Book Club: Let's discuss Whose Body? (that sounds funny)

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    If you missed this month's book, how about giving us an update on anything good you've read lately. I've also included a couple of q's below for folks who didn't get to read it WHOSE BODY?

    Dorothy Sayers had a remarkable life. Sayers "was a renowned British author, translator and Christian humanist. She was also a student of classical and modern languages. She is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. She is also known for her plays and essays" (Wikipedia).

    Rockgor was right, the book took a little getting used to, since it came out almost 90 years ago. The dialogue and diction were a little odd, and only in a 1920s British novel would you find such gruesome and cozy sentences together: "I took off Levy's head, and started to open up the face...I returned, leaving my wet galoshes and mackintosh by the garden door."

    Some questions (feel free to respond to however few or many you want) or just snoop if you're not up for writing or haven't read the book:

    1. What is your favorite mystery of all time, and who is your favorite detective?

    2. What did you make of Lord Peter Wimsey's bad dreams about WWI? Is he suffering from what is today called PTSD?

    3. Why did Lord Peter use words like "ain't so bad" and "thinkin'" if he is an aristocrat?

    4. What did you think of Sir Julian Freke's ideas, that "Mind and matter were one thing. Matter could erupt, as it were, into ideas. You could carve passions in the brain with a knife. You could get rid of imagination with drugs and cure an outworn convention like a disease. The knowledge of good and evil is an observed phenomenon...which is removable"?

    5. Did you guess the ending, or were you surprised?

    6. Did you think the book was anti-semitic at all?
    [This Message was Edited on 02/28/2009]
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    questions from our teacher. Ken, did you learn that in school or was it

    Didn't really care for the book myself. As Gordon says, we can't really appreciate
    something the way the audience of its time could. Peter Wimsey never seemed like
    a real person to me. Always had the feeling the author was jerking his strings
    around: See what a clever thing I'm having him do now.

    Re: question 3, I was also put off by his strange speech patterns. Surely someone
    who went to Eton or Harrow wouldn't talk that way. Was this to show he was a
    regular guy?

    Don't know, but I suspect the Wimsey books were something new and exciting
    in their time. Certainly they were successful.

    (I have a friend who collects mysteries written between the world wars. He says the
    value of a book is increased about 80% if it still has the jacket. There's a store
    in Pasadena that specializes in old mysteries.)

    Even the Wimsey book cover annoyed me. The paperback copy I had showed
    a tub w/ a body in it. One arm draped artistically over the side. But that's not the way
    the body was described in the book.

    Just finished a courtroom drama. For some bizarre reason the photo on the cover
    showed the interior of a large prison.

    James Herriot said his first book didn't sell well due to the terrible cover illustration
    which showed a boy and a horse giving the impression it was a children's book.

    Well, favorite detectives. I have several, but I can't keep the detective and the
    creator neatly paired in my mind anymore. There are the Lincoln Rhyme books by
    Jeffrey Deaver, I think. He's the armchair detective because he is disabled.

    When I was a kid I read Rex Stout. Have been reading Ed McBain for decades.
    Ditto the English jockey. I sent him a fan letter in the 60s and got a reply.
    There's the current detective named Elvis something and another one w/ a
    friend named Hawk that he calls on when muscle is needed. Or maybe they're
    the same.

    Well, it's all pretty jumbled up in what passes for my mind nowadays.

    Can't really name a favorite. But my favorite Hitchcock movies are Psycho
    and Rear Window. The Bates mansion is only a mile or two from where I
    live. (Gordon just came home. He thought Rear Window was "boring and
    useless". Only thing good in it was Thelma Ritter.)

    Well, I have to get back to my current mystery, "A Sheriff Bo Tully mystery"
    by Patrick F. McManus.


  3. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Not sure about where my questions come from, but I've always been very curious.

    Interesting what you said about book covers. My copy of Whose Body? shows a close up of piano keys with a pair of thin, wire-rimmed glasses on the ivory keys.

    I felt the same way about the book. You make a great point about it feeling like Sayers was pulling his strings. So how does a good author not do that, or hide the fact that they are doing it?

    I'm not very good at solving Whodunits, but I knew who the villain was as soon as his name was mentioned. And Wimsey didn't really come to life for me, either. I liked his butler and the bumbling Scotland yard detective a little better. I'll bet Sayers developed Lord Peter Wimsey a lot more in later mysteries. It was her first book, after all. I wonder how Agatha Christie's first mystery compares.

    My favorite detective is probably FBI Special Agent Pendergast from the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child books, like Cabinet of Curiosities and Brimstone. He's bizarre but brilliant, in that great detective tradition. I'm also a fan of the writer, Douglas Preston because he took two horseback journeys through the southwest, one tracing the journey of Coronado, (recounted in the book, Cities of Gold) and the other, across the Navajo Nation (recounted in a great book called Talking to the Ground). I once e-mailed him asking him about his Navajo route, and he responded in detail. It's fun to send fan mail once in a while, isn't it?

    My favorite Hitchcock movies are Vertigo, and Rear Window, which I have to disagree with Gordon about. I think it's an incredible film. You live a mile from the Psycho house? Aren't you pretty close to the Laurel and Hardy stairs from "The Music Box" and the place where DW Griffith's huge set for the movie, Intolerance, once stood?

    Will have to look into those Lincoln Rhyme books by Deaver.

  4. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    sorry I'm so late in adding my bit, not been too good lately. Had problems with new painkillers which I thought were miraculous at first but have come with side effects and now in grip of a bug.

    Anyway, I havent been in much of a reading mood but I did try a few times to get to grips with Lord Wimsey and I just couldn't get beyond the way he spoke - its ludicrous, the upper echelons of society just did not speak that way, I didn't find it comical just annoying. I was looking forward to Wimsey being a character like Bertie Worcester, very upper class but loveable. So I gave up.

    I am about to start a book called The Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff which goes between the story of Brigham Young's 19th wife who left him and their church (Mormons) and that of a modern polygamous wife.

    Psycho absolutely terrified me, still would. I remember showing it to my 2 nieces and nephew when they were relatively young and they laughed at it and me.

    Hope you're both well and we get some more interest in our little club.

  5. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    No problem; late is fine, especially in this club! Sorry to hear about the painkillers having side effects and you being in a bug. You sounded pretty euphoric about those painkillers, so I'm very sorry to hear they're not working as well for you.

    Can't blame you for giving up on Whose Body? I was hoping for something along the lines of Ruth Rendell's From Doon with Death, with her Inspector Wexford.

    I watched the movie, Everything is Illuminated. I thought it was great: beautiful story, quirky, moving, and beautifully directed shot. The director, Liev Schrieber, has had a couple of weird roles in movies like the "Scream" horror movies. It really captured the feel of the Ukraine and secrets of the past, and I loved the character of the Ukrainian dancer/translator, driver.

    Also put The Nineteenth Wife on hold. Looks interesting. Mormon history as a whole is fascinating. There's a popular show on HBO in the States called "Big Love," in which Bill Paxton is the head of a polygamist family. It's very good, actually, and deals with its subject without judgement. Amazing to believe that there are still pockets of Utah and northwestern Arizona, like "The Arizona Strip" north of the Grand Canyon, where polygamy is still practiced in the Fundamental LDS church. Definitely not mainstraim Mormonism; pretty terrible track record for forced marriages for underage girls, and some real cult leader wackos.

    Hope you aren't feeling too bad today.

  6. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I thought you'd like Everything is Illuminated. I have the book sitting by my bed but will wait til I'm in a 'good book reading mood' before reading it and I WILL watch the film again sometime.

    We got Big Love here last year and then they stopped it - I was so disappointed as I loved it, very quirky and yes, non judgemental. Actually, there's a thought, I probably will be able to get the series from my dvd people (losing words here). We've also had quite a few documentaries on the fundamentalist mormons and they definitely seem to use the religion as more of a cover for perverts than anything else.

    I know quite a lot about the mormon church having gone to it for a few years, starting when I was 12 - it became very popular in our town for kids with nothing to do. Of course they weren't the fundamentalists, they were Latter Day Saints, young men on missions saving our souls.

    I'm persisting with the painkillers Ken but not the slow release, I think they were too strong for me and I think the euphoria (that certainly is what I experienced) was a side effect though a more pleasant one. Along with the euphoria though came the nervousness and agitation, not so good but hopefully I'll get a doseage that suits. I couldn't bear to go back to being as bedbound as I was.

    I hope you continue to do well too.

  7. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I'll have to see if I can get a hold of the novel, Everything is Illuminated. The movie was so peaceful and beautiful, especially the scenes of driving through the Ukraine landscape. I wouldn't mind seeing it again. So many amazing, tragic stories from WWII.

    I'll bet you could get a number of seasons of "Big Love" on DVD. Our mail DVD service is called Netflix. Is that in the UK too? I'm not sure how many seasons there are. It's really well done, isn't it?

    Very neat that you've gone to an LDS church in the past and have an interest in Mormonism. Even down here in New Mexico, there's a sizeable LDS population, and a beautiful white temple in the northeast part of Albuquerque.

    My neighbor and his wife down the street are from Nigeria, and he and his family are LDS. Occasionally, you'll see two missionaries on bicycles out on the streets. Quite a few of my former Navajo students were LDS as well. I took a group of kids to Salt Lake City in '02 for the Winter Olympics to work at the Native American pavillion, and one of my kids who was LDS took us all on a tour in and around the Temple (at least the parts you can visit). The Mormon Tabernacle was quite a sight, and the Temple itself. That kid did his mission service in an island in the south Pacific, but I forgot which one.

    Mormon history is fascinating, whether it's the more positive aspects or the darker side, like the the Mountain Meadows Massacre or the Fundamentalist LDS. Jon Krakauer, who wrote a great book on Mount Everest, Into Thin Air, wrote a book that I couldn't put down, called Under the Banner of Heaven, about murders within the FLDS. It's loaded with interesting history and the culture of the mainstream church and the FLDS community on the Arizona Strip.

    I hope you find a dosage that reduces the side effects and keeps you out of bed!

    [This Message was Edited on 03/03/2009]
  8. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I'll need to see if I can get a hold of the book Under The Banner of Heaven. Never heard of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, will check that out too.

    I always thought the Mormon Temples were beautiful. I have to say that I feel they do target, and are most successful with, vulnerable groups - we poor Scottish kids at an age with nothing to do, families in Africa, Native Americans. However thats the way with most religions isn't it?

    Our DVD service (that's the word) is Love Film, its really great having them delivered to the door. I'm going to see about Big Love.

    I started the 19th Wife last night and it was one of these books that I couldn't put down, I eventually had to because I was nodding off - haven't had a book like that in awhile.

    I didn't know you were in Eastern Europe too Ken. It's not a place I'd visit right now, too much desperation and poverty, not safe.

    I'm trying to arrange giving basic English lessons to someone - I feel I could give an hour or two a week free and hopefully it can be with someone who will understand that I will have to cancel at short notice sometimes. I have been put in touch with a Russian woman who is married to a Scotsman - her husband emailed me last night - she doesnt live in my town though and I'm thinking that might prove a problem. Anyway if not her, I'll find someone else, we have lots of Eastern European immigrants here though they might all return to their own countries if our economy continues in its landslide. It's becoming a bit scary over here.
  9. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    thats certainly more interesting than the book.

    What a shame to have to deny her own son all these years and have him fostered by her cousin.

    Such a horrible world for women and children who were born out of wedlock - barbaric.

  10. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the report on the Sayers' letters, Jean. I read the letters of Noel Coward last month.

    Just started "Nothing with Strings" by Bailey White. It is a book of Thanksgiving stories
    she wrote for National Public Radio. Read the first one. Neither the concept nor the
    word "Thanksgiving" appears.

    Anyway she is a gifted writer. Has the ability to make an essay about nothing, interesting.
    For example, walking down the country road to buy eggs at the store and walking back.

    Read two of her books a couple years ago. If you want to sample, try "Sleeping at the
    Starlite Motel".

    Rosie, the Mountain Meadow Massacre is one of those dark and brutal events from the past.
    The Mormons and some Indians massacred a wagon train that was heading west. There
    is a famous photo of Mormon Bishop John Lee sitting on his coffin just before his execution.
    He was a scapegoat who was put to death about 20 years after the event.

    I finished my Bo Tully mystery by Patrick F. McManus. More humor than the average who

    Book sale at the library this afternoon. Hope I have enough energy to make it.

  11. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Pretty neat to have a Book Club with four people from LA, Albuquerque, Toronto, and Glasgow. The internet is amazing.

    Jean: Wish we had read that book on Sayers instead. Her notion of the a mystery as puzzle is probably a pretty good definition of most mysteries. Sounds like the Roaring 20s were hard on her, and that John, Sr., was a real ass. Funny that she killed him off in one of her novels. I liked her quote about his silence being a weapon. I also wonder if her son John is still alive.

    Funny you mentioned "Three Cups of Tea." I just finished it, and love it. I've read so many mountaineering/survival/rescue stories, and was thrilled to read about the humanitarian efforts of Mortonson and the Central Asia Institute. I've been checking out their website. I'm trying to figure out if the increase in the Taliban and fundamentalism has caused more schools to close. I thought Sir Edmund Hilary was impressive in starting schools for Nepalese villages, but Mortonson's task has been much more daunting, in a far more obscure and oppressive area. And for girls, no less! I'd like to read more about Toronto. Funny how little we Americans know about the great cities outside our borders. (Rock being an exception; he probably knows a lot about Toronto :) I also wonder how far you are from Montreal and PEI (a place I'd love to visit someday) Did I ever tell you that one of my students was the niece of Cape Breton fiddler, Natalie MacMaster? She had an attitude and didn't have her aunt's musical talent.

    Rock: Did you find anything good at the book sale? Thanks for filling us in on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, too. I had a feeling you would know something about it. It is one of those awful, tragic events of the West. New Mexico is loaded with them.

    Rosie: I visited Moscow and crossed the Urals into Siberia, but never saw the Ukraine. I just wanted to see the scenery in the film again. Your idea of tutoring English is a great one. I'd like to do something like that as well, even if it were just an hour every week or so. Not sure I'm up for it yet, but hopefully, I'll get there. Keep me posted on how that goes!

    [This Message was Edited on 03/04/2009]
  12. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Yes, Ken, I managed to get to the book sale. Unfortunately I got there an hour early. My
    poor brain can't keep track of time anymore. Never know what day or date it is.

    Well, I did check out some books including an autobiography by Farley Mowat and a
    book on tattoos. (Do I have any? Sure. Doesn't everyone?)

    You know, I'm pretty sure I read a mystery a few months ago that was set in Toronto.
    The setting included a famous university/medical school. All very vague now. I
    feel like I'm living w/ a scrim in place.

    Yes, very cool to have an international book club. When I used to play bridge on the
    net, we sometimes had players in four countries. For some reason that only seemed
    to happen when it was the middle of the night here.

    Illustrating how terrible the library computer is, I checked before leaving the house. Computer
    said I had no books on hold waiting for me. But when I got there the librarian told me I did.

    I also looked on the computer for any books by Patrick F. McManus. The computer told
    me twice the library had no match for such a name. Now, this afternoon, it suddenly
    has four pages of books by McManus.

    How can I stop being a perfectionist when I'm surrounded by imperfection?

    Jean, I don't remember the potato trivia. Think it was something I read rather than
    tried myself. Well, knowledge is either empirical or vicarious.


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