From two weeks ago:
- I read two scenes of Simon working his way into ever-greater power, plotting, conniving, and turning people against one another
- Stephanie read about Claude’s funeral in the lumber camp in Secrets in the Timbers, and how it impacts Lally’s decision to make a greater effort to break through Jared’s walls
- Lyn read a chapter giving a great deal of background on aunt Inga and her niece Alicia, explaining why Alicia hates Inga enough to kill her fiancé
- Judy read a re-write of Kate confronting Marshall, just as he’s stolen the millions (or thinks he has) in See That House
- Genny read a re-write of her experience being one of the featured guests, along with Bobby V and Fabian, seven years ago, at a big event in Minnetonka
Lyn said she wants happy endings, while Judy felt that this particular tragic ending made the story meaningless. Alan never learns, never grows, and remains stuck in his negative beliefs.
I would say this is typical of Russian literature (as discussed on my radio program Books and Brews in February) and it serves the purpose of teaching us, reminding us that our choices can carry grave consequences. Alan throws enough stones and…that action might take him to a place he’s not happy.
I would say that’s only partially true. He does reconsider his views and he does regret his actions. But by the time he does, the die (along with the stones) has been cast. His actions have consequences.As a side note, Lyn’s reading had the same motif. How Inga treated Alicia as a child had long term and very tragic consequences. Stephanie’s, likewise, focused on a similar question of realizing we sometimes need to step up our efforts to reach out to others, to repair relationships, while Throwing Stones addresses other dimensions of that issue.
Ross, in contrast to hating the ending, believed the story was perfect as it was, that it couldn’t have ended any differently. This story is a work of art, he said, and you don’t have to agree with a work of art.On reflection, I tend to agree with him that for this story, this is the appropriate ending. His comments called to mind my February Books and Brews with Ross Fishman, and our discussion of Russian literature–how it is often dark and tragic. In fact, my March program had a similar discussion around the tragedy often found in Irish ballads and literature, too. Yes, Throwing Stones is dark–literally and figuratively–and tragic.
But, as Ross (Fishman) said of Russian literature, life is often dark and tragic. Life doesn’t always have a happy ending. And the tales in Russian literature teach wisdom: to think about our actions ahead of time. They warn us about how easy it is to back ourselves into corners that are difficult to get out of. They warn us–over and over–that our choices and how we treat others may have long-term results that become steadily more difficult–and sometimes finally impossible–to turn around.What is the purpose of literature? What do you want from literature? What do you believe makes a book literature rather than a story?
- April 30, 2017: I will co-host Food Freedom on AM 950 with Laura Hedlund and Karen Olson Johnson. Guests: Michael Agnew, craft beer expert, and Andrew Coons, Minnesota poet.
- Listen to January’s program: poetry and coffee beer
- Listen to February’s program: Russian literature and Russian beer
- Listen to March’s program: Irish music with Tom Dahill and Ginny Johnson, Irish beer
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