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Group Reads Discussions 2010 > "War for the Oaks" Bull's Descriptive Writing (Streets, Music Playing) *Possible Spoilers*

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Cindy As I'm reading War for the Oaks, I notice that Emma Bull has a habit of describing in detail fairly unnecessary (In my opinion) items.

For example when they drive through a city, we're filled with street names, highway exits and such. Which did nothing for me. It didn't seem to add to the story, or help it.

The other part this came into was when she'd describe in detail when they sang a song such as "So and so drops down on bass while so and so picks up the melody... they stand back to back singing... waiting for the bridge".

What were your opinions of this? Did this seem to bother anyone else besides me?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

The street names and such didn't bother me at all. Barely noted them as I read through.

The descriptions of their performances were fine with me, since it showed how/what they were doing as they performed.


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments My big gripe (as I mentioned in the other thread) was/is the excessive descriptions of clothing. I think that can have a place in stories but ... gah. There's such a thing as too much.

I think the descriptions of the city fit and worked, because the idea of the city as a place that can be loved and have a soul of its own is important to this book. (And arguably to urban fantasy in general.)

She did lose me a little with some of the musical stuff, at times. (I've played a couple instruments, but never in a rock band.)


Coralie | 49 comments I am not very musical myself but my English husband has a vast collection of music. I noteiced that most of the music (other than their own compositions) was music that he has. I wondered if this indicated that the music they were playing was mostly British. If this is in fact so, the constant mention of the music and the street names could be a way of reinforcing the idea that the sidhe, although originating in Britain were now in America.


Cindy All I remember about the streets is Hennepin! or whatever it was.

I completely forgot about the clothing descriptions. Those were a bit excessive!


message 6: by Janny (last edited Oct 09, 2010 06:50PM) (new)

Janny (JannyWurts) | 151 comments Emma Bull happens to play in a rock band, called Cats Laughing. Her musical details will be authentic, whether you appreciate that depth, or not.


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments I thought Cats Laughing was no more ... but yeah, Bull was also 1/2 of the Flash Girls. I don't question the authenticity of those details, just whether or not they are always interesting.


Cindy I didn't say anything about them being authentic. I just found my mind wandering when I read those parts. It almost felt like too much detail of a song being sung. I guess if it was a movie or tv show i wouldn't have thought twice about them singing, but to describe the whole singing and when certain instruments came in, left, played softer/louder, and who sang. All just seemed too much for me.


colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ± (blackrose13) | 1207 comments I agree with you, Cindy. I also found my mind drifting in those parts, and didn't find them particularly necessary to the story.

Guess I'm just not deep enough. ;)


Janny (JannyWurts) | 151 comments Perhaps I looked on these bits differently - if a story is the gift of experience, offered to somebody else, I actually like to see things through the the eyes of an author I may not notice. It's been way too long since I read this title to recall whether the music scenes were relevant to the plot or not, I don't feel qualified to comment, now (except to observe in hindsight, that I don't recall those bits dragging, or if they did, that impression did not stick). I recall other things about that story much more clearly.

One does get the unique angle of noticing how the perception of a band playing is viewed by a working musician. That lends a unique perspective and insight.


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments I understand where you're coming from, Janny, but at the same time I'd note that several of us are re-reading this book. Different books hold up to that to different degrees for different people. I didn't find the description to be excessive or overly uninteresting the first time I read this book, but on this most recent re-read I did. (I think this was either the third or fourth time I read the book. Not sure.)


Alvin (AlvinR) | 2 comments Regarding the details with the music... I've never played in a band, but since the music was essential in Eddi's magic, it's hard to imagine *not* describing the details in the musical performances. At first I thought it was too much, but later in the book I developed an appreciation for it.


KristenR (lilliputian) | 125 comments It's interesting to me, though, that Emma Bull had never worked as as a professional musician when she wrote the book. I didn't think those parts dragged, but I am so not a musical person, and I couldn't "hear" what she was talking about.


message 14: by MB (new)

MB It has been a while since I've read this book, but I'm pretty sure it was set in Minneapolis. Maybe if the reader is familiar with that city, the street names and descriptions would have more value and resonance?

Since I'm not, other than recognizing Hennepin, that didn't do much for me.


Mariah (Caelesti) | 46 comments I thought her visual and musical descriptions were great- vivid and they added to the story without making it too drawn out. I agree though that she did describe clothing probably more than necessary.
I live in St Paul, so the places in Minneapolis were familiar to me- it was fun recognizing them.


Sandra  (Sleo) So far I'm liking her descriptive writing fine, especially musical ones. Clothing descriptions are fine to me, gives me visual image to hang on a character. Some of it's damn poetic.


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