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Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion? 
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 Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
What are your thoughts on how we can have an awesome fiction discussion starting May 1, 2017? Should we read and discuss a short story collection book? Do you have any fiction suggestions or general thoughts on how we can drum up some interest in a fiction discussion? Our last few fiction discussions weren't that active so I'd like to hear your thoughts please.



Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:27 pm
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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Graphic novels? I'd never given much thought to them before, but maybe they'd be discussable.



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
What about the merging of ancient graphic novel(no texts just pictures) with the classical written aka strictly "wordy" novel?



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Can you guys give us an example of some graphic novels that might be fun to discuss?

Is a graphic novel one with little to no words? I cannot fathom that leading to much of a discussion but I could be wrong. Give us some examples off of Amazon.com please.



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
How About discussing The Ball and The Cross.

It is available free of charge: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5265/5265-h/5265-h.htm

Quote:
Chesterton does it again with another great work of thoughtful fiction. This time its a dispute between two Scotsmen, a Roman Catholic, and an atheist, whose fanatically held opinions inspire a host of comic adventures. The story's allegorical levels vigorously explore the debate between theism and atheism. From Amazon's amazon.com/Ball-Cross-G-K-Chesterton/dp ... +and+cross


Quote:
The Ball and the Cross is a novel full of debates. There is the opening debate between a professor and a monk. The professor’s name is Lucifer, the monk’s name is Michael. Some have suggested that there may be something symbolic in their names. Then there is the debate between McIan and Turnbull, who have challenged each other to a physical duel, but keep getting interrupted before they can carry it out. In the meantime they carry on a duel of ideas. There are other minor debates with other characters who are too important to be called minor, such as Pierre Durand, who represents the needed tonic of “an ordinary citizen with ordinary views.”

If you want adventure, there is nothing more exciting than the accounts of battles in the war of ideas. Since these are the battles most worth fighting, this a book most worth reading.

The opening debate that forms the theme (and title) of the book, occurs when Professor Lucifer and Brother Michael steer an airship through the clouds over London and nearly crash into the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Lucifer notices that the cross at the top of the Cathedral sits on a ball. In his mind, it should be the other way around; the ball, representing the perfection of rationality, is superior to the self-contradiction represented by the cross. Michael finds the allegory quite appropriate, as representing the supposed triumph of all the secular ideas which have been produced to lead or teach mankind. Putting the ball on top of the cross would produce “a most singular effect.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Lucifer. “What would happen?”

“I mean it would fall down,” said the monk…

The same debate is taken up by McIan and Turnbull, and brought to a similar conclusion. As Chesterton does with his opponents, so Michael does with Lucifer, and McIan does with Turnbull: he makes the opponents take their own arguments to their logical conclusions. The Catholic McIan says to the atheist Turnbull, “The world left to itself grows wilder than any creed. . . That is the only real question – whether the Church is really madder than the world. Let the rationalists run their own race, and let us see where they end. If the world has some healthy balance other than God, let the world find it. Does the world find it? Cut the world loose! Does the world stand on its own end? Does it stand, or does it stagger?”

Turnbull also finds himself reeling in a different sort of way in an different sort of debate with a different sort of opponent. Madeline is a young Catholic woman, with whom Turnbull, naturally, finds himself helplessly falling in love.

“You may be right or wrong to risk dying,” said the girl, simply; “The poor women in our village risk it whenever they have a baby. You men are the other half of the world. I know nothing about when you ought to die. But surely if you are daring to try to find God beyond the grave and appeal to Him – you ought to let Him find you when He comes and stands there every morning in our little church.”

[Turnbull responds], “I do not love God. I do not want to find him; I do not think He is there to be found. I must burst up the show; I must and will say everything. You are the happiest and most honest thing I ever saw in this godless universe. And I am the dirtiest and most dishonest.”

Madeline looked at him doubtfully for an instant, and then said with a sudden simplicity and cheerfulness: “Oh, but if you are really sorry it is all right. If you are horribly sorry it is all the better. You have only to go and tell the priest so and he will give you God out of his own hands.”

With all the strength and stubbornness he can muster, Turnbull refuses to accept any of Madeline’s uncomplicated, undemanding, yet strangely compelling statements about God’s presence. He finally says:

“I am sure there is no God.”

“But there is,” said Madeline, quite quietly, and rather with the air of one telling children about an elephant. “Why I touched His body only this morning.”

“You touched a bit of bread.” said Turnbull, biting his knuckles. “Oh, I will say anything that can madden you!”

“You think it is only a bit of bread,” said the girl, and her lips tightened ever so little.

“I know it is only a bit of bread,” said Turnbull, with violence. http://www.chesterton.org/lecture-15/


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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
AdImortalone, your book is not fiction. This thread is for finding a fiction book to read and discuss.



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
It's difficult to determine if a book is going to generate a good discussion or not, but you can't go wrong with the late Octavia Butler, the "grand dame of science fiction" who wrote some amazing fiction in the 1980s and 1990s. One of her most famous novels is Kindred about a young African American woman who is transported back in time to the antebellum south. This was an instant classic for me when I read it last year.

Next up on my reading list is Butler's Parable of the Sower. Here's a description:

Image

Quote:
Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

Multiple Nebula and Hugo Award–winning author Octavia Butler’s iconic novel is “a gripping tale of survival and a poignant account of growing up sane in a disintegrating world” (The New York Times Book Review).


https://www.amazon.com/Parable-Sower-Oc ... 921&sr=1-2


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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
I've been looking at the past fiction discussions and it seems that the most successful ones are where there has been high interaction between the participants. This is important as it is easy to get carried away with your analysis and forget about the other people reading along with you. Dumping information from the wiki or other sources can be helpful but it must be integrated into a more personal analysis. There has to be at least one person that drives the discussion and seeing all the chapters with no posts in the past fiction discussions highlights that. Changing the content will not generate participation. Interacting with people and making it worthwhile to log in to Booktalk will.

Everyone can read and analyse a book on their own we need to make it fun to share our thoughts here.


Here are my suggestions (revised):

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
https://www.amazon.com/Cats-Cradle-Nove ... 038533348X


The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
https://www.amazon.com/Master-Margarita ... 0679760806


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Last edited by Sal_McCoy on Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
In order to generate discussion there must be something interesting, perhaps provocative, to discuss. Symbolism is also a major impetus to robust discussion. I have provided a few brief quotes from Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross as examples of both. Chapter II has provocative points regarding the validity of the Bible, and posits that Christians, in the shadow of a major church, are ignorant of its content.

Chapter XVII contains major items of symbolism; being fed perfectly cooked lentils and cocoa, and the shape of the room and its exploration.

Was the fact that the room was shaped like a parallelogram intended to show that atheism and religion are similar beliefs? Why was one end of the room flat and the other pointed? Is the reference to Robinson Crusoe intended only as a literary allusion or are elements of that book relevant to Chesterton's story?

In addition to primary plot, the obvious duel between belief systems, there are also commentaries on social issues in Britain and the United States and laws being passed at the time the book was written. Of particular interest to Chesterton was eugenics, what Chesterton referred to as, Feeble Minded Laws. In the US such laws led to forced sterilization and other acts.

Seems like there is plenty to discuss here.


Quote:
II. THE RELIGION OF THE STIPENDIARY MAGISTRATE
The editorial office of The Atheist had for some years past become less and less prominently interesting as a feature of Ludgate Hill. The paper was unsuited to the atmosphere. It showed an interest in the Bible unknown in the district, and a knowledge of that volume to which nobody else on Ludgate Hill could make any conspicuous claim. It was in vain that the editor of The Atheist filled his front window with fierce and final demands as to what Noah in the Ark did with the neck of the giraffe. It was in vain that he asked violently, as for the last time, how the statement “God is Spirit” could be reconciled with the statement “The earth is His footstool.” It was in vain that he cried with an accusing energy that the Bishop of London was paid L12,000 a year for pretending to believe that the whale swallowed Jonah. It was in vain that he hung in conspicuous places the most thrilling scientific calculations about the width of the throat of a whale. Was it nothing to them all they that passed by? Did his sudden and splendid and truly sincere indignation never stir any of the people pouring down Ludgate Hill? Never.


Quote:
Chapter XVII - THE IDIOT: Every morning and evening an iron hatchway opened in his oblong cell, and a brown hairy hand or two thrust in a plate of perfectly cooked lentils and a big bowl of cocoa. He was not underfed any more than he was under exercised or asphyxiated. He had ample walking space, ample air, ample and even filling food. The only objection was that he had nothing to walk towards, nothing to feast about, and no reason whatever for drawing the breath of life.

Even the shape of his cell especially irritated him. It was a long, narrow parallelogram, which had a flat wall at one end and ought to have had a flat wall at the other; but that end was broken by a wedge or angle of space, like the prow of a ship. After three days of silence and cocoa, this angle at the end began to infuriate Turnbull. It maddened him to think that two lines came together and pointed at nothing. After the fifth day he was reckless, and poked his head into the corner. After twenty-five days he almost broke his head against it. Then he became quite cool and stupid again, and began to examine it like a sort of Robinson Crusoe.


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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Sal_McCoy, you're so correct. Interaction is the key. Perhaps creating all of the chapter threads is a mistake because newcomers might be intimidated by seeing a dozen or more threads awaiting input. Maybe we need to focus more on a key member or two that will interact with their fellow readers. Maybe we need to only select a book when we have a book discussion leader ALSO selected.



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 Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
The Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded a few days ago; here is the winner and two runners up.

The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
Nominated for a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Nominated for the quiet and compassionate saga of a family whose world is shaped by mental illness and the challenges and joys of caring for each other.

The Sport of Kings: A Novel by C. E. Morgan
Nominated for a daring novel that explores race, the burden of history and other themes of American life on a vast and imaginative canvas.



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Chris OConnor wrote:
Sal_McCoy, you're so correct. Interaction is the key. Perhaps creating all of the chapter threads is a mistake because newcomers might be intimidated by seeing a dozen or more threads awaiting input. Maybe we need to focus more on a key member or two that will interact with their fellow readers. Maybe we need to only select a book when we have a book discussion leader ALSO selected.


Online book discussion is exhausting and challenging, but can be very rewarding as a way to learn and relate to others. Booktalk has the capacity to make that happen but it is only seldom realized.

I agree with your questioning of the model of setting up chapter threads. Often I have found booktalk selections great to read, but have found it difficult to find time and traction to discuss issues that the books raise during the set discussion period, as it can be hard to comment on a book that you have not finished.

Perhaps allowing threads to emerge during the course of the discussion, starting from a single thread and encouraging subtopics to form new threads through moderation would be more accessible, when discussion demonstrates interest.

Making brief quick comments can also be a good way to get others to think about the issues raised and respond.


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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Here are some possibilities.

1. Volume IV of Complete Original Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant

I recommend Volume IV only due to the size of this work. In particular, I recommend Volume IV because it has the Horla story in it. I heard this story in four different radio plays, and each play told the story in a different manner.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3090/3090-h/3090-h.htm

2. Famous Modern Ghost Stories

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15143

3. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James

Part 1 only.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8486

4. Myths and Tales from the White Mountain Apache by Pliny Earle Goddard

This one is a bit short.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53113

5. Legends of the Gods by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge

This is regarding ancient Egyptian myth stories.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9411

6. Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4018

7. Twenty-Five Ghost Stories

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/53419



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Excellent! Thanks Murmur. ;-)



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Post Re: Does anyone have an idea for how we can have an awesome fiction discussion?
Chris OConnor wrote:
Sal_McCoy, you're so correct. Interaction is the key. Perhaps creating all of the chapter threads is a mistake because newcomers might be intimidated by seeing a dozen or more threads awaiting input. Maybe we need to focus more on a key member or two that will interact with their fellow readers. Maybe we need to only select a book when we have a book discussion leader ALSO selected.

Here are some scattered thoughts:

Perhaps also not start a discussion without an "all ready" signal from those who voted on a book or said they would participate. A lot can happen between indicating interest and the time to start talking--such as not ever getting a hold of the book!

What I think would worth trying is to have "all ready" mean that everyone has finished the book. Then it's all discussion, with the problem of finding time to read having been dealt with.

Another idea would be discuss favorites, or books already read. This would be a "reconsiderations" approach. It was interesting for me to reread and discuss Moby Dick and Don Quixote on this venue.

Consider a semi-genre approach, which would comprise separate forums, such as "Modern Short Fiction" or "Dystopian Novels." An organizing principle might help lessen a feeling of random selection and bring intelligent design in (could not resist).

Speaking of brevity, shorter books just seem to have a better shot of getting discussions to the finish line.



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