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Omensetter's Luck
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Cluster Headache One - 2012 > Discussion - Week Two - Omensetter's Luck - pp. 75 - 160

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
This discussion covers The Reverend Jethro Furber’s Change of Heart, Parts 1-2, pp. 75-160

Welcome to the world of The Reverend Jethro Furber and the boiling, roiling landscape of his psyche. Sent to a small Ohio town to perform God’s work, he doesn’t seem to know how to mix with the locals. When Omensetter arrives with his family, Furber’s already fragile self is pushed down a muddy slope and into???

To avoid spoilers, please limit your discussion to these two sections (and the previous sections).

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) This part is tough going. Is the Rev insane? He had seizures as a kid and now is old or is schizophrenic or has

"Conducted a chart analysis on 50 patients (31 men and 19 women) with a variety of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III (DSM-III) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III-Revised (DSM-III-R) defined psychotic disorders to examine hyperreligiosity. There was a trend for a significant interaction between gender and diagnosis, with there being a lower male to female ratio. A significant difference in the frequency of psychosis with religious content was found among the various psychotic disorders. To some extent, the specific psychotic religious content was colored by the patient's religious upbringing or culture. Patients with bipolar mania had the highest frequency of hyperreligiosity, followed by patients with complex partial seizure disorder and schizophrenia with focal EEG changes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)"

Amanda (tnbooklover) Newbie jumping in here...Ok when I hit this part I felt like I had started a different book. This part has been a tough go for me. It took me quite a few pages to figure out what was even going on and that the Rev was just basically rambling and going crazy. This book is alittle outside of my comfort zone of reads but I am really trying to stretch myself alittle hoping to learn some things from all of you brain pain people!

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Amanda wrote: "Newbie jumping in here...Ok when I hit this part I felt like I had started a different book. This part has been a tough go for me. It took me quite a few pages to figure out what was even going on ..."

Me too! I was a secretary until I retired! I started my own Great Literature self-education program 15 years ago by going to the library. Brain Pain is so cool for me.

message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Amanda wrote: "Newbie jumping in here...Ok when I hit this part I felt like I had started a different book. This part has been a tough go for me. It took me quite a few pages to figure out what was even going on ..."

@Amanda and April - I wouldn't say that Furber is insane exactly. He is an extremely unbalanced social misfit and has been since childhood.

What Gass is setting up in this first part is the polar opposite differences between Omensetter and Furber. Depending on how you want to look at it, you could say that Furber is the protagonist of the story who, due to his mental imbalances and psychotic jealousy, sees Omensetter as his nemesis or antagonist. Furber is an unlikable anti-hero for sure, but I think it is an interesting twist to place him in the protagonist position.

In this first Furber section, he is inside the fenced-in church cemetery where he goes to prepare for his Sunday sermons. In the dark shadows of the overgrown garden, sitting on a cold stone bench among the dead, Furber can hear the townspeople out in the sunshine, enjoying life and nature. He goes to the gate and sees Omensetter and his family. There on a rock, wet from bathing in the river, lies Omensetter's naked, fertile wife. The contrast is drawn very sharply between the two men. This launches Furber on a many-paged recollection of his early days in Gilean, and then further back to his childhood - his voyeurism of his neighbor working in her garden, the affection and attention given to him by his aunt and his mother's female friends, and of course, fatty Ruth raising her skirt to show him her genitals. As Furber reminisces about his mother telling her friends that he has had a religious experience, he quietly thinks to himself:

"God spoke that day between the lower lips of fatty Ruth but I missed the meaning of his proposition."

Furber was denied contact with the world because of his nervous condition. The only thing his parents did not protect him from was the bible. He absorbed all the sex and violence of the old testament, mixed it together with his voyeurism and his contact with his Aunt Janet and fatty Ruth, and ends up years later in the church cemetery, as isolated and sexually frustrated as he ever was, still unable to connect with the world outside the fence...

message 6: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jun 07, 2012 01:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) The stream of consciousness pouring out of him is scary. I think he scares the community too, but not with fear of god. It's weird his parents, seeing his anxiety and nervousness kept everything that might terrorize him from him, yet gave him the bible which is so full of awful imagery. Remember in the movie, 'Clockwork Orange' where the evil Alex whips Jesus in his fantasy? It's easy to see how an abnormal mind can have a takeaway that is wrong. If he wanted to, he can read other books. His main reveries are certain bible stories and sexualized children's poetry and songs and fantasies of sex with his congregation. To me, he's a loaded pistol with the safety off. He may be pointing at Omensetter, but if he was in my world, I'd have my hand on my cell to call 911, just in case. In the book, people seem to realize he is weird, which he in unaware of until he sees their expressions or he notices they back away from him, which makes him frustrated. More odd to me, the town seems to expect preachers to be nuts.

Jenny (jennyil) | 54 comments There is a long tradition of men of God who seem crazy to other people going back to the Old Testament Prophets. 19th Century America saw the development of a lot of different Baptist and Pentacostal churches that from todays perspective seem pretty bizarre. Some of them, like the snake handling Pentacostal churches, survive to this day, others like the Two seed in the spirit Predestination Baptists did not survive.

Furber seems like he would appear dangerous to others. His odd questions and violence would have put people off. If he had been kind, good looking, and charismatic people would have followed him even if his ideas were nutty.

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