The Flame Alphabet The Flame Alphabet discussion

Thoughts, ideas, like or dislike, debates, need to discuss this book

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message 1: by Farrah (last edited Feb 24, 2012 09:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Farrah I just finished The Flame Alphabet. I think I have to read it again at some point. There are just so many things to dissect and discuss in this book. I am curious to hear other's thoughts and viewpoints of this book. The use of metaphor was amazing and the plot, theme, and characters where so remarkable. I have jokingly cautioned to friends that this books should be read with a side of Prozac because it is just so sad.
I also found myself hating LeBov and sometimes appreciating his realism. I felt conflicted about Sam and Claire much the same way.

Holly Foley (Procida) I am in the middle of this book. I feel buried and overwhelmed by the language. Apparently he is creating a very realistic sensation, since his characters also succumb to language. I understand your conflicted feelings about Sam and Lebov, but I had no feelings at all toward Claire since she was only characterized through Sam, and didn't actually do or say very much. I appreciate her feelings of sacrifice as a mother. But without giving her a voice she doesn't have much power in this book of overwhelming voices. I am around page 200 and cannot foresee what path the plot can take unless a cure is found pretty soon.

message 3: by Farrah (last edited Mar 05, 2012 06:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Farrah That was part of my conflict with Claire. She is a strong character in a way because Sam orbits around her and cannot let her be. She is a force that makes others act around her. She is the cause of many effects. I don't want to spoil it for you but let me know if your opinion changes of her when you finish reading the book.

Holly Foley (Procida) Ok finished.. and still not a Claire fan. Still respect her dedication as a Mom but don't feel like I know anything about her as a person. I do have a lot of empathy for Sam's character. The manipulation by the scientific community was interesting and creepy. Really the whole book was pretty creepy.

Farrah There was a creepiness to it. I have to read it again. But not for awhile. Claire is certainly a character I want to study more. The overall ignorance and paradoxical wisdom astounds me at the end.

Marissa I had a really hard time reading this book and had to make myself finish it because I was hoping for some payoff that never came. I just couldn't believe that people were continuing to walk around with such terrible maladies. I thought the idea for the book was really interesting, but couldn't stand the language of the book. If that is what the author was going for as a meta-feeling, then it worked. But for me it may have worked too well. I read Lullaby immediately after and I found that to be a much more engrossing read with a similar theme.

Roxanna Muller It's been mentioned here that it was difficult to understand/relate to/care about Claire because she didn't have a voice of her own. I think this was very intentionally done to exemplify the fact that neither her husband or daughter seemed to know or understand her. We were unable to get to know her because no one else in the story bothered to get to know her, and were in fact generally dismissive of her. Her character made me sad for this reason. Claire didn't have much of a voice because no one listened anyway.

Jemma I loved this book. It was so powerfully written and so terribly sad, as you guys have mentioned already. I really liked the language chosen although it made it a hard slog at times.

message 9: by Jon (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jon The book is well written, but I didn't like it quite as much as I expected to. The premise sounded absolutely brilliant and the initial scenes with their daughter were ones that any parent of a sullen teenager (is there any other type?) could relate to. There were also quite a few moving passages as Sam and Claire try to remain with their daughter and stay a family. However, the side plot with the "Jew holes" just took things to far into surrealism for me. The basic premise that language can be a toxin is surreal enough and probably would have been more effective if it was grounded in a reality more like our own. Tony Burgess' "Pontypool Changes Everything" mined similar territory a few years ago. It's a zombie novel where the virus is transmitted through the English language. Hear the infected speak and you become infected yourself.

Lobstergirl I thought the premise was very intriguing, especially because listening to a lot of teens and millennials talk, their way of speaking is toxic, with all the "likes". I can listen to this for about 4 seconds before I have to remove myself. But the book didn't really do much for me; I also couldn't relate at all to the "Jew holes" and I utterly lost interest when Sam entered the medical facility. The book was disgusting - things were greasy, or waxy, or vomitous, etc.

message 11: by Max (new) - rated it 5 stars

Max It's funny how many readers are getting worked up over the "Jew holes" and the whole religious aspect of the book. One explanation of course is the straight forward one - people are super sensitive about anything that may appear to offend or mock one's religion. But where other aspects of the story are understood to be symbolic, for some reason this specific subplot is taken literally. Why not look at a bigger picture? Essentially Marcus describes how religious teachings are handed down, the content of those teachings, and the effect it has on the recipients. Is it so far fetched, that we cannot draw parallels to real life examples? If we weren't so used to them, many rituals and ceremonies of an organized religion could be interpreted as bizarre, illogical, impractical, laughable, offensive, and nonsensical. Don't get hung up on the jewish connection; the way the subject is treated in this novel applies universally.

Lobstergirl I don't think anyone in this thread got "worked up" over the Jew holes, nor is there evidence everyone took the Jew holes "literally." In fact Jon stated that the Jew holes were too "surreal" for him, which is very different from a literal interpretation. Maybe other readers elsewhere were "super sensitive" about what they perceived to be some kind of mocking of religion, but no one in this thread could be described that way.

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