Book Club: discussion thread for The Whistling Season

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I loved this book. A number of years ago, I had been impressed by DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, about Scottish immigrants to Montana, but wasn't sure what to expect from this one. I was stuck with a large print edition, but found myself totally absorbed by the characters, the story, and the setting of 1910 rural Montana. I think after Frank McCourt's Teacher Man, this book captures what it's like to teach better than any book I've ever read. There's something about Ivan Doig's style that's down-to-earth and elegant at the same time. How did Samuel Johnson define wit, "What is often thought, but is never so well expressed"?

    I missed some of the early puns, i.e. Morrie saying, "I handled the kid-glove end of things, didn't I Rose?"

    Some questions come to mind. Feel free to answer all or none or to say whatever you want. (This is supposed to be fun, not drudgery!) Even if you haven't read the book at all, or if you have but don't remember half of it, which is what happens to me. I stole a few of these questions online.

    1. Rose says that "You have done wonders for us by bringing us here, bringing us out of...perdition!" Do you think that this proves to be true?

    2. Rose also says, "Morrie needs a comet now and then." What does she mean by that? What role does Halley's comet play in the book? If Morrie needs a comet, what do you need?

    3. Why do you think the boys' father was so mad at how they approached the horse race and treated Eddie Turley and his father?

    4. Morrie becomes a huge part of Paul's education. Was it to his detriment or his advantage?

    5. What significance in the big picture was Rose's independence?

    6. Did you have a favorite quote or turn of phrase in the book?

    7. Who was your most memorable teacher?


    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2008]
  2. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    I am only part way through due to pressing stuff here. I am trying to get through it. It is a very good read so far. Will hafta get back to you. I will try and see if it is on CD so I can finish it while I work.

  3. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    While I was waiting for the Ive a Dog book, I started one by Wallace Stegner. We all remember that Doig won the Wallace Stegner award and has been said to write in a similar vein.

    Anyway the Stegner book was hopeless. Maybe it got better latter on, but after 20 pages of nothing happening, I put it down.

    I don't think we can say if Rose left Perdition behind. We don't have much info about the situation. What we have is from a source (Morrie) that is hardly objective.

    Would you have sent a stranger 3 months wages? Personally, I would never have sent money to someone I didn't know. Looked like a scam to me.

    But then I would never have hired her. Not w/ a family of lunkheads who can't cook. Cookbooks have been around for more than two centuries. No reason why they didn't own a couple.

    I checked on the net to see if there is a city named Perdition that Rose might have left behind. There at least three (Oregon, Michigan, and Kansas), but it may be that they exist only in fiction.

    "Morie needs a comet now and then." Morrie needed something to focus his mind on. Well, we all do. But Morrie wanted something more stimulating than just a job, a family, etc. He had a lively intelligence and was interested in what was new, exotic, etc.

    This made him a good teacher for Paul, a relationship that worked well for both of them. But we certainly can't say Morrie was a good role model if we consider his criminal past. Ditto for Rose.

    Anyway, I thought it was an excellent book except for the ending. I found it a little obscure. What is Paul going to do. Take control of the country schools? I couldn't really grasp the specifics of the situation since they were not stated, only implied.

    I have tried to put Dancing at the Rascal Fair on hold. Can't remember if I succeeded or not. W/ the LA library it usually takes 2 or 3 tries.

    Well, I will have to tackle more of Ken's stimulating questions later.

  4. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    The Stegner book wasn't Angle of Repose, was it? I got very bored with that book, too, though I have friends who love it.

    Stegner is a great writer, though. You might try Crossing to Safety, which is about the friendship between two couples who meet during the Depression. It's very different from his other books, which are mostly about the West, Utah, and Mormon Country.

    More on Ive a Dog and the Whistling Season later.

    Annie, I hope you get a chance to finish it.
  5. morningsonshine

    morningsonshine New Member

    I got bored with the first 2 chapters and started reading the other book i had check out.

    Which i enjoyed much more, called; Lady Elizabeth, by Alison Weir.

    I enjoyed it so much that i went and checked out her other book called, Innocent Traitor, a novel of lady jane grey.

    Both excellent historical fiction.

    Never got back to reading the Whistling Season, still laying there.
    [This Message was Edited on 06/29/2008]
  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    The Stegner book which put me into a state of repose was "All the Little Live Things".

    I have a vague recollection of reading books by someone w/ a name like that when I was a teen. Wallace Stevens? Looked him up. He seems to be a dead poet.

    There was an author I liked when I was a teen. Did a book report on one of her novels. Name was something like Elizabeth Goudge. There seems to be a current author w/ the same or similar name.

    I would look it up, but it is so tedious and time-consuming to do any research w/ this computer that I'm not up to it. Even if I found the answer I would just forget it in a day or two.

    Not much makes an impression on my Teflon brain.

    Got an e mail from an old friend from Stewartville, MN (near Rochester). He said Leland Heusenveldt died. Not sure. Might have been my high school principal. If so he would have been close to 100 years old.

    Don't know why, but that principal really disliked me. He also had a deformed upper lip, altho it was only apparant when he smiled which was seldom. I'm sorry now that I passed up the opportunity to say, "Oh, Mr. Heusenveldt. What happened to your lip? Is that a war wound from Korea?"

    We did have an irascible music teacher who claimed to have a metal plate in his head due to a war wound. I was always hoping he would be attacked by a giant magnet. His real problem was that he was short and felt that inside there was John Wayne just struggling to pop out.

    Like a lot of Scandinavians, I went thru life being too polite to a lotta nasty people.

    I just started "Tis" by Frank McCourt. I recommend same or the teacher book, forgot the name, that you also liked.

    Annie, you get the book on CD? MSS, tell us about Alison Weir. (I think a weir in England is a small dam. Perchance Alison is a small dame?)



  7. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    A weir is at a lock gate to reduce and rise the water on the canals and a few rivers. It can also mean a small dam I think.

    Eliz Goudge is a historical romance writer I think? or maybe I have that wrong. Muriel Spark is an excellent writer I love her sharp wit and cynicism. Margaret Drabble is also good I think she is dead now though, as may be E Goudge.

    I have not had a chance to get to the library to get the CD copy and twice have fallen asleep trying to read this book!!! I cannot seem to keep my eyes open at the moment don't know why as I usually have awful insomnia despite terrible tiredness.

    I am interested in the Carol Shields collection as I love all her books, she is very very good, and she tragically died young of breast cancer. Her last book was excellent and poignant.

    We used to live very close to Alison Laurie and Carl Sagan who both taught at Cornell where DH and I met and also a couple of other authors, Kurt Vonnegut and actually the Lolita author Nabakov was a friend of the family. My DH's godmother's husband wrote his biography, last name Scheftel. Several Nobel Prize winners were often at social gatherings, one would not have known it, OK people. My FIL was a classmate of JFK at Harvard and a couple of other noteables that year too. I think they played tennis together. My FIL is 92 and still playing tennis.

    You know Rock, he has memory issues that are the oddest sort he remembers history by putting himself as the main player so he was the pilot of the Enola Gay, commander of the 8th Army,(he was in the navy) etc. was first US man to climb Everest etc. He kind of takes the lead role!!! But he does recall the details this way. However he still speaks five languages fluently and skis and plays tennis. Doubt he could read a page of a book though now.

    Strange thing, the mind. I told you that story when my former MIL was on mission in Outer Mongolia and given a meal in a yurt with lots of finery etc. She asked the interpreter what she was actually eating and he said "You eat the mind of the goat" (brains).

    Love Annie
  8. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    It has taken umpteen tries w/ that dratted library computer, but I finally got Dancing at the Rascal Fair on hold. The computer will be shut down this coming long weekend. I feel safe in predicting that it will not work any better come Monday.

    Returning to Ken's questions, w/ regard to why the boys' father was so angry about the horse race, I don't think the author says. I figured it's just because people have various ideas about how things should be and what's important in life.

    They may not be aware that they hold these ideas. Maybe don't know where they came from. We are all kinda irrational at times.

    I finished Tis by Frank McCourt. An excellent book altho not quite as wonderful as Teacher Man. I was, however, very disappointed to find him acting like "just another Irish drunk". My admiration for the man has been greatly diminished.

    I can't be sure, but I suspect I come from a long line of Irish drunks. Certainly my father was one.

    Regarding a favorite quote, have to agree w/ Jean: back corners of my life.

    Annie, that's amazing about your FIL. Sounds like something from an Oliver Sacks book. Also sounds like you guys used to hang out w/ a very creative crowd.


  9. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Annie: Holy cow, I'm impressed with your collection of neighbors and connections. Carl Sagan? Nabokov?
    I was impressed with your sprightly FIL also.

    Jean: GREAT collection of Doig-isms, and I loved your response and your favorite quote. With this book, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and The Sea Runners, Doig has become one of my favorite writers. I definitely plan on reading The Whistling Season again, for the same reasons as yours.

    Rock: I liked what you said about Paul's father not necessarily knowing where his ideas of how things should be done come from. A horse should not be ridden backwards. My grandfather, a Southern gentlemen, had the same deeply rooted sense of the way things should be done. Morrie has the same kind of sense, though in a slightly different way, with his shady past, doesn't he? Oh, I also got a copy of 'TIS from the library, but I'll bet I won't enjoy it as much as Teacher Man either.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/03/2008]
  10. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    the site, Jean. I read the interview w/ Ivan. As I would expect from his books, he sounds like a person it would be fun to know.

    I never read before that Mark Twain called his publisher Sharper and Son.


  11. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    That was a good interview with Ivan Doig. I like what he said about being "a poet yearning to be a clerk, or a clerk fumbling around with poetry."

    Three years to write a book?

    Four hundred words a day, every day, is actually very little when you think about it. That's only about a page and a half. But it adds up if you do it every day.

    I'll bet you all write a lot more than that, Annie, Rock, and Jean.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/05/2008]
  12. morningsonshine

    morningsonshine New Member

    :eek:) Rock always calls me MSS, a great way to shorten along handle.
    I just didn't read far enough, sorry.

    Alison Weir's book is historical fiction, about the childhood, and growing up of Queen (Lady) Elizabeth. A time of great turmoil and excitement in English history.

    She does an excellant job! Really enjoyed it. Read her other novel, The Innocent Traitor, about Lady Jane Grey.

    Was also good, but enjoyed the first one more, maybe because alot of it was similiar. Sad fate for a 15 year old girl, her fate is sealed by her own Father. Her chooses were very limited, but so were Elizabeth's, and Mary's all three heirs to the throne.

    All three sisters or cousins, yet it is Elizabeth who ends up Ruling and doing great things.

    I time in history that's always facinated me. If you enjoy that period, this author does a good job and tries to stay with in the facts.

  13. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    You would not believe it but I had the book with me the past 9 days in the hospital )(horse pistol as Rock says)and I managed to read about three pages.

    I am so beat I guess I need to skip this month as I will never get to read it. Will do over summer though.

    I was given this name is the horse pistol:
    Author Jamie Weisman Books The Patient Doctor and As I Live and Breathe.

    As she chats about her own chronic illness and dr patient relationships etc and seems to know a fair bit, this may be something for the folks here to google.

    I also like Susan Jameison books about her bi polar illness (she is also a doctor)

    I promise I WILL read the Whistling Season soon and let you know what I think. You would have thought being cooped up there would have been ideal but I roughly counted the number of docs we saw and it came to about 60 at least so constant chats etc. When do docs get a chance to read???

    I could not even listen to a Martha Grimes book on tape either, best I could manage was a dollar crossword book and even then I kept cheating because, strangely I did not know the pre 300AD name for the smallest Indonesian coin, etc.

    Love Annie
  14. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I believe ancient Indonesian coins were made of pressed rice.

    I found a site that is selling an ancient Indonesian coin made of aluminum. That is pretty strange since aluminum is a 19th century product. Hope the crooks get foiled.

  15. fibromickster

    fibromickster New Member

    I just wanted to say I come on here all the time to get ideas on what books to read but I never post. I get so worn out on being on the Porch so much in between breaks at work.

    However, I just wanted to say a big THANKS for keeping these book postings going. I just finished "Innocence Stolen" (true story) and went to the library last night after work and checked out The Whistling Season that you guys suggested.


  16. fibromickster

    fibromickster New Member

    Actually, the one I read was about the old "Mormon Religion" where they believed in Polygamous (I think that is what it is called when men have more than one wife). Anyway the girl who wrote the book grew up in this type of religion and explains her life.

    It is really good and I believe just came out a couple of months ago. My daughter bought if for me for my birthday.

    ahahah I found it on the internet. Here is a site that shows the book and what it is about.
  17. fibromickster

    fibromickster New Member

    You are very welcome. I thought it was a new book.

    By the way, I think you may have looked at the wrong bio, my birthday is June 20th, which is still belated, so thank you very much for the well wishes. LOL