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Mosquitoes
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Mosquitoes Discussion

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message 1: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (last edited Nov 02, 2012 10:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
The Second Annual Faulk-November has arrived!

This time 'round, we're discussing Faulkner's second novel, Mosquitoes, about a group of wealthy New Orleans artists and socialites buzzing around a cruise boat annoying one another. Faulkner does the Jazz Age...he was still finding his voice, as you'll see, but there are some interesting things in there. No one's going to mistake this for one of Faulkner's best, but my first question will be whether we think this one is more or less successful than Soldiers' Pay?


message 2: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Is my copy the only one with an 'e' in the title? O_O


message 3: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I bought Mojitos by mistake. It's a bartender's guide. Pretty good.


message 4: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Matt wrote: "Is my copy the only one with an 'e' in the title? O_O"

For real? I'm wondering now whether your copy either is a misprint or an uncorrected manuscript (meaning it'd include all of Faulkner's (or Falkner's) original spellings). I know that the first printing had it with the 'e'.


message 5: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
I bought the copy of the edition that's our club's selection (orange background). There was a newer edition there, but I went the cheap route.


message 6: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Huh. Must be an early misprint that was later corrected. I've got the same orange Liveright edition (which might be the only one in print right now), but it definitely has the 'e'.

And that concludes this edition of Typography in Early Faulkner. Join us next week when we discuss the font size in an old copy of New Orleans Sketches...you won't want to miss it!


message 7: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert (Vernson) | 592 comments Hmm, for a moment I thought this was the content of Mosquito(e)s


:)


message 8: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Matt wrote: "Is my copy the only one with an 'e' in the title? O_O"

This was a joke. I was being a smart-ass because Jason referred to the book as "Mosquitos" in the show notes and you spelled it the same in the thread name (I corrected it when I pinned the topic so it would be at the top) and in the comment "Faulkner's second novel, Mosquitos, about a group of..."

Not one of my better smart-ass, pednatic, jerk-face jokes. :)


message 9: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Oh, ha...whoops! Blame it on my lack of sleep.


message 10: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "Oh, ha...whoops! Blame it on my lack of sleep."

I already had, brother...I already had.


message 11: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I will henceforth refer to every book as "that book about the thing" in order to avoid spelling errors.


message 12: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "I will henceforth refer to every book as "that book about the thing" in order to avoid spelling errors."

Sure. That or, you know, copy and paste. We're flexible here at BBOYSCORP.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments I'm'a pass on this one:
I have a daunting to-read pile right now;
My library has lost its only copy of this title;
If I like Mosquitoes as little as I liked Soldiers' Pay, I risk banishment. :P

I'll try to keep y'all posted on what else I'm digging. And FWIW, I'm psyched to read the next several titles on the BBoys reading list, so this should be my only skip month for quite some time.


Devin Bruce (DoctorTeeth) | 77 comments I just put a Faulkner collection on hold at the library; it has Mosquitoes, Soldier's Pay, Flags in the Dust, and The Sound and The Fury. So maybe if I like Mosquitoes enough I can try for another one.

(Confession: this will be my first Faulkner. Please don't cast me out.)


message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Doctorteeth wrote: "I just put a Faulkner collection on hold at the library; it has Mosquitoes, Soldier's Pay, Flags in the Dust, and The Sound and The Fury."

Yep, that's the edition my library can't find.


Doctorteeth wrote: "(Confession: this will be my first Faulkner. Please don't cast me out.) "

I had to make the same confession before we did Soldiers' Pay, Devin. Don't freak, it's cool.


message 16: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
It's actually a little unfortunate that it's your first Faulkner. It's okay, it's fine, but it's not genius like a lot of the later stuff. Reading Mosquitoes or Soldiers' Pay first is kinda like watching Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn first.


message 17: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
If I could choose any film director living or dead to adapt this book, it'd be Robert Altman. I see a lot of Altman in this book, in the rhythms and storytelling. Short pieces of conversation punctuated with mild, wry punchlines, a shifting focus amidst a large cast of characters. It's a little better told than Soldiers' Pay so far, but I don't know that the characters are half as interesting to me (of course, they're all meant to be slight and annoying, and Faulkner succeeds in this admirably in the first half of the book at least).


message 18: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Nov 15, 2012 09:55PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Does this boat get blown up at any point? With a loss of all hands? (and feet, and heads, and...) Go ahead, I don't mind spoilers. *He slaps viciously at his ankle*


message 19: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "It's actually a little unfortunate that it's your first Faulkner."

It's very unfortunate. He's never going to read any Faulkner again. :(


message 20: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Heh...not all Faulkner is great Faulkner. This is all just a part of the journey. There are glimpses, but he's obviously still searching for his voice, and even a lot of the experimentation is a bit derivative.

I can't stress enough for new readers that this book is not representative of the guy's typical stuff. All that being said, I began enjoying the book about halfway through, around the time we started to get more than just dry wit and varied arguments and observations about art. Interesting as it is to see a master's views on the subject, these notes were written before Faulkner had achieved said level of mastery (and, as we've said, there isn't much evidence of mastery in Mosquitoes). Had this book been written towards the end of Faulkner's career instead of the beginning, I might be paying a little more attention...as is, it rings a bit like an 18-year-old novelist waxing philosophic on the meaning of life.

We talked a little on the last podcast about a key for characters and who they represent. I don't know that there's a 1-1 ratio for all of these people, but Fairchild is definitely a satirical portrait of Sherwood Anderson. I frankly don't know that he comes off worse than anyone else in the story, but Anderson was apparently so offended by this portrayal that it caused a falling out between the two writers.

I think a lot of the satire regarding these artists isn't necessarily of their views on art, which are always at least mildly interesting (if typically pompous), but of the fact that they spend all their time talking about art instead of making it. To this end, I think Faulkner makes a mistake by having the story all take place within about 4 days (tracked down to the hour). He might have gotten his point across a little better spacing things over, say, a few months...4 days doesn't seem like an absurd amount of time to talk craft instead of practicing it, especially in a vacation setting like a party boat.


message 21: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
If Mrs. Maurier represents a real person, she must have been really pissed.


message 22: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Dave, gay or nay: Mr. Talliaferro.


message 23: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
I can see how you might think it towards the beginning, but I think he's just really awkward around women. He definitely tries to get some on the boat party, but he always strikes out. Probably because he's fake as all get out.

Eva Wiseman, on the other hand, is gay and a half.


message 24: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
...and one of the few characters I can stand so far.


message 25: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Eva lost me when she started going off on the "right" composers to like. I just thought that was beyond pompous. Her brother Julius ("the Semitic Man") is a lot more palatable, even if (or maybe because) he doesn't seem to have much use for art.

I gotta admit, though, that my favorite character by a mile is Jenny. Sure, she's a giant dope, but she's got some of the funniest lines, and it kills me to see so many professed intellectuals chasing her tail. She's played in my head by Betty Hutton.

On a side note, it's been interesting to read this alongside Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, which is pretty much about the perpetually stunted maturity of writers, artists, and professional academics. Chabon's and Faulkner's portayals of the art scene seem to go fairly hand in hand.


message 26: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Nov 17, 2012 01:00PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I haven't gotten that far.

My favorite character thus far, actually, is probably Fairchild. He's not without his faults, but I'm partial to people who make up wild stories for fun, or at the expense of pompous idiots (Ayers.)


message 27: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "I can see how you might think it towards the beginning, but I think he's just really awkward around women. He definitely tries to get some on the boat party, but he always strikes out."

I'm convinced he's closeted. If he only realized he wasn't heterosexual, he wouldn't have such a tough time picking up girls.


message 28: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "I'm convinced he's closeted. If he only realized he wasn't heterosexual, he wouldn't have such a tough time picking up girls."

I have the opposite impression. I think he puts on a fey show as part of his Eurotrash act because he thinks it'll help him get girls and/or command respect among the art crowd.

It's probably worth looking at, though, who is attracted to whom in the book. The two main objects of lust in the novel are Jenny--the quintessential girly girl--and Pat Robyn--the androgynous tomboy beauty. Eva, for instance, against stereotype shows an attraction for Jenny, whereas the semi-rugged David is all but entranced by Pat. Talliaferro treats anything in a skirt as a conquest and always strikes out, but I can see him as bouncing back and forth (maybe tellingly) between these two opposite poles.


message 29: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I'm having a tough time getting through this book precisely because it is so much about who's attracted to who, in the way schoolyard kids might talk about it if they were jaded chain smokers. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly who turns who on because it feels like a free for all, except for a few pour, neglected souls on the fringes (Frost, Jameson.)


message 30: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
It's definitely one of those books where Faulkner maybe does his job too well, considering what he's trying to convey is how immature and unlikeable these people are.

But, come on... a tough time getting through it? Don't make me cut you from the team, Farrell.


message 31: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Nov 18, 2012 01:06PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Cut me from what team? And since when do you call me Farrell?

Yes, I'm having a tough time getting through it. There's only so many pages of "yes, I'm a virgin; are you a virgin?" talk I can handle at a time.


message 32: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
One page?

KINDLE SEARCH SLAMMMMM


message 33: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "One page?

KINDLE SEARCH SLAMMMMM"


It was about six Nook pages, and that entire conversation was like a vicegrip on my balls.


message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments And this is why I'm reading other things this month.


message 35: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Jesus God.

Nerds.


message 36: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments :P


message 37: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Probably a good idea to talk about Nausikaa as the name of the ship.

Nausicaa represents unfulfilled love and temptation in The Odyssey. She's the biggest missed connection in the epic, and the closest Odysseus gets to loving a woman other than his wife. When stranded on the island of Scheria, Nausicaa helps Odysseus where no others will, and they share a mutual attraction that goes unquenched--practically unspoken, at least between the two--even after Nausicaa is offered to Odysseus as a wife (he is, of course, already married, and so refuses). As temptations go, it's all pretty innocent and sweet.

The use in Mosquitoes is, therefore, humorously ironic. All of the trysts attempted throughout the novel end up failing in some way or another (though none of these is particularly sweet or innocent). Most of these characters more resemble lovesick adolescents variously annoying and kissing after each other than the sort of chaste, noble, and/or wise lovers represented in The Odyssey.

Another possible sly wink is that Nausicaa translates to mean "burner of ships." Only the dippy Mrs. Maurier would name her boat such a thing, yeah?


message 38: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Nov 20, 2012 06:23PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Once I discovered the "burner of ships" meaning a few days ago, I settled on that as Faulkner's meaning...although, now that you bring up the unrequited love aspect, that makes sense too, since this is a boat trip that basically doesn't go anywhere.

Speaking of Mrs. Maurier, I still think she's insipid and a joke, but I'm finding myself feeling a bit sorry for her. At least her self-involvement is well meaning, which can't be said for most of her passengers.

EDIT: And then Gordon "drowned," and she viewed it purely as the fates conspiring to inconvenience her once again, so never mind.

Really, Jenny? Ayers? Could you passively, unreluctantly jump off the side of the boat, please? (the side that isn't aground on a sand bar)

And the niece took the poor steward on a slow trek to failure and disappointment...

And Fairchild turns out to be a raving sexist...

The less said about Frost and Julius and their arrogant intellectualism the better...

Yep, speaking of ships, Eva is my life preserver. Please don't let me d(r)own.


message 39: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Last line of the book made me honk. I'd forgotten it. :)

I dunno, I thought the book was funny, anyway. I already mentioned Altman, but I'd also throw in something like Confederacy of Dunces or even Curb Your Enthusiasm in terms of a comparable tone. A funny satire of a generally despicable people and lifestyle. I wouldn't personally want to be on the Nausikaa for 5 minutes, but to read about from a distance and through the muffled, tongue-in-cheek verbiage of a young Faulkner is a different story.

Of course, this is some of my favorite type of comedy. I got at least one little chuckle out of pretty much every scene. Faulkner isn't necessarily known for being funny, but I think he had a great sense of humor--probably why I dig his stuff so much.


message 40: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Yeah, it's pretty funny. Between my moans and sobs, I've chuckled quite a bit. Much like Soldier's Pay, it's a lively, entertaining read despite (what I perceive as) its flaws.

And I may start warning agitated people that they're jibbing.


Devin Bruce (DoctorTeeth) | 77 comments I'm reeling back and forth a bit: parts of it are very evocative and parts of it seem heavy handed at best and...let's just say awkward at worst. I'm sticking in to the end, but it ain't easy.

And as for a director for the film, Altman's a good choice, but I keep thinking John Huston every for pages or so.


message 42: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
We'll have to talk about whether or not this book needed an epilogue at all, and what the point of it is. So far, it seems mostly a retread of what's come before. Maybe someone will be able to tell me what it has added.


message 43: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "We'll have to talk about whether or not this book needed an epilogue at all, and what the point of it is. So far, it seems mostly a retread of what's come before. Maybe someone will be able to te..."

The epilogue is probably the book's biggest (of several) flaw(s). It seems to have been added mostly for structural soundness; there was a prologue/prelude section, so must there be an epilogue. It does give us an opportunity to see the way these characters behave on land, apart from the cruise...because their behaviors are mostly the same as on the boat, we can't blame them on the situation (or the grapefruit), we have to acknowledge that these people always behave that badly.

Also, interestingly, though they all annoy each other to various degrees, some of the cliques and "relationships" formed on the boat carry over to land. I know I'd have wanted to get as far away from everyone else on the boat as quickly as possible the second we docked, but these characters, like drunks who stayed up late one night "bonding" and carrying over their promises that "we gotta hang out some time maaaannnn" into reality, try to keep the party going even with their benefactress Mrs. Maurier. Faulkner, perhaps making the point that these characters are far too shallow to have undergone a traditional character arc, thereby lets us know that the events of the novel have affected these people in at least some subtle ways.


message 44: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Nov 24, 2012 09:58AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Who do you have in mind?

If I remember correctly, before the boat trip Fairchild and Julius were already friends, Mark Frost and Miss Jameson were already settling for each others' company, Peter and Jenny were a pair, and Gordon and Talliaferro were already acquainted with Fairchild and each other (although perhaps Talliaferro had not yet begun to ask Fairchild for wooing advice.)

Those who didn't know each other previously (like Talliferro and Jenny, or David and anybody, or Pete and anybody, etc.) don't encounter each other afterwards, either. I do have six pages to go.

And, yeah, that damn grapefruit. I would have been cranky as fuck if all I had to eat for four days was grapefruit. Did others get the impression that was all there was in the way of food onboard? Sometimes it seems as if that wasn't the case (references to dirty plates, etc.) but no other food is ever mentioned.


message 45: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (last edited Nov 24, 2012 11:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Talliaferro and Jenny meet up afterwards. Gordon's hanging with Fairchild and Julius at the end, where he's mostly a loner through the first part of the book. And a lot of the established relationships become more open, less polite, particularly as regards Talliaferro and the raging bender at the end. Not character growth, necessarily--the opposite, if anything--but I think we're seeing a different, cruder side of some of these characters by the end than we did at the start.

As arcs go, nothing very complex, though. We haven't been taken on a journey with these characters. I don't think Faulkner was attempting plot here so much as taking a funny snapshot of a time, place, and lifestyle.

As far as the grapefruit, mention is made towards the start that they have a LOT of the stuff on board, and that the predictably cheap Mrs. Maurier doesn't want any of it to go to waste. I don't think it was ALL anyone was fed, but I do think it was (ahem) creatively inserted somehow into nearly every dish.


message 46: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
If this episode is not subtitled 'Gabriel's Pants,' I'm quitting the show.


message 47: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Gabriel's Pants, Matt, of course it will. Haul in your sheet. You're jibbing.


message 48: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Ay! Totally forgot to talk about the boat's name; glad you guys covered it here.


message 49: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Also, Dave was curious about whether or not any of these characters appeared in Faulkner's earlier "New Orleans Sketches." I forgot to mention that the protagonist of his 1925 short story "Don Giovanni" is an early version of Ernest Talliefero (both are young widowers who are wholesale buyers of women's undergarments).


message 50: by Dave, Evolution of the Arm (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dave Alluisi (DaveAlluisi) | 1047 comments Mod
Ha! Rad. Definitely going to pick this one up now. Hopefully after the holidays. I'll report back.


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