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Group Read > Undiscovered Country- May 2010

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 28, 2010 07:57PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Book: Undiscovered Country  A Novel by Lin EngerUndiscovered Country: A Novel

Author: Lin Enger


When:
Discussion will begin on May 1, 2010. We will discuss the book for one month. However, the thread will remain open so you can continue the discussion after May.

Where:
Please discuss the book in this thread.

Spoiler Etiquette:

The book is divided into 5 parts.

Please put the part you are discussing at the top of your post, so others can avoid spoilers.

This book is a "who done it". If you don't want to read any spoilers, you may want to consider reading the book before you read the thread on this novel. It's a fairly quick read, so that should be a problem.

If when posting you are giving a major plot element away, Please use:

- The part # at the top of your post
- Spoiler alert warning
- Spoiler Space

Book detail:
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (July 3, 2008)

Synopsis: ** Contains plot elements** Don't read synopsis if you don't want any plot details!
Unaware that his life is about to change in ways he can't imagine, seventeen-year-old Jesse Matson ventures into the northern Minnesota woods with his father on a cold November afternoon. Perched on individual hunting stands a quarter-mile apart, they wait with their rifles for white-tailed deer. When the muffled crack of a gunshot rings out, Jesse unaccountably knows something is wrong-and he races through the trees to find his dad dead of a rifle wound, apparently self-inflicted.

But would easygoing Harold Matson really kill himself? If so, why?

Haunted by the ghost of his father, Jesse delves into family secrets, wrestles with questions of justice and retribution, and confronts the nature of his own responsibility. And just when he's decided that he alone must shoulder his family's burden, the beautiful and troubled Christine Montez enters his life, forcing him to reconsider his plans.

In spare, elegant prose, Lin Enger tells the story of a young man trying to hold his family together in a world tipped suddenly upside down. Set among pristine lakes and beneath towering pines, Undiscovered Country is at once a bold reinvention of Shakespeare's Hamlet and a hair-bristling story of betrayal, revenge, and the possibilities of forgiveness.

About the author:
Lin Enger is the MFA director at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.

Amazon Link:
http://www.amazon.com/Undiscovered-Co...


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 26, 2010 08:17AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Lin Enger -- Author Bio

Biography
I grew up in Minnesota lake country, have spent most of my life in the state, and now live with my wife and children in Moorhead, where I teach English and also direct the MFA program at Minnesota State University. The world I write about in Undiscovered Country couldn’t be more familiar to me—the woods and gorgeous lakes, ice-fishing and blizzards, hunting, long dark winter nights, and small-town secrets.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to receive several awards for my fiction: a James Michener Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, a Jerome travel grant, and a Lake Region Arts Fellowship. I have an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I was a Teaching-Writing Fellow, and my short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Ascent, Great River Review, Wolf Head Quarterly, and other journals. During the 1990s my brother, the novelist Leif Enger, and I had a great time collaborating (as L. L. Enger) on a series of mystery novels for Pocket Books.

http://www.lin-enger.com/bio.htm


message 3: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Spoiler Etiquette:

The book is divided into 5 parts.

Please put the part you are discussing at the top of your post, so others can avoid spoilers.

This book is a "who done it?". If you don't want to read any spoilers, you may want to consider reading the book before you read the thread on this novel. The novel is a fairly quick read.

If when posting you are giving a major plot element away, Please use:

- The part # at the top of your post
- Spoiler alert warning
- Spoiler Space


message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Robert Frost poem referenced in Part 3, Chapter 13

Birches
by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/pr...


message 5: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments All I have to say for now is WOW!! I will hold off posting anything more and give people a chance to read further along. I think you really have to read the whole thing. I wouldn't want to inadvertently spoil anything.

And -- the original description of the book doesn't come anywhere near to how good this book is IMO.

Barbara


Donna in Southern Maryland (Cedarville922) | 212 comments Bobbie57 wrote: "All I have to say for now is WOW!! I will hold off posting anything more and give people a chance to read further along. I think you really have to read the whole thing. I wouldn't want to inadvert..."

That's wonderful to hear you say Barbara. High praise. I should start reading tomorrow.

Donna


message 7: by kate/Edukate12 (new)

kate/Edukate12 | 183 comments Wow, Barbara, your post motivated me to finish my current book, Sarah's Key, to get to UC. I'm really enjoying Sarah's Key so maybe I can finish it off this rainy weekend.

Kate


message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (SarahReader) | 68 comments Barbara - Loved your post with enthusiasm about Undiscovered Country. I did get it, and plan to read it this weekend. I'm taking a long quiet weekend "off" with nothing much to do but bike, walk, read and . . . oops, forgot housework and yardwork. But nothing pressing.


Donna in Southern Maryland (Cedarville922) | 212 comments Have finished part one, and I agree with Barbara. So far I am finding it a 'page turner.'

Donna in Southern Maryland


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I also just finished part one. So how do you want to do this? Different threads for each section? I forget.


message 11: by Alias Reader (last edited May 01, 2010 04:22PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments No, I don't think different threads are necessary.

as I posted earlier: (post #1 and Post #3 of this thread)

Spoiler Etiquette:

The book is divided into 5 parts.

Please put the part you are discussing at the top of your post, so others can avoid spoilers.

This book is a "who done it?". If you don't want to read any spoilers, you may want to consider reading the book before you read the thread on this novel. The novel is a fairly quick read. I read it in two days.

If when posting you are giving a major plot element away, Please use:

- The part # at the top of your post
- Spoiler alert warning
- Spoiler Space


Donna in Southern Maryland (Cedarville922) | 212 comments Finished the book this evening; the pages turned very quickly. For now, I will echo Barbara once again and say WOW!

Donna


message 13: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments I finished the book the day i got it. I kept wondering how it would turn out, so couldn't stop. I liked the literary references throughout & could see the themes beyond the mere referencing. I'll keep it vague for now.

Enjoy!

deborah


message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments I guess I'll be the odd gal out on this one. I thought the book was ok. I think I got off on the wrong foot because I detest when an author doesn't use quotation marks. Generally speaking, I also prefer more dialog when reading fiction. I also didn't care for the ghost aspect. I thought the author went a little heavy handed on the Hamlet angle.

On the plus side it was a fast easy read. And a bit of a page turner.


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I'm about half way through, enjoying UC pretty much. I enjoy a bit of ghostliness now and then, and I quit thinking about quotation marks a long time ago - just don't notice any more. I also enjoy a literary nod, like this novel and Edgar Sawtelle to Hamlet, or A Thousand Acres to King Lear. That said, these characters are not especially memorable so far. I will withhold judgment until later. Maybe this is just suffering by comparison to The Little Stranger.


message 16: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Must admit that like Sherry I don't even notice if they have quotation marks. As to the ghost -- my first thought -- given the Edgar Sawtelle literary nod, I was wondering whether a bunch of authors had been given an "assignment."

As much as I enjoyed the page turner I wish they would come up with some new ideas.

Barbara


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited May 02, 2010 02:23PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Playing devils advocate again. I thought it odd that in one novel so many people were vomiting. I think I counted at least four separate occasions ! Weird.

The author is the brother of the author of Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I recall many liked that book when we were on AOL.


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) Thanks, Alias. I wondered if the two Engers were related.


message 19: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I guess I'll be the odd gal out on this one. I thought the book was ok. I think I got off on the wrong foot because I detest when an author doesn't use quotation marks. Generally speaking, I al..."

I would call it an okay novel, too. Hmm. You've got me wondering where i put my final star. The lack of quotation marks bothered me in the beginning because

SPOILER TO PART I BELOW


SPOILERS PART I--


i couldn't tell if the ghost was speaking or Jesse was suggesting this was what the ghost was saying. Then i realized it could all be the same thing & was able to let it go. A couple of other times the lack of quotation marks confused me, but that's typical for me with those missing.

deborah


message 20: by Alias Reader (last edited May 03, 2010 07:25AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments I returned the book so I don't have the Part # but the page number I wrote in my notes was page 178. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW

I wrote -incompetent sheriff. I think this is where the sheriff admits he didn't really conduct an investigation with the neighbors. What ? I know this is a small town, but he was too busy or just incompetent to do a basic investigation? That's not very realistic. How many deaths/murders could this small town have that he couldn't be all over this?

I couldn't tell if was just lazy on the authors part (easier to construct the plot) or the sheriff. There were quite of few elements in the plot that I felt were laziness on the author's part. For example, the ghost providing clues was an easy way out for the author. I thought it was lame. There are more, but they occur at the end, so I'll wait until you all discuss the plot a bit more.


message 21: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments THROUGH ENTIRE NOVEL--ALL PARTS: SPOILERS

Alias, i understand what you mean about the sheriff & the ghost, as well as other vague aspects to the novel. As i read i thought that perhaps this is the way the author wants us to continue to believe Jesse's ideas.

For instance, when the sheriff first admitted he hadn't "yet" talked to neighbors, i thought that maybe the sheriff knew reasons why dad, the Mayor, might have wanted to kill himself. Nope, that's not it. Ultimately i decided it wasn't so much laziness as really believe the father killed himself, given his own knowledge of family's & their tendency re. suicides &/or that he didn't want to stir gossip in a small town. The failing of a novelist didn't occur to me but you may be absolutely correct.

I felt the ghost providing clues was a valid one, however. The primary reason i found it a neat idea is because, even though i do not believe in ghosts, i knew i could not use my own frame of reference for this kid. It also asked us to consider whether Jesse was prone to mental problems with the death exacerbating things.

Even at the end we are left with options, thanks to this vision. Did the father leave impressions on Jesse which resulted in the truth? Was there a ghost? How did Jesse "know"? Misery of finding the dead man? I found this part an effective writing skill, from my viewpoint, that is.

deborah


message 22: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments I don't believe in ghosts. However, after the loss of someone close I have experienced thinking that they were speaking to me -- not out loud. And since we were already led down the garden path of Hamlet references the appearance of the ghost surely didn't surprise me.

I have a good friend whose sister passed away from smoke inhalation (sp?) and he was the one to find her.
He hasn't been right since. It is years. So it also doesn't surprise me that an event this traumatic might produce who knows what??

As this was in a small town setting I really didn't think too much about the fact that the sheriff didn't have a lot of experience and maybe just kind of felt that he would take things at face value.

On the other hand, not everything I read has to qualify as "literature" so perhaps I tend not to be the critical reader. And it was a page turner.

Barbara


Donna in Southern Maryland (Cedarville922) | 212 comments May contain spoilers to the end.........

Sherry, I thought about you as I read this, as you are one who is able to see the 'foreshadowing' or identify the themes of the book. That is something that I have always had a difficult time with. I know that this had something to do with Hamlet, but I just read it as a mystery/thriller without trying to figure out how it related to that.

At first, I was a little bothered by the lack of quotation marks, but I feel into the story and forgot that. I couldn't help thinking of JoAnn and our discussion of quotes in biographies, particularly from small children. :o0

I'm thinking that this was set in the late 70's, is that correct? If so, it is my experience that many in Law Enforcement kind of took things at face value. I watch a lot of 48 Hours & Dateline where they discuss older crimes. All of that seemed to change because of what I call two factors: the "OJ Trial Effect/DNA" & the "CSI Effect." Now, modern forensics are taken much more into consideration.

So, small town sheriff drinks too much, lazy, looks like a suicide, so it must be. I did wonder why they din't look at maybe an accidental shooting because he fell or tripped coming down from the deer stand. Today, in 2010, all that would have to be investigated. That's why the son was able to get by with killing his uncle and staging the crime scene at the farm. That would never pass today. First thing is they'd see there wasn't enough blood lost and spatter where they found him.

As for ghosts, I take they attitude that there are things we can't know for sure. I've never seen one myself, but I sure have heard my Daddy's voice a time or two since he's been gone.

Oops, my hubby is home, time to go talk about his day. More later.

Donna


message 24: by Alias Reader (last edited May 03, 2010 02:26PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Bobbie57 wrote: On the other hand, not everything I read has to qualify as "literature" so perhaps I tend not to be the critical reader. And it was a page turner. ."
------------------

My criticism was not that it wasn't "Literature". My criticism is for a mystery/crime book. I've think others authors do that genre better. Again I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it.

Anyway, I'm glad I am in the minority and that most of you really enjoyed it.





THROUGH ENTIRE NOVEL--ALL PARTS: SPOILERS




MAJOR SPOILER TO FOLLOW !!!!!!!!!!!!




Just for conversation and being the devils advocate. A few things I wrote down in my notes... :)


I also thought how he set up the murder of his uncle would have been detected by the cops. They can usually tell by the ballistics what gun, how close the shot was, what angle etc.

It also seem that he came up with this plot on the spot. I thought it was pretty intricate for something on the spot.

The book did have a twists that I didn't expect. The mother sleeping with the brother so soon after the death of her husband totally caught me off guard.
Did you think that was realistic? I guess it could happen.

Oh, one other thing I thought was odd. The sleeping pills. I thought he read it was enough for a major overdose. It certainly sounded like a lot of pills. Also wouldn't that be detected in the blood? But with the sheriff refusing to do anything I guess they wouldn't have dredged for the body. He did say it would cost $. Gosh, I wouldn't want to be killed in this town !! They wouldn't lift a finger to find my killer. LOL.

The most scary part to me was the notion that if I was a student and my teacher was a cold blooded murderer !

I did like the part where it is brought up about vengeance and being a Christian. It's interesting how some reconcile that for themselves.

Anyone have any comments on the girlfriend?

What do you think the title is referring to?
On page 56 (hardcover edition) it says Primrose "occupies a country of his own". Was that it? I don't think so, but I can't come up with anything.


message 25: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments Re. the title. I think that it's used here because of the similarities to Hamlet & those words are in the it--
http://www.monologuearchive.com/s/sha...

HAMLET: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.


message 26: by madrano (last edited May 03, 2010 08:45PM) (new)

madrano | 945 comments End of book spoiler to follow!!!!!!

Alias Reader wrote: "#1The mother sleeping with the brother so soon after the death of her husband totally caught me off guard.
Did you think that was realistic? I guess it could happen.

#2 Oh, one other thing I thought was odd. The sleeping pills. I thought he read it was enough for a major overdose. It certainly sounded like a lot of pills. Also wouldn't that be detected in the blood? But with the sheriff refusing to do anything I guess they wouldn't have dredged for the body. He did say it would cost $. Gosh, I wouldn't want to be killed in this town !! They wouldn't lift a finger to find my killer. LOL.

#3 The most scary part to me was the notion that if I was a student and my teacher was a cold blooded murderer !..."


I've numbered the points,so i can refer to them easier.
#1--For me it called into question whether or not Charlie's mother's story about seeing them leave the motel was true or not. Mom's story was good & believable but given the way they quickly fell into bed? I'm not sure.

#2 I agree re. dying in this town. As you mentioned upthread, Alias, the sheriff was a drinker. Additionally he was living at his office. The man was having enough personal problems which may have clouded his judgment calls. STILL, the dad was mayor! I'm with you.

Of course another point to consider is whether the sheriff was just giving Jesse the easy answers, rather than fully sharing. Real investigations (not asking neighbors, though!) cost plenty of money & their budge may not have been able to handle much. One would think the state would help out but, again, you have to have something to go on. Complicated.

#3 I know! This guy is a teacher! Yikes! Yet he sounded sane. One wonders what his brother will do with the information he learns in Jesse's writing.

As for the girlfriend, i think her presence in the book is to show an alternative to the violence Jesse planned. She knew what was ahead & realized she couldn't help her mother, probably couldn't do much about her sister, but could take responsibility for herself, after considering her faith. Maybe faith was another reason she was in the book? And, of course, the possibility of achieving a happy ending for Jesse.

deborah


message 27: by Alias Reader (last edited May 03, 2010 08:08PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments End of book spoiler to follow


madrano wrote:
#3 I know! This guy is a teacher! Yikes! Yet he sounded sane. One wonders what his brother will do with the information he learns in Jesse's writing..."


---------------------

Good question ! I forgot about that.

He really looked up to his big brother. I don't think things could ever be the same if I was in his shoes.

I guess it brings up the question, Do you think he did the right thing by seeking vengeance?


message 28: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments madrano wrote: "Re. the title.To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?..."


-------------------

Excellent, Deb ! How did you know that ? I'm very impressed.

I read Hamlet in school, but don't really recall much. Only the first 10 lines or so of that soliloquy even ring a bell.

So the Undiscovered Country is death. Am I understanding it correctly?


message 29: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Bobbie57 wrote:
He hasn't been right since. It is years. So it also doesn't surprise me that an event this traumatic might produce who knows what??
."


=================

MAJOR BOOK SPOILER TO FOLLOW


1
1
1
1
1
1
1

Did the ghost actually give any info or just warnings? I don't recall.

Do you think it was just a figment of his imagination due to stress or was the author trying to say the ghost was real ?

I thought the author was trying to say it was real.

Ugh....having a lot of problems posting today on GR. My last post, which was quite long, I thought I saw and now I don't see it. Sorry if this post appears twice. :(


message 30: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Donna in Southern Maryland wrote: .So, small town sheriff drinks too much, lazy, looks like a suicide, so it must be. I did wonder why they din't look at maybe an accidental shooting because he fell or tripped coming down from the deer stand. Today, in 2010, all that would have to be investigated. That's why the son was able to get by with killing his uncle and staging the crime scene at the farm. That would never pass today. First thing is they'd see there wasn't enough blood lost and spatter where they found him."

---------------

Good points, Donna.


message 31: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Once you have the Hamlet references you have the ghost. The ghost of Hamlet's father -- so the ghost of Jesse's father. I didn't think about the reality of it.

I definitely don't think he did the right thing by seeking vengeance. But I guess if he didn't we wouldn't have a story.

Jesse's belief that there had been something in the past between his mother and his uncle, which seemed to be born out by finding them in bed together, created the thought that his father might in fact have committed suicide. And also when they find out that he was pretty much out of money. Did any of you have any doubts that Jesse was wrong about the whole thing?

Barbara


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I'm still reading...


message 33: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!


Alias Reader wrote: "
Excellent, Deb ! How did you know that ? I'm very impressed.
SNIP SNIP

So the Undiscovered Country is death. Am I understanding it correctly?
..."


I googled the quote because the words were familiar but i couldn't place them. Viola!

My interpretation of the words from Shakespeare, as well as from Enger's book...and what makes the ghost issue so compelling...is that the "undiscovered country" is what, if anything comes after death.

deborah


message 34: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!




Alias Reader wrote: "Did the ghost actually give any info or just warnings? I don't recall.

Do you think it was just a figment of his imagination due to stress or was the author trying to say the ghost was real ?"



His father's ghost told Jesse he didn't kill himself. He never exactly said "Clay did it", only described what happened, what he heard & saw. Jesse then wrote, "Like a balloon on a string, the image of my uncles' face bobbed up in front of me. I said, Clay? Clay?"

As to whether it was "real" or Jesse's way of coping or the adult Jesse trying to rationalize what occurred, i think this (or other interpretations) are up to the reader. Rather like Hamlet, of course.

deborah


message 35: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!


BIG HONKIN' SPOILERS!!!!!!



Bobbie57 wrote: "Did any of you have any doubts that Jesse was wrong about the whole thing? ..."

I did, from the start. Heck, there was even point where i thought Jesse did it & produced the ghost to justify the fact he couldn't remember doing it. (To clarify, i didn't think it was intentional. Remember when he was running with the loaded gun? I thought it happened then.) By the end, i believed Clay did it.


REALLY, REALLY BIG SPOILER BELOW

HUGE, I"M TELLING YOU--HUGE!!!


We've kicked around the idea of whether Jesse's vengeance was right or not. I was against it, though understood it. However, when we learned how he killed (so to speak) Dwayne Primrose, i felt he proved himself to be a cockroach, which i (sorry to report) would kill in a nanosecond.

deborah


message 36: by Bobbie57 (last edited May 04, 2010 06:18AM) (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Deborah wrote --As to whether it was "real" or Jesse's way of coping or the adult Jesse trying to rationalize what occurred, i think this (or other interpretations) are up to the reader. Rather like Hamlet, of course.


This is what I felt.



Barbara


message 37: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments spoiler comments for entire book to follow

Bobbie57 wrote:

#1 I definitely don't think he did the right thing by seeking vengeance. But I guess if he didn't we wouldn't have a story.

# 2 And also when they find out that he was pretty much out of money Did any of you have any doubts that Jesse was wrong about the whole thing?

Barbara .."

===========================

# 1 I guess you can't take the law into your own hands like he did. However, the killer would have gone free if he didn't seek revenge. (two murders that the cops wouldn't have caught the killer)

They say revenge kills you, too. Though he seems to be happy and content with his life. Though that may change now that brother knows the deal.

#2 Yes. I had started to make a list. Suicide because he owned $ (though insurance won't pay on suicide). His brother was killer. Jealous.
Though this seemed an extreme response. Kill your brother all these years later because he stole your girl? Or were wife and brother in on it and wanted husband out of the way? Why not just divorce?


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments madrano wrote:

"SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!


BIG HONKIN' SPOILERS!!!!!!
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then we learned how he killed (so to speak) Dwayne Primrose, i felt he proved himself to be a cockroach, which i (sorry to report) would kill in a nanosecond..."


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That's right, I posted earlier that there would have been 2 murders the cops wouldn't have solved and got the killer. (Uncle Clay and Jessie) I forgot Dwanye Primrose. That's makes 3 murders. That's a lot of murders in a small town for the sheriff not to solve.


message 39: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Wife and brother in on it = Hamlet.

Do we let Hamlet go because he died at the end, along with everyone else on the stage? And Jesse seems to have lived a decent life.

Barbara


message 40: by Alias Reader (last edited May 04, 2010 07:56AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments Major spoiler for entire book to follow


Bobbie57 wrote: "Wife and brother in on it = Hamlet.

Do we let Hamlet go because he died at the end, along with everyone else on the stage? And Jesse seems to have lived a decent life.

Barbara"


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The fact that the mother dies at the end does that indicate she was in on it, too? She dies because we (reader/society) want/demand justice.

I think Jessie as you say seems to have led a "decent life" after the murder. However, I don't know if that mitigates what he did in my mind.

Does the fact that he gave the manuscript of what happened to his brother indicate his conscience was burdened and he can not live a lie anymore? Will justice be served as the brother turns him in?

For me I think this book shows that you don't have to love a book to think it makes a good discussion book. Good choice, guys !


message 41: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!



I'm not sure if i'm playing devil's advocate or if i have come to this conclusion, however, i'm not sure i blame Jesse for killing his uncle. The truth of the matter is Uncle Clay was going to get away with killing his brother. The gun, for all intents & purposes was gone, particularly since there was nothing else to go on to indicate a murder occurred.

There was going to be no justice for his dad. Once Clay confessed to ther "murder" of Dwayne, it appeared that even the mother had no qualms about her son killing her lover.

Add to all this the fact the accuser is a teenager who saw his father's head shot, it seems pretty clear to me that no one was going to believe him. Remember the mother believed Clay when the sheriff confronted him. (However, she may have been more persuasive if she told the sheriff about Dwayne, however, there is no evidence at all for that death, because D did what Clay told him.)

While i don't think it is right, i think i can, in fact, justify it on some level. And i am fine with Jesse then living a decent life. He clearly hasn't forgotten but has lived with this knowledge for a decade. Just my musings of the moment.

deborah


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8655 comments SPOILERS TO ENTIRE BOOK BELOW!!!



SPOILERS BELOW!!!!
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If Jesse felt the need to "confess" by writing what happened for his brother to read, the murder was something that has been weighing on his conscience. A guilty conscience can sometimes be worse than admitting something and taking the punishment. If that is so, than even though his life may have seemed good, he wasn't really content and happy.

So in the end Clay ruined his life, too. And now the brother will have to live with this, too. Either he will have to keep this secret or watch his brother go to jail.

So I don't think Jesse did the right thing. At one point in the book, it quoted the bible, "avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord ..."


Donna in Southern Maryland (Cedarville922) | 212 comments Deborah said: Remember the mother believed Clay when the sheriff confronted him. (However, she may have been more persuasive if she told the sheriff about Dwayne, however, there is no evidence at all for that death, because D did what Clay told him.)

You all don't have as suspicious a mind as I do! Could it be possible that Mom and Clay had been sleeping together all along........remember the Dad sitting on the porch crying in the night?.......and they planned the murder together? Clay didn't impress me as having gumption enough to plan and do it all by himself. (His brother was always bailing him out.) But he always had the hots for Mom. So what if she told him that she was tired of struggling with the restaurant, etc. and wondered how much better it would be for both of them if Dad was gone?

Muse on that, Deb! :o)

Donna


message 44: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Donna,
I definitely have as suspicious a mind as you do. LOL
And yes, I was thinking that Mom and Clay had been sleeping together right along. And I did think that there was evidence that Dad might have committed suicide. Not sure!!

And I agree with Alias' post. I don't believe in vigilante justice.

Barbara


message 45: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK!!!


YES, EVERY SINGLE PAGE!!!!



Donna in Southern Maryland wrote: "remember the Dad sitting on the porch crying in the night?.......and they planned the murder together? Clay didn't impress me as having gumption enough to plan and do it all by himself. (His brother was always bailing him out.)..."

Good points, all. I found it curious that Jesse never seems to let this thought cross his mind, either. Is this an unwillingness to admit it, leaving them virtual orphans?

Does anyone here feel that Jesse confessing to his brother is a rather easy out? Is Magnus likely to tell anyone? I think not. So his confession, imo, really tends to relieve Jesse but also pull his brother into it.

I see i'm alone in my vigilantism. Probably a good thing, too. :-)

deb


message 46: by kate/Edukate12 (new)

kate/Edukate12 | 183 comments I'm still reading, but I just sat here and read all of your posts. Normally I won't read spoilers, but I'm finding the book predictable, so I didnt' mind. I'm going to try to get into it more today so i can start commenting. On the other hand, I'm having my eyes dilated, so who knows.

kate


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) SPOILERS

I finally finished last night and just read all your comments. My first impression of the book is that it is a page-turner, but not as strong as I hoped. For me, Enger's strength lies in creating the cold and bleak Minnesota atmosphere, more than in creating fully realized and believable characters.

Jesse is interesting, a young man driven to kill by visions of his father demanding justice. Had he been, say, a Viking several hundred years ago, his plotting and action of killing his uncle would have been justified, but not so now. I suppose the consequence of this is that he is an orphan raising a younger brother, he loses the girl he loves, and he lives with visions of his dead father. Didn't he seem just too calculating and old for his years? Somehow I would have believed an impulsive shooting more than this convoluted plot.

As for whether the father's ghost is real, I have the same reaction I had to the ghosting occurrences in The Little Stranger (the book that slowed down my finished this novel). In a book as realistic as this, I think the ghost is a manifestation of Jesse's subconscious mind. I think on some level Jesse knew that his mother was unfaithful, that his uncle Clay betrayed his father, that justice in his small town would be casual at best. His anguish took shape in the form of his father's apparition.

I think that Clay was a villain who killed both Jesse's father and poor simple Dwayne, that the mother was unfaithful, and that small town police are not always the most diligent. Clay probably would have gotten away with murder. But I was disappointed that Jesse, who is neither Hamlet nor a Wild West vigilante, was assumed the role avenging angel.

But that's Hamlet for you.


message 48: by Bobbie57 (new)

Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 970 comments Sherry, loved your comments.

Barbara


message 49: by madrano (new)

madrano | 945 comments SPOILERS BELOW!!!

SPOILERS!!

SPOILERS!



Sherry (sethurner) wrote: "I finally finished last night and just read all your comments. My first impression of the book is that it is a page-turner, but not as strong as I hoped. For me, Enger's strength lies in creating the cold and bleak Minnesota atmosphere, more than in creating fully realized and believable characters...."

I think the above comments are on target, not as strong as i hoped. Sherry, i was most interested in what you & others who live in the north, north would think of the descriptions of the cold & bleak winter. I fear i expected more, so was even disappointed in that. Perhaps it's that i wanted to feel my own memories, so i was bound to be disappointed.


Sherry (sethurner) wrote: "In a book as realistic as this, I think the ghost is a manifestation of Jesse's subconscious mind."

Excellent point. Which makes my support of vigilante justice in a worse light than it already was! The reason i write that is because i now believe that Jesse knew of the issues (mom unfaithful with Clay), which now ate away at him upon his father's death. To ease his own guilt regarding his dad's suicide, he conjures up the ghost & avenging desires.

What then to make of his subsequent "confession", to wit, the book? I'm not sure. Does he now realize what he's done? Hmm. I'll need to think on this a bit.

Thanks for sharing. I'm interested in hearing what others who are still reading the book think. There's much to ponder.

deborah


message 50: by Mad Dog (new)

Mad Dog | 116 comments I am close to halfway through it. I am enjoying it 'OK'. I am not a big fan of Hamlet (what I can remember from reading it a long time ago), so that might be hampering my enjoyment. The whole 'uncle kills the father and son gets revenge thing' doesn't hit that close to home. So I am enjoying it mostly as a mystery and a page turner. It is interesting that the author uses first-person narration with the narrator retelling the events, as that takes some of the drama out of the book (i.e. limits the endings). But it does make things more 'personal'. It challenges the author to delve deeply into 'craziness'. My enjoyment took a big dip on the event that happened immediately after Clay's Christmas visit (when Clay left the house). I don't know why that bothered me so much, with the already implausible 'goings on'. But that didn't make much sense to me. I just don't think the narrator is crazy enough yet and the event just seemed to be glossed over. Maybe I'll get over it as I read on.


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