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The Library at Mount Char
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2017 Book Discussions > The Library at Mount Char: Preliminary Thoughts Part I: Chapters 1-2 (Oct 2017)

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message 1: by Ami (last edited Oct 15, 2017 06:04AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments The discussion is officially off the ground...Let's assume the position and begin to extrapolate!

Alright, let's do this...

The Library at Mount Char appears to be a complex story with quite a bit to confront from the get go in these first two chapters...A library containing the secrets of the universe, a missing Father/Father, wayward children/adults with superpowers and some questionable hygiene habits, resurrections of the dead to the living (are they?), to a visibly distraught talking severed head. Speaking of heads, where are yours at after reading Chapters 1 & 2?

Please post your initial thoughts and insights below
.

As an aside, Scott Hawkins, in a Goodreads Q&A (not spoiler-free) once pitched the novel by describing it as Monty Python presents the Godfather starring the X-Men. What do you think of this pitch, as of now?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments I finished the book a couple of days ago. Good Halloween read! I see the Godfather and X-Men connection but since I've never seen the Monty Python movie, I don't know if that works. It is certainly creative horror/fantasy.


message 3: by Ami (last edited Oct 16, 2017 05:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Initial Thoughts
Truth be told, I made the mistake of listening to The End, by The Doors, while I was reading these two chapters. Do you remember this song, it was featured in the movie Apocalypse Now? Unbeknownst to me, I took my reading to a very cerebral place, missing out on the flecks of humor interspersed in the pages...Grown men exhibiting savage behavior while wearing a tutu, the irony in that scene did nothing for me. I just thought it absurd...

The men in this novel, so far, most give me pause (e.g. the old man in the truck caught staring at Carolyn's legs in a non-fatherly way; Father's abusive nature; David's shifty eyes, his glances and the overall creepy feel he gives Carolyn, and Steve who also was caught looking at Carolyn in a sexual manner)...These men are either exuding behavior of a lecherous nature, or intimidating by show of force, sometimes even both. They all seem to have this predatory nature about them. From the POV of Carolyn, as one of our key players in the novel, I do wonder how reliable she is considering she too displayed this predatory behavior with Steve in Chapter 2? He was within her snare in the blink of an eye, not knowing what hit him...Quite literally. I do love the internal dialogue she has with herself, it gives me another dimension to a story that already feels as if it's playing out on multiple planes (it could be The Doors, you guys, I'll admit it).

If I were to tell you, I completely understand what is going on in these two chapters, I would be lying to you. I read forty-eight pages of a narrative that I could say, superficially, I come away from it feeling shocked and disturbed, but this is clearly not the case. It's better than being shocked and disturbed; Hawkins instead, leaves me with the notion that his prose has a most unsettling frankness about it...Rendering it more a thriller than something horror related. There's a build of intrigue at the turn of every page, I'm asking so many questions...What was Father doing to Margaret, what was Father doing to all of these children, Why is David so angry, Who is Carolyn and what is she up to "really?" These questions continue to plague me, and propel me to keep reading. I can't say, I'm heavily drawn to the novel (I'm able to put it down) or any one of its characters...For me, it's just really good writing, and the beginnings of a curious story to boot.

Hawkins original pitch for the novel, I thought, it was clever. I can see the Monty Python-ish flair, mostly in the garish costuming of the Librarians; but again, the humor associated with it is lost on me. I love the association to the Godfather and X-Men, it's all quite spot on. While Father is away, the kids will play...and destroy...and kill...and bring back to life...and instill fear, all to gain favor and power. Riiigghht?

Well, I'll leave you with this for now. I look forward to reading what you've been mulling over.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Hi all, and first of all, I'm so glad you're reading this, cause I've been lurking on this group for FOREVER, but I couldn't miss this read! And I'm already so happy I joined in.

The funny thing... I am not shocked and terrified o.o I... find reading this completely natural. Like, maybe it's because I love Neil Gaiman and I've read tons by Stephen King? It's exactly how I'd summarize this - Think Gaiman plus The King. This reminds me of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, except more adult. And I just absolutely love these dark, primal fantasies.

I do agree about the lecherous manly nature. But I'm also puzzled about David. He's a monster, it seems, but then again, right before the end of the second chapter, the author throws us a bone, saying that David was too soft, too kind when he was only but starting out. Maybe 'Father' did something to him?

Can't help liking Carolyn and Michael, and feeling sorry for the burglar-plumber Steve. Did Carolyn deem him an innocent soul though, is that why she did what she did? Cause I don't see how that would be true :D also, can't help but worry about his doggie :(

So far this book is turning out amazing! I can't pry myself away.


message 5: by Ami (last edited Oct 16, 2017 09:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Evelina | AvalinahsBooks wrote: "Hi all, and first of all, I'm so glad you're reading this, cause I've been lurking on this group for FOREVER, but I couldn't miss this read! And I'm already so happy I joined in.

The funny thing....."


I'm so happy you "finally" decided to join and participate in this particular Group Read! Welcome, Evelina...I'm stoked for you, and glad you're finding TLoMC "amazing!!"

The funny thing... I am not shocked and terrified o.o I... find reading this completely natural.
Ha! I was not either, and I'm not prone to reading sci-fi/fantasy/horror combos. So, this one is off the beaten path for me. I nominated it because the premise was really catchy, AND there was something about a severed head (how often do we come across one of those in books?).

Like, maybe it's because I love Neil Gaiman and I've read tons by Stephen King? It's exactly how I'd summarize this - Think Gaiman plus The King. This reminds me of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, except more adult. And I just absolutely love these dark, primal fantasies.
It's funny you should say this because critics have said reading Hawkins is comparable to reading David Mitchell, Neil Gaimon, Joe Hill and others of their ilk. The association you have made with Gaimon and "dark, primal fantasies," has me intrigued. I hope to read more about this as we progress in our reading. I'm familiar with Joe Hill's, Horns, and can see this comparison clearly...Especially, considering the lite comedic moments during dark questionable scenes. However, while I found myself laughing out loud in "Horns," I'm not adhering to it as well here.

But I'm also puzzled about David. He's a monster, it seems, but then again, right before the end of the second chapter, the author throws us a bone, saying that David was too soft, too kind when he was only but starting out. Maybe 'Father' did something to him?
The scene with a young Margaret, crying bloody tears and soiling herself while Father snatches her back into the Library stacks; or what about Carolyn's own life lesson at the cost of Asha and Isha...They were unforgettable scenes for me as a reader, but can you even imagine having to endure something like that...Something so vile and revolting...Goodness, and as "child?" Father seems to have done something to "all" of them

I'm on page 95, but your thoughts on David echoed my very own in the beginning. Just keep reading. I'm looking forward to reading more from you in the next thread as you continue to move through Part I.

Can't help liking Carolyn and Michael, and feeling sorry for the burglar-plumber Steve.
Well, she's definitely keeping things interesting, to say the least...Navigating through these pages with her has been full of emotional ups and downs.

Did Carolyn deem him an innocent soul though, is that why she did what she did?
Hmmm. An innocent soul was not what came to mind for me either, just because of the brief glimpse we get into his checkered past.

Having apologized and seeking forgiveness, from his lifeless body, we leave her caressing Steve's head in her lap. Then Hawkins writes,
Alone, she dispensed with lies. All that night she held him, brushing his hair with her fingertips, speaking softly, saying, I'm sorry, saying, forgive me, saying, I'll make it better and I promise it will be OK, over and over and over again in every language that there ever was (42).
What did you make of this scene?

Cause I don't see how that would be true :D also, can't help but worry about his doggie
Yeah, this was the worst...Steve's mind obsessing over who will feed his dog in his final moments. I get it, as I stare into my beagle's eyes.

By the way, does it not seem as we're reading a screenplay?


Molly (mollyrotondo) | 30 comments Ami: These men are either exuding behavior of a lecherous nature, or intimidating by show of force, sometimes even both. They all seem to have this predatory nature about them. From the POV of Carolyn, as one of our key players in the novel, I do wonder how reliable she is considering she too displayed this predatory behavior with Steve in Chapter 2? He was within her snare in the blink of an eye, not knowing what hit him...Quite literally

I agree that the men seem the most violent and animalistic in these two chapters. I actually thought that Carolyn was turning this behavior on the men. I don't think she herself is predatory or relishes in violence. I think she was using these characteristics that Steve and (presumably) the detective possess against them. And then set up the scene to look like they killed each other which would be excepted of these savage men. It's hard to say definitely what the purpose of these scene is though since we don't have all the answers but I'm just presuming that Carolyn isn't as inherently predatory as the men. We shall see!

Ami: It's better than being shocked and disturbed; Hawkins instead, leaves me with the notion that his prose has a most unsettling frankness about it...Rendering it more a thriller than something horror related. There's a build of intrigue at the turn of every page, I'm asking so many questions

Yes! It is more thriller than I expected. I thought it was going to read as more of a sci fi story, it is definitely more thriller with much more violence than I anticipated. I like that the story isn't all laid out at the beginning. I like when a book fits the pieces together gradually.

Evelina: But I'm also puzzled about David. He's a monster, it seems, but then again, right before the end of the second chapter, the author throws us a bone, saying that David was too soft, too kind when he was only but starting out. Maybe 'Father' did something to him?

I picked up on this too, Evelina. David seems like a psycho when he kills those deer and when he is demanding answers from the rest of the group about where Father is in present day. But then we learn that David was too soft as a child. I wonder if Father beat him into become a hard man or if Father did something supernatural to turn him into a brutal man.

Ami: Having apologized and seeking forgiveness, from his lifeless body, we leave her caressing Steve's head in her lap. Then Hawkins writes,
Alone, she dispensed with lies. All that night she held him, brushing his hair with her fingertips, speaking softly, saying, I'm sorry, saying, forgive me, saying, I'll make it better and I promise it will be OK, over and over and over again in every language that there ever was (42).
What did you make of this scene?

What does Hawkins mean that "she dispensed with lies"? This scene recalled the scene with the deer during the storm. She wasn't able to communicate properly with deer because she didn't pay attention to her studies. But this time she was able to say sorry in every language. But did she not mean it this time? I want to know why she killed them both!


message 7: by Ami (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Molly wrote: "Ami: These men are either exuding behavior of a lecherous nature, or intimidating by show of force, sometimes even both. They all seem to have this predatory nature about them. From the POV of Caro..."

I actually thought that Carolyn was turning this behavior on the men. I don't think she herself is predatory or relishes in violence.
You make a great point further delineating this predatory commonality between some of the men and Carloyn...The difference being, she does not relish in the violence. Absolutely true. Those mentioned in this post are just "so calculating," and everybody with some sort of agenda.

What does Hawkins mean that "she dispensed with lies"?
Thank you, I thought I was the only one. I think you may be on to something here. Considering Hawkins recalls the scene with Carolyn and the deers, it poses an important juxtaposition between those two scenes, and the past and the present. Perhaps, I have missed something in the narrative so far that shows me different, but yes, her words are empty...In every language.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments All will be more understandable when you finish the book


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Oh yes! I can definitely see some of Mitchell in there too. Although it's weird - Mitchell's violence was something I could not bear. But this reads differently, although it's every bit as gory. Strange!

You're right that it reads as screenplay. Imagining everything is not hard at all. The interesting thing is that the author does not bog us down with details on how mythology works, but rather shows how it works and helps us form a complete picture. I could say it's working out very well.

As for Steve, well, I just read another two chapters tonight, and I can say it does answer some questions. Although it also makes new ones :D but I will write more on that in the other topic folder. The same goes for David. And even more so for Carolyn.

Molly - I agree with you, I also think Carolyn was just using 'what works best' on Steve, or rather, talking to him in his own language (badum tss... specialist of languages!)

I also agree that this is more thriller than horror. Again, I can't point out why. Maybe because it's clearly got that fantasy element, so it's easier to picture it removed from your own mundane life?

As for Carolyn and her lies, I am forming my own theories, but since I've read more than two chapters, I will withhold them for now!

Thanks for the awesome discussion everyone! This group has always 'had it'. I never regret when I come here to read a book with you :)


Beverly | 141 comments I have finally been able to start this book and have finished chapters 1 -2.

I came into the book with an open mind and no expectations - did not read the comments here or read any reviews.

I am definitely intrigued and what know what is going on and how "Father" transformed the characters into the persons we see in chps 1 & 2 and all see to have been traumatized in some way that I think is probably unique to each of them.

Yes, I like how we are learning as we read and learn as necessary - this I think allows the reader to "make their own guesses" on what is going on and I think keeps the reader more engaged.

Enjoying Carolyn - finding her interesting and complex. It seems she is the one most equipped to deal with "Americans" and can switch between the two worlds. How much is "truly" her is the question we will find out. How much can she manipulate and how much she is being manipulated has me turning the pages.

We know we are in the fourth age of the world - which is the age of Ablakha. What were the pervious ages like? Who is
Nobununga and why did he decide to help Ablakha/Father?

Based on a general definition of horror - " Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society. " for me this is a horror story that has some thriller elements but based on a couple of repulsive actions I am thinking this story will settle into good horror story.

I like the use of humor it seems natural.


message 11: by Ami (last edited Oct 28, 2017 01:39PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Beverly wrote: "I have finally been able to start this book and have finished chapters 1 -2.

I came into the book with an open mind and no expectations - did not read the comments here or read any reviews.

I am ..."


Many, if not all the questions you pose echoed our very own in these first two chapters.

It appears as if you're well on your way, Beverly. After reading your definition about the horror genre, I can understand how the novel has been labeled as such...With the addition of a "thriller element," of course, like you said.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I will just say that I didn't feel like this was horror at all. Don't know why! More like maybe thriller and very dark fantasy.


message 13: by Ami (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Evelina | AvalinahsBooks wrote: "I will just say that I didn't feel like this was horror at all. Don't know why! More like maybe thriller and very dark fantasy."

That's a great take on the novel's genre, Evelina...Thriller/"dark fantasy."


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments AKA best type of fantasy :D no but seriously. I do wish I knew more books like this. If some of you haven't read it yet, after reading this one I recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane for your bookish hangover.


message 15: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) What I think is interesting is that I have a sense that these are adolescents, yet in the book we are told they are 25-30 years of age. Maybe it's a little like Lord of the Flies...


message 16: by Ami (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ami | 335 comments Kirsten wrote: "What I think is interesting is that I have a sense that these are adolescents, yet in the book we are told they are 25-30 years of age. Maybe it's a little like Lord of the Flies..."

It's difficult to differentiate between the two when the behaviors of the adult are seen as immature and childlike. In moments like this, I always think to myself, what led this person to this point.... You know, where the inner child shows his/her head but you're looking at what appears to be an adult? It's, unfortunately, too common an occurrence these days...


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