Mic Breaks Only discussion

The Casual Vacancy
This topic is about The Casual Vacancy
Posts Gone By > Vacancy: Endings: Part 1

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Andrew, Wound Up (new) - rated it 1 star

Andrew Finazzo (johnyqd) | 316 comments ***Open discussion of Part 1 below, no spoiler marks needed. Be sure you have read through Part 1 before reading! Note: if this is your first visit to this topic I recommend you read this post about discussion ideas, then skip down and post your initial response, then read and respond to other people's posts.***

At the very least check in here when you finish Part 1 and tell us if you are enjoying the book. I'll post specific discussion ideas below, along with some general topics we'll see repeated throughout the book.

Part 1 discussions:

1) Do you think you've found any Chekhov's Guns at this point in the story? Does Rowling use any other mechanics that you enjoy? Any that bother you?

2) This section dealt with a large group of people who are dealing with the death and funeral of an acquaintance. What do you feel is the strongest emotion conveyed by the aggregate cast?

HP) I'm going to have a bonus question for Harry Potter fans each posting. I believe the children in this book correlate in age to Harry Potter and friends in Half Blood Prince. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that. Which group of children do you find more realistic? More relateable?

General Discussions:

1) Share your favorite quote(s) from this section.

2) Do you have a favorite or most intriguing character at this point in the novel?

Location reminder

If you are returning to this topic after having continued past Part 1, here is a plot reminder:

Fats shares his recent exploit with Andrew while they sit in the Cubby Hole.


message 2: by Andrew, Wound Up (last edited Nov 27, 2012 06:57PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Andrew Finazzo (johnyqd) | 316 comments I can't say that I'm loving this book. I'm going to assume part 1 is just the setup for a grand conflagration of... something happening.

Chekhov's Guns: I have a fascination with this plot mechanic. I love when an author sneaks one past me, almost as much as I love recognizing them when they pop up. I will put some $$ down now on Fats EpiPen.

I have plenty of other plot guesses but I think that's inevitable based on how the book is written. The excessive overlapping of characters lives is reminiscent of a Cat's Cradle with each cross section having some inevitable and predictable conflict.

In terms of mechanics Rowling uses parenthesis in an odd retrospective way. Also, the perspective shifts could have been jarring but they are segued extremely well. Kudos to the editors.

Emotion: Selfishness. The characters are so self possessed that I find it unbelievable. I can't think of any acquaintance whose death would impact me so little that I would act as nonchalant as the characters in Vacancy. Even my bitterest enemies would garner more respect than this petty group has shown.

I do believe there are people in the world as crass as this cast is acting. Just not so many in such a confined environment.

HP Kids: The children in Vacancy tend to act like adults... or maybe I'm confused because the adults act so childishly? The times that they are supposed to be acting like "children" are often related to sex. Andrew's bizarre reaction to finding a tampon wrapper is a standout incident. This actual, physical evidence that a girl in his vicinity was having a period there and then was, to thirteen-year-old Andrew, akin to the sighting of a rare comet. Huh.

I think Harry and friends reactions tended to be more realistic overall even if the "sex" was toned down. I feel like Rowling is out to prove her ability to write an "adult" novel. Her flailing at grittiness rings hollow, at times it seems like she's just writing "boobs" repeatedly, or swear words, aimed towards the reader to prove a point.

I am having a hard time relating to any character in this novel so H.P. wins that by default.

Quotes: For an educated group of adults this is sure an uninformed bunch. Regarding aneurysms: He had looked up the term on the Internet, once he had found out how to spell it.

Dyslexia is also treated oddly with Sukhvinder musing about the word "hermaphrodite" She would not have been able to look it up: she was dyslexic. Dyslexia doesn't mean you can't read, just that you have difficulty reading. Note that she is able to read Facebook just fine.

Also, I know Rowling really wants to tell me about sex, sex, sex. Unfortunately reality tells me that a woman at a funeral being uncomfortably squished in her seat has a .00001 chance of using that as an opportunity to start fantasizing. Maybe less.

Character: Kay. I like Kay. I hope she stands up to Gavin or breaks up with him.

Overall: So far I've been frustrated. The story has been banal, the characters unlikeable and unrealistic, and the overlapping relationships too coincidental. I keep thinking I need to do some type of relationship diagram to keep it all organized. I hope the story is about to pick up. Off I go!

message 3: by Suzie (last edited Dec 20, 2012 03:33AM) (new)

Suzie | 28 comments I don't remember any guns, but that's because Barry cacked in the first chapter. It seems like she started with a shot fired, and the rest of the section will be about people metaphorically peeking out their curtains when the dust clears.

The strongest emotion I'm getting so far is glee that the poor dude is dead, which is a bit disgusting. I mean, there are very few people on this earth whose death would cause me a frisson of delight. Unless Barry is a Cheney-level bastard, I don't understand the giddiness over his death. We'll see if he turns out to be a louse, I guess.

As for the children, I find the Vacancy children much more realistic, but I like the Hogwarts kids infinitely better. So far, the juveniles in this book are nasty little delinquents, which I think is the more realistic. Aren't you glad I only have dogs?

message 4: by Michelle, Overrun By Pets (last edited Mar 08, 2013 07:28PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michelle Finazzo | 225 comments The primary Chekhov's gun that I noticed was mention of Andrew's EpiPen and dangerous nut allergy. I also made note of Terri Weedon's box of drug paraphernalia.

My note of complaint at this point is Rowling's insistence on inserting too many minor plot points that force the reader's attention. Will Obbo cause undue harm for our characters, will Stuart Wall impregnate Krystal Weedon, will Krystal subsequently disclose her pregnancy to Stuart's mother in a counseling session, will Robbie be removed from the Weedon household by Kay the social worker, will Tessa's "great secret of her life" be revealed, was Parminder in love with Barry, will Kay find that she deserves a better relationship than Gavin can provide? The questions go on and on like a daytime drama and it feels over manipulated to me. Should I care about any of these people and their small town politics?

So far it feels like the opposite of a John Grisham novel. Although Rowling started with a sudden and unexpected occurrence, like many Grisham plots, instead of quickly unravelling, solving the mystery and moving in the right direction, the plot seems to be diluting, fanning out into a complicated web and leaving the reader asking what is the actual mystery of this story, and worrying that maybe there isn't one.

The widely varying responses to Barry's death seemed believable to me - some people are quiet, some are in shock, some have emotional outbursts like Cubby, some people insist "he was my best friend" whether it was true or not. Rationality is not anyone's strong point during these moments and many of the reactions seemed probable. I do find certain character's actions unbelievable. The deceased's nemesis in all things attending his funeral for instance and the quickness with which one would actually hop to recruiting a replacement councillor.

I am torn on the Harry Potter vs. Casual Vacancy children. I have a soft spot for the Potter children and duly like them more, but they were over-simplified caricatures since the books were written for children. The Casual Vacancy juveniles/delinquents seem much more realistic in terms of their view on the world, relationships with their parents, participation in activities like drinking/sex, fantastical imaginations (Andrew I'm talking to you - Gaia - reeaaally?). The one problem I had with the juveniles in Casual Vacancy is their lack of emotion for peers who have lost their father. Most of the young characters in this book knew the Fairbrother children or Barry and the only kid that seems moderately upset by the actual loss of Barry is Krystal. Since Barry was a rowing coach and thus would have had contact with much of the school community the focus on adult reaction to his death and the lack of juvenile reaction was unbalanced. I find the lack of direct contact with the actual Fairbrother children up to this point in the story a notable deletion.

My favorite quotes: "Ruth Price's pity flowed most freely and sincerely for those whom she believed to be like herself."

"The naked bulb overhead lit the weak, goaty face with forensic cruelty."

"Nearly two years of gossamer-fine trust,laboriously spun between them, was stretching, on the point of tearing."

My favorite character vote is a tie for Niamh and Siobhan Fairbrother, who I know hardly anything about, but who picked Rihanna's "Umbrella" for the recessional music at their father's funeral.

Favorite words: garrulous, vetiver, empurpling, imitable, pedagogically, friable, transmutation, quixotic, obstreperous, coprolites.

back to top