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Reading Bel Canto: A dream

2:30 am.    Bel Canto

A dream.  Life is like a terrible dream.  I wonder I did not see this before. 
If I thought I could sell it, I'd write a novel.  What I see life is off by life
on the Net.

Ellen

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
A friend on fiction and facebook
"I often wish I was a creative writer - but often the true life things I observe would not be believed if I wrote them down as 'fiction'! Sometimes tragic with more coincidences that Thomas Hardy. Sometimes more slapstick and 'happenstance' than even the most slushy romcom. What I really love about life as revealed by - for example - facebook is the deep intellectual possibilities for discussion one minute followed by the sort of discussion I had yesterday on how to get custard out of my keyboard."
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
poetry that helps
""I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.""
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
My replkes disappeared from facebook
My first was that I was responding to Bel Canto which is a fantasy magical place where we see a dream of kindness acted out: "Gwynn, my comment was partly a reaction to Bel Canto where she makes the lives of the characters into a magical dream in a story which ought to be terrifying -- it's a fantasy based on a hostage incident that occurred some years ago. I also was probably imagining our lives here on the Net."

My second was "Beautiful. It's hard right now to have faith and hope. Bel Canto has devastating statements too, one is "Hope is a murderer" for hope make the "terrorists" take the "hostages." For me light seems the same as darkness just now.

Ellen

Edited at 2011-02-09 07:51 pm (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
Book seriously mistaken
My friend said: "I don't believe terrorists act out of "hope" but out of despair, thus I would say the book has a seriously flawed understanding of what motivates these violent activists if that indeed is the sense of the quote. Violence comes when there i...s perceived to be no way out.

Of course, some people are violent just because of lack of empathetic feeling."

I replied:

"That's a good comment. The book is seriously flawed as a presentation of a hostage incident. It's a supposedly benign fantasy. I use it because students like it and it's about music."
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
The barriers
""What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, -- it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches." (Herman Melville) In writing, I'm of the "If you build it, they will come" school. I have always been struck by how, for Trollope, putting the words on paper was merely the completion of a process that carried on daily in his head. The stories were already written; the paper document was almost an afterthought, a sort of "putting them to use" or sharing."

I reply:

aving read the book now several times and each time actually liking it -- I feel some of its flaws are the result of Patchett's compromises. She does not want to show the deadly hatred and violence that cruel decades of injustice and murder can stir in people because she wants to create intense sympathy for them. But she also (again and again) writes about intensely painful things in a benign way -- as it were pulling the sting out. It does work for the average intellect to make the readers more sympathetic to (Patchett's topics): unwed mothers, abortions, disabilities, terrorists, and most recently cross-racial adoption): her last book is about a white woman who adopts two black children and dies shortly thereafter. I recall her family is working class and doesn't approve. She sets these explosive situations up.

E.M.
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
Fallacies: not interested in story she's telling
"Obviously, she has her own style and was creating a work that would meet given parameters. I think you can find enough examples of characters/individuals who are ultimately sympathetic even though violent and angry. So I don't see that as a compromise on her part but as a design decision. I haven't read the book (just one review + your comments), but it doesn't sound like she was interested in how people got the way they were; not the story she's telling. But then that leads to a kind of fallacy in comments like "Hope is a murderer" -- it has no meaning. It's not even true in the context of her story. You should try on Robinson Jeffers' version of Medea sometime. IMO, the mother who murders her own children is sympathetic in that play; and yet that must be shocking."
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
Twain: terrifying
Bob C: "Robert wrote: "See the last chapter of Mark Twain's _The Mysterious Stranger_ in which the protagonist discover, too, that life is but a dream and he only a thought wandering through the universe alone. The only advice he is given is: "Dream better dreams." This really is a terrifying book"
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
Medea
On Medea: you can find outspoken sympathy (empathy) for her in Virginia Woolf -- after reading Euripides. I've seen a production of Euripides which does make one understand. The Scots poet who translated Medea, Liz Lochhead plays on this reality. I've very little Jeffers about; I know how powerful and dark he is.
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Twain
Twain is terrifying. For better or worse I've never got over the story he tells where a young boy loses his life, is drowned because he's bullied into staying under water. It sunk deep in my mind how much surviving depends on sheer nerve. It scared me because it's so possible and real.

Of course my few lines are more personal than they are rooted in Patchett. Remember Hamlet on the nutshell.

Did you go to the AWP -- it's meant for all creative writing nowadays, men as well as women poets (though the accent is women).

E.M.
misssylviadrake
Feb. 9th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Jeffers' rewrite
From my friend:

""Jeffers' rewrite of the play was controversial because it was a prototypical "feminist" casting of the story. IOW, he was telling _her_ story and _her_ suffering. A big success on Broadway, and in 1947, no less; and sometimes performed by local theatre groups; but otherwise, it has all but disappeared. My larger point was that _audiences_ can find the sympathy if the author leads to it."

to which I replied:

"Yes I think a poet creates his audience. I find I was misremembering: Woolf thought (suggests how narrow her world was at the time) in one of her essays that all people from now on (this was in the First common Reader) would sympathize with Clymtemnestra (what a horror Agamemnon is, how he killed her daughter). She was wrong :)
misssylviadrake
Feb. 10th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
Defense
Diane R: "Diane wrote: "I accept Bel Canto on its own terms. It's not Thomas Hardy--but we have Thomas Hardy. It's the rare book that depicts an ideal and does it well. I love the language, its precision, beauty and control. Patchett never loses sight of the unreality of the situation, and yet she raises a longing in the heart for community that is a good longing, I think. I compare the book to the banality or cliche it could have been and am glad it is what it is."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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