21st Century Literature discussion

Traveler of the Century
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2015 Book Discussions > Traveler of the Century - General Discussion, No Spoilers (February 2015)

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Terry Pearce This thread is for general -- SPOILER FREE -- discussion of the book, author interviews, etc. Post anything you like here that doesn't include spoilers.

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments So I've finished the Kindle sample of this book, and I'm not really feeling very much inclined to continue reading at this point. The book seems rather on the leisurely side and it seems inclined to tell rather than show. Just what is the reward of reading this book?

Terry Pearce It all depends on what you are looking for, in my humble opinion. I can certainly see the tell don't show perception, especially from the early running, but this is a book that finds a very different gear from most 21st Century literature, for me, and it took me awhile to get into sync with it. Once I was, though, it proved itself to be a deep and resonant exporation of what it is to be someone who travels, or someone who stays in one place. If you love Calvino, or Borges, or Chesterton, or even Hesse, then there is some reward here for you. If you hunger for something more postmodern, then perhaps not. In my humble opinion.

message 4: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael | 11 comments Calvino, Borges... I'm sold.
I have a few things on the go before I get to this, but will definitely read and check in here again.

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 55 comments I'm a hundred pages into Traveler and loving it. Many of Neuman's short descriptions floor me, and then there are the discussions on all sorts of things. The structure of the dialog takes some getting used to yet flows, and Neuman's idea of what a chapter is is not trendy :-) But I think you have to like that sort of thing going into it.

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 55 comments For those of you who like to read reviews of a book before reading it, here is one from three percent. I love three percent. They focus solely on translated books.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Well, I've decided to keep reading for now. Mind you, Borges, Calvino and Chesterton generally wrote rather shorter fiction than this...

Lily MacKenzie (lilyionamackenzie) I'm a little puzzled by the comments here. Neiman is constantly showing and telling in his narrative. His approach might not be praised in a writing workshop where the tired bromide of show, don't tell, can dismiss more original work. Not every story can fit within those limited constraints. Neuman's book is one of them.

The first scene with Sophie and the sexually suggestive ways she manipulates her fan is delicious (page 35 in my edition). It’s followed by an equally suggestive scene with the organ grinder, a great juxtaposition, as he strokes his organ in a similar way.

Also, the contrast between life in the cave and in the salon makes me as a reader think about Plato’s cave, which is a dialogue between Plato’s brother and his mentor, the wise man Socrates. The organ grinder is our wise man here.

In thinking about Wandenburg, it shifts just as our own perspective shifts on the places where we live. I’m constantly noticing things in my surroundings that I’ve missed previously that change my take on an area. Places aren’t constant. They’re as mutable as we humans are.

Terry Pearce The fan scene is a great example of (subtle) action demonstrating deeper undercurrents. I agree that while the mantra 'show don't tell' is fantastic advice and a good rule for writers, like any rule in art, some of the greatest genius is in knowing how and when to break it. Neuman shows he can do both, and I'm perfectly sure that he does deliberately whichever he's choosing to do at the time -- and with great effect in my opinion.

Great call on Plato's cave -- I hadn't clicked in that, but it's so obvious now you mention it. I also love your comments on Wandenburg

[Ps. I know there aren't any huge plot spoilers above, but discussions with reference to specific events -- such as the fan scene -- more properly belong in the other threads. Don't sweat it, but for future reference.]

Terry Pearce From the review that Xan posted:

"Neuman’s lengthy novel could be best described as a postmodern work cast in nineteenth century attire, owing more to the refinement of classical fiction than to the cleverness and affectation of more modern works. Neuman himself describes it thus: a “futuristic novel that happens in the past, as a science fiction rewound.” Traveler of the Century is not set some two hundred years ago merely to capture that era’s milieu, but is done so in a way so as to compare and contrast twenty-first century ideals, beliefs, and moralities against their historical counterparts."


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 55 comments Great catch on Plato's Cave, Lily. I completely missed that. This is why I read other's views while I'm reading, rather than waiting until done. I learn so much more.

message 12: by Lily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lily MacKenzie (lilyionamackenzie) Terry wrote: "From the review that Xan posted:

"Neuman’s lengthy novel could be best described as a postmodern work cast in nineteenth century attire, owing more to the refinement of classical fiction than to t..."

Exactly! Well said.

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 241 comments I've missed out on reading this with everyone else, but I really, really look forward to trying this when I get the opportunity. Thanks for bringing it to my attention--it's what I was hoping for from this group.

Terry Pearce Is anyone else eagerly hoping for translations of Neuman's other novels (this is the first in English)?

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 55 comments Terry wrote: "Is anyone else eagerly hoping for translations of Neuman's other novels (this is the first in English)?"


message 16: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I'm checking people's ratings because I'm undecided on whether or not to read this. It looks like it's been well received by the group. Now I'm very curious.

Dr. Cat (ecospirit) | 20 comments Did this youtube interview with the author already get posted somewhere else? I'm not quite finished with the book so I didn't view it yet, it is about 7 minutes.


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