gave it a big thumbs up. I’m looking forward to watching “Ruby” for at least the third or forth time, and “Shadowlands” for the third time, if I can get it at a reasonable amount of money.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Kat Lib — very disciplined to keep just two VHS tapes. 🙂 Unfortunately, I have never seen those two movies (though I’ve heard of them). They sound great.

      And thanks for your words about the blog! Sorry I’ll miss two weeks, but I look forward to returning with a new piece on July 3. In the meantime, as I mentioned in my note, I will still check the blog when I can!

      (Hi, bobess48!)

      Like

  5. Dave, the very two early novella by Kurt Vonnegut published after his death by his daughter, the first one was ” Basic Training” was a great short novella, about once a military general , later became a caricature of himself .
    What a great satire.
    The second one ” We Are What We Pretend To Be” was a totally different one, going okay then ended.
    Just like that abruptly !

    Then again GSAW..recently published written by Harper Lee just before she passed away was going all right considering it was far from being the final copy. Then the last chapter where Atticus finally surfaced as a racist bigot. The book has only two characters from TKAM Scout and Atticus, Jem was dead and one brother of Atticus uncle Jack showed up and no sign of Boo Radley.
    Speaking of real life racist bigot oh never mind….

    But the good news is this book did not make much of an impact after the initial brouhaha it is still sitting in the library shelf and TKAM still a great literary work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bebe, you are aware that ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was written a few years BEFORE ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ aren’t you? How could she include Boo Radley or Tom Robinson if she had not created those characters yet? Personally, I think she touched up the manuscript of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ a bit after ‘TKAM’ was such a success but, for whatever reason, set it aside for 50 years. As I’ve said before, the Atticus of ‘GSAW’ is not inconsistent with the Atticus of “TKAM’. He believed everyone deserved equal treatment under the law but he would never go so far as to say the races should mix. As someone who lives in Alabama I see people every day that are probably very similar to Atticus. We see similar inconsistencies today as people who were liberal in the 60’s become arch conservatives in the 21st century. It’s sobering for us, as well as Scout, to see her father express these opinions but not unrealistic by any means. Harper Lee was an astute observer of the political climate of Alabama from the time of her childhood until the time in which ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was published. ‘GSAW’ is a flawed novel, no question about it for me. It is a first novel, though, and everyone has to have one of those. However, I think it is very bold of her to speak out against the racism of her time at a time when it was anything but politically correct to do so. For her courage I give her credit, even though the end result is clumsy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes of course Brian , you are so right…then again Uncle Jack was not in TKAM.
        “Everyone deserved equal treatment under the law but he would never go so far as to say the races should mix.” that was written in mid 50`s. I get that.
        Now 6 decades have gone by and today that kind of mindset is unacceptable. Saying that I was amazed at Harper Lees`s writing through Jean Louise`s character. Growing up in Alabama what an open minded person she was.
        I agree with you on Harper Lee`s character analysis. For the clumsy ending she never had a final touch to make the novel publishable. Yet I somehow liked it and thanks to you for urging us to read the book and I am glad I did.

        In today’s politics one of my very close friend was a staunch Democrat and was for Hillary in 2008. Suddenly she discovered Bill O whom she was a fan from Inside Edition. And now has become a Trump supporter , I have not talked to her for last several months so do not know her stance but am sure she has not changed her mind.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bebe, I’m deeply sorry for the condescending tone of my previous comment. I should have been more tactful with my expression and I don’t want to be someone who descends Dave’s wonderful blog into something less than civil and respectful. I vow to think before I decide to post something. I agree that the sentiments expressed by Atticus (unfortunately typical of many from that era and area) are totally unacceptable today which is why I hope people are justifiably repulsed by the racist statements of the tyrannical demagogue Trump today (even some of the most party-line Republicans in the wake of his latest insensitive statements). But I digress. ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is not a happy experience by any means but it is amazingly perceptive and audacious for a writer writing in the middle of the 1950’s. And I think the late publication at this point in our history is actually a very good thing in that it shows that, unfortunately, these issues from 60 plus years ago did not go away. They were just sublimated slightly for a few years.

          And I also want to apologize to Dave and all the other insightful commentators here. I still wish we could all get together in the same room to have these discussions and, as I said, I don’t want to jeopardize our civil discourse. It’s refreshing to be in this environment when so much out there in our world today is anything BUT civil.

          Liked by 2 people

          • bobess48, very sorry I didn’t respond to your comment sooner. My home Internet has been down since early Wednesday morning, and I get to the library with my laptop when I can.

            I thought your previous comment was…trying to think of the word…impassioned rather than unkind. No problem! But thanks for your wonderful follow-up comment, including your very nice words about the blog and all the wonderful posters here — including you! (I used the word wonderful twice, but I’m okay with that. 🙂 )

            Like

          • oh Brian we were having a great conversation in here and nothing uncivil in your discussion as you pointed out certain important factors about both the books.
            One was written decades earlier but published just last year , Characters changed and as you said looking at the recent developments of political season. To me it seems like some don`t have the filters anymore when they speak.
            Hindsight of Trump and the election it was very good to go back six decades ago and compare situation then in Alabama with the at the current situation of the World.
            Always enjoy your passionate discussion in Dave`s blog.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Very true, bebe — some novels end way too abruptly. In the case of the second Vonnegut one you mentioned, was it because his health was failing at that point in his older age? I forget.

      Of course, there are also novels left unfinished because the authors died.

      In terms of no health or death problems, I’m thinking of Henry James’ “The Europeans” — an excellent novel that ended somewhat abruptly as James kind of summed up what happened to all the characters in what I thought was too short a fashion.

      “Basic Training” was indeed a very good early Vonnegut work!

      Like

  6. Two novels come to mind immediately:

    One, ‘Ordinary People’ by Judith Guest, better known as the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1980, the directorial debut of Robert Redford. First of all, in a nutshell, the novel deals with the survivor’s guilt of adolescent Conrad Jarrett, in the wake of a boating accident from which his beloved older brother did not survive. Conrad has attempted suicide, spent time in a mental hospital and has been released to return to high school, where he is taunted by clueless classmates. His father is very loving and sympathetic but his mother is very emotionally cold. Conrad’s brother was her favorite and she has shut down in the aftermath of his death. She has no love or understanding to give to Conrad. It’s been over 30 years since I read the novel (about a year or two after the movie came out) but I think it’s far more powerful than ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. This kid’s pain is severe and you want to hug him and assure him that he really can survive and learn to live without guilt. The film ended with a perfect dramatic climax. In the novel, however, this climax occurs in the penultimate chapter. There’s one more chapter to go, which suffers the superfluous nature of many afterwards and epilogues. Conrad slowly gets his life together, has a girlfriend, etc. We know implicitly that he’s going to be okay at the end of that next to last chapter which is where the book should have ended and where the movie chose to end. Just delete that last chapter and you’ve got a classic novel of teenage angst, at least as I recall from reading it so many years ago. Of course, when I read it I was only in my late 20’s to the teenage angst was still in my relatively recent past at that point.

    The other novel has already been cited – Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’. For anyone who is familiar with the Kubrick film this won’t be a spoiler. The next to last chapter, like the film, ends with the statement, “I was cured all right”. Of course, Kubrick ends with a dreamscape of Alex who should have been cured of being a psychopath and yet here he is with sadistic, hedonistic fantasies. Burgess hated that implication because it deleted the last chapter which he felt demonstrated that the character had really grown. This novel is also hazy for me but I think even the way the next to last chapter ended might not have been so obviously sardonic as the Kubrick version. The last chapter, like the last chapter of ‘Ordinary People’, was anticlimactic if nothing else, even if Burgess continued to defend it. Perhaps he could have avoided that feeling that the reader has of “Hey, the story’s over. Why are you still telling me things?” if he had woven much of the last chapter, even implicitly, in the climax of the next to last chapter. Either way, I think it qualifies as a flaw in a classic. Burgess never felt ‘Clockwork’ to be his best novel, although it’s probably the only one that most people are familiar with so I suppose the world felt different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From your excellent descriptions*, Brian, those are two great examples of major flaws in otherwise REALLY good novels.

      (*I’ve never read “Ordinary People,” though I did see the terrific movie. And, as I noted in another reply, it has been decades since I read “A Clockwork Orange” — I think in college.)

      Yes, sometimes novels go on one chapter too many — and you offered two prime examples. As you observed, the next-to-last chapter could better be the last chapter — either via what it already hints at, or if it had been rewritten somewhat to become the last chapter.

      Come to think of it, the post-saving-the-world portion of “The Lord of the Rings” (when the heroes travel back home, etc., etc.) could either have been eliminated or perhaps been somewhat shorter. In my humble opinion; others may differ. 🙂

      Like

      • I think the journey home in ‘Lord of the Rings’ was thematically necessary and how the home that they returned to was not the one that was left. It also made sense that Frodo was permanently damaged by the experience and could not return to his former life. However, I agree that it should not have lasted another 50-75 pages. It could have been resolved in about 25 at least.

        Another great one that overstays its welcome is Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace.’ He includes about three epilogues too many, the final one being something that should have been relegated to one of his philosophical works (such as ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’). He had already driven home his points repeatedly in the narrative itself. One epilogue of what the characters’ lives were like post-Napoleonic war would have been sufficient in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You make a good point there, Brian — yes, keeping the post-Mount Doom stuff, but having it be shorter. It was wise of J.R.R. Tolkien to show how much Frodo was psychologically scarred from his experiences — quite a few novels have characters go through hell without those fictional personages becoming THAT changed. If I’m remembering right, the movie version seemed to stretch the ending out even more than J.R.R. Tolkien did.

          Re your also-astute second paragraph: As if “War and Peace” needed to be even longer… 🙂

          Like

          • I think the main issue of the conclusion of the movie ‘The Return of the King’ was that there were so many tearful partings as the remnants of the fellowship went their separate ways. They actually omitted some things that occurred in the book, particularly the chapter titled “The Scouring of the Shire”, where some corruption that had arisen apparently as part of the influence of Sauron was eradicated. Frodo ‘cleaned up the town’ so to speak. All of that is missing from the film and I agreed with that decision. I think they simultaneously wrapped things up rapidly and yet very slowly (doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?) but they wanted to do justice to every one of those separations and that extended the tears. So yes, from the recovery from Mount Doom to the final frame was probably about 30-40 minutes of screen time.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, many sad partings — including THE parting (on a ship, I think) at the very end. In a way, it was like a long post-workout cooling-off period (not the best analogy 🙂 ).

              That final Shire battle was quite interesting. Certainly small potatoes compared to the epic battle(s) that preceded it, but in a way more personal for the hobbits.

              Like

      • Wouldn’t classify it as cringe-worthy, but the pair of hobbits who wind up among the walking tree thingys seem to have been hanging there in the branches for ages in the book (as I recall– it’s been nearly 50 years since I cracked it)– and the same static, clumsy effect carried over into the movie. It’s a sub-plot that seems most of all a place-holder for characters an author has no better plan for at the moment– why not leave ’em up a tree?

        Hope I haven’t offended the Colbert-like among us here, who know all names and places in Tolkien. I enjoyed the trilogy and The Hobbit when i was 17. Plenty. Admit I bailed after a few pages of the Silmarillion– but in fairness, I received it for Christmas sometime around age 20, and the age of orcs and rings, for me, had passed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, that pair of hobbits — Pippin and Merry, I think — were minor characters and not that necessary, though their connection to the Ents was nice. And the Ents eventually were among the many characters who helped “the good guys” win.

          I first read “The Lord of the Rings” in college, and reread it perhaps three times after that — the last time when I was about 40. I enjoyed the trilogy each time. Not sure how I’d feel about it now, but I suspect I’d still like it.

          Saw “The LOTR” movies, but not “The Hobbit” film trilogy. Splitting that relatively short novel into three movies was even more of a money grab than usual for money-grabbing Hollywood, and I declined to add my dollars.

          Like

          • The Ents!

            My objection is only that the talk between hobbits and Ents seemed to go on for days– though the conversation was cut up a bit by major plot events, after which we returned to the trees and the boys — and though time had passed in the major plot, in the Ent sub-plot it seemed to stand still as if painted like a sign above a jewelry store.

            For The Hobbit movies, I rely on the Luck of the Cable, which, if I remember right, you do not have. From time to time, one of those movies will pop up, and I’ll watch a while– don’t know if I’ve missed any or seen ’em all in bits. I do know that Smaug is a bitter vengeful dragon, who can fly even when coated with gold, and that what few dwarves remain in Middle Earth are usually arguing.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, the Hobbit-Ent dialogue did get a bit over-dialogue-y at times. 🙂

              “The Luck of the Cable” — ha! An interesting way to watch the trilogy. I saw the three “LOTR” movies in a theater, and the wide screen certainly added to the effect. Plus lush, rural New Zealand as Middle-earth — nice!

              Like

              • I bought the trilogy on VHS, which was a trick by the end– had to purchase the last as a used item from blockbuster, as by then the format was beyond passe. Thought overall Jackson did a good-enough job, better than I expected, yet.. when I remember the soaring teenage emotions with which I inadvertently spiced up my reading the books long ago, I can’t be surprised entirely that the movies send me to no such heights decades after. The fault lies not in my stars.

                The more recent Hobbit movies are what I now rely on The Luck of the Cable to provide. It’s sorta like beach-combing…

                Liked by 1 person

                • I agree that the three “LOTR” movies were quite good. I didn’t feel cheated like I do with some film versions of novels.

                  Speaking of VHS, I still have many videocassettes (some of them grown-up movies, some of them movies my older daughter watched when she was a kid). No VCR to play them, but the packaging is often nice. 🙂

                  “…sorta like beach-combing” — LOL!

                  Like

                  • I possess merely a few dozen, and have a player. But then, I have about 150 78 rpm records and a player– er, two players. Then there’s the lp’s– around 1300. Have yet to buy a dvd– but I have been given a few…too many media, too much mania.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Great that you have a working VCR and, for your amazing LP collection, two record players! I have one combo record player/CD player I purchased about 10 years ago.

                      Hmm…media and mania — nice juxtaposition of words!

                      Like

              • I’m not entirely sure where to insert my comment, so poor Dave has to deal with it. I didn’t enjoy the whole LOTR movie trilogy and found it very confusing to say the least. I bought a very fancy set of the LOTR books, and after muddling through the first one, eventually gave it up. I don’t mean to be insulting,but what exactly is the lure to both the books and the movies? I’m sure many of you would feel the same about Jane Austen novels.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Thanks, Kat Lib! Just another example of how tastes in fiction can differ — and that’s fine. 🙂 I like “The Lord of the Rings” books a lot, and thought the movies were pretty good, too. The lure of Tolkien’s trilogy? The adventure, the humor, the “epic-ness,” etc. Too male-oriented, but the trilogy packed an emotional wallop for me. “The Hobbit” prequel was certainly more straightforward.

                  Like

                  • I think the “Lord of the Rings” appeal is largely contingent upon the age the reader was when first encountering it. For me, it was a great element from my childhood, particularly the summer of ’69 when I read it at the age of fourteen (same time period when I first read Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Heinlein and a few other masters of science fiction and/or fantasy. I re-read the trilogy a few times partly because so many around me were re-reading it and then, when the movies came out, I thought they FAR exceeded my expectations and actually improved some elements of the books, making them far more cinematic. I think Harry Potter is almost the same way. While I thought the books were masterful and engaging, I doubt if I’ll ever re-read them. The movies were pleasant but fairly trivial and I wasn’t a big fan of the child actors. I’ve seen far better child acting than in these films. Some of them have gotten better with age but at the time of the movies, they were fairly wooden. Those films ran the gamut from being TOO faithful to the books to omitting crucial passages from some of the books, neutering their effect in the process. So I am probably not going to revisit that film series either. Of course, the entire ‘Star Wars’ phenomenon has always left me cold so I’ll probably not go near one of those films again. There’s just too much other more impressive stuff out there with which I can spend my time. It’s all a very personal, subjective experience, I know, so others may feel impassioned about other books/films/music. We’re all free to choose. That’s the important thing.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, our tastes in books and movies can be very subjective, bobess48. And the age when one first encounters a fictional work can definitely affect our level of appreciation of that work. You had some great reading experiences as an early teen!

                      Totally agree that “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” films were better than one might expect. I agree that the child-acting of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, etc., wasn’t spectacular in the early “HP” movies, but, as you allude to, they certainly got better as time went on. The tour de force performances were often courtesy of the “HP” films’ adult performers — Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, etc.

                      Like

                  • Hi Dave, I think you nailed it when you said that LOTR was “too male-oriented,” for someone like me. There are quite a few war movies that moved me or I enjoyed tremendously, such as “Gettysburg,” “Gods and Generals,” “Glory,” “A Bridge Too Far,” and my favorite “The Longest Day.” Even the last one had a female French resistance fighter. However, when you get into battles that I can’t understand, such as the “orcs” although I’m not sure what or who they were fighting. I’m not even sure they were fighting anyone, but I need to have something more concrete than books or movies made about a franchise more than anything else. I was reading on line that the character of Arwen changed into a warrior princess which wasn’t in the book, then they changed it back to the book’s characterization of her — I think I’d have been happier with her as a warrior princess. The best thing about the movies was the song by Enya, “May It Be.”
                    But I promise to watch the trilogy again some day, as I have all three on DVD.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • “The Lord of the Rings” indeed has a few token (Tolkien?) female characters, Kat Lib. But, as you say, it’s a mostly male world. It would be interesting if that would have been the case if Tolkien had written the trilogy nowadays rather than in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. I also tend to prefer novels with more and more-significant female characters, but there are certain authors I love despite the dismaying paucity of women protagonists (Cormac McCarthy being another example).

                      It has been a while since I reread “The Lord of the Rings,” but I think the Orcs were kind of a slave army of the evil forces that the Hobbits, et al, were fighting.

                      Like

                    • At this point, if I may put in a plug for George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” (Game of Thrones) series. Martin has more of everything–plenty of testosterone-fueled warfare, hand to hand combat, etc. plus extreme brutality and sexuality. On the other hand, it also has several very powerful females. Even the ones who started out as ultra-feminine become far more assertive and aggressive in order to survive. Martin’s universe is an alternate middle ages, with a few supernatural, fantastic elements thrown in that escalate as the novel progresses. One thing about the male-oriented ‘Lord of the Rings’ was that, as good as it was, there were only a handful of females and only one of them fought in battle (posing as a man). Even many of the males didn’t seem terribly masculine or feminine i.e. they were asexual. The hobbits, though immensely courageous, had by virtue of their size, a ‘cute’ factor that prevented them from being intimidating at all. Of course, they could use that to advantage for sneaking in and out of places. The closest thing to a hobbit in ‘Game of Thrones’ is the dwarf Tyrion Lannister. Yes, he’s tiny but has persistent habits of boozing and whoring. He is also a political genius. The entire series has a bit more ‘bite’ to it. It’s rough, violent, profane and horrifying, much like the Middle Ages. Many of the people with integrity do not survive. The Stark family in particular meets more than its share of misfortune. However, they are the GOOD guys. Even some of the bad guys become pretty good and honorable. Actually, the most honorable knight in the entire series is a female–the six feet plus Brienne of Tarth. She adheres to a code of chivalry and honor that is in very short supply in this world, which makes her persistent survival against the odds all the more impressive. So I can understand why the series has just as many female as male fans. It’s also permeated with a sense of brutal, visceral realism which, these days, seems to be more appealing in the mainstream than it might have been in previous eras.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Wonderful summary of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (“Game of Thrones”), bobess48! Definitely sounds riveting and complex, and great to hear it has an excellent quotient of strong female characters. (Reminds me that “The Hunger Games” also does well in the gender arena.) George R.R. Martin’s series remains on my reading bucket list, but when I’ll get to it I don’t know…

                      Like

  7. Hi Dave,
    A couple of books came to mind. The first was “The Kite Runner” which I thought was incredible, however I couldn’t help but feel manipulated by some of the writing, and so it stopped it from being an absolutely perfect book. But I know that’s not exactly what this week’s terrific topic is about, so I also thought of “A Clockwork Orange” which I thought was a great novel, except for the last chapter. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but it ended on a note that just didn’t feel right with the rest of the book. And I know it wasn’t just me, because the last chapter was omitted from the American version of the book, as well as the Kubrick adaptation.

    Another book that I thought of is the complete opposite of your topic. “The Lovely Bones” was a mostly sentimental and kind of forgettable read, however the opening chapters blew me away. I can’t help but worry a little about Alice Sebold who can so amazingly write about rape and murder, but then struggles with the normal stuff!

    And I hope I’ll be forgiven for saying this, but I disagree with you about “Harry Potter”. I thought Rowling’s epilogue completely fit with the style of the books. The series obviously focused on Harry’s seven years at Hogwarts, but always acknowledged that the world didn’t come into existence when Harry got his letter. The backstory of James, Lily, Severus, etc. was always handled so well, that it makes sense for Rowling to end the book going forward in time the same way that she often went back. And of course an ‘ending’ like that means that the story doesn’t end. There’s obviously room to tell the stories from during that 19 years, or the ones that come after that.

    In relation to your last comment from last week, and some comments in this post, I’ve not yet read anything by Lionel Shriver, however I do have “We need to talk about Kevin” on my book shelf and do plan on getting around to it. After all the praise for Shriver this week, I think I might have to bump it up on the list a bit.

    Finally, I cannot begin to comprehend that there has been yet another massacre in the United States. If the loss of life wasn’t tragic enough, what really scares me is that it’s becoming almost normal. I can almost picture it getting to the stage where the news story is “another shooting, x amount dead, and now it’s time for the weather”. Too sad.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry it took me so long to respond, Susan. My phone and Internet went down this morning, they might not be repaired for two days, and I’m now at my local library. (Surrounded by books. 🙂 )

        Anyway, long comments are fine — and yours is an excellent one!

        Yes, “The Kite Runner” — as great as it was overall — did feel a bit manipulative, which of course is a sort of existential flaw in a novel. More specifically, that kite scene at the end of the novel seemed too pat, or something.

        I read “A Clockwork Orange” so long ago that I can’t remember that last chapter! Interesting that it was omitted in certain “venues.”

        Okay to disagree about “Harry Potter”! 🙂 I didn’t make it clear enough, but I wasn’t against the idea of the epilogue but the execution of it. Maybe it was too short to have the nuance and drama of the rest of the series — seemed almost more like a laundry list.

        I haven’t read Lionel Shriver’s “Kevin” book, but if it’s even half as good as her “So Much for That,” I’m in!

        And, yes, so sad and infuriating that the U.S. has had another spasm of unimaginable gun violence, and our despicable NRA-bought politicians still won’t do a thing about it. Unlike Australia, which wisely and maturely responded to that 1990s massacre by enacting gun-control legislation that has made a huge difference.

        Thanks for the comment and the kind words about the column!

        Like

        • Hi Dave,
          Couple of things that I want to reply to, but I’m doing this from work (shh don’t tell my boss) and will probably come through as anonymous so I’ll try not to spread it around.
          Sorry to hear that you’re having internet trouble. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I lost my internet a few weeks back, and my first thought was to google the problem.
          Yes, the whole ending to “The Kite Runner” was definitely pat (GREAT word for it) and that somehow made some of the things leading up to the ending also pat. But still a very enjoyable read.
          It’s funny how Australia keeps being the role model for gun control. I guess I’m kind of proud that our government ‘fixed’ the problem of the ‘90s, however I was 20 at the time, and had never ever seen a gun, so I’m not sure that we even had a problem. But despite that, and despite the success of the reform in the ‘90s, it’s still something that’s constantly reviewed and updated. I saw a funny clip on Facebook the other day that looked at the different attitudes towards gun control. Might have to share it with you if you can overlook the profanity…
          Brian, for what it’s worth, I don’t think you had anything to apologise for, but it’s so kind that you did, and another example of the respect and maturity that Dave creates on this blog. I agree that it would be nice to meet everyone face to face, but the commute might be a little long for me. So until they make transporters a real thing, I might have to keep enjoying this method of communication.
          BTW, GREAT summary of “A Song of Ice and Fire”. I know Dave sounded kind of impressed, but as he hasn’t read the books, he has no idea just how much you nailed what’s so terrific about those books. Though I’m not sure Tyrion would love being compared to a hobbit! Are you watching the TV show?
          It’s amazing how opinions can vary from person to person. When I listen to people talk about “Lord of the Rings” I have to ask if we’re even talking about the same series because I just didn’t get it. And for me it has nothing to do with lack of female characters and more to do with the fact that nothing ever seemed to happen. Now as I’m greatly outnumbered, and not just by kids who have jumped on the latest bandwagon, I’m happy to admit that there must be something wrong with me. The funny thing is, I thought the epilogue was the best part (and not just that it meant the journey was finally over)! I thought that the epilogue showed the most character development, that there were actually consequences to things that had happened.
          Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me, might be time to do some work

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Anonymous-But-I-Know-Who-You-Are. 🙂

            “I’m a little ashamed to admit that I lost my internet a few weeks back, and my first thought was to google the problem” — hilarious line! I ended up not getting my online problem fixed until Friday afternoon, after 2 and 1/2 days. Several library visits and Starbucks visits during that time (and I’m not a big fan of Starbucks — even though it was named after a “Moby-Dick” character).

            Agree that “The Kite Runner” was overall a very good novel despite its significant flaws. As you know, it was the first novel for then-physician Khaled Hosseini, so he may have sort of been learning on the (writing) job.

            Australia’s gun problem was indeed nowhere near as bad as the U.S.’s. Heck, in the industrialized democracies, America is a total outlier with gun violence. But Australia still deserves enormous credit for dealing with the gun violence it did have. Definitely a role model!

            Like the other posters here, Brian knows his literature and makes his points wonderfully.

            Thanks for the great comment, and the kind words. 🙂

            (Also, by all means share that clip if you’d like!)

            Like

          • To “Anonymous” aka the other person who is posting from work. I too am at work although I don’t clock on for at least another half hour: Yes, I’m watching the TV series of ‘Game of Thrones’, although I go over to my friend’s house to watch it “On Demand” (we’re up to Episode 5 of the current season). I think it’s a brilliant adaptation of those books. I have no quibble about most of the things that they change from the books for the simple reason that some things work better on the page and some work better on the screen. We’re talking translation from one medium to another so there have to be differences. They ran out of the Martin books at the end of last season although they are dovetailing some storylines in here such as the Greyjoy family struggles. The advantage of this season is that no one is yelling about something that’s different from the books. I think Benioff and Weiss are probably creating the greatest TV series based on a previously existing novel I can recall. And, while I know you cared nothing for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films, they did pave the way for ‘Game of Thrones’. If they hadn’t proven that epic fantasy can be done well on screen, I don’t think anyone would have ever given these guys the green light to do an adaptation of something that’s even larger scale.

            Liked by 1 person

              • Brian, I’m so glad to know it’s not just me who uses work time for such productive activities. 🙂 And I wish my fingers were the last part of me to wake up. Too often my fingers are going, but my brain’s having trouble keeping up. “We’re talking translation from one medium to another so there have to be differences.” SO true. I wish everybody could understand this. One of my biggest pet peeves is people saying “They ruined the book”. As GoT splits more and more from SoIaF, I’m feeling kind of spoilt as I have two amazing stories. I’ve actually seen all of the current season. I’ll avoid using spoilers, but will say it is pretty freaking epic. And I’m not sure how much input Martin has had in the current series, but I’ve heard not much, and yet it still ‘feels’ like GoT. I think Benioff and Weiss have absolutely got it right. As did Peter Jackson. No, I didn’t love LotR, but I felt the exact same way about the movie (only saw the first one) as I did the book. While that still doesn’t say much for Tolkein’s writing, I absolutely respect the faithful adaptation that was made. And I’m truly grateful for it. For years there’s been talk of adapting Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series which are some of my favourite books. Loads of people said it couldn’t be done, but suddenly, there was the Jackson trilogy, and people said if they can adapt LotR, then they can do Dark Tower. Sadly, they are doing it, and while I won’t go so far as to say they’re ruining the books, I think it’s going to be a really disappointing adaptation.

                Liked by 1 person

  8. You mentioned Huck Finn, but the usual complaint about the greatest novel ever written by an American has to do with the complicated ending, not the section you mentioned. I think neither section was a mistake, but that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bill! I realize people have different views about whether Tom Sawyer’s actions in “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” detracted from the novel or not. 🙂 I was fine with the book’s ending, while not so fond of Sawyer’s doings.

      And — wow! — whether Twain’s novel is the best novel ever by an American is a great topic of debate. A number of people might go with the deep, albeit-somewhat-less-readable “Moby-Dick.” Also in the running could be “The Scarlet Letter,” “The House of Mirth,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Invisible Man”… And while the more recent “The Poisonwood Bible,” “The Goldfinch,” and “So Much for That” might not be quite in that stratosphere, they’re amazingly good.

      Like

        • As wonderful as “Huckleberry Finn” is, Susan, I agree with you about “The Grapes of Wrath.” My favorite American novel, and perhaps my second favorite overall after “Jane Eyre” — a British novel, of course.

          And, yes, more fun to “vote” on best novels than in most political elections. 🙂

          Like

          • While we’re casting our votes, mine has always been ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. However, I will not argue strenuously with those who choose other equally deserving novels. There are several ‘greatest’ novels, ultimately. Isn’t it great that we don’t have to choose just one?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks, bobess48! When it comes to naming the best novels from any nation, “The Brothers Karamazov” is DEFINITELY in the running! My non-American favorites also include — among others — “Crime and Punishment,” “Jane Eyre,” A.S. Byatt’s “Possession,” Elsa Morante’s “History,” Erich Maria Remarque’s “Arch of Triumph,” and several of George Eliot’s great works.

              And, yes, people having different favorites is fine. 🙂 It’s terrific that there are various iconic novels to choose from!

              Like

  9. The Great Gatsby:

    The punny list of Gatsby’s guests–Clarence Endive, Dr. Webster Civet, Willie Voltaire, the Smirkes, the Scullys, and Edgar Beaver among them, may have been an author’s darling, but it should have been killed, I think, as it cast a sophomoric tinge on a book deserving better.

    And I’m a fellow that likes a good pun, and even like this one out of Fitzgerald– in The Crack-Up, when in a letter to Scottie bemoaning bills, he mentions owing Peck and Peck and Peck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good one, jhNY! Those names are kind of fun, but briefly take that iconic novel out of its deep version of “reality” into a more shallow version of “reality.”

      Then there’s the going-downhill Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night”…

      Like

      • “Then there’s the going-downhill Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night”…”

        Strains credulity that the smutty jokes that would inevitably arise out of that choice never occurred to the author. Never have run across an explanation for Fitzgerald’s choice of name, and can’t imagine why he chose it, especially given the fact that the couple upon whom the novel is loosely based are ordinarily, if not unremarkably named Murphy.

        Unless the siren call of the sophomoric proved irresistible once more. If my first example might be excused as a temporary ‘tone drop’ in an otherwise excellent work of fiction, this second lays ‘tone drop’ across the entirety of Tender Is the Night.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Strange, the smutty connotation of the name Dick Diver had not occurred to me before I saw your comment, but of course it’s there! I had interpreted the name as symbolizing how that character was diving negatively into despair and dysfunction as the book went on — no longer diving positively into life with the gusto he possessed in the earlier part of the novel.

          And I believe the Dick and Nicole Diver characters are at least partly a semi-autobiographical version of F. Scott and Zelda?

          Like

          • “And I believe the Dick and Nicole Diver characters are at least partly a semi-autobiographical version of F. Scott and Zelda?”

            Yes– inevitably, but the Murphys too. At least they used to always get a mention as inspirations for the book. Haven’t seen it around for years, but there is an biography of them that was pretty popular 30-40 years ago. I only glanced through it , but I remember the title, as I liked it: Living Well Is the Best Revenge.

            sez wikpedia:

            “Nicole and Dick Diver of Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald are widely recognized as having been based on the Murphys, mainly from the marked physical similarities, although many of their friends, as well as the Murphys themselves, saw as much or more of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald’s relationship and personalities in the couple than those of the Murphys.”

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think it’s more interesting that the Divers are an amalgam of four people rather than based on two people! Sort of like Tom Sawyer, who, according to Twain, combined the traits of three people — Twain himself as a boy, and two other boys (if I’m remembering correctly).

              Like

      • Last year, I went through Grail Nights (Amanda Moores, author) word by word, correcting the manuscript as I typed it anew from scratch as a Word document, hired a proofreader, inserted her corrections, read it through again, added more corrections, as did the author, then added the corrections the designer spotted. When the book came back from the printer (a limited run), a few kind readers alerted me to more errors, which I followed up with a commensurate number of corrections– merely 12.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s a difficult, tedious process — and 12 is not a bad number of errors! The excellent “Grail Nights” certainly looked “clean” when I read it several months ago!

          Like

          • Was amazed to see, for all my care, how many I’d missed– each time I went through the manuscript– but in my defense, what I was on the lookout for most of all was whether or not, as I read, the narrative seemed believable, and whether the narrator’s ‘voice’ was true to itself over all the pages– though I did try to read a few times with my eye attuned to spelling and punctuation problems.

            And 12 isn’t a bad number, but that’s 12 AFTER it went to the printer’s.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I know what you mean, jhNY. When I was copy editing/proofreading my own book (dumb to do that myself, but I was nearly broke at the time), I tended to read more for content than for errors — even when I was trying to read for errors!

              Like

              • Even hiring somebody does not guarantee anything beyond freedom to blame the hired for what they missed (after you had missed it already)… as for that economic condition, which was my own for years, I send you this couplet by Willie Dixon, as sung by Little Walter:

                I ain’t broke, but I’m badly bent
                Everybody loves those dead presidents.

                Liked by 1 person

                • True, jhNY. Another person is no guarantee. In the journalism and blog (rather than book) realm, I had some “interesting” editors who made my copy worse. For instance, that sometimes happened at HP the few times they bothered to look at my columns before they were posted.

                  Like

                    • Don’t know! I looked around the nets for an answer; got definitions, which we know, but not origins. Dead Presidents was released by Little Walter in 1964. The other examples of use I found were in rap lyrics from the aughts. Here are the lyrics in full:

                      Them dead presidents
                      Them dead presidents
                      Well I ain’t broke but I’m badly bent
                      Everybody loves them dead presidents
                      A little bit of Lincoln can park your car
                      Washington he can’t go too far
                      Jefferson is good, played the track
                      If you think you’re gonna bring some big bet back

                      Them dead presidents
                      Hamilton on a ten can get you straight
                      But Jackson on a twenty is really great
                      And if you’re talking about a poor man’s friend
                      Grant will get you out of whatever you’re in
                      Them dead presidents

                      A hundred dollar Franklin is really sweet
                      A five hundred McKinley is the one for me
                      If I get a Cleveland I’m really set
                      A thousand dollar Cleveland is hard to get
                      Them dead presidents
                      Songwriters: WILLIE DIXON, BILLY EMERSON

                      Liked by 1 person

        • Probably a silly question, but does it ever bother you when people point out errors? A friend of mine is trying to become a writer, and whenever he sends me anything, I can’t help but notice the typos. Even if it’s something he’s sent me before, I’ll find new mistakes that I missed the first time. Is there a point where it stops being helpful, and just becomes annoying?

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Dave, I’m glad you read “So Much for That,” and thought highly of it and Shriver’s writing. I will agree with you though on that one subplot, and when I reread it one day, I’ll probably skip over it. But as you say, it’s the only flaw in an otherwise great novel, and the ending scenes on the island are just incredibly moving. Shriver does know how to write some very disturbing scenes in other of her novels, most specifically “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” My sister loved the former, but couldn’t read the latter because it was about the inability of the main character to bond with her son. This concept was so difficult for my sister, the mother of two sons, but as never haven’t had any children myself, the mother came across as more sympathetic to me and was very fascinating considering all of the horrific events that have happened in this country recently. I also agree with you on “My Sister’s Keeper.” I was so upset by the plot twist at the end that I actually got up and threw it into my trash can. I was telling this to someone (probably my sister) and she loved the movie, which I just couldn’t understand. I found out later that they actually changed the ending of the movie, as apparently there many of us who hated the ending of the novel. I had mixed feelings about the epilogue to the Harry Potter book, because I felt on some level that Harry and Hermione made more sense as a couple to me than having her be with Ron.

    This past weekend has been such a roller-coaster of emotions for me. My girlfriends from our old neighborhood growing up got together again. My best friend flew up from Durham Thursday night and stayed until yesterday afternoon. Two came up from the D.C area, one from Lancaster, and the other who lives not too far from me. I got us a reservation for lunch on Saturday at a beautiful restaurant near Kennett Square. We were the only group there at the time so we were able to sit for several hours and had such fun, laughing about the past and our lives today as well. You’d never have guessed we all first met 60 years ago. Then everyone came back to see my new home and had a little bit more time to spend together here. Yesterday morning my best friend, my guy friend and I went out to breakfast. While there we learned about the tragic events in Orlando. It’s so appalling to me that this kind of thing keeps happening, and our Congress refuses to do anything about it. So after my beautiful weekend with close friends, I just felt so sad and angry. My heart goes out to everyone who was there that night, to those who lost loved ones or were injured, and to the first responders and those still at the scene trying to make sense of it all. I also feel terrible for President Obama who has gone through this type of thing and had to address the American people for the 15th time. I just hope it’s his last time before he leaves office.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks again, Kat Lib, for recommending Lionel Shriver and “So Much for That”! I totally agree that the novel’s greatness overwhelms the one flaw that made the book an A+++ rather than an A++++. 🙂 And, yes, the ending scenes on the island were incredible. I’ve reread them several times, and cried each time (from sadness and happiness).

      I look forward to reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” It’s interesting how our experiences — parental or otherwise, and so on — can affect how we experience a novel.

      I’ve already read Ms. Shriver’s “Big Brother,” which I started right after finishing “So Much for That.” Also very good — though not as good as “So Much for That.” I suppose I could have also included it in this post; there’s sort of a trick ending that was innovative, but on balance disappointing (at least for me).

      If I had owned “My Sister’s Keeper” rather than borrowed it from the library, I might have tossed it in the trash, too, after reading that plot twist. 🙂

      I agree that, on several levels, Hermione and Harry would have seemed more logical as a couple than Hermione and Ron. Heck, not sure even Harry was worthy of Hermione given her intellect and discipline.

      Sounds like you had quite a weekend of fluctuating emotions. The wonderful gathering of old friends, and then the horrendous Orlando news. I agree that it’s absolutely insane the way so many politicians cravenly, cowardly, and despicably refuse to do anything about this. To me, some of the biggest “terrorists” in the world are the leaders of the NRA.

      Like

      • I also agree with you on “Big Brother,” especially about the ending, which surprised me but was somewhat disappointing for me as well. I just either forgot or never knew that she has a brother who is (or was) morbidly obese. I wonder how much of the book was autobiographical; although the full name of the book is “Big Brother: A Novel.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, quite a surprise. I guess a more realistic ending than the feel-good ending that turned out to not be the ending, but a downer. Not as much of a downer as that “My Sister’s Keeper” plot twist, though!

          Like

        • Dave, I forgot to mention that another thing happened to me last Friday was a backup in the sewer line to the home I’ve only lived in for a month. It initially didn’t seem too bad, since the plumber was able to snake the line and didn’t find anything, although he suggested having someone come in and put a camera through the entire line from my place to the connection to the Borough’s sewer line. My insurance company has been absolutely great to deal with. They sent out a service company rep, who discovered that water did get into my upstairs bathroom floor and in some places in the basement. The company they chose to fix the problem with the flooring were out yesterday and today. They ripped out the flooring in the bath and there are at least three fans/dehumidifiers going right now and a few others in the basement. They will be back tomorrow, and then they will be the contractor to take out the fixtures in my bath (at which point they will pay for a few nights at a hotel, because of my problems with going up and downstairs where the 2nd bath is located) but I can pick out new flooring. My insurance provider also set up a company to come out early next week to do this camera diagnostic thing, which they will actually cover.

          Of course, this is a much too long of a way of saying that I’m handling all of this quite well (though I can’t say the same for my cat Jessie :). But it’s just a perspective on how easy I’ve had to deal with these minor problems when there were so many killed and injured on Sunday, not just in Orlando, but elsewhere in our country. These are times I feel almost ashamed about getting so upset with problems that are relatively minor, but can be fixed.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wow, a whole lot going on with your new house, Kat Lib. (I had a sewer line backup literally the first day I moved into my former house in 1993; the less said about that, the better. 🙂 ) You’re right that house problems and health problems pale next to something like the horrific Orlando mass murder, but, still, it’s our lives and “mid-level” problems can be difficult. Glad your insurance company has been great, and good luck with all the current and near-future disruption until your new house is stress-free (or at least less stressful).

            Like

    • It was such an enormous tragedy Kat Lib took so much time to process then found out it was one man`s anger and hate caused loss of 49 beautiful lives. All they were guilty of was loving someone.
      Kudos to all the doctor at the trauma Central just a couple of blocks away to save some lives.
      Then comes the hate filled attack of Trump for our President which started almost a decade ago. The only reason President Obama is Black.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Outstanding song, bebe. And so appropriate after the devastating Orlando tragedy — which might not have happened if the U.S. had sane gun-control laws and if people in power didn’t encourage homophobia. 😦

      Great that this singer/songwriter was once your neighbor!

      And thanks so much for the kind words about this blog and its wonderful commenters. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are so welcome Kat Lib , as I mention to jhNY this was during Iraq invasion, there is another version i will post some other time which was too graphic.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sending this in for us to hear– I’m afraid I’ve come to a nearly opposite conclusion. That every place has haters, so there should be no place where guns are available to them.

      And thanks for your kind words.

      Liked by 2 people

      • This gentleman is a singer and songwriter and a staunch Democrat. The time I knew him he could not stop talking about Bush / Cheney and 9/11. The song was written during that time.
        I agree with you jhNY.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Dave,

    my recent what’s-that-doing-here moment is the concluding chapters of All the Light We Cannot See, would have just as well be placed at the beginning to get the reader in sync with the two-timeline, two-character, two-scenes setting for alternating chapters. it seems as the author was going for the look-back, next generation wrap-up, it didn’t ruin the drama of the young boy and girl finally meeting, but all I did was wonder, “what’s this doing here”. in a very visual book, it seemed like the author was trying to set up what could be a screen play. you may have read the book, just about everyone did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment, applemcg! I unfortunately haven’t read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer-winning novel (yet), but that does sound like a head-scratching element you skillfully pointed out. If anyone else who’s read “All the Light We Cannot See” wants to weigh in, please do!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s