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Losing Battles
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Group Reads: Pre-1980 > Initial Impressions: Losing Battles, by Eudora Welty - June 2017

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - added it

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Please post your comments and impressions about this book here. Be careful to avoid revealing spoilers.


message 2: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
I just started this yesterday. Loving it so far. Every time I open the book it takes me right back to Sunday afternoons at my grandmother's house, all the Aunts and Uncles sitting on the porch laughing and talking, and us kids out playing in the yard. Eudora Welty has a genius ear for southern speech.


message 3: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane | 738 comments Just about to start losing battles too


Howard | 398 comments Diane wrote: "I just started this yesterday. Loving it so far. Every time I open the book it takes me right back to Sunday afternoons at my grandmother's house, all the Aunts and Uncles sitting on the porch laug..."

Diane, you might want to backtrack your comment after you become more acquainted with this family. Although I do admit they would be fun to be around.


Dustincecil | 175 comments I'm starting this tonight, hopefully.


Howard | 398 comments Howard wrote: "Diane wrote: "I just started this yesterday. Loving it so far. Every time I open the book it takes me right back to Sunday afternoons at my grandmother's house, all the Aunts and Uncles sitting on ..."

Maybe I should have said "interesting to be around," rather than "fun to be around." You'll see.


message 7: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane | 738 comments Welty masterfully captures each scene ; its lighting and action as if she has taken its photo and not simply described it in words that is the effect she has on me anyhow


message 8: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Jane - Welty was a professional photographer for a while early in her career. Have you ever seen her photographs? They are gorgeous black and white portraits.

Howard - Jack just got home and is going after the Judge with Gloria. I'll wait on adjectives for this family til I've finished.


message 9: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Losing Battles is my favorite work by Eudora Welty. Although it is not considered her best work, it is packed with an unforgettable cast of characters. I chuckled over Howard's characterization of the family as "interesting." That's a politic way of describing them. There are some subtle clues surrounding the family home regarding the "substance" of the family. The house is surrounded by Osage Orange trees or Bois D'arc Trees. They produce a large orange shaped fruit ususally referred to as horse apples or hedge apples. They have no nutritive value. Also note that at the homecoming celebration how the folks feast on watermelon. Granted a treat. But what nutritive value does it have. There's little here to sustain the family in a healthy manner. This novel will contain an Odyssey of sorts. A wild, raucous journey. A bit reminiscent of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, although it lacks the more gothic aspects of that novel. There is more of the comic found here. More of the zest for the celebration of life. Look for signs indicating that the point of the journey is not so much the destination but the journey itself. I adore this book. Many thanks to Miss Scarlette for selecting Losing Battles. Those who read it will find themselves in for a treat. Enjoy!


message 10: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane | 738 comments This is my first read of ,Losing Battles but I have read most of her short stories over the years and it took me a long time to understand how she " framed " them that got me looking into her photography , Diane there was a good book about that but I cannot remember the title - just enjoying the opening scenes here for now

( love this ambiguous title )


Howard | 398 comments Diane wrote: "Jane - Welty was a professional photographer for a while early in her career. Have you ever seen her photographs? They are gorgeous black and white portraits.

Howard - Jack just got home and is go..."


Diane wrote: "Jane - Welty was a professional photographer for a while early in her career. Have you ever seen her photographs? They are gorgeous black and white portraits.

Howard - Jack just got home and is go..."


Good idea.


message 12: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
For insight into the fiction of Eudora Welty and Losing Battles in particular, see The Paris Review, Issue 55, Fall, 1972, "The Fiction of Eudora Welty, https://www.theparisreview.org/interv... .

Losing Battles, Ms. Welty's last novel, was published on her 61st Birthday, April 13, 1970, by Random House.

This contains the full interview with Ms. Welty at her usual engaging best.


message 13: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane | 738 comments Thanks Lawyer :) for the link to that great interview


message 14: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Jane wrote: "Thanks Lawyer :) for the link to that great interview"

You're welcome, Jane. It's a good one. And there's an interesting bit on her her thoughts about her biography. She was quite opposed to one. She wrote One Writer's Beginnings in the hopes of heading that off. That didn't stave off Ann Walborn's mournful effort which basically labeled her as being ugly and possibly a lesbian. Suzanne Marrs who teaches at Milford befriended Welty and spent much time with her prior to Welty's death. Welty actually provided Marrs with much material. That's a commendable biography, though a bit on the academic side. Marr's "Meanwhile There Are Letters" was an admirable compilation of the letters of Welty and Ross Macdonald, documenting a friendship that lasted many years. Was it more than friendship? Who knows. But the letters are wonderful. I'm a sucker for letters every time. *smile*


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Thanks, Mike, for that link, it's a fascinating interview. I love the humor, almost slapstick comedy, in this novel. I don't know where it's going, but I am enjoying the journey. "Delta Wedding" is my current favorite Welty, but this may overtake it.


Dustincecil | 175 comments Great interview! thanks..

I'm only about 30 pages in, but I really like it so far.

All the build up around Jack's arrival really has my imagination going wild- about the possibilities of his whereabouts.


message 17: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
I'm into part 4, getting very interesting now! Miss Julia Mortimer was quite a teacher.
"She'd give out prizes for reading, at the end of school, but what would be the prizes? More books," said Aunt Birdie. "I dreaded to win."


Vicki | 65 comments Thanks for the link to the Paris Review article. It provides quite a bit of insight for this first time Welty reader. So far I am enjoying Losing Battles.


message 19: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Well, I finished reading last night, and my former statement stands. This was my childhood, crazy relatives and all. Elvie and Etoyle and baby Lady May were great characters, as was Granny Vaughn. Despite the fact that Jack was everyone's "Golden Boy" and could do no wrong, the girls and women carried this story. Eudora Welty made sure we knew that the women directed everything, and were strong enough to handle anything. My adjective for this family: typical Southerners. With a little craziness mixed in.


message 20: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Also, while I'm thinking of it: Jack reminded me a little bit of Will Stockdale in "No Time for Sergeants". The southern good ole boy who walks and talks like a rube, but is actually smarter than you think.


Dustincecil | 175 comments I like that granny was already napping by page 50...


message 22: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
No spoilers, just perceptions.
Here is a review by Diane: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Howard | 398 comments Diane wrote: "Well, I finished reading last night, and my former statement stands. This was my childhood, crazy relatives and all. Elvie and Etoyle and baby Lady May were great characters, as was Granny Vaughn. ..."

How did your family get the car off the top of the hill?


message 24: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Ha, Howard! No cars on hills, no Judge Moody, but I did have a cousin in prison for murder. I do remember that we always had a container of water in our car, because of a leaky radiator. Fill it up before you leave the house, then add water as needed along the way. Living on a dirt road, with neighbors who felt justified dropping in at any time. It was like opening a time capsule. Although, since I was growing up in the 50's, we did attend a real school which included grades 1-12 in the same building, but separated classes by grade.


Howard | 398 comments Diane wrote: "Ha, Howard! No cars on hills, no Judge Moody, but I did have a cousin in prison for murder. I do remember that we always had a container of water in our car, because of a leaky radiator. Fill it up..."

I come from a large family and I can relate to what you are describing (not an uncle, but a cousin in prison for same reason), and I once stuck a car in a neighbor's side yard, but never on top of a hill (but only because we didn't have a hill -- not even one. We only had railroad embankments and levees.)

I knew my family shared some similarities with the family Welty describes, but I wanted to caution you in case you stepped out too early in thinking yours did. But it is evident that you didn't.


message 26: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1084 comments Mod
Those of us who grew up in large Southern families in the 1950s cannot help feeling like this is a book that takes you right back in time. Every Sunday of my life we would go to church and then to Grandma's for Sunday dinner. All the aunts, uncles, cousins. When you have a family that large there is kind of one of everything, if you know what I mean. I have seen some things that would make you shake your head these days. I could even relate to the married cousins...since I had an aunt and uncle who were 1st cousins. It was quite a while before I understood the whispering that I had heard all my life about how MAD my Granny was when they eloped with one another.


message 27: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Sara, in our family we did the Sunday thing at my grandmother's too. I remember all the food sat out on the kitchen table all afternoon in the heat, fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, pinto beans, etc. We just ate when we felt like it, grazing all afternoon, and no one ever got sick or even thought it might be going bad in the heat. I can see those dishes now, covered with dishcloths to keep out the flies. Kids playing outside, adults gossiping, laughing, napping. Great days.


message 28: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
My older cousin was my hero, but I knew I could never marry him because we were told our children would have two heads or some such things. If course, Jack and Gloria didn't know they were cousins, and Lady May was perfectly normal. A little Hellion even as a baby, but perfectly normal.


message 29: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1084 comments Mod
And, there was a doubt as to whether they even were cousins(view spoiler)


message 30: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 659 comments I've begun this and I'm so enjoying watching Welty use her mastery of the language to create beautiful scenes and wonderful characters. I love the characters talking and running over each other, all the food coming with each new arrival. And everyone waiting for Jack.


message 31: by Belinda (new) - added it

Belinda Guerette | 27 comments I'm loving Losing Battles! I don't care if anything happens; I just love spending time with these people.


message 32: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Exactly how I felt, Belinda. But, in fact, quite a bit does happen!


Howard | 398 comments But, in fact, quite a bit does happen!

Now, I would classify that as a bit of understatement.


message 34: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 659 comments I do find myself reading quite slowly because her language is so circuitous (not sure if that's actually the word I want, but it will serve). I find myself caught up in the sentences and I don't want to miss anything.


Dustincecil | 175 comments like this one...

"With a long sound like a stream of dry seed being poured into an empty bucket, the song of the locusts began."

beautiful!


message 36: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 659 comments Wonderful. That's just the sort of thing that catches my eye. One sentence I really like
Gloria...walked fast but didn't quite run, the way a thrush skims over the ground without needing to use wings.


message 37: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1084 comments Mod
She has a wonderful command of language and tempts one to read aloud so that you can hear it. I imagine she is a writer that lends herself well to audio. I don't do audio, but she would be one I would not hesitate to try in that media.


message 38: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 659 comments Sara, some of those stories and people talking over each other must be crazy if listened too with audio. I think I would start with her stories and keep the book in front of me.


message 39: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
My favorite sentence: "The skin on his bony, motionless face looked like the skin on chicken gravy when it has been allowed to cool".
Now that is descriptive!
And this one in the first chapter sets the tone for the whole book: "The makings of the house had never been hidden to the Mississippi air, which was now, this first Sunday in August, and at this hour, still soft as milk".
I don't do audio books either, but, like Sara, I would make an exception if I could hear it read by Miss Welty.


message 40: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 659 comments Diane, I'm enjoying leaving some of my favorites as status updates. And Welty's range is so apparent in this book, with characters occasionally bordering on caricature followed by elegant descriptions of the most minute elements of nature.


Dustincecil | 175 comments This gem ended up taking longer for me to read than I ever expected, because I realized early on that I needed to really pay attention in order to keep up.

My favorite thing about this was determining the pecking order within the family; based on who had the floor, how long they were able to keep it, and the types of digs they were able to get in on each other.

Welty could easily have spent the rest of her life fleshing out all of this colorful family/town.

thanks again to the trail for pushing this book up my list.


message 42: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Dustincecil: Another fan! You want laughs and eccentric characters, try Ponder Heart, a small little comic gem. And Delta Wedding has some of the same feel as this book, different family and time period.


Carol (caroltw) Well, I'm late to this party, but really glad to be here. I haven't read Welty since college, and love this. Yes, really DO have to pay attention, and yes to enjoying the journey.


message 44: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1084 comments Mod
Never too late for this party, Carol. I'm glad you posted, because it made me think back to this one and that is a good thing.


message 45: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Great thing about this group is the discussion is always ongoing, no matter when you read the book. Better late than never on Eudora Welty.


message 46: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Kaso | 600 comments Don't feel bad, I am catching up, as well. Finishing The Great Santini, Losing Battles up next.

Speaking of the talented Miss Eudora, I saw a short clip on the making of The Silence of the Lambs the other day. One crew member was discussing Anthony Hopkins, and described the day they were filming the scenes where he was held in a cage & then escaped with a dead policeman's face over his own. In between takes, AH sat quietly in a director's chair, still covered in fake blood, intently reading Eudora Welty. They did not mention which book. The image has stuck with me.


message 47: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
That's a neat little piece of trivia, Kim. I always knew Anthony Hopkins had class.


message 48: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Kaso | 600 comments I like to think of him as a calm pool in the midst of all the bustle of a film set.


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