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(Salon)   With Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver has re-energized the Great American Novel   (salon.com) divider line 26
    More: Cool, Barbara Kingsolver, new novel, American novel, Great American, income gap, gatsby, rights of women, Appalachia  
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1810 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 09 Nov 2012 at 1:52 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-09 01:58:10 PM
Hear this on NPR yesterday.
I was really istenting hoping it was about Greg Kingsolver, the greatest author in middle school.
When we were in middle school, in 1968 or 9, Greg wrote an essay, for short story class. And everyone wanted a copy to read. This classmate had written a story about a jet airliner that crashed into our middle school and did it with a character exposition tailoered to pull in kids, and adults. And had all the technical stuff in it and also ttons of gore and what not. It was farking genius.

I think he later died of an overdose.
 
2012-11-09 01:59:21 PM
I don't read English-language fiction written after I was born.
 
2012-11-09 02:07:35 PM
Dellarobia, an Appalachian native who has never boarded an airplane, is barely able to conceive of a life beyond the impoverished constraints of sheep-rearing, at least until a colony of Monarch butterflies decides to winter on her family's property. The butterflies traditionally spend the season in Mexico, but have made an emergency landing in Appalachia due to drastic climate change. Dellarobia first takes in the sight of millions of orange Monarchs fluttering in trees as a personal gift from God. It's not until news of the Monarchs attracts a Harvard-educated, Virgin Islands-born entomologist named Ovid that Dellarobia really begins to feel the chafe of intellectual and economic poverty.

Typical tree-huggery nuttery from Kingsolver. In her books, a coyote howling outside brings epiphanies, and the simple life is better than yours.

I will be reading this as soon as possible.
 
2012-11-09 02:10:59 PM
Animal Dreams was a terrible book.

A terrible, terrible book.

Tres terrible.
 
2012-11-09 02:30:39 PM

The All-Powerful Atheismo: Animal Dreams was a terrible book.

A terrible, terrible book.

Tres terrible.


well, it's better to talk about this stuff than sparkly vampires, whiny slutty vampires, poorly written smut, wizards, or whatever the hell else people think should be published wholesale.
 
2012-11-09 02:33:14 PM

pute kisses like a man: The All-Powerful Atheismo: Animal Dreams was a terrible book.

A terrible, terrible book.

Tres terrible.

well, it's better to talk about this stuff than sparkly vampires, whiny slutty vampires, poorly written smut, wizards, or whatever the hell else people think should be published wholesale.


I'd rather be glued to a toilet with Animal Dreams being the only thing in reach than have to read Twilight, but I'd still be looking for a shampoo bottle instead.
 
2012-11-09 02:36:33 PM
I'll pretty much read anything from the classics to the corniest, hipster-influenced crap, but I can never manage to get through a Barbara Kingsolver book.
 
2012-11-09 02:38:40 PM
If there is such a beast as the GAN, it's been written, and a quite a while ago, too. Sometimes a Great Notion.
 
2012-11-09 02:44:33 PM
I just started reading it. The Poisonwood Bible will go down as her masterpiece.
 
2012-11-09 03:00:57 PM

The English Major: I just started reading it. The Poisonwood Bible will go down as her masterpiece.


If that was her masterpiece I shudder to think about how bad her other books are. I finished that abomination through sheer force of will.
 
2012-11-09 03:29:29 PM

vudukungfu: Hear this on NPR yesterday.


Same here.

I'll take a pass on it.
 
2012-11-09 03:49:14 PM
Barbara Kingsolver ruined an entire semester of English for me, once. She can take her stupid baby-stealing protagonists and jump off a cliff.
 
2012-11-09 03:56:30 PM

Marisyana: The English Major: I just started reading it. The Poisonwood Bible will go down as her masterpiece.

If that was her masterpiece I shudder to think about how bad her other books are. I finished that abomination through sheer force of will.


I'll split the difference here: I thought TPB was interesting, maybe not the best book I'd ever read, but a decent read. It had some scenes and imagery that stayed with me.
 
2012-11-09 04:00:54 PM

Marisyana: The English Major: I just started reading it. The Poisonwood Bible will go down as her masterpiece.

If that was her masterpiece I shudder to think about how bad her other books are. I finished that abomination through sheer force of will.


What? It's easily one of the best novels of the last few decades. Her message can be heavy handed but it's an incredibly compelling book.
 
2012-11-09 04:08:37 PM

sadbad: Marisyana: The English Major: I just started reading it. The Poisonwood Bible will go down as her masterpiece.

If that was her masterpiece I shudder to think about how bad her other books are. I finished that abomination through sheer force of will.

What? It's easily one of the best novels of the last few decades. Her message can be heavy handed but it's an incredibly compelling book.


Considering The Bean Trees is the worst book I had to read in college, and possibly the worst book I've ever read, literally anything else she wrote would technically have the capacity to be her masterpiece.
 
2012-11-09 04:36:37 PM
If the article about the book was enough to put me to sleep, it doesn't bode well for the book itself.

Is this lady worth reading or not?

Also, I just finished reading "The Sisters Brothers" which was awfully damned good for a Western-themed novel, if people are looking to pick up something new.
 
2012-11-09 04:42:19 PM
The descriptions in this thread convince me I'm not interested in any of her novels.

And anything that is heralded as 'the great American X' is not going to be remotely interesting.
 
2012-11-09 04:54:52 PM
Allow me to add Prodigal Summer to the "hate" and "forced to read it in college" piles.
 
2012-11-09 07:24:42 PM

Lsherm: If the article about the book was enough to put me to sleep, it doesn't bode well for the book itself.

Is this lady worth reading or not?

Also, I just finished reading "The Sisters Brothers" which was awfully damned good for a Western-themed novel, if people are looking to pick up something new.


I really liked the Poisonwood Bible. It's about a family who's led into the jungle of Africa by their missionary father, who wants to civilize the savages with his Christian ways. It can get very depressing at times, but it's still really good.

And, I also loved The Sisters Brothers. It's may be a western, but it's definitely literary, with some of the neatest stuff being in the interludes between chapters.
 
2012-11-09 10:10:32 PM
I heard the interview on NPR today while driving. Sounded like about the stupidest farking thing I've ever heard. It sounded like something to which a hipster masturbates while using their white guilt-inspired tears as jackin' lube.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate environmentalist fiction, and writing inspired by the Transcendentalists, but god damn. Adding adjectives to everything is not how you describe something; that shiat's for Russian dramatists, harlequin romance novels and porn. Efficiency and brevity counts.
 
2012-11-10 12:24:56 AM
i30.photobucket.com
 
2012-11-10 12:25:51 AM

GoodHomer: I really liked the Poisonwood Bible. It's about a family who's led into the jungle of Africa by their missionary father, who wants to civilize the savages with his Christian ways. It can get very depressing at times, but it's still really good


That book was on my wishlist but it was exorbitantly priced for the Kindle version before the publisher settled with Amazon. I might check it out. I'm still wary - it has not garnered good reviews from other people in my online book club. From what I've heard the problem isn't subject matter, it's that the book itself is boring.

Then again, the same club didn't like "The Lovely Bones" because of the subject matter, and I really liked it. And I'll be honest, I was completely surprised that I liked it - it's not my usual style of reading.
 
2012-11-10 12:52:28 AM

that bosnian sniper: I can appreciate environmentalist fiction


If you want to read the absolute worst book on earth that fits that description, check this out:

Primitive

Don't pay more than a dollar for it. It's a terrible, terrible book.
 
2012-11-10 03:33:38 AM
Wow, thanks for reminding me why I stopped reading Salon's book reviews years ago. I've never read Kingsolver (from the book's description, I'm guessing that Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, and T. C. Boyle have done the sort of thing that she does, only they've done it a lot better), but how in heaven's creation can you trust the advice of a tin-eared book reviewer who doesn't seem to know the difference between great literature and good politics? Her reading of classic American fiction leaches out all its tragedy and complexity, until what we're left with are simple tales of class struggle--Horatio Alger for liberals, complete with Virgin Island-born, Harvard-educated entomologists named Ovid (as in "Metamorphoses," or what happens to caterpillars when they turn into butterflies--get it?)..

It's too bad, because underneath all the Great-American-Novel cliches (which don't work anyway--she seems to think that they are all about social mobility--that Huckleberry Finn lit out for the territory, went to Stanford, and joined the educated middle class, or that Jay Gatsby's accumulation of ill-gotten wealth was somehow inspirational) and sentimental claptrap about a country dreaming with a straight face and embracing chaos, she makes some good points about the deterioration of America's small towns. We really could use another "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," "Up In the Old Hotel" or "Other America"--not another Great American Novel, but good old-fashioned American journalism.

Oh, and can she really believe that no other country besides the USA has ever offered "the hope, however imperfect, for a better future"? That strikes me as American exceptionalism of the most boobishly chauvinistic sort.
 
2012-11-10 07:32:50 AM

Cornelius Dribble: Wow, thanks for reminding me why I stopped reading Salon's book reviews years ago. I've never read Kingsolver (from the book's description, I'm guessing that Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, and T. C. Boyle have done the sort of thing that she does, only they've done it a lot better), but how in heaven's creation can you trust the advice of a tin-eared book reviewer who doesn't seem to know the difference between great literature and good politics? Her reading of classic American fiction leaches out all its tragedy and complexity, until what we're left with are simple tales of class struggle--Horatio Alger for liberals, complete with Virgin Island-born, Harvard-educated entomologists named Ovid (as in "Metamorphoses," or what happens to caterpillars when they turn into butterflies--get it?)..

It's too bad, because underneath all the Great-American-Novel cliches (which don't work anyway--she seems to think that they are all about social mobility--that Huckleberry Finn lit out for the territory, went to Stanford, and joined the educated middle class, or that Jay Gatsby's accumulation of ill-gotten wealth was somehow inspirational) and sentimental claptrap about a country dreaming with a straight face and embracing chaos, she makes some good points about the deterioration of America's small towns. We really could use another "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," "Up In the Old Hotel" or "Other America"--not another Great American Novel, but good old-fashioned American journalism.

Oh, and can she really believe that no other country besides the USA has ever offered "the hope, however imperfect, for a better future"? That strikes me as American exceptionalism of the most boobishly chauvinistic sort.


Ok, you pretty much wrote my rant before I did; no need to repeat it, really. I would only add that Carl Hiassen and Elmore Leonard do a better job of highlighting the influence of class in US society than these self-indulgent, purblind works of pretentious fluffery. I've read fanfics on AO3 more honest and insightful than these modern-day so-called "Great American Novels".
 
2012-11-10 01:12:59 PM

saintwrathchild: Allow me to add Prodigal Summer to the "hate" and "forced to read it in college" piles.


Yep, same here.
 
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