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2017 Book Discussions > All the Living - General Discussion, No Spoilers (February 2017)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2590 comments Mod
This thread is for general discussion about the book and C.E. Morgan. People viewing this topic may not have read the whole book yet, so please try to avoid any "spoilers". Note that some of the interview resource links below may contain spoilers.

Morgan tells a story of All the Living's first draft being written in some 14 days and the editing taking her two semesters while in graduate school. In the past 7 years, she's won the 2009 National Book Foundation "5 under 35" award, a 2010 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a 2012 United States Artists Fellow award, the 2013 Whiting Award, the 2016 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for Fiction, and the 2016 Kirkus Prize.
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Other Books by C.E. Morgan:
- The Sport of Kings (novel)
Short Stories by C.E. Morgan (click links to read online for free):
- “Twins”
- “Over by Christmas”
- “My Friend, Nothing Is In Vain"
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All the Living Book Reviews:
- Kirkus
- SF Gate
- Christian Science Monitor
- The Guardian
- LA Times
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Interviews:
- “I Want Soul” - An Interview with C.E. Morgan (discusses All the Living and Sport of Kings)
- Brief New Yorker “20 Under 40” Q&A Piece


message 2: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments Marc, thanks for all those links! Some I'd read before but not all. I much enjoyed the interview titled "I Want Soul." I posted a link - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles... - to an essay by Morgan on the discussion about the GAN under Book Chat. Adding it here because I think it is an good example of what I consider to be her excellent writing and probative thinking.

I first read All the Living when it was one of Discover New Writers that Barnes & Nobles picks. It is my favorite shelf in any B&N store. And then I learned she was one of the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 in 2010. (I have read at least one book by each of the 20 authors picked and loved most of them.) I read it again about 3 months ago when I thought it just might win the open book vote. While I liked it the first time, I appreciated it far more on the second read.


message 3: by Kay (new)

Kay | 73 comments I have never read Morgan so I am excited to join this month's read. I am a bit weary of 'religious' novels (they can be really heavy-handed and moral-oriented), so we'll see how I get along with this one.


message 4: by Nutmegger (new)

Nutmegger Linda (lindanutmegger) | 103 comments Kay wrote: "I have never read Morgan so I am excited to join this month's read. I am a bit weary of 'religious' novels (they can be really heavy-handed and moral-oriented), so we'll see how I get along with th..."

Never fear this book is more about personal relationships than about religion.


message 5: by Nutmegger (new)

Nutmegger Linda (lindanutmegger) | 103 comments In the interview, I Want Soul, Morgan says, "Anyone who lives with poor health or chronic pain, or who has endured poverty—real poverty—knows what it is to live with lack and a resulting fear so incessant that it becomes thoroughly normalized, invisible in its ubiquity." In All The Living she expresses this brilliantly. The "negative" space in the protagonists relationship in the first half of the book are beautifully and achingly expressed. Did anyone else see other instances of "lack"?


message 6: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments Morgan has had a tough live. A friend who works at a local bookstore was at Berea when she was there (lived next door to her in the dorm) and told me her health was poor. And if you are familiar with Berea College you know it is work study. Yes, it is free to students but they must work while they attend.

So now as to lack, there is a lot of it in the book. The lives of the individual characters have a lot of lack. E.g., Orren lost a father early; Aloma lost her parents early. So both lacked the traditional family structure.


message 7: by Lily (last edited Feb 02, 2017 08:16PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments I got waylaid by Hillbilly Elegy for my f2f book group, but I can go back to Morgan again now.

Even though the astringent living conditions have some parallels, the return shall be a relief, at least in terms of the quality of the writing, imo. Not sure about the story or its plotting yet, but many of Morgan's sentences have been a definite pleasure to savor. (And, yes, Vance has contributed a plaintive voice to add to our search to hear/listen to each other as Americans. I'll review Elegy after I've let it "settle" for a few days.)


message 8: by Nutmegger (new)

Nutmegger Linda (lindanutmegger) | 103 comments Lily wrote: "I got waylaid by Hillbilly Elegy for my f2f book group, but I can go back to Morgan again now.

Even though the astringent living conditions have some parallels, the return shall be..."


LOL, don't be too hard on Vance, Lily. He's not a literary writer and Elegy was informative.


message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Linda wrote: "LOL, don't be too hard on Vance, Lily. He's not a literary writer and Elegy was informative. ..."

Perhaps -- I think I sort of said that. But, personally, ..., well, this discussion thread is for Morgan....


message 10: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
I just started the book and am enjoying it so far. I wasn't drawn in by the first few pages but became intrigued after Aloma's interaction with the woman at the general store. The writing is beautiful - Morgan describes mundane things in interesting ways.

Lily, I also had mixed feelings about Hillbilly Elegy. I read it a couple months ago so it's still somewhat fresh in my mind - it'll be interesting to read this pretty soon after.


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Caroline wrote: "...it'll be interesting to read this pretty soon after. .."

Caroline -- sounds like we may be on the same page (i.e., of the same general mind or approach or inclination) on the two readings!


message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments I can't reach the whole interview on Project MUSE, but here is an excerpt from an interview of C. E. Morgan that illustrates some of her thinking about literary fiction:

"...Plot is revered in pop fiction styles, so most of the literary techniques employed therein seek to preserve the forward motion of the narrative. However, in literary fiction, when description slows or even stops the reader, the reader is forced to engage time, and the concept of time, in a different manner. To me, that's a triumph; to be able to skim over literary fiction would be a sign of its failure as an aesthetic object. The act of noticing becomes important. One of the great frustrations of life is that any moment cannot be conceptualized at the moment of its occurrence, only later, and that later conceptualization necessarily represents the sacrifice of another distinct moment, and so on and so on. A catch-22. Fiction allows us to arrest time and revisit—in some form—what's lost. Of course, it remakes time too, since fiction is never a revisitation of the actual. The actual is lost continuously moment to moment...."

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/380536


message 13: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Lily wrote: "I can't reach the whole interview on Project MUSE, but here is an excerpt from an interview of C. E. Morgan that illustrates some of her thinking about literary fiction:

"...Plot is revered in pop..."


That is an excellent explanation for the necessity of description in fiction. Thank you for that quote.


message 14: by Jill (new)

Jill (jillreads) | 17 comments Thank you for all of the links. It's great to have the background while reading the book. I was surprised how harsh the Kirkus review was. I often look at Kirkus, and they are not usually so openly negative. I'm only on page 50, but I'm enjoying the beautiful writing set against all the "lack" as mentioned in the links.


message 15: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2590 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Thank you for all of the links. It's great to have the background while reading the book. I was surprised how harsh the Kirkus review was..."

That one did seem rather harsh. Looking forward to hearing your reactions as you move through the book and/or finish it!


message 16: by Lily (last edited Feb 14, 2017 06:37AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Marc wrote: "Jill wrote: "Thank you for all of the links. It's great to have the background while reading the book. I was surprised how harsh the Kirkus review was..."

That one did seem rather harsh. Looking f..."


Unfortunately, such an attitude coming from a Kirkus review doesn't particularly surprise me. (I wonder what is the status of making Euphoria, 2014 Kirkus winner, into a movie.) Hmm, perhaps I should revise that attitude. I see Morgan's The Sport of Kings won the 2016 Kirkus award.


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