Bookish Topic Tuesday
Giving up on Books
So in light of this wonderful graphic from Goodreads I want to discuss when to give up on a book!
Bookish Topic Tuesday
Giving up on Books
So in light of this wonderful graphic from Goodreads I want to discuss when to give up on a book!
A seriously great post about The Casual Vacancy! Check it out, and read all the other posts because they are extremely high quality, and very professional. A great ‘wrap up’ of a journey that not only involves the story, but involves the blogger too.
My feelings about writing this post are very strange and difficult to put into words. I wanted to have this blog updated daily, but due to Rowling’s long, long parts and my damnable laziness, it took me nearly three months to finish it. And yet oddly enough it feels like such a short time ago that I set out on this journey. And now it has come to an end, and to be honest, I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to finish this journey. And yet operating this blog has given me such a great deal of stress, and I want to get this post up before the end of the year. To be honest, I think that’s why I don’t want to finish this post. Because of that stress, that I feel that I have such a huge obligation to write the greatest post I have ever…
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Well I am back, and I though I would start with some news courtesy of Pottermorenews.
As you can guess from the title, The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling is not just rumoured, but confirmed to be adapted for television as a miniseries, to be broadcast on the BBC later in 2014.
The BBC announced today they would be adapting J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for television as a mini-series.
In a press release issued today, BBC announced that the series is expected to air on BBC One in 2014, with the number and length of episodes to be decided “once the adaptation process has begun.” The series will be produced for BBC One by an independent production company operated by Neil Blair on behalf of The Blair Partnership, the agency that represents Rowling, and Rick Senat of the BBC will act as executive producer.
J.K. Rowling was also quoted to be “thrilled” that the novel will be adapted. It is reported that she will be very involved with the project, much like she was with the Harry Potter films. She is quoted below:
“I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home.”
Now I think this is a fantastic idea, and eagerly await it, even if it is just less than 2 years away. But I do wonder, who on earth will all the actors be? I can’t picture anyone as the actors. I’d guess they’d be all British like they were in Harry Potter, since it is set in the UK, but as for who, I have no idea. Who do you think should play Krystal or Terri or Colin or Barry (even if it is for a short time) or the plethora of characters who are involved in the story? How many episodes do you think they will need to cover everything? And what do you think will be cut out? I do hope that it will get underway and that it won’t be long after the British premiere that the US and Australia (and of course everywhere around the world) get to see what the BBC have produced. I do look forward to it, but there is a lot more to do in the meantime, like post about The Stone Key, which should go up later today.
Thanks so much to all the new followers, and to all those people that liked my final The Casual Vacancy post, I really appreciate it, and welcome! Special thanks to the two people who reblogged! The Writingale at http://beenakawoosa.wordpress.com/ (beautiful looking blog!) and Annette J Dunlea Irish Author’s Literary Blog at http://ajd8.wordpress.com/
As I said yesterday I wanted to go through all the excerpts of the Local Council Administration that we are presented at each of the sections. I want to do this because clearly they have a purpose, and I didn’t really understand their purpose at the beginning. And of course, how could I know what an excerpt was there for if I hadn’t actually read the chapter and knew the context. So I thought it would be best to go through them all. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to extract from them, but I hope I can help clarify my own and other people’s confusion. So if you do have any questions or your own theories, please share! This will be the last post on The Casual Vacancy, and I’ll be continuing The Keeping Place (part of the Obernewtyn Chronicles) tomorrow. Once that is done, I will be updating you on some of the other books I have been reading (I haven’t done that in a while), before continuing the Obernewtyn Chronicles with The Stone Key. But right now let’s look at Part One.
So Part One is pretty straight forward. 6.11 A casual vacancy is deemed to have occurred:a) when a local councillor fails to make his declaration of acceptance of office within the proper time; or b) when his notice of resignation is received; or c) on the day of his death
Well as we all know Barry dies in the following scene opening up a vacancy (a casual one in fact) in Pagford’s local council. I don’t think this needs too much analysis. I do find it interesting however that they say ‘on the day of HIS death’. Now I know that clearly there was a time when councillor’s would have only been men, I don’t know whether the seventh edition would have fallen during that time. It is just an interesting inclusion. I also wonder what ‘the proper time’ is, is it a day, a week, doesn’t really say. I do also assume that councillors aren’t stuck in the council forever unless they do one of these three things, and that people are elected on a bi-, tri-, quad-, quin- teniall basis for however long the terms are. Moving on.
The next ‘part’ is (Olden Days), now quickly I want to comment on the title. I find it interesting that JK didn’t just write Olden Days. I think she is hinting at the fact that when parenthesis () are used, it usually means they are having a flash back, and you are getting back story. She does this quite a lot, and there are whole pages that are contained within brackets, which is very unusual. But I do find it interesting. This excerpt is about ‘Trespassers’:
12.43 As against trespassers (who, in principle, must take other people’s premises and their occupiers as they find them)…
Really in this next section we learn about Pagford’s history and its relationship with Yarvil. We find out about The Fields. I can’t help but feel that maybe they are saying that Aubrey Fawley senior, somehow trespassed on Pagford, or really Yarvil trespassed on Pagford. I didn’t quite understand this until now. Yarvil, in way of the Fields, is trespassing into Pagford. Somehow, and this is something I find hard to believe, Yarvilians have different accents to Pagfordians, even though they are so close to one another. But Pagford see this as an egregious trespass, so I guess it makes sense. I do wonder what else the Trespassers clause in the book means, cause that excerpt doesn’t really tell us too much.
It is very strange that the first Part and (Olden Days) goes for over a third of the novel, and then the last two thirds is broken up into the last six parts, unusual. Now this section is about ‘Fair Comment’
7.33 Fair comment on a matter of public interest is not actionable.
Now this doesn’t really make sense unless you understand what actionable means. I’m not a lawyer or a law student, so I don’t have a comprehensive understanding of such legal terms, but I do understand that actionable is referring to defamation. If you make a ‘fair comment’ then you won’t be up for defamation charges or being sued. It is fairly complex, and ‘fair comment’ relates to more about making claims based on facts that turn out to be untrue. I don’t fully understand, but apparently those in public office like councillors and famous people can basically say whatever they like, as long as it isn’t intended to be malicious, and they can’t be sued. As for why this relates to The Casual Vacancy well in the next few scenes we have Andrew hacking into the Council website and making comments about Simon. It is most definitely ‘fair comment’ because it is true, even if it has malicious intent. Now clearly Andrew is not a person of public office, but the Council website facilitates the comment, so I don’t know if that makes it a fair comment or not. But it is a matter of public interest, since Simon was running for the Council, and so the public deserve to know who they were voting in.
Part Three is about ‘Duplicity’
7.25 A resolution should not deal with more than one subject … Disregard of this rule usually leads to confused discussion and may lead to confused action…
As for what this excerpt is about things start to get more difficult. This section deals with Nana Cath’s death, but also has Kay moving into the warzone and trying to save Bellchapel. The only resolution I can see is Kay and Colin’s discussion. They are trying to solve the issue of Bellchapel, but also the Fields. The discussion doesn’t go too well, and I can see how this would be called confused. But it also lead to poor action, since nothing much really happened. In the end they started talking about Krystal and the Weedon’s, which though connected to Bellchapel isn’t the same subject. All they decide to do is really take the statistics to Parminder, for her to then bring up. But as we know that doesn’t end well, and the action isn’t productive. So that’s what I think the duplicity is referring to.
Next section, Part Four – Lunacy
5.11 At common law, idiots are subject to a permanent legal incapacity to vote, but persons of unsound mind may vote during lucid intervals.
Getting past the fact that this is not very ‘politically correct’ and even if ‘idiot’ is a medical term, it is clear that this was written some time ago. As for what is ‘common law’, it is law based on previous court cases. So once a judge (especially ones from the highest levels of courts) makes a decision at one hearing, the legal precedence stands forever. In a future court case of a similar theme, a lawyer can use the first judge’s decision in their arguments and force the judge to make the same ‘decree’, ensuring that everyone is treated fairly. So this means that there was a court case on whether ‘idiots’ and people of unsound mind could vote. The outcome was that idiots could not vote, but if a person were lucid they could. The next section does deal with the election so I can immediately see that this is one piece of ‘Council Law’ that actually relates to elections and we also get the awful Council meeting where Parminder almost loses the plot herself. As to how the ‘idiot’ section relates, I don’t really see a connection. Unless they are referring to Colin with OCD, but that is not idiocy or having an ‘unsound mind’. The only other thing is that maybe someone thought Parminder wasn’t of sound mind, but that sort of thing is never mentioned.
For Part Five we get something that leads on from Part Two, this time about ‘privilege’
7.32 A person who has made a defamatory statement may claim privilege for it if he can show that he made it without malice and in pursuit of a public duty.
So this leads on from ‘Fair Comment’. Defamation is saying something that could damage a person’s character or image. So if I were to say that you stole that would be the beginning of defamation. But if that was true, I could claim fair comment, so long as I said it without intending to harm the person’s character, but so that the public would benefit from knowing that you were a thief. If I made the same accusation, but it wasn’t true. That would be defamation. If I had reason to believe that it was true, and it was again without malice and to benefit the public, I could claim privilege. That’s my understanding and most definitely NOT legal advice! As to why this relates to Part Five, here we have Howard Mollison’s party, where Andrew learns that Howard has had an affair. Clearly that accusation would be defamatory, and I don’t think Andrew could claim privilege because there was malice, and it doesn’t really help the community.
Part Six is about ‘Weaknesses of Voluntary Bodies’
22.23 The main weaknesses of such bodies are that they are hard to launch, liable to disintegrate…
Part Six deals with Robbie’s death, and ends with Krystal overdosing on drugs. I don’t really see any connection about any ‘voluntary bodies’. There is no such body in this section, but I think that maybe JK is referring to families. This isn’t about law any more. The voluntary body is a family. The Weedon family disintegrates in this section, as Terri finds out that Robbie is dead, and then Krystal overdoses. And family’s are usually hard to start, they don’t just appear. I think it is an interesting connection by JK, and it goes to show that this excerpts can have more than one or even two meanings.
Final Part: Part Seven – ‘Relief of Poverty’
13.5 Gifts to benefit the poor … are charitable, and a gift for the poor is charitable even if it happens incidentally to benefit the rich…
It’s a little annoying that after the first ‘poor’ there is a gap so we don’t know what it says there but clearly JK didn’t think it was important. Obviously in this last section Krystal and Robbie Weedon’s funerals are held. I’m guessing that the gift was holding the funeral at St Michael’s. It was fun-raised by Sukhvinder and the other members of the rowing team. I guess it benefited the poor since Terri would not have been able to afford a funeral and the coffins and flowers, especially not at St Michael’s. The incidental part about benefiting the rich, I guess could be that it was a healing process for Sukhvinder, it allowed her to do something and focus on something positive, whilst recovering from the ordeal. It doesn’t really benefit any of the other rich, except that charity can make people feel good, even if they are rotten on the inside. That’s the extent of the ‘double meaning’ that I can draw out for this expert. But I do wonder what the definition of charitable is, and why it is needed. Clearly there must be some gifts that are uncharitable (in this context), so I wonder what they mean by that.
That’s all on each of the excerpts, but just to finish off I’d like to talk about the Local Council Administration itself. The author, Charles Arnold-Baker, wrote the book back in 1975 which does explain the insensitive and oppressive nature of the wording. He was a veteran of World War Two, and was smart enough to start collecting information on the Nazis once the war was nearing its completion, so that they could use it against them. Apparently the book is now considered ‘the bible’ for every Parish, Town and District Council in England/UK area. That’s all I have to say, let me know what you think below! Tomorrow The Keeping Place continues! Finally!
So now that we have finished The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling, it’s time to discuss and analyse a bit more, and address some of the criticisms that have been given to it. So feel free to add all your thoughts, queries, ideas, speculation to this page, without any fear of spoilers. So if you haven’t read The Casual Vacancy, you might not want to venture into the rest of this post or the comments. Also tomorrow I want to go through each of the ‘part’ excerpts to figure out what they mean and why they were included.
So what did I think of The Casual Vacancy? I loved it! I said that yesterday and I stand by it. I know there have been mixed reviews from critics and ‘fans’ alike. Some, like me, loved it, others detested it. Some people couldn’t get past the fact that this was JK Rowling’s first ADULT book. We had only seen her write for ‘children’ through Harry Potter, and let me remind you that that was only one story. So we hadn’t really seen what JK was capable of, and still I think she has much left up her sleeve. So the fact that this was an adult book, which was much publicised, has thrown people. Some people have felt slightly ‘betrayed’ that JK decided to write about such a dark aspect of life. She included sex, drugs, alcohol, incest, domestic abuse, teenage sex, porn, suicide, self harm, swear words and death. Pretty much the whole cohort of ‘adult themes’. The inclusion of all these things, has made her come under fire from some corners. Some people think that she didn’t need to include it, and that she was almost trying to just be as vulgar as possible just to show she wasn’t defined by Harry Potter. Now of course, not everyone likes to read about sex, drugs, suicide or death, and they can be very off putting for some people. Same with coarse language, some people hate it so much they complain about reading it. Now I understand, I hate hearing people swear, and I don’t myself (well, maybe when nobody is around and something has ticked me off I might). There are much better words in the English language to use. And really if you use them to try and degrade someone, they are the most used, pathetic words. When they get so overused they lose their impact, which is why I’d prefer to keep them ‘saved’ up for a ‘special’ occasion.
But what I don’t get is the accusation that JK is just using these themes and words ‘willy nilly’ just because she can since it is an adult book. I think people forget that this is a real world book, and some people might be mistaken to think that these things don’t happen in the real world. People die, people use drugs, teens have sex, teens get pregnant, people harm themselves, people swear, children get beat up at home. All of these things HAPPEN. When was the last time you were out in public and didn’t happen to hear someone swear? I’d guess it was a while ago. I am in no way condoning these things, but I want to remind people that these things happen. This is a book that deals with the gritty underworld of life. Now it is perfectly fine to shy away from these real life problems, after all, this is a book, and most people want to be entertained, so reading about these things, doesn’t do it for them, but they have to accept that JK didn’t just thrown them in just to show she is an adult, she put them in there to address and ‘expose’ these things. I genuinely understand that people can be offended by this content, and won’t want to read it, but it doesn’t immediately made it a bad book.
Now another criticism is that we jump around from person to person too much, and that people can’t connect with characters. I have to agree, to a point, but not much. There are a lot of characters, there are basically 18 characters, who at one point or another we get their perspective. Now that is a lot of characters to keep track of, not to mention all the other people involved in some way or another. Plus, remembering who is with who, who hates who, why this person thinks this way, where this person is related to everyone else. I have to admit, it can be hard to keep track of it all. Especially if you just power your way through the book, not taking the time to notice and remember specific things. Clearly not everyone can have a level to detail in reading a book, and clearly we shouldn’t be expected to struggle through a book trying to recall who this character is and how he is related to the story. We read for fun and enjoyment. And not remembering characters isn’t enjoyable, and just leaves us confused. So I agree, this is a challenge, and unfortunately it is too big a hurdle for some people to get past. However, once again, it doesn’t make it a bad book. Sometimes the best books are the ones that you need to think about, but once again, people do enjoy reading because it can be passive. I didn’t find it too challenging to keep on top of things, maybe blogging helps, but I do urge people to stick with it.
As for the jumping around, as I said it can make it difficult. But it makes for interesting reading. We get so many perspectives, and get into the lives of nearly all the characters. It is very unusual, I don’t know of any other book that does it, especially one that changes midway through ‘chapters’ sometimes multiple times. I like unusual, others don’t. I can’t really defend The Casual Vacancy for being labelled as unusual, because it is. It is something that hasn’t been written before, and I like it. But I disagree with people who claim that they don’t connect with any of the characters. I understand that we don’t have long passages with one character to have a deep connection with from the get go, but with so many characters there are bound to be people you hate, like and can connect with. I’m sure we’ve all see a Shirley, or a Howard, or a Krystal, so we can relate to their lives. And many of us can see a little, or a lot, of ourselves in one or many of these characters. We get a lot of backstory, not to the level of detail as Harry Potter, but I think a few critics have forgotten that that was a few thousand pages, and spread over several novels, this is a stand alone novel. So of course we can’t get every story, but we get a lot. I, once I had read everything, could understand all of the characters. For example, I didn’t understand Colin for a long time. Then the reveal about not only his condition, but also his relationship with Fats, changed my opinion. And that’s what I want to happen. I don’t want to understand the characters and their motives from the outset, I want to try to figure out why are they doing that, and what happened to them before we met them. And then, later on, I want to be told the story, and we were. The stories that JK moulded were fantastic, and I don’t see a reason why people couldn’t connect with at least one character. I was upset by Robbie and Krystals’ deaths, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some people say they weren’t because they didn’t connect (not because I understand, just because with such criticism, some people obviously didn’t care about the characters, and wouldn’t be upset when they died). Maybe my prolong acquaintance with each of the characters helped, but I’m sure if I read this ‘normally’ I would get the same experience.
What I would like to complain about, is that it was promoted as a political novel, but it wasn’t really. Politics was one theme, but really it wasn’t the major theme. Krystal out of all the characters, was the one who the story was about. It was about her challenges. Okay, it was about Barry’s death, and how it impacted the entire town, but Krystal was a major character. I guess they needed ‘something’ to market this book as, and a political one was as good as any.
I don’t have too much more to say about The Casual Vacancy. I liked it, the characters were ‘relatable’, the story was riveting, it was different. As for whether I would buy the book if JK didn’t write it, it is a really good question. I want to say I would. But I don’t know if I would have ever found the book. Unfortunately there are probably now thousands of times more books than I could read in an entire lifetime that was solely devoted to reading, which means it is hard to find enough time to read all the books I want. It is a real dilemma, because I wonder how many books are waiting out there, that are just fantastic and I would love dearly. And they could be hidden treasures, that unfortunately aren’t on my radar. It is hard to find books you love when there are billions of them. But at the same time, reading only the books you know are good and have been recommended to you and are world wide successes, isn’t fantastic, because you miss out on all the other stories. Sure they might not be perfect, but sometimes you have to read something you wouldn’t normally. I’m getting sidetracked, but I just think that there are so many books out there, it is hard to find the ones you will like and the ones that are fantastic. So if The Casual Vacancy was written by someone else, and I happened to find it, I don’t know if I would buy it. I probably would borrow it from the library. Books aren’t cheap, and the library is the best option. I love to support authors, but I can’t buy every book I want to read (though I might want to).
But seriously, find a copy and read The Casual Vacancy. And stick with it. It is worth whatever ‘effort’ it takes. Of course not everyone will like it, but sometimes it is good to read something you don’t like, as long as you have some reasoning behind why you don’t like it (well you don’t have to, it is just good to figure out just what to avoid in the future). I think I’ve said enough, so I’ll see you tomorrow, where we’ll discuss those excerpts from the Local Council Administration, and maybe some other stuff.
Please leave your thoughts/comments/queries below in the comments I loved to hear from you and see what you thought!
Part Seven – Relief of Povery …
‘A gift for the poor is charitable even if it happens incidentally to benefit the rich’? What? I’m pretty sure it is only charitable if it benefits the poor. Once again, don’t see the relevance, unless the community is banding together for Terri, but that sounds unlikely.
I’ll leave the proper analysis for tomorrow! But I loved it! I know there has been a lot of critisim, but I really, really enjoyed reading it. Yes sometimes it was sad and depressing reading, but isn’t that a ‘good’ thing? It makes you feel something, and that is the measure of a good book. It makes you emotional. I really want JK to continue writing both adult and children stories, because both are phenominal!
Part Six – Weaknesses of Voluntary Bodies
Still not too sure on the relevance of each of these extracts of the Local Council Administration, I guess without knowing what is coming it is hard to see why they are involved, but even understanding why the extracts were included for some of the past parts has been challenging. I think once I have read everything I will go back and try to figure out the reasoning behind each of these extracts and their inclusion.
Speaking of finishing The Casual Vacancy, this is the penultimate section of the book, and I presume that this and the next one will be completed in one post each, so on the 10th of November this will be finished, and for the next day or two will be analysis and opinion.