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The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

#125: Oct. - Dec. 2013 (Fiction)
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Chris OConnor
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The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1
KayR
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

What drew me to this book was the idea of exploring what is sane reality and what is insane "fantasy."
"I think, therefore I am" is enough to prove we exist, but how do we know we are sane? How do we know the experiences perceived in our mind are real?
The first chapter stresses that there are no clear beginnings or endings--an idea that resonates strongly with me. As a genealogist I see the past constantly overlapping with the present and the future. I am shaped by my parents' experiences, which were shaped by their parents, and all the way back to bacteria and the first self-regenerating organic molecule. There is always a cause behind any beginning.
The author's writing style evokes a sense of a drowning person frantically grabbing at a rescuer. Imp, the narrator, frenetically records stray bits of reality, almost as though afraid of getting swept away if she doesn't hold onto reality hard enough. What a nightmare not to be able to trust your perception of reality to be true. It reminds me of being in the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989: the earth--my stable, take-it-for-granted motionless earth--began writhing and rolling. The memory still fills me with revulsion.
So far, great book.
Last edited by KayR on Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Suzanne
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

I am charmed, enchanted and smitten by this novel. I am about half way through, so I will try hard not to give anything away. This first chapter is a foundation to what is to come, however, for those of you who may want to stop reading this novel due to the simple writing, I would urge you to continue. This novel is layered and has an abundance of intriguing stories.

The title of this novel; The Drowning Girl, comes from an actual painting of the same name. Here is a link to the image:
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt ... CC0Q9QEwAA

What I find intriguing about the writing style, and you will notice this too, is the switching from first and third person narration. Also, the use of quotes is interesting. This brings up questions. Who is this third person narrator? And, what is being written using quotations?

I am just going with the flow of the novel. Because I am further along I will curtail my comments, except to say that the writing style is very deliberate. Kiernan writes with a purpose, she in this chapter has laid a foundation and in the coming chapters this foundation grows stronger.
KayR wrote:The author's writing style evokes a sense of a drowning person frantically grabbing at a rescuer. Imp, the narrator, frenetically records stray bits of reality, almost as though afraid of getting swept away if she doesn't hold onto reality hard enough.
This is interesting KayR. You say Imp records stray bits of reality, does she? Where does her reality come from? I need to disagree with you about Imp's need to grab a rescuer. What does she need to be rescued from?
KayR
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

Suzanne: Catch up with commenting on the chapters you've read before you go forward! Otherwise you'll spoil the experience!

Suzanne wrote
You say Imp records stray bits of reality, does she? Where does her reality come from? I need to disagree with you about Imp's need to grab a rescuer. What does she need to be rescued from?
By stray bits of reality, I mean details that aren't of consequence: the address of Butler Hospital (345 Blackstone Boulevard), or the location of The Drowning Girlin the RISD ("today [it] hangs much nearer the Benefit Street entrance than it did when I was a kid.... It hangs between William Bradford's Arctic Sunset (1874) and Winslow Homer's On a Lee Shore (1900)."). She knows some of her memories never actually occurred, so it's like she's latching onto reality--sanity--by using facts to keep her grounded.

And regarding
Who is this third person narrator? And, what is being written using quotations?
my guess at this point in the book is that this is an aspect of her schizophrenia, that she's seeing herself at a removal.
Last edited by KayR on Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bfcochran12
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

Hmmmmm interesting novel! The idea of the main character is absolutely fascinating, trying to determine wether or not her memories are real. I am definitely excited for what is to come. :) The idea of also titling a book based off a painting intrigues me and makes me curious as to the connection, but I'm sure we will find out! I also find Kiernan's writing style to be simplistic, but not boring. Sometimes simplistic writing isn't complex enough to keep the story going, but Kiernan does a good job with descriptions and giving us a mental picture that is clear, but still up for interpretation.
The first chapter stresses that there are no clear beginnings or endings--an idea that resonates strongly with me. As a genealogist I see the past constantly overlapping with the present and the future.
KayR, I found it interesting that you bring this up and I agree. A beginning and an ending is simply a boundary. Something always happens before the beginning, and after the ending. I like the idea of using our minds to sort of make up what happens afterwards. I'm excited to read the rest of this novel! Can't wait!
- BrendanCochran
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Cattleman
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

Okay, I have the book (Kindle Edition) and have read Chapter 1. I must say, so far it is not what I expected - maybe I should curb my expectations? :? Okay, my expectations were based on the fact that the book won the Bram Stoker award; guess I was looking for some immediate spooky mansion :twisted: ; though Imp does talk about ghosts. I have enjoyed what I have read so far. I liked the references to "The Little Mermaid" and "Little Red Riding Hood." I have done some background checking; nothing very deep, and find that several of Ms. Kiernan's other novels also touch on the boundary between reality and fantasy. I want to do a little more research into some of the painters she mentions. Are they all real, or fictional characters? :?
Love what you do, and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. -Ray Bradbury

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it. -Robert A. Heinlein
KayR
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

I want to do a little more research into some of the painters she mentions. Are they all real, or fictional characters?
Saltonstall the painter and his piece The Drowning Girl are real. Perrault is fictional.
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giselle
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

KayR wrote:
I want to do a little more research into some of the painters she mentions. Are they all real, or fictional characters?
Saltonstall the painter and his piece The Drowning Girl are real. Perrault is fictional.
Interesting to look at the The Drowning Girl painting itself, I inserted a link below. There may not be a lot of ghosts or creepy mansions in Chapter 1 but Imp is definitely haunted by ghosts inside her head. The blurring of lines between reality and fantasy, truth and fact and fiction or lies seems to create so much uncertainty for her, like vapors without substance.

weirdfictionreview.com/2012/03/novel-ex ... ning-girl/
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Cattleman
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

Thanks KayR, that is what I was thinking, just wanted to be sure. If Perrault had been real, would have liked to see some of his work.
Love what you do, and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. -Ray Bradbury

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it. -Robert A. Heinlein
KayR
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

One of the advantages of reading the Kindle edition is that it's easy to just flip to the web and check stuff out--which also becomes one of the disadvantages of reading the Kindle edition.
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Cattleman
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

I am acutally now in the middle of Chapter 4, but this tidbit is in my brain and won't go away until I put it down (Hey do I sound Like Imp, here?)
The hospital used to be called the Butler Hospital for the Insane, but somewhere along the way “for the Insane” was dropped.
It reminded me of how in my own state, the chapter in our legal code relating to mental health (and mental illness), in a less sensitive (and less politically correct) but possibly more honest time, was titled "Idiots and Lunatics."
Last edited by Cattleman on Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Love what you do, and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. -Ray Bradbury

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it. -Robert A. Heinlein
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giselle
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

Cattleman: I like your comment about these terms and political correctness (not). There is nothing wrong with these words themselves, but of course we often load words with meanings and stereotypes and prejudices and so on, that stray far from the original meaning. There are some (non-western) societies in the world where people with mental issues of one variety or another are largely accepted and integrated into society, so long as they aren't a threat to others. I think we further isolate these folks with vague, clinical or meaningless terminology which dehumanizes them and makes it much easier to say that he or she is someone else's problem, even if we just say this quietly to ourselves, and therefore easier to institutionalize and deflect responsibility.
Last edited by giselle on Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
marole428
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

I just started reading the book and not sure what I think. It's is different than what I used to. Which is the main reason I joined was to find new a different books. Can't wait to read more.
KayR
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Re: The Drowning Girl - Chapter 1

marole428 wrote
I just started reading the book and not sure what I think. It's is different than what I used to. Which is the main reason I joined was to find new a different books. Can't wait to read more.
I'm with you on all four points. This is definitely a book I wouldn't have picked up on my own, yet the story really gripped me. My guesses about what the heck was going on were all over the place.
Welcome to the book!
Kay
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