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People who don't "get it" (Read 10569 times)
cnabokov
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People who don't "get it"
09. Jan 2004 at 20:58
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Have many of you experienced the pain of lending or recommending a Blaylock book to a friend or acquaintance and having them be either puzzled or actively hostile when they read it? I have, and generally don't recommend him much anymore unless I'm dead certain the recommendee shares my peculiar sensibilities.

Check out Patrick Burnett's bizarre review of the Last Coin on Amazon (toward the bottom) for an example of someone who doesn't get it.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0441470750/104-9892822-3365548?...

I'm fairly certain this guy and I don't see eye to eye on many things--maybe that would be a good way to vet new acquaintences: ask yourself "Would this person appreciate The Last Coin?"
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #1 - 09. Jan 2004 at 21:33
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Some people are actively hostile to eccentricity, I think because they don't grasp nuances in characters very well - that is, characters who are just innocently goofy without being dramatically heroic or tragically flawed.

That said, it's probably a good idea to distinguish between literary criticism and personal reaction. It's easy to confuse the two, but a lot of "reviews" just end up being something that boils down to "I liked it" or "I hated it", with a few token attempts to justify the reaction in terms of literary analysis. The review on Amazon looks like one that can best be dismissed as a self-indulgent rant.
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Dave_Garrett
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #2 - 12. Jan 2004 at 12:23
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Well, figure that only 1 of 18 "reviews" by fans/readers is negative, and you have a good indication of the trend. Blaylock is not for everyone, and that means we fans of his are in select company. In any open review forum you are likely to get reviews stating this is the worst book ever, to this is the best book ever. Personally, The Last Coin is one of my favorites and was first book I read by Blaylock. I heartily recommend it to people who I know like "different" fiction. Dave Garrett
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B. Pulley
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #3 - 14. Jan 2004 at 12:40
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[quote author=cnabokov  link=1073678312/0#0 date=1073692712]Have many of you experienced the pain of lending or recommending a Blaylock book to a friend or acquaintance and having them be either puzzled or actively hostile when they read it? I have, and generally don't recommend him much anymore unless I'm dead certain the recommendee shares my peculiar sensibilities. [/quote]


The way you describe this reminds me quite a bit of the writings of Antoine De Saint-Exupery:  

    ...I asked them if my drawing scared them.
    They answered, "Why be scared of a hat?"
    My drawing was not a picture of a hat.  It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant...
    Whenever I encountered a grown-up who seemed to me at all enlightened, I would experiment on him with my drawing...which I have always kept.  I wanted to see if he really understood anything.  But he would always answer, "That's a hat."  Then I wouldn't talk about boa constrictors or jungles or stars.  I would put myself on his level and talk about bridge and golf and politics and neckties.  And my grown-up was glad to know such a reasonable person.

B.
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This thing goes deeper than cheese.
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Jake Squid
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #4 - 23. Apr 2004 at 17:12
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Yeah, I get that reaction a lot.  But I have some understanding of it.  As I've written before somewhere, the first time I read "The Disappearing Dwarf" I thought that it was the worst book I had ever read.  Not because I disliked the story or the characters but because the writing was bizarre for fantasy.  I re-read it a week later w/ a friend and got it.  It turned into the funniest fantasy I have ever read.

Admittedly Blaylock's writing style is odd.  Bits like (and I'm paraphrasing from "The Last Coin"), "Words couldn't describe.  They wouldn't describe it.  They'd fall into a jumble of letters first," is flat out weird to most people.  But somehow I find his phrasing oddly satisfying now.  I liken it to the feeling I get listening to the lead guitar of Butthole Surfers.  How's that for weird?

I have a friend who doesn't like much other than "Homunculus" (which she thinks is a work of genius).  And another friend who only likes the most recent couple of novels.  For them it is a matter of subject & the treatment of subject.  For me and, I suspect, many others who post here the important thing is both style & theme with Blaylock novels.
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Jeff M.
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #5 - 24. Apr 2004 at 14:28
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Yep, you definately get it Wink One of my favorite characteristics of JPB's writing is the humorous personifcation of inanimate objects or abstracts. Terry Pratchett also does an excellent job with it.

You make a great point when you mention going back and re-reading; I wonder how many authors I've decided I didn't like after reading only one book (I'm a very picky reader), that might warrant a second chance? One book that comes to mind that I did, in fact, give a second chance was Tim Power's 'On Stranger Tides', and I'm certainly glad that I did.

Jeff
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"He'd worked his way through half of G. Smithers, having long ago come to the conclusion that reading is perhaps the finest thing in the world to do in one's leisure time."
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John Anderson
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #6 - 03. Jun 2004 at 22:40
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I bought The Last Coin for a friend, and she liked it OK at first, but when she got to the part about farmers growing pumpkins over secret installations (or something like that, I can't quite remember), she got it.

That's exactly the point at which I got it as well.
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Mike
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #7 - 10. Aug 2004 at 10:44
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I think, at least with his earlier works, Blaylock intended for people not to get it.  It's just like Andrew in "The Last Coin" telling the car mechanic that he thought the problem was caused by the 'Johnson Rods', the guy wasn't supposed to get it, that was the point.  I'm not even sure if I got that one, but I laughed.

I recommend not looking down on the ones who don't get it, after all, if everybody got it, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

Mike
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mister nolan
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #8 - 05. May 2005 at 01:05
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I hadn't read any Blaylock but I went ahead & bought a bunch of his books this spring & The Last Coin was one based mostly on these reviews from Amazon.com. 1 sourpuss vs. 18 raves & I went ahead &  bought a copy. Then I went to this Fantasy Fiction site which lists books & authors & according to their listing The Last Coin is the 3rd of the books in the Elfin series. So I bought the other three books & started to read. Now I reach the 3rd book & find The Last Coin is not part of the Elfin series so its not going to be read for a while after all.
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B. Pulley
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #9 - 05. May 2005 at 23:46
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The Stone Giant is the third in the series.  But it was written as if it were the first.

Enjoy!  Smiley

B.


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This thing goes deeper than cheese.
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M. R. Nolan
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #10 - 27. May 2005 at 23:38
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I did the same thing & read The Stone Giant last.
It would have been much better if I had started with that book instead of ending with it.
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isabeats
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #11 - 12. Jun 2006 at 00:58
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This thread makes me laugh because I have yet to get anyone to read any Blaylock book, despite all my raving about them!  Once in a while I find myself getting annoyed, even angry, but then I have to laugh at myself for sounding like a cult member or something. So I tell them they don't know what they're missing and leave it at that. There is one other book I'm always trying to get friends to read (also without luck), and that's John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up"- a pessimistic book, but I love it and have read it at least 10 times over the years. Has anyone here read it?
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Mike
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #12 - 09. Jul 2008 at 18:41
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The first Blaylock I read was "The Stone Giant".  I didn't know anything about the author, or that it was a sequel or prequel or whatever you call it.  I didn't even know it was funny, but I loved it.  

I was 12 years old.

In college, I still thought fondly of it, like a good old fanasy book, and I thought of reading it again.  When I did read it again, I couldn't believe it was the same book.  

It was the scene where Escargot was threatening Stover with the make-shift blackjack in the pub.  I couldn't have been expected to pick up on that at 12 years old, it was too subtle.  But it was like reading a whole different story.  

I had no idea how much of a complete dead-beat Escargot was, no pie seemed enough to justify anything at 12, he was simply 'the good guy'.  

I think the essence of a Blaylock character is their ability to see their own flaws.  That's always been the draw for me, outside of the humor and great story-lines.  This might be what's stopping some people from appreciating his work.

isabeats: I haven't read "The Sheep Look Up".  
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isabeats
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #13 - 16. Jul 2008 at 16:29
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I am re-reading "The Stone Giant" this week. I've re-read every Blaylock novel numerous times each and can't wait to re-read "Land of Dreams" for the 9th or tenth time.

Mike- try "The Sheep Look Up"- it's well worth it.

Another GREAT book, intended for children but I still enjoy it, is Alexander key's "The Forgotten Door."
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jhagman
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Re: People who don't "get it"
Reply #14 - 16. Jul 2008 at 23:41
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What would be really fun would be to read "The Road To Balumnia", Blaylock's original version of the "Stone Giant".
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