Book Club: Can't Wait to Get to Heaven Thread.

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    After greatly enjoying STANDING IN THE RAINBOW, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I really liked this one, too.

    I laughed out loud at such passages as the one about Tot Whooten thinking she would wear a sweatshirt that would say, "A lot of potential criminals and misfits call me Grandma" (p. 89) and when, toward the end of the book, Norma and Beverly roam through a guy's rural house on a real estate quest, when what he wants to sell is not his house, but his horse (p. 317).

    A question to consider:

    At one point in the novel, when Elner is in Heaven, talking to Dorothy and Raymond. Raymond asks Elner, "Tell me, Elner, what did you enjoy the most about being a human being?" Elner says, "Well, let me see, I enjoyed nature, birds, fowl of any kind, and really, I loved insects" (p. 135), and then proceeds with what she enjoyed most about being alive. How would YOU answer if you were in Heaven and Raymond asked you the same question?

    Did you, like Rockgor, try any of the recipes in the back of the book? Any characters, scenes, or quotes you especially liked?

    Other than that, what did you think of the novel? Feel free to talk about anything you want to talk about, even if it's only loosely related to the book!
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I really think Standing in the Rainbow is Fannie's masterpiece.

    Despite loving Can't Wait, I'm with Mackey. I feel sure that once the brain is gone, the mind goes w/ it. If I'm right, I will never know. If people who believe otherwise are wrong, they will never know either.

    I think Fannie does a wonderful job of keeping all the characters straight for us and managing such a sprawling plot. Notice the foreshadowing. She tells us twice Elner has a wish. We find out what it was only at the end.

    She also mentions the gun a couple times, and then tells us the story behind it only at the end. A surprisingly dark chapter in an otherwise sunny, feel-good book.

    Finally, altho this book is not a theological treatise, it would not be permitted in a country that does not have freedom of religion. I hope Fannie has a few more books underway.

    Constant Reader

  3. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    I just finished reading it last night. It made me laugh! I love the way that Elner touched so many people's lives, without even really knowing just how much of an impact she really made. She was so modest. I wondered why Fannie didn't address the issue of why Elner had no children. She would have made such a wonderful mother!

    What Do I enjoy most about being a human being? I think it's being part of a family especially being a wife, mother and grandmother.

    Didn't try any recipes, but that caramel cake sure sounds good! I'd make it except it's not allowed in my candida diet and I'm still recovering from the holiday cheating!

    I was so proud of Norma for starting a new career. Good for her! And the horse for sale story was really so funny!

    I liked the shoe on the roof foreshadowing. Just knew someone would go looking for it!

    Great book. Good choice.
  4. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    The gun chapter was a bit dark, wasn't it?

    I thought the foreshadowing was pretty effective, and Fannie Flagg is the only writer I know who can pull off such short chapters without breaking the flow of the story.

    Mollystwin: Beautifully put about being part of a family, and about how our lives touch others' lives.

    Rock: Could it be that the Heaven chapters were just a sort of parable, rather than Flagg promoting the idea of an afterlife? I wonder if she was commenting more on the significance of our lives, especially if lived well and with care toward others, and how meaningful our memories are as well. I tend to believe, unlike Mackey, that there is something beyond, but I didn't feel like the book was actively promoting the idea. Rather, it had a kind of "when we get to the Pearly Gates," symbolic feel. Of course, there is the mysterious shoe on the roof.

    Rock: What have YOU enjoyed the most about being alive or being human?

    [This Message was Edited on 02/26/2007]
  5. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I'm a little over half-way through the book. I like it OK so far and I love the variety of characters and mood she manages to convey. It also makes me want to do good deeds. ;>)

    As for what I enjoy most in life, like Elner, it would be nature. We can learn so much from it and it gives us so much pleasure if we pay attention.

    Last night again I watched many deer (does) strolling around behind my house looking for food within 20 feet of my bay window. Later, they laid down in the grass at the top of the knoll, quite unafraid. Yet the other night I was alarmed as they raced past the window as if chased. I saw nothing behind them but evidently they did.

    What fun. And it's free!

    I'm not going to read further on this thread now just in case the end of the book is mentioned.

    [This Message was Edited on 02/26/2007]
  6. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Do you have anyone in your family or do you know anyone who is like Elner? Norma? Macky? Tot?

    Elner reminds me a bit of my grandmother, who was, like me, a teacher. She influenced a lot of Luther Griggs in her lifetime, and I hope that I've influenced a few myself.

    She was a social studies teacher who taught black students for 30 years during the 40s, 50s, and 60s, in high schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of her students, who was barely literate as a freshman, went on to earn an MBA from the University of Michigan and become a millionaire. To repay her, he bought her a house in Littleton, Colorado in the 90s.
  7. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    Sounds like you had a wonderful grandmother! Teaching is a very noble profession. I taught cathecism for a few years and like you, hoped I influenced a Luther here or there at least in some small way. I used to pray before each class that at least on thing I would say would sink in!

    This is kind of strange, but I see just a little bit of myself in Norma. She is such a nervous nelly and I can be like that sometimes. And I used to worry like crazy about my elderly parents before they died just like she worried about Elner. And she was so worried about pleasing her mother! She was concerned her Mom knew who had done her hair for her own funeral. Both Molly and I used to jump through hoops to please my Dad. And we actually succeeded on a few occasions. (remember the lobster tail Molly?)

    I wished I knew a Macky. I admire him and think he's a good guy. The kind of guy who is hard to come by. The part about him and Norma pretending it was Sunday was just so sweet!

  8. llama

    llama New Member

    I believe I've read all of Fannie Flagg's books, that I know about anyway.

    I enjoyed all her books, each a treasure in its own right.

    Now for my somewhat embarrassing question...I read Can't Wait to Get to Heaven about 3 months ago, and I guess I'll just blame this lapse of memory on Fibro Fog. I don't remember the "shoe on the roof!"

    Could someone please jog my memory?? Just when I think I'm doing better cognitively...boom, I'm humbled once

    Thanks in advance to anyone who'll reply,

  9. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    same experience, Jill. Read the book 3-4 months ago. Couldn't remember it. So I read it again. Than I enjoyed it so much I read it another time.

    The shoe on the hospital building roof was a golfing shoe that Elner saw during her near death experience. The personal injury atty found the shoe and was convinced that something extroadinary had happened. How else could she have seen it up there?

    Changed his outlook on life.

    What have I enjoyed in life? Oh, hard to say. Being incredibly good looking; having untold wealth; singing at the Met; Taking the Olympic Gold? No, not really.

    Music I think. Listening to music. Taking in an opera or broadway show. Only thing better would have been if I could make beautiful music.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/27/2007]
  10. llama

    llama New Member


    Thanks for the memory jog. I do remember now about the attorney finding the shoe...just kind of fuzzy on a lot of the details in that book.

    I remember more about Standing in the Rainbow and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl...I think b/c over all I liked them better than Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.

    Has anybody read A Redbird Christmas...I think that's the name of the book?? It's a short, good read IMHO.

    Thanks again Rockgor.............Jill..............
  11. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    twinofdar, I forgot we did know a Macky! He was one of the sweetest men who ever lived!!
  12. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I finished the book and, like some of you, was surprised at the darker turn of events near the end. Flagg certainly is a versatile writer.

    Like Dar, I also see a bit of myself in Norma and I'd love to meet a Macky. They balance each other out so well.

    As for Elner, yes, I know of one now and I'm happy to have her in my life. She's not quite as independent as Elner, especially considering Elner's true age, but she's a giver through and through. very smart and very kind.

    I've ordered Standing in the Rainbow and plan to read the others I haven't read.

    What else were we supposed to be reading??

    PS. Relevant to nothing, I lived in Grand Rapids, MI as a child, Ken. It sounds as if you had a wonderful grandmother. I did too.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/01/2007]
  13. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I read Red Bird Christmas. Don't remember a thing about it. I think I've read all of Fannie's books, but my mind is fast going bye-bye. Can't remember much about them.

    Am reading an interesting book at the moment called Men and Dogs. It has no text. Just phtos w/ captions. I have to tell my former secretary. She always has 3 or 4 dachunds, and there are several in this book who have famous owners.

    Like David Hockney, J.F.Kennedy, and Picasso.
  14. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    Can I read that book when you are done with it? I need more Fannie.
  15. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Marta: You lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a child? I remember trips out there from St. Paul when I was little, in the early 70s. My dad went to South High School (Gerald Ford's alma mater). I remember the red Calder sculptures downtown, my grandma's shady street, and I remember playing near the railroad tracks. My grandmother also made ice cream sundaes with Vernor's Ginger Ale. I loved when we would take the long way home and cross the Mackinac Bridge. I thought the bridge was the most awesome thing I had ever seen.

    The same grandmother is probably also the reason I'm in New Mexico now. After my grandfather died, she moved out here. I once rode 36 hours on a greyhound bus from St. Paul to Albuquerque to visit her. She's also the reason I became a teacher.

    Mollystwin: You need more Fanny? LOL. Now that's not something you hear people say every day.

    Twinofdar: Glad you're enjoying Daisy Mae. May have to look for that one.

    [This Message was Edited on 03/01/2007]
  16. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Did you say you had read The Celtic Riddle, by Lynn Hamilton? I found it at the library, but am not sure I'm going to read it yet.

    Was it any good?
  17. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I read Daisy Mae some time back. Can't remember a thing about it. Daisy Mae was the name of Lil Abner's wife. Edie Adams played her in the Broadway show.

    One of the guys in my bridge club was in the movie. Played the scientist who built a rocket ship outta wood.

    Yes, Ken, I read 5/6 of The Celtic Riddle. It's a recent book, but the plot is old. I suppose you could call it classic.

    A will leaves a hidden treasure. Various people search for it and various people are murdered. I just lost interest. The jacket says she has written other "archaeological mysteries".

    I just finished the autobio of Sir Gerain Evans, Welsh opera baritone. For someone who spent 30 years on and back state, it's a very bland book. Not one anecdote about a screaming soprano or conniving rival.



  18. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Depending on where home is, the Mackinac Bridge certainly is the long way. Michigan is a beautiful state surrounded by all the Great Lakes as well as thousands of lakes within. We have 58 lakes nearby where I am. I wish we'd quit worrying so much about the fading auto industry and concentrate on tourism.

    Grand Rapids was and is a nice town. A lot of excellent furniture has been made there, or at least it was back when I bought furniture.

    My grandmother used to make Black Cows, root beer floats, and we'd sit on her big front porch at night and "watch the Fords go by". Obviously, that was when Ford was doing much better so we had a lot to watch for.

  19. mezombie

    mezombie Member

    This was a novel that just can't help but make people feel good, IMHO. Then again, all of Fannie Flagg's books seem to be like that.

    I really enjoyed WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BABY GIRL the most, but I still liked CAN'T WAIT TO GET TO HEAVEN.

    My favorite character by far was Elner. Ken, how neat that you had your own "Elner"! I've had inspirational people in my life, mainly teachers, but no Elner. But if it wasn't for those teachers, who took me under their wing and taught me what was important in life, I would have turned out quite differently. I've done a lot of volunteer work and chose to work for nonprofits when I could easily have gone for the big bucks, all because of their influence. Like others here, I admire your profession.

    I loved the scene where Elner and Raymond discuss the meaning of life. I recall phrases like "life is a gift", given to enjoy. Raymond referred to life as a "roller coaster ride", and Elner pointed out she always thought it was something like that, so one should "sit back and enjoy it". Then Raymond pointed out that "people try to control it, and miss enjoying it".

    To me, this is the way to not only approach life, but also CFS. I'm not saying we can enjoy the roller coaster all the time, but trying to forcefully control it doesn't work, IMHO.

    Like Elner (and Marta ;>), I think I enjoy nature the most as a human being. It's just amazing to me. Just looking out the window brings me joy. Soon I'll be watching the trees bud! The CFS has really reminded me how wonderfully nourishing and healing nature can be. It sustains me when I'm housebound and forced to lie down a lot.

    I still laugh when I think of the part of the book where Elner and others note that Tot looks an just like one of those monkeys in National Geographic! That image will remain with me for a long time!
  20. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I enjoyed reading your comments, and beautiful perspective on CFS.