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The Fields
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Previous Monthly Reads > September Monthly Read 2013: The Fields

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the discussion thread for our September monthly read, The Fields by Kevin Maher.

I look forward to reading this book and reading all of your thoughts and opinions of it.

Declan. :)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments It's only in hardcover in the US but there is a kindle edition as well as Kobo (can buy it through your local indie bookstore). I found a used copy for for about the same price as the e-book, I will be getting the physical book from New Jersey:)

message 3: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments This looks like it will be a good read (no pun intended). I'll see if I can find it online, second-hand or otherwise.

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I think my LIBS should be able to do me proud, this time. Fingers crossed. :)

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Having read quite a lot of Goodreads reviews, I can tell you that the reviewers often aren't quite as capable as they'd like to think they are.

I'm quite looking forward to this. I won't have the book until next week, so I'll be a little behind. With luck I'll be able to catch up pretty quickly.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm sure we'll all do our best to give you a fair and accurate impression of the book.

On advantage of asking someone directly what they think, as opposed to just reading their reviews, is they don't feel the need to dress up their response. To many people try too hard to be witty and entertaining when they write reviews. Which is fine, if you're up to it.

message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 01, 2013 03:06PM) (new)

You'll laugh while dealing with the public!!?? So you're in agreement with McLW then? Lol!

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I look forward to seeing what a culchie from the wild west makes of it. Lol!

I didn't think I'd be getting into good, auld, Irish parochial strife on GR. And it's been a while since someone called me a jackeen.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I know, but it's a normal reflex to being called a jackeen. Can't be helped, lo1!

Out of interest, my brother's response was always "there are only two counties in Ireland: Dublin and the country."

Strangely enough, he didn't have many friends from outside the county limits.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I have friends all over the country, but I met the vast majority of those while they worked in Dublin during the boom times. We'd banter all the time with that sort of stuff.

I quite enjoy it, to be honest. It would certainly be backward, though, to mean it.

message 11: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Braine (trontsephore) I often don't join in if I can't get the audiobook, but started the Kindle version of this last night at midnight. Didn't get too far before I conked out! But really enjoyed the opening pages. So, off to a good start.

Will probably take me ages to get through it though. Find it impossible to get time to actually read stuff! (sorry I'm like a broken record with this stuff).

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

John wrote: "I often don't join in if I can't get the audiobook, but started the Kindle version of this last night at midnight. Didn't get too far before I conked out! But really enjoyed the opening pages. So, ..."

It'll be good to have you back in a discussion, John, whenever you can find the time. I won't even be starting this until the weekend at the earliest.

message 13: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 10, 2013 07:54AM) (new)

I started it last night. It's still early days, but so far it hasn't won me over. The language and characters feel off, and the humour feels belaboured and not worth the time spent setting it up.

I'm fifty pages in and I still can't decide if Maher is trying to give us true-to-life portrayal of Dublin or a Ross-O'Carroll-kelly-esque satire of Dublin life. I still haven't decided which tier of Dublin's society he's writing about. Girls' Hockey teams would start at least as high as middle class as would having an Aer lingus pilot as a neighbour, but things like open back gardens and having a single mother as a neighbour whose ex worked in fish processing are firmly working class. And as for the the mothers' chin-wag...

Hopefully once we've gotten to the meat of the story I'll feel better about it.

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From my point of view it needs a sudden change. So far it just feels wrong. It's like reading a school essay by a child whose trying to imagine life in another country without ever having been there. I'm surprised that Maher is from Dublin.

At the moment I can't see it getting more than a 2* rating from me.

message 15: by I-like-to-read (new)

I-like-to-read (akakate) I haven't brought this book yet, but from Declan's comments I don't think I'll bother.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Now I feel terrible, Kate. If it does get better once its tone changes, I'll feel like of short-changed you.

message 17: by I-like-to-read (new)

I-like-to-read (akakate) Don't feel bad you've just saved me €11.99 :-)

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Eddie Hobbs, eat your heart out. Lol!

I've almost halfway through the book, and does improve a little in part two. I think dropping the iffy teen speak helps.

message 19: by Sara (last edited Sep 12, 2013 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
I am not holding out high hopes for this one. I'm on page 30 and I think the author has used the word "wank" or otherwise refereed to masturbation 30 times already. Also a book told from the POV of a teenage boy is just not that interesting to me. Perhaps it gets better when he starts to have "real troubles?"

message 20: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments I managed to get a copy of this from the library today, so that's good--no money spent! It seems like it's getting a lukewarm reception, so that makes me even more glad I was able to get a library copy. No guilt if I don't finish it :)

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

It's kind of sad and pathetic that the mere mention of teenage boys seem to almost necessitate the mention of masturbation. It's almost as though teenage boys have been stripped of sort of real depth. That (the constant mention of masturbation) bothered me also, Sara. It just wasn't very high on the list.

@Cathleen. Would you not feel guilty of robbing us of your insights?

message 22: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Declan wrote: "It's kind of sad and pathetic that the mere mention of teenage boys seem to almost necessitate the mention of masturbation. It's almost as though teenage boys have been stripped of sort of real dep..."

Ha Ha. Well, now that you put it that way....:)

message 23: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Braine (trontsephore) Fwiw I'm still enjoying it, with caveats, but I haven't got very far yet.

Caveats: A coming of age books like this based on our own youth... well every single one of us could write this couldn't we? That's not to say I don't enjoy "coming of age books based on our own youth" I really enjoyed David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, and others like it. Just because it's very easy to write doesn't make it any less enjoyable to read.

Declan surprised that you think he writes like someone who's not from Dublin, I'm finding it very reminiscent so far. Just one very small thing jarred with me... We always went 'knacker drinking' but actually calling people knackers is something that came much later (not that I ever join in with calling people that,bit of a bugbear actually).

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I could quite easily forget it's set in Dublin, apart from the occasional 'Jaysus' or 'feck,' it doesn't feel like Dublin at all. I think Maher is aware of this which is why he goes to lengths to explain everything specific to Ireland or Dublin. It's like the clichéd view of the Eiffel tower, visible from every hotel window in paris. It doesn't let you forget where it's set.

The iffy teen-speak started up again. It really gets on my nerves.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

@Jamielynn. I know I've mentioned it before, but I really like the sound of your dad. He sounds like a great man.

I saw the amount of of Unionist/Loyalist hard-liners were devout Christians during the Causeway fiasco. Abortion is an issue I'd usually give a wide berth, but I would be interested to know what choice they'd make if they were pushed to make it: Abortion or Union?

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Gotta say, I really respect Ford for keeping to his convictions. And that's why they'll lose, Allan: Right trumps wrong. It may take a while, but eventually people get tired of hatred. Hate takes effort and gains nothing in return.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Declan wrote: "@Jamielynn. I know I've mentioned it before, but I really like the sound of your dad. He sounds like a great man.

I saw the amount of of Unionist/Loyalist hard-liners were devout Christians during..."

Thank you Declan he really was.

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "There's plenty of issues other than abortion are the same in NI, Declan-it's completely hypocritical but something I'm well used to. And long as people vote along sectarian lines, it's something th..."

Living now in the "South", for the first time in my adult life I am surrounded by many evangelical Christians. I have learned, however, not to make assumptions. Our former department secretary who was a Pentacostal Christian (Assemblies of God) did not believe the government should legislate abortion. She was, of course, against abortion but believed it was between the woman and God. My own mother shifted her views later in life towards not opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest.
Interesting as the nun in this book talks about the moment of conception being "a baby". This is another idea that I am not 100% sure is chronologically accurate, though it may be. The debate that life begins at conception has been dominant lately in the US.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

At least so far, LMM. I get the impression that it was written to be controversial. There's quite a lot about abortion, divorce, gay rights and clerical paedophilia without ever going into any real depth; just an acknowledgement that the issues were controversial or divisive.

message 30: by Sara (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
Now that I'm a little further (I just finished the first part), I've started to enjoy it a bit more. I get the impression that sometimes Maher is trying too hard to bring atmosphere to the book with the swearing and little details about Dublin. When he relaxes and lets his characters tell their own story, the book gets better. The early party scene at the Donohues strikes me as one that works. Listening to it with Irish music playing on Pandora (Internet radio) also helps. I think I will finish the book either today or tomorrow. Declan is their a spoiler thread open yet?

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

@Sarah. I'll open a spoiler thread shortly, once I've cracked my laptop open.

I see glimpses of good writing here and there, but it's not long until it's totally blown, for me.

Mr. Owl Finished this last week - had downloaded it to the Kindle and started reading without knowing anything about the book apart from the fact that the author was Irish.

I won't give any spoilers but, for me, this was not an enjoyable book to read for several reasons.

For one thing, the writing style has been commented on and does tend to grate.

Will post more when spoiler thread is opened.

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

I meant to open a spoiler thread last night, Sean. I'll do that shortly.

message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 16, 2013 10:23AM) (new)

For anyone ready to get stuck in, the spoiler thread is now open.

I'll be joining in at some stage tomorrow, myself.

This comment has been edited to fix the link to the spoiler thread.

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Declan- you'll probably hear from more than me :) but the link is wonky.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Fixed it, Barbara. I couldn't see what was wrong with the link so I just re-entered the whole thing.

Susan | 4707 comments I love the comment thread. John, for heaven's sake, what is knacker drinking and bugbear? I learned the word wanker when I was in Ireland and have used it several times. Luckily, no one knew what it meant. :)

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Knacker drinking is drinking outdoors. Not in the sense if organising a bbq or picnic, though. It's called that because cheap and nasty. Knacker is term that that describes someone with poor standards of hygiene and behaviour.

*Knacker can be used as a derogatory term for Travellers (Irish gypsies).

In that context it's incredibly offensive and taboo.

Susan | 4707 comments So I could call the stumble bums who could through town knackers? They certainly have poor hygiene and sleep in the park drinking out of paper bags. In so sense would I confuse them with Travellers. I think it would be great to have a term for these lowlifes.

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

You could call someone who picks their nose or farts in public or belches loudly and shamelessly a knacker. Calling a homeless person a knacker seems unfair. I've never heard it done. I've been called a knacker by posh kids from D4 (postal code) just for being from the Liberties.

Typing all if this out, I'm realising that it's use is surprisingly complicated.

If you take anything away from this it should be that it's acceptible among friebds but completely taboo to refer to Travellers

message 41: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Braine (trontsephore) Declan wrote: "Typing all if this out, I'm realising that it's use is surprisingly complicated."

Indeed. When I was growing up, and the time this book seems to be set in, a Knacker was a term for a traveller, which may or may not be derogatory. The origin of the word is someone who traded in dead horses.

In the last decade Knacker and Scumbag have been used by (in my mind) snobs, but in my experience used by about 95% of people to describe uneducated working class people.

If you tackle them on it, they will say that a knacker/scumbag is someone who is genuinely a scumbag: violent, agressive trouble makers. But that's more often than not a veneer for utter snobiness in my experience.

More here: :)

message 42: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Braine (trontsephore) Susan wrote: "and bugbear? "

I honestly thought that one was in common parlance but can't find an online definition, bizarre!

Bugbear is just... one of those things that really gets on your nerves but doesn't necessarily bug everyone else.

message 43: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Braine (trontsephore) Going back to 'knacker drinking', yeah it mostly refers to people drinking in fields or woods by people too young to drink in pubs or at home... I guess it refers to people drinking outdoors who don't HAVE a home.

Susan | 4707 comments Declan, there is a big difference between a truly homeless person and someone who chooses to travel around from marijuana grow to marijuana grow. When I was in Sacramento, we used to call them river livers because they live by one of the two rivers.
I have empathy for those who are homeless but not for those who make it a life style choice.

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

That never occurred to me Susan. We don't really have that kind of migrant homeless people in Ireland. At least not in any numbers that would bring them to people's attention.

Susan | 4707 comments You're lucky. We are moving into harvest season so we are seeing more and more of them.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Are the very disruptive, Susan?

message 48: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 19, 2013 06:51AM) (new)

My dad actually talked to the bums in my town. He knew their names. He used to tell me he saw everyone as equals from prince to pauper. He would hand them money and ask them to please use it for food. He didn't judge whether they bought booze or not. I keep bringing him up! LOL! He worked downtown and that was where they were. If I went to downtown shops with him he'd say, "This I Mel," or whichever one we saw walking by. They would say hello and not chat long. If they were dangerous I know dad would not have done that. He knew them so trust me. It was safe. In fact he would point out the more dangerous guys and tell me to stay clear. I didn't run up to the ones dad knew and talk to them on my own either. So I was safe.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

He probably had a soft spot for those men because of the amount of men who would have been living homeless in Ireland at the time. Things have gotten much better but you'll always see them in town.

There's another great thing you've told me about your da.

Susan | 4707 comments Well, they are not looking for work and they're not our local alcoholics. They are kids 25-35 with backpacks and usually a dog in the group. They are looking for the marijuana. They set up in the day at the park and get high all day long. They sometimes play a guitar. One that I was fond of did some juggling. I sometimes take small bags of dog food with me when I am walking the dog to give to people. I hate the idea that they may be suffering. As for the grownups, I feel it's their choice. There's a lot of money to make trimming bud and they don't even do that.
As for our local homeless, our community runs a free kitchen daily that many people participate in. On Saturdays when the soup kitchen is closed, different organizations rotate making lunch and handing them out at the park.

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