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Seiobo There Below
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2015 Book Discussions > Seiobo There Below - General Discussion, No Spoilers (May 2015)

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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Welcome! We'll use this thread to discuss the book and author in general without giving away any spoilers. I wasn't going to set up chapter/section threads since there are so many unless people would like that option (don't be shy).


Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
For those just starting the book or new to the author, I think finding one's reading rhythm is often the biggest challenge. There's a 2012 interview where Krasznahorkai talks about why he writes such long, period mark-less sentences (in short, he feels it's the way we talk--one long sentence searching for what we want to say with only pauses thrown in). There are no spoilers in the interview and he does not address Seiobo.


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LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2354 comments I must say this is not fun to read on Kindle. I am not a fan of never ending sentences in print. Perhaps I could stay engaged if I listened to it!


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Lily (joy1) | 2498 comments My library system has a couple of books by Krasznahorkai, but not this one. I may follow the conversations here, but have enough on my TBR that I'm not going to purchase at this point.


Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "I must say this is not fun to read on Kindle. I am not a fan of never ending sentences in print. Perhaps I could stay engaged if I listened to it!"

As Marc said, I think the "wall of text" is the hardest thing to get past. Once you do, it does draw you in and give the text a natural urgency.

Picking up Gilead after reading Seiobo, it took some time to adjust back to more normal sentences. The periods were like rocks that kept bringing me to a halt in the reading. It almost seemed like the text was stuttering until I readapted by consciously ignoring the full stops.


message 6: by Marc (last edited May 03, 2015 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
It's not that the writing itself is hard or dense, it's that it barely gives the reader a chance to breathe. It almost feels like your fighting with the text at first instead of submitting to the flow. Hopefully, those reading it find the effort worth it (I certainly did).

Linda, reading this on a Kindle sounds pretty rough. At least you can highlight exactly where you stopped!

I recommend his other books, too, Lily, if you ever have the desire to check them out of your library.


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2498 comments Marc wrote: "I recommend his other books, too, Lily, if you ever have the desire to check them out of your library...."

Thx, Marc! Satantango and The Melancholy of Resistance are the two available. The search also brought up the DVD of "The Man from London" and James Wood's The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays. The entry for László's is marked thus: "Reality examined to the point of madness: László Krasznahorkai." How tantalizing!


Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
Lily wrote: "Marc wrote: "I recommend his other books, too, Lily, if you ever have the desire to check them out of your library...."

Thx, Marc! Satantango and [book:The Melancholy of Resistanc..."


Lily, The Man From London is one of several collaborations of Krasznahorkai with the film director Bela Tarr, who is one of my favorite filmmakers. Their collaborations are all amazing, and were my introduction to Krasznahorkai. If the text is giving you fits, you can always try the films on for size first, I think they helped ease my transition to his breathless prose.

I actually liked reading Seiobo on the Kindle, the dictionary came in very handy. Also Wikipedia, if you have one of the later Kindles.


Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 122 comments Marc wrote: "For those just starting the book or new to the author, I think finding one's reading rhythm is often the biggest challenge. There's a 2012 interview where Krasznahorkai talks about why he writes su..."

Thanks for the link to this interview Marc. It makes more sense as to why he writes his sentences like he does, which is something I've never thought about but it makes perfect sense. Imitating spoken language in written language. Lovely stuff.
I am just starting this book and I am slowly subduing to the flow of the words. Even though I am not 100% drawn in yet, I think the places described in his stories are beautiful so far.


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
I think the writing tends to grow on you as you read, Jessica.

For those in the process of reading, just let me know if you want me to start some threads by chapter (there are 17 in total, so we could do a thread every 6 chapters). I didn't want to spread the discussion too thin with too many threads, but if there's at least a few of you who'd like the opportunity to discuss in more detail as you're reading, just let me know.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments So Casceil put our copy of this book down long enough for me to swipe it and read the first two chapters, and I'm sort of finding the the run-on sentences interesting and a bit poetic, but I must say, if Krasznahorkai thinks that's the way that normal people talk, he's spending too much time in bars listening to drunk and/or stoned people rant; and I made this all one sentence because I could.


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
I'm not sure his prose reflects speech, so much as his punctuation, Peter! I got so used to his writing I didn't even notice your post was one long sentence :)

Do you plan to continue reading? I hope so!


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I plan to continue reading, but Casceil does have dibs on the book whenever she wants it back.


message 14: by Marc (last edited May 11, 2015 06:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
I guess that's a win-win for the group either way!


Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
She can tear out the pages as she finishes and give them to you.


Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
Regarding the endless sentences, I think it's more the lack of paragraphs than the non-stop sentences per se that give the writing it's particular frenetic quality; the semi-colons generally work about the same as a full-stop would.

The stories in The Complete Knifepoint Horror are written in sentences, but without paragraphs and without capitalization. To me, they read very similarly to the way Krasnahorkai reads. The author of Knifepoint Horror said he intended the stories to "spill forward as taut, uninterrupted confessions."


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Are there other writers known for this approach in addition to the example Whitney supplied? Certainly, I think there is some similarity in dense/run-on sentence style with Bolaño and Joyce (those were the first to come to mind), but each uses it in a different way. Krasznahorkai's use seems to waver between poetic and rambling (but effectively so). I like this idea of sharing a book by tearing each page out and passing it along :)


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lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments Stephen Dixon has written novels without paragraphs and passages without periods. I've read his short stories and really found them fascinating, but haven't tackled a novel yet.

Here is a link to an interview with Dixon in McSweeney's.

A lot of people have trouble with José Saramago for his inclusion of dialogue from many characters in a single run-on sentence without quotation marks, but in that case it really works for me, to get the feeling of conversation as a flow rather than discreet parts.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Whitney wrote: "She can tear out the pages as she finishes and give them to you."
But then I'd be reading sentence fragments!


Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
Ha!


Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 122 comments Krasznahorkai's writing style definitely goes between poetic and rambling. Now on chapter 34 I am used to it and I can sense the fluency, however I agree with Peter that not everyone talks like that. I think he repeats words and sentences a lot, either for emphasis or not sure why, I find that more literary than actual speech.
And now I am so self aware of how I write and how I punctuate emails and paragraphs!

This also reminded me of The Traveler of the Century that we just read in the group; Neuman's dialogues were also included in the paragraphs for a more "real life" experience or non sequential dialogues in large groups of people.


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Jessica, I think LK probably hears different "sentences" than the rest of us! There's a great audio interview with him about this book where he talks about hearing both people and objects talk to him. I'll post it in one of the spoilers threads since it's specifically about this book. Neuman's dialogues felt a little bit more natural/real to me (I'm not arguing in favor in one approach over the other--just noticing the difference).


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lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments I tried and failed to read this book two more times since my last post about it. I think I need to banish this book from my shelves. I know exactly the friend to give it to, someone who will give it a good try and who might even love it.

One of the weird side effects of my failure to thrive in Seioboland is that I've been picking up other books that I've formerly found too challenging, and this time I'm getting through them happily, so grateful to discover they have an internal coherence that is sensible to me. I can honestly say LK has exercised my reading muscles but I'm not ready for that particular marathon yet.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I've continued to read this book, but I can't entirely say why -- possibly simple bloody-minded stubbornness. I can't keep track of the number of times I've fallen asleep while reading it. And it makes David Markson's later work look transparent by comparison. I've actually found Seiobo Down Below a harder read than The Wake, and that was written in a made-up dialect of English that mixed Modern and Old English!


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Some books are like that, Poingu, but you seem to have found a silver lining. Bit off topic, but what are some of the more challenging books people read/gave up on?

It took me four tries to get through Marx's Das Kapital - Capital, Ulysses was a pretty big challenge (but I used a guidebook)--I'm not ready for Finnegans WakeUlysses yet, and I read a few pages of Only Revolutions and then reshelved it for later...

Satantango and War & War are more like novels than this book.


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Peter, would you recommend Markson, or is there a particular Markson you'd recommend? I'm not familiar with him.


message 27: by Peter (last edited May 26, 2015 08:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I've read only two Markson novels, Vanishing Point (which I read after this group did) and Wittgenstein's Mistress. Both were very odd, but I liked both of them.


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Marc (monkeelino) | 2719 comments Mod
Thanks!


message 29: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments Marc wrote: "Some books are like that, Poingu, but you seem to have found a silver lining. Bit off topic, but what are some of the more challenging books people read/gave up on? "

The usual suspects have stymied me still: Finnegan's Wake, In Search of Lost Time, and Ulysses. Ulysses is particularly irksome because every time I pick it up again I swoon at its amazingness but then I drift off and put it down before getting to the end. Books people call "maximalist" defeat me fairly regularly after exhilarating me in their first pages--Bellow's big books, Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, even Alan Gurganus's Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All which I have never gotten to the end of.

Partly because I've felt so bad about being defeated by this month's book though I've been doing some half-triathlon type reads like Molloy (loved it) and Almanac of the Dead (loving it).


message 30: by Whitney (last edited May 26, 2015 10:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Whitney | 2159 comments Mod
Ulysses seems to be a common theme. I made it through once, but petered out on a reread. I never really tried to make it through Finnegan's Wake, but I still pick it up and flip to a random page now and then. Also didn't finish JR, although I plan to come back as I was really enjoying it.

Only Revolutions didn't get reshelved, but kicked to the curb after about 20 pages. If it hadn't been Danielewski, I would have given it maybe 3 pages.


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