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Some Luck (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga, #1)
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May, 2015 > May, 2015, Pre-Meeting Notes

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Lily (joy1) | 717 comments I have finished the book. Hope everyone enjoys it. Add reviews, material of interest to current reading.

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments May be applicable to Some Luck ?

David Foster Wallace David Foster Wallace

“The next real literary 'rebels' in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the 'Oh how banal.' To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows. ”
― David Foster Wallace, "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction"

message 3: by Lily (last edited May 14, 2015 11:34AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments Washington Post Review of Early Warning: A novel:

"When, in 'Some Luck,' the younger Langdons escaped the farm for college or family life, it was impossible not to root for them. Yet the trilogy's second entry loses a unifying force in the somber primacy of the Iowa farmland. Though second son Joe stays in Denby to expand and modernize the farm, 'Early Warning's' opening scene in 1953, the funeral of patriarch Walter Langdon, signals the end of its centrality to the narrative."

message 4: by Lily (last edited Jun 01, 2015 09:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments NYT Sunday Book Review

Jane Smiley’s ‘Some Luck’ by Paul Elienov, Nov. 7, 2014

“'Some Luck' is written, as Smiley observes of Dickens’s 'A Tale of Two Cities,' about the generation of the author’s grandparents. It’s a family novel, like Anne Tyler’s 'Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,' which Smiley has called the 'serious though not overly sober narrative of the life of a particular family whose members consider themselves ordinary' — a novel where 'things go on as they begin.' And it’s a book, like her own 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel,' in which her brilliance and energy can’t dispel the impression that this isn’t an alive-and-kicking literary work so much as a project, a personal challenge.

"As projects go, it’s very skillfully conceived, an elegant solution to the historical novelist’s problem of how to raise the big barn that is the past without relying too much on power tools or hired help. “Some Luck” is made up of 34 brief chapters, each marked at the start with a year, from 1920 to 1953, so the chapters line up like hash marks on a timeline or headstones in a graveyard. Many of the characters named in a family tree at the front of the book amble onstage, one after another. Walter Langdon, 25, is a patriarch in the making. A Methodist, he has just married Rosanna Vogel, a Roman Catholic, and set up on a small farm in his hometown, Denby, Iowa. Their first child, Frank, is followed by Joe and Mary Elizabeth and three others. Ragnar is a Norwegian hired man who marries and moves away. Eloise is Rosanna’s sister, who comes to live with them. Her brother, Rolf, although he’s only 20, agrees to take over their parents’ farm. As the novel progresses, the narrative accumulates more people and places, with the demise of family farm life and the various Langdons’ aspirations taking them away from Denby."

message 5: by Lily (last edited Jun 01, 2015 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments The Guardian, Alex Clark, Nov. 5, 2014

"Try to pin Jane Smiley down at your peril: she is as likely to write a campus novel ( Moo ) as a 14th-century historical saga ( The Greenlanders ) or a foray into the world of breeders and racetracks ( Horse Heaven ). Her Pulitzer prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres is a midwestern agricultural story that is also a retelling of King Lear; her Hollywood-set comedy of manners Ten Days in the Hills is modelled on The Decameron. Alongside her 14 novels are several works of non-fiction and books for young adults.

What fuels this apparently insatiable restlessness, and does anything connect a body of work that seems, on the face of it, so disparate? Two extremely condensed answers: a curiosity and a deep preoccupation with the variety of ways narrative can simultaneously accommodate individual and group lives. Smiley has shown no great fondness for the miniature canvas, or for two inches of ivory; no willingness to be confined to a particular historical period, or location, or way of writing, although the last could perhaps (albeit reductively) be described as realist storytelling."

message 6: by Lily (last edited May 14, 2015 12:14PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, Oct. 17, 2014

"Frank’s entry into the military as a sharpshooter in World War II allows Smiley into a world of warfare and violence, but she doesn’t need obvious drama to construct straightforward but unforgettable scenes of loss. She’s especially graceful evoking a rare moment of content, when all the struggles and resentments burn away to reveal something wonderful to the middle-aged Rosanna:

"'She could not have created this moment, these lovely faces, these candles flickering, the flash of the silverware, the fragrances of food hanging over the table, the heads turning this way and that, the voices murmuring and laughing. She looked at Walter, who was so far away from her, all the way at the other end of the table. ... [T]hey agreed in that instant: something had created itself from nothing — a dumpy old house had been filled, if only for this moment, with twenty-three different worlds, each of them rich and mysterious.'

"Such a simple, remarkable scene — nothing fancy, just a loud, large family gathered for a meal — leaves you with that warm, familiar feeling you get when you flip through old family photo albums, marveling at the alien past. In Some Luck, Smiley brings that past to life. You don’t have to have been raised on an Iowa farm to think: That sounds like my grandmother, my aunt, my father, my brother. That sounds like us."

Read more here:

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments Valerie Sayers, Washington Post, October 6, 2014

"Some Luck, the engaging first volume of Jane Smiley’s planned trilogy, is a sweeping story that spans 33 years, three continents and a generation of children on an Iowa farm. Over the course of the novel — already longlisted for the National Book Award — most of the children will leave the farm just as surely as the rest of the white rural Midwest will pack its bags. Smiley delivers a straightforward, old-fashioned tale of rural family life in changing times. Her no-muss, no-fuss storytelling, if unsurprising, is also frequently subtle, wry and moving."

message 8: by Janet (new)

Janet Williams | 38 comments Nearly finished reading "The Bees" that was mentioned by the group. I love it! If you liked "Watership Down", you will like this book. I highly recommend it. Just now starting "Some Luck".


message 9: by Lily (last edited May 14, 2015 10:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 717 comments Janet wrote: "Nearly finished reading "The Bees" that was mentioned by the group. I love it! If you liked "Watership Down", you will like this book. I highly recommend it. Just now starting "Some Luck".


This one, Janet?

The Bees by Laline Paull The Bees by Laline Paull

Women's Prize for Fiction Nominee (2015)

Do you have an I-phone? Could we reach you? Do you know where we are Saturday? (Send me an email or private message?)

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