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The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174) 
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Post The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)




Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:17 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
This paragraph on page 152 was great, I thought. It's the soldier Stephen Walsh's experience in the field, summing up what war can leave one with:

Feeling something bumping into his side, he turned and found a detached head, bearded and blue-eyed, its expression one of wounded dignity, and with strings of integument and vein trailing from it's neck. For a hideous moment, before he could push it away, Walsh felt it was appealing to him as if, given even this experience, life could seem still desirable.

Very immediate yet deep. Now that's a writer, as the world has discovered.




Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:42 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
I've read one other Doctorow novel, "Ragtime", and now I'm wondering if it's a recurring feature of his work that he always depicts sex as something grotesque or depraved. So far, all we've seen of sex is the glorification of a whorehouse, its description as an "inhabitation," and the Jameson boys' discussion. If this is typical of Doctorow, that would make him a member of a literary elite that finds themselves hard pressed to ever represent a healthy sexual relationship. Maybe decent sex just isn't that interesting -- save as pornography, and "serious" novelists don't want to delve into pornography. Think of it as Nabokov syndrome. But even if decent sex is less interesting than depravity, it would be nice -- maybe even somewhat realistic -- to see one or two healthy sexual relationship crop up every now and then.




Wed Dec 28, 2005 4:51 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
I agree with this. I'm not liking the depictions of sexual encounters in the book. They seem overblown or strange. The doctor and Emily's relationship is not healthy. General Kilpatrick desires with the daughter and mother are sort of silly and randy.

Really sad, was the gang bang depicted on page 185. It seems odd to me the officer didn't lift a finger to stop it. Then the women died after the doctor tended to her. I can't imagine someone so cold he would not stop this torture.

Though this book has some good passages, altogether it's not my favorite fiction read of the year, certainly. I'm having a hard time finishing it. I'm not done yet, so maybe I will get excited about it again...if I can finish it. ::75




Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:11 am
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
It's wartime. Do soldiers in the field have a lot of opportunities to engage in healthy consensual sex? Whoring and rape is common in most wars.

Slavery is involved. Is it possible for a slave to consent to sex or is this always rape? Or was it never rape since they were property?

Minors are sexually active. Our eternal God-given morals have changed - what used to be considered a healthy marriage might now be prosecuted as statutory rape.

Many of the characters are desperate. That girl banged General Kilpatrick just so she and her mother could escape North.

So yes, these depictions are uncomfortable, but I doubt this is a hang up with the author - it was reality.

Edited by: LanDroid at: 1/1/06 10:04 pm



Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:03 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
Lan, you're right that the context does call for a particular handling of sex, and I might have lost sight of that. My comment was based on this being the second book I've read by the author, and he handles sex in much the same way in the other book I've read. That probably isn't enough to build a strong argument on, but I thought I'd point it out and see if anyone else had read other books by Doctorow and could confirm or deny.




Tue Jan 03, 2006 5:08 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
Yes, yes, you are right on all counts, Lan. I wasn't thinking clearly. I'm negative because the writing isn't grabbing me. Yes, I know it is masterful, it's just not my cup of tea or what I'd like to be reading now.

I enjoyed this author's "World's Fair". In that book, he handled sex very naturally and realistically: young boys mesmorized by it, women "loose" due to economic circumstances, for instance.

Now that is the only other Doctorow book I'm familiar with. I couldn't make it through "Ragtime". So I can't help you out, Mad, on how this author writes about sex.

I have a wonderful link to many major papers whose columnists reviewed this book. They were by no means all positive. You might take a look at what these other renowned writers think.




Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:00 am
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
AnnetteS quotes the book: Feeling something bumping into his side, he turned and found a detached head, bearded and blue-eyed, its expression one of wounded dignity, and with strings of integument and vein trailing from it's neck. For a hideous moment, before he could push it away, Walsh felt it was appealing to him as if, given even this experience, life could seem still desirable.

I remember reading this passage. It reminded me of the closing lines in Stanley Kubrick's film "Full Metal Jacket". Private Joker says something along the lines of, "The dead know only one thing, that it is better to be alive."

Yes, I know it is masterful, it's just not my cup of tea or what I'd like to be reading now.

I watched Stephen Speilberg's recent adaptation of "The War of the Worlds" the other night, and the thought occurred to me that Doctorow writes much like Speilberg directs. That isn't a slight, by any means. Speilberg gets a lot of flack among cinephiles for being something of a mainstream hack, but I think he's a very sophisticated form of mainstream. And I'd say that's about where Doctorow falls. Aside from some novel touches here and there, he doesn't do much to really jar your perceptions, and he's good at developing themes that are fairly common in our culture. His prose is appealing if not astouding and he draws characters that are more or less immediately recognizable.

I enjoyed this author's "World's Fair". In that book, he handled sex very naturally and realistically: young boys mesmorized by it, women "loose" due to economic circumstances, for instance.

I have a wonderful link to many major papers whose columnists reviewed this book.

Post it. I'd be interested to read what they thought. In fact, put it in a new thread, and we can discuss which ones we thought were most insightful and which ones get it totally wrong.




Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:04 pm
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Post Re: The March - Part 2 (pages 137 - 174)
Here is the link to the reviews: www.reviewsofbooks.com/the_march/

OK, most of them praised it.

Celia McGee, writing for The New York Times, sums it up for me.




Wed Jan 04, 2006 6:02 pm
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Post War is hell
I haven't read any other books by Doctorow, so I'm just considering the sex in context.

"He had sworn to wreak terror, hadn't he? His orders were being followed. All these riotous, drunken arsonists, these rapers and looters..." p. 185

However, it's not all down & nasty.

"And at the moment of his crisis she made the mistake of opening her eyes, and in the light of the hearth fire his face was hideous, contorted by a stunned and mindless expression, the eyes frozen in a blind stare that seemed to her an agony of perception as if into a godless universe." p. 143

A Spiritual Revelation experienced by many atheists on this board. ::04

Edited by: LanDroid at: 1/5/06 10:17 pm



Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:06 pm
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Post Re: War is hell
At the end of this section there's a turn of events that have gotten me a little more involved in the plot of the whole novel. I'm talking about Arly's assumption of a new motivation. This, to me, is the most interesting thread in the novel so far, and I almost wish that Doctorow had focussed on this to the exclusion of some of the other side characters.

It also, for me, clarifies a great deal about Arly's character. He's clearly intelligent, savvy and clever. It also seems apparant that he's sincere about his religious convictions, and in particular he believes himself to be the receptacle for divine transmissions of some sort. So far, Doctorow hasn't portrayed him as a dangerous maniac, although it seems clear to me that the plan he's fixed on is something along the lines of an assassination. Maybe Doctorow will frustrate my expectations on that point. We'll see. Any thoughts?




Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:47 pm
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