Books moral and immoral

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Artemis@BC, Sep 6, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,891
    "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written." ~ Oscar Wilde

    We hit 1000 post on the previous book thread ... so here's a new one. Hope y'all are ok with the title.
    Buzz and (deleted member) like this.
  2. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,891
    That sounds right up my alley! Just checked my two local libraries and neither has is, will have to investigate other sources. Thanks for the tip.
  3. Nan

    Nan Just me

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Messages:
    6,767
    I finished The Dig by Michael Siemsen about a week ago. This is the author's first book (I think) and I will be interested in reading more from him. It's difficult to pigeon-hole this book into a category, but I the more I read, the more time I wanted to spend with the ninteen-year-old central character.
  4. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2012
    Messages:
    466
    Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde - Still working through it, but it's a future society that 's hierarchy is based on what colors you can see. The highest order are purples and the lowliest is grey. It's an interesting world where items from the past are made int o synthetic color and with bizarre rules that no one can remember or question. Oddly, the many rules keep each citizen ready to figure out a loophole.
  5. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2002
    Messages:
    5,764
    That sounds interesting since I just heard that some people can see more shades of color than most of the rest of us.

    Regarding the Nevada Barr criticism from the last thread, when did she “go bad”? I am reading 13 ½ right now and that was a 2009 release. We haven’t gotten to any Anna yet, but I like it so far.
  6. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2012
    Messages:
    466
  7. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2001
    Messages:
    38,306
    We'll probably get a lot more traffic.;)
  8. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,891
    Yes, that did cross my mind ... :saint:
  9. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    30,402
    wouldnt southpaw let you borrow "50 shades of kiss my ass"
  10. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,507
    Wow, how timely. I was going to start a new thread to discuss the below, but this looks like the place to post, since this thread is about books, and the thread title also seems strangely fitting. Therefore, what do others think re the hot topic of novelizing the experiences of real people, rather than writing a biography? Forgive me if this book has already been discussed.

    The book: The Master's Muse, by Varley O'Connor is a novelization of the relationship between George Balanchine and Tanaquil Le Clercq. As a Balanchine aficionado and a lover of ballet, I immediately reserved this book at my local library, and I'm looking forward to eventually attending a book discussion presented by the author.

    Meanwhile I looked up reviews and found this one, "Dancing Around the Truth," by Holly Brubach in The New York Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/t...ind-of-tanaquil-le-clercq.html?pagewanted=all

    Since Brubach apparently became a friend of Le Clercq's sometime after Le Clercq had contracted polio and become wheelchair-bound, Brubach's perspective is obviously different from that of a more objective dance history/ ballet history journalist who might know something about the Balanchine/ Le Clercq saga without having known either of them intimately.

    After reading Brubach's review, I marked down one of my questions to ask the author: Why did you decide to novelize Le Clercq's and Balanchine's story rather than writing a biography? After looking up information on author O'Connor, I found that she has already answered this question in a PW blog post:

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...ticle/51080-finding-the-truth-in-fiction.html

    I gained a lot from reading both Brubach's review and O'Connor's response. Brubach did acknowledge that O'Connor had obviously done thorough research, and Brubach also gave O'Connor credit for occasionally being "right" about "emotional truths." But Brubach admonishes O'Connor for getting "major plot points wrong," and for "violating" Le Clercq's privacy by having the audacity to write in the first person, in effect "inviting total strangers to spend 244 pages inside [Tanny's] mind — a place that was off-limits even to her closest friends."

    I think O'Connor's response is very effective in its sincerity and honesty about how and why she was captivated by Le Clercq's life. O'Connor is a fiction writer (and a former actor) and the subjects of dealing with polio and dealing with a husband's betrayal have great resonance for her in her own life. Kind of fascinating to reflect upon O'Connor's contention: "What novels do that biographies don’t is get at truths by penetrating the facts, by going deeper to what’s underneath fact, through invention."

    I am looking forward to reading O'Connor's book. Ultimately what matters is whether or not it is well written. In being inspired by Le Clercq's story, O'Connor may have created a work of art that is worthy in its own right. And surely readers of O'Connor's book will also want to find out more about the real Tanaquil Le Clercq, and about Balanchine and The New York City Ballet. That would be a good thing. Even better might be Holly Brubach or another gifted writer being inspired to write a biography of Tanaquil Le Clercq. :)

    Of course I can't know with certainty, but perhaps Le Clercq would not mind O'Connor's audacity (especially since the intrusion into and novelization of Le Clercq's life has not occurred for sensationalist reasons). Since Le Clercq has already lived her life, surely the lessons and inspirations her life imparts should no longer be "off-limits."
  11. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2001
    Messages:
    38,306
  12. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,891
  13. Michalle

    Michalle New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
    923
    I don't understand why novelists who take real people's lives as inspiration just don't give fictional names to the characters they create. Why does the character have to be called Tanaquil LeClerq, if it's an imagined version of the relationship? For me, it's disrespectful. By all means, it's an interesting relationship and scenario, but once it is fiction it is not about the real person, and the author should acknowledge that by making up a name for their character. I am a hard-liner about this, for whatever reason. I just think that people like Oliver Stone, for example, would be the first to flip out if someone made a movie called "Oliver!" about a filmmaker named Oliver Stone who does a lot of stuff that Oliver Stone never did. And the same for Curtis Sittenfeld, if someone wrote a book called "Curtis Sittenfeld's Story." I know that the argument is that once someone is famous, they are in the "public domain," so to speak, but I don't like it. I suppose 100 years from now, no one will care and it won't make a difference - I definitely don't get up in arms about Henry V, but it just seems so mean to me. It's a strange hang-up, I guess.

    Edit: I guess the other reason it bothers me is that I feel like the decision to use the actual name is basically a way to capitalize on that person's fame and accomplishments, or notoriety, rather than an artistic decision - obviously, it will be more marketable that way.
  14. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Messages:
    12,772
    In the case of historical fiction, often enough is known about the character, story and historical context about it to use the character's real name. Philippa Gregory's novels immediately come to mind - her books about the King Henry XIII's first wife, the Boleyn sisters, and Jane Seymour gave readers a fascinating glimpse of what their lives might really have been like IMO.
  15. Michalle

    Michalle New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
    923
    I don't mind as much when it's about people who are long-dead... it's more when the people still have friends/family living or are living themselves that it bothers me. I know it's a really established thing, and that a lot of people like it, but for some reason it really disturbs me. It's sort of like those stories (is this true or just a myth?) of people who didn't want their photograph to be taken because they thought it would steal their soul. I have a degree in creative writing and lots of friends who are writers, and it still bothers me! Maybe it bothers me more because I am a writer and it's not my approach, I guess.
  16. Erin

    Erin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2001
    Messages:
    4,922
    I'm not sure why you bring her in as an example, since Sittenfeld did change the names of the people whose lives she based American Wife on. She didn't exactly disguise them well, but all you asked was that she give fictional names, which she did.

    And since parts of Prep seem to be loosely based on her own life, she basically did the same thing to her own life.
  17. galaxygirl

    galaxygirl Ma name's Beckeh

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,924
  18. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
    Messages:
    19,416
    I think it was in Duberman in his bio of Lincoln Kirstein, although it could have been in one of the Jerome Robbins bios -- Robbins and Leclercq were great friends -- who wrote that Leclercq was in the process of separating from Balanchine amicably right before the European tour, so the husband's infidelity angle -- Balanchine stayed with her for over a decade after she contracted polio -- is O'Connor's own fiction, which she would have known had she done that bit of basic research.
  19. Spinner

    Spinner Where's my book?

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2001
    Messages:
    3,729
    I don't think your Nook books will transfer to a Kindle since they're not the same file format, so any books you have and want to keep you'll have to re-buy on the Kindle. If you want to upgrade your device, check out the Nook Glowlight first before you decide.
  20. galaxygirl

    galaxygirl Ma name's Beckeh

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,924
    I mostly read library books so I should be okay and I'd keep my Nook as a backup. I had looked at the Nook Glowlight previously but it apparently has had some screen issues. Of course it's possible that the Kindle will have issues too.

    Amazon really does know how to market their stuff. If I were basing my purchasing decision solely on the product pages for the Nook and the Kindle, the Kindle would win, hands down.
  21. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,878
    You'd have to strip the DRM and convert the files to mobi. This is doable, but it can be a hassle and the legality of it is iffy.
  22. TygerLily

    TygerLily Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,816
    I love Timothy Findlay's books, but Famous Last Words bothered me a lot for that reason. I had to read it in university, and only now it occurs to me that I've instinctively avoided fiction that does that ever since. I don't even read historical fiction about real people (i.e., Phillipa Gregory).

    However, I'm a bit of a hypocrite since I do still like Shakespeare's Richard III.
  23. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Messages:
    40,339
    You'll like it even better if they locate his grave. Richard's that is. A team of archaeologists are attempting to do so now. They plan to move any remains to a more prestigious resting place.
  24. Grannyfan

    Grannyfan Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2002
    Messages:
    886
    For those who like nonfiction, I recommend The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. I've read only a little, but it's fascinating. I've heard Dust Bowl stories all my life and read some about those times, but never thought of it as being the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history. I'm glad to be reading now since Ken Burns' new film about the Dust Bowl airs on PBS soon. November, I think.
  25. TygerLily

    TygerLily Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,816
    :watch:
  26. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2002
    Messages:
    5,722
    I never heard. I am Baku Azerbaijan..... One of the 10 top cities for night life. I guess Who knew?
  27. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2002
    Messages:
    4,637
    I finished "Shakespear Undead" this morning and have plunged directly into "Zombie Island." :) The concept is a hoot. I hope there are more to the series.
  28. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

    Joined:
    May 26, 2002
    Messages:
    25,021
    I enjoy Louise Penny's novels, but my parents are even bigger fans. They've read all of them and were eagerly awaiting her new novel. I saw that she was doing a book tour for the new novel, and I asked my parents if they'd like to attend. We had to drive 2 and 1/2 hours and stay overnight, but they really wanted to go.

    I'm glad to say the appearance was even better than they expected. Ms Penny was charming, witty, warm and all around lovely. Her talk was wonderful and you left feeling like you'd spent the night with a good friend. I took a picture of my parents talking to her while they got their books signed, and my dad had the sweetest smile and an expression of pure delight.

    Two of my friends lost one of their parents in the last few weeks, and both my parents have had recent health challenges. I'm so happy that they had such a good night and that I was able to help them meet one of their favorite authors. Books can be such a good bonding experience. :)
  29. Grannyfan

    Grannyfan Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2002
    Messages:
    886
    It's wonderful that you were able to do this with your parents. :)

    I recently read my first Inspector Gamache novel and enjoyed it very much. I'll be looking for more.
  30. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,507
    I haven't yet read O'Connor's book, The Master's Muse, but I hope it is well written. I also look forward to seeing how much O'Connor "invents" in her effort to delve beneath the facts of Le Clercq's life and relationship with Balanchine to uncover emotional truths. However, I think it is quite clear that O'Connor conducted thorough research (which is also acknowledged in the review link I previously posted).

    Just because Balanchine and Le Clercq parted amicably does not mean that Le Clercq was emotionally unaffected by their parting. Actually, it isn't a secret that Balanchine had many wives, and that his eye and attention would eventually stray to a new muse, and that is largely why his marriages ended. A former dancer with Balanchine's New York City Ballet, Bart Cook, is quoted as saying that Balanchine seemed to be "married to the idea, the abstraction of the ballerina archetype."

    http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/stage/articles/2009/05/05/20090505balanchine0503women.html

    Balanchine and Le Clercq were showing signs of strain in their marriage sometime before Le Clercq was stricken with polio. And, from anecdotes in the public domain (see the Holly Brubach review of O'Connor's book), Balanchine felt responsible for Le Clercq's fate. As a friend of Tannaquil Le Clercq's, Holly Brubach also admits in the previously posted review link (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/t...f-tanaquil-le-clercq.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all) that some of O'Connor's passages dealing with the complications of the B/L marriage after Le Clercq was confined to a wheelchair, have the "ring of emotional truth."

    Balanchine and Le Clercq divorced soon after Balanchine became fascinated with his newest muse, Suzanne Farrell. Obviously, that does not mean Balanchine was "unfaithful" to Le Clercq in the sense of having an affair, but clearly another young dancer had become the object of his devotion. Eventually, Balanchine desired to marry Farrell, but didn't because Farrell was unwilling; she fell in love with another dancer, Paul Mejia.
  31. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
    Messages:
    19,416
    Duberman's book and the two Robbins books are the three relatively recent major works of dance-related biography. They were there for her to use. I don't doubt that O'Connor did research her book; whether she used them as sources or skipped them, that she went with her own narrative, reportedly autobiographical, is one of the reasons I'm not tempted by her book.

    Balanchine had many muses with whom he did not have relationships.
  32. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,507
    I also previously linked O'Connor's defense of her fictionalized approach. I find O'Connor's comments compelling in regard to why she was intrigued by Tanaquil Le Clercq's life, and why she decided not to write a biography. I don't think O'Connor's fictionalized account of Tanaquil Le Clercq's relationship with Balanchine is autobiographical, just that some of the things Le Clercq experienced resonated with O'Connor and captured her imagination.

    Definitely Balanchine had many muses, among them Darci Kistler, and Merrill Ashley (who wrote the wonderful book, Dancing for Balanchine). I think it's safe to say that Balanchine had devotional, mutual love for ballet "relationships" with all of the female dancers who captured his attention, and he ended up marrying quite a few who were his major muses, except for Farrell and except for those who became his major muses during his later years. A few of Balanchine's dancers, both male and female, shared a close friendship with him.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  33. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2002
    Messages:
    5,764
    I got through half of Nevada Barr's 13 1/2 and just realized it isn't a Anna Pigeon book. /shuffle.

    I haven't decided if I will finish. I kinda want to find out what happens and I think the plot is interesting but the writing kind of plods along heavily.
  34. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,277
    Thanks to rfisher for recommending Midnight Riot; I'm reading it now and really enjoying it.
  35. galaxygirl

    galaxygirl Ma name's Beckeh

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,924
    Joyce Carol Oates is releasing a historical fiction novel next March called The Accursed. Looks nice and creepy. :)

  36. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    Messages:
    12,400
    Joyce Carol Oats is one of those writers where I feel I should get something out of her books, and I just don't. Her books are very workman-like to me. Pathos goes here. Three dimensional characters go here. Oppressive scenery/town there. She's COP for literature IMO, right down to the backloading at the end in her writing style.
  37. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2002
    Messages:
    4,637
    I agree. I can't think of a book of hers that I've actually enjoyed, but then I stopped reading them a long time ago.

    I'm finished with vampires for a bit now and moving back to a couple of cozy mysteries I 've had sitting around. I need a little less blood and mayhem in my life this week. :)
  38. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
    Messages:
    19,416
    I rarely listen to NPR anymore, and I didn't know until today about the controversy about their reader-suggested "best Young Adult fiction" list, in which all but three books have white protagonists:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/09/10/whos_to_blame_for_nprs_super_white_book_list/?source=newsletter

    Hilary Mantel's historical fiction about Anne Boleyn, "Bring Up the Bodies" made the short list for the Booker Prize, and is currently 2/1 odds to be a repeat winner.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/09/11/booker-shortlist.html

    The other five short-listed books are:
    "The Garden of Evening Mists", Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
    "Narcopolis", Jeet Thayil (India)
    "Self's Umbrella", Will Self (GB)
    "Swimming Home", Deborah Levy (GB)
    "The Lighthouse", Alison Moore (GB)
  39. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,507
    ^^ Ahhh, Joyce Carol Oates, the prolific, all-consuming literary meister! I'm more familiar with her earlier books, many of which I was introduced to in college. There is something about the contradiction between JCO's meek-seeming persona and her violent angst-ridden subject matter that I find compelling.

    I enjoyed reading the biography of JCO: Invisible Writer, by Greg Johnson. I got a lot out of JCO's Them, Bellefleur, Do With Me What You Will, and her short story, Where are you going? Where have you been? (made into the movie Smooth Talk with Laura Dern and Treat Williams).

    Might JCO and Toni Morrison be somewhat comparable in their imaginative intensity and singular desire to write for themselves. Neither likely care a hoot what others think ... Altho' JCO's prose is often wordy and dense, and Morrison's prose can be rich and dense, they are both masters of the writing art.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  40. galaxygirl

    galaxygirl Ma name's Beckeh

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,924
    I haven't read the Salon article yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if most NPR listeners are white so it makes sense to me that their favorite books would have white main characters. When I read young adult fiction, it's usually because it's familiar and almost comforting. If I want to 'expand my horizons', I generally read adult fiction. Of course, I may be missing the point of NPR's list so I'll go read the article.

    Re: the Booker Prize shortlist. I'm glad The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry didn't make it. I only made it through the first few pages. Yuck...

    I've only read a short story of hers and liked it pretty well so hopefully I'll enjoy the book despite its likely flaws. :D
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.