Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Sun 2 Mar 08 07:31
Again, that's at such a subconscious level that I really can't answer that question sensibly. For example, I knew I wanted to write about this strange ritual called Zozobra, and started my three characters off to see it and comment to each other on it. I did not plan that they'd get separated from each other--I had no idea that would happen--and then the boy Alijo shows up, and also gets lost. And on and on and on. These are contingencies; they didn't have to happen. They just did.
Jim Rutt (memetic) Mon 3 Mar 08 08:33
Ok, I'm done now. First a complaint: Pamela, whoever designed the book did you a major disservice. The type face used has to be the worst one I've just about ever seen in a book. Horrible. Head ache inducing. I FINALLY got used to it about a third of the way in, but scanning this morning for tidbits for this post, and again eyes started going cross eyed from the type face. Along the same lines the justification is also annoying, with word boundaries often smaller than they should be and more variable than they should be. Ok, production rant aside I liked the book. An interesting concept to use what is essentially the armature from a "romance novel" and use it for a "novel of ideas". Also an interesting (if depressing) twist to have the heroine choose the wrong lover (sez I!) in the end. LOTS of really interesting big ideas: the nature of great art, the importance of trade, the meaning of money, the boundaries of the knowable, the nature of the transition to homo sapiens sapiens, the nature of friendship, recurring artistic themes across cultures, etc. Also lots of richness to the portrayal of Northern New Mexico and Santa Fe. As to the preface claim that the main characters "bear no resemblance to people living or dead" I certainly couldn't equate any of the characters one to one with people in Santa Fe or at the Institute that I know, however I did seem some aspects of some of the main characters I thought were borrowed from actual folks around town. No more on that here, I'll save it for a chat over tea at the Tea House! Now to go read what others have posted here....
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Mon 3 Mar 08 16:34
You're not the first to complain about the type face--no, I had nothing to do with that. However, you are the first to complain that Judith chose the wrong guy. Amusing.
Jim Rutt (memetic) Mon 3 Mar 08 20:42
Really? Such a real man as Benito versus one of those ultra narcissistic guys who think they are a protagonist in an Ayn Rand book? You gotta know that won't end well. Course I ain't a girl....
Donna Odierna (strega) Tue 4 Mar 08 08:03
Oh, I'd go for Benito, too. A real man vs. a myth?
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Tue 4 Mar 08 08:33
Molloy is pretty far from an Ayn Rand type protagonist. He cares deeply for his wife until she moves into a world where he doesn't want to follow (nor should he); cares--not abstractly but actively--for his children. His real interest isn't money, it's in ideas about art, about language. He loves mythology, but is in no way a myth. He has grown up in a milieu where none of that mattered to the people around him, nobody encouraged him that way. He despises the toys of his fellow rich guys: he'll start a foundation with his money, give it away. Molloy could have been one of my students at the University of Pittsburgh many years ago (I did borrow some biographical details there). These were the first generation in their families to go to college; and I got to watch them in their first exposures to the life of the mind. They loved it. But they mostly regarded it as a temporary joy; never dared to think it could be for them personally, no matter what some idiot college professor said. Molloy breaks out of the American class system by going abroad, where he finds people really do take the life of the mind seriously. That's why he's so at home in Germany.
Jim Rutt (memetic) Tue 4 Mar 08 09:54
I don't think of "Ayn Rand protagonist" meaning "it's all about the money". Quite the contrary. Remember Howard Roark? Rather it's about the obsession with the self. Doesn't Molloy even describe his life as a work of art? If that isn't a Randian concept I don't know what is. As to "He despises the toys of his fellow rich guys" ... well, after keeping an open mind on him for a while you put him in a Mercedes G-Wagon.... a vehicle not cost effective for much except making a statement: "hey I'm a quirky rich guy", that sealed it for me. >cares--not abstractly but actively--for his >children By sending them to boarding school! I too have known folks like Molloy, indeed have an ex good friend that fits the mold quite well ... My guy is actually more of a real intellectual than Molloy and as much as an aesthete, but like most of those guys in the end, "all about him". Molloy has too many of the hallmarks of those guys who are still deep down very insecure about their prole backgrounds and over compensate for it in a fairly ludicrous "drama king" fashion. Now Judith is an odd fish too, obviously not putting much personal value on domestic bliss, so perhaps her trading a real chance at domestic happiness for a short term tumultuous affair with M works for her. I was sad for her, though. It's as if she didn't learn anything deep from Sophie's death.
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Tue 4 Mar 08 10:35
Yes, he does think his life is a work of art. I don't remember anything like that in Rand, but it's been a while. He sends his kids to boarding school but is with them on weekends and holidays--more than his wife can manage. It wouldn't work for him to be a stay-at-home dad. He'd hate it and so would his kids. In no way is he a saint. He never will be. He's feeling his way into a new life. I grant you Judith is an odd fish. What should she have learned from Sophie's death that she didn't?
Jim Rutt (memetic) Tue 4 Mar 08 11:55
That love and life are at least as important and probably more so than work.
Jim Rutt (memetic) Tue 4 Mar 08 11:59
On a detail, how old is Molloy? From internal evidence my best guess was "around 45", but flipping thru again I couldn't find anything definitive to hang that on. That would put him halfway between Inez (35) and Judith (about 55) which seems right.
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Tue 4 Mar 08 12:35
Born in 1950, so by this time, late forties.
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Tue 4 Mar 08 16:35
There's about five years between Molloy and Judith. Madame Genius has a weakness for hyperbole.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 5 Mar 08 09:50
I don't want to interrupt, but I do wish to note that these past two weeks have really flown by. What a wonderful conversation this has been, Pamela and David! Though we've turned our virtual spotlight to our next Inkwell guest, that doesn't mean you have to stop now. This topic will remain here, open and ready for more comments, indefinitely, and you're more than welcome to continue. If, however, other things are demanding your time and attention now, I want to thank you both for joining us. And to wish you, Pamela, all the best in whatever you're working on next.
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Wed 5 Mar 08 14:00
Thank you, Cynthia, and a big, big thanks to David Kline, who moderated this discussion so admirably. Since no author can really stop talking about his or her work, I'll drop by every now and then to answer any questions that might come up.
Jim Rutt (memetic) Thu 6 Mar 08 08:38
the bottom line for me, that made _Edge of Chaos_ onto my "really good books" list is that several times it made me stop and think about my own life: aging, dying, friendship, choices in love, life, and work.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 6 Mar 08 16:49
This has been a terrific conversation. I'm not a big fiction reader, though intelligent science fiction grabs me now and then. I'm newly aware that this book has enough of that special intelligence to it and I'm ordering it now. Thanks!
David Kline (kline) Thu 6 Mar 08 19:57
As I knew it would be, it's been a pleasure to play my part these last two weeks. I will also stop by from time to time also, since I know that there are lots more facets of pamela's book to be explored and I'm sure many that I haven't thought of.
I am of course married to the Berlin Wall (katecat) Fri 7 Mar 08 05:20
thank you so much for being so generous in answering our questinos, pamela
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Fri 7 Mar 08 14:14
It was a great pleasure for me. I'm sorry I wasn't always very articulate about the creative process, but katecat as an actor knows how mysterious that process can be, and so, I'm sure does everyone else. Yes--those issues, love and work, friendship, aging, dying: they preoccupied me as I wrote, and they continue to preoccupy me. I've been extraordinarily lucky in love and friendship and work, and that luck has assuaged aging and the inevitable. Not everyone gets such a privilege. I'm grateful.
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Tue 11 Mar 08 08:13
Over the weekend, somebody asked me if my character Molloy had anything to do with Beckett's novel called "Molloy." Yes, I fessed up; it was a tribute to Beckett, and the two characters have some things in common.
David Kline (kline) Wed 12 Mar 08 12:06
And then later, I came along and asked you again about your willful characters, with minds of their own. Do they ever try to use what what Jostein Gaarder (he of _Sophie's World_) calls "romantic irony" and yell out "Help, I'm a prisoner character in a chaotic novel by someone's enigmatic elder aunt!"
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Wed 12 Mar 08 14:34
Metaromance-- a new genre!
Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Thu 13 Mar 08 08:00
If so, I am deaf to it. Sort of like prayers to God, isn't it? We're told He hears them, even if he doesn't answer.
David Kline (kline) Sat 15 Mar 08 20:15
Or we're told he answers them and we just don't understand the answers; or we're told that he hears them and just laughs.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Sat 15 Mar 08 20:17
isn't the grandest cosmic jest, at the very edges of chaos?
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