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Five voices *SPOILERS*

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  • Five voices *SPOILERS*

    Maybe because the
    history of any ghost story
    is a ghost story unto
    itself, which is to
    say another story
    completely, assuming
    any of what follows
    can rightly even be
    considered a ghost story;
    rather than delve into the
    devices and biases and
    oddly canted idiom of the
    five persons—one of whom in
    the early years slept with
    another and now endlessly
    wonders about the lakes of fall
    where someone else once
    wandered; two of whom still
    nurture their affection
    for one another, expressing
    so in an array of notes and
    overseas phone calls; a fourth
    who lost three; and the last
    of whom from the prison of a
    later life hates them all—or represent
    them throughout with
    characterizing phrases, temporal
    references, and even more
    quotation marks hopelessly nested
    within reiterating nests of still
    more marks; to delineate their
    respective and independently
    conducted interviews colored
    quotation marks are used instead:

    = 1, = 2, = 3, = 4, = 5.
    Where no quotation marks appear only the
    worst should be assumed: an interruption
    by someone other than one of the before
    mentioned persons, the reader or even
    the author who additionally, it must be
    stated, has done nothing more than lend together these gathered and rerelated bits
    so as to here present a pretty peculiar and perhaps altogether alternate history of
    one October evening in East Texas. — MD


    Do we believe any of this? I.e. that MZD has chosen to represent the different voices with variously coloured quotation marks for the sake of clarity?

    This seems especially unlikely because, as those of you who've already got copies will know, the 'dialogue' is an endless sequence of incomplete phrases, nested in such a way that the different voices appear to finish, or rather continue each other's sentences. However, it would appear that these 'interviews' were 'independently conducted', and thus the sequence must be artificial.

    I should probably finish the book first, before making any further comments, but I wanted to share the little sword-shaped explanatory note and perhaps dissect it a little. Ultimately, perhaps we can get a discussion going on the nature of these five voices, which correspond to which biographical snipped provided above, and how they interrelate, and so on.

    Have fun!
    Last edited by fearful_syzygy; 09-02-2010, 04:18 AM. Reason: formatting

  • #2
    Re: Five voices

    Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
    Do we believe any of this? I.e. that MZD has chosen to represent the different voices with variously coloured quotation marks for the sake of clarity?

    This seems especially unlikely because, as those of you who've already got copies will know, the 'dialogue' is an endless sequence of incomplete phrases, nested in such a way that the different voices appear to finish, or rather continue each other's sentences. However, it would appear that these 'interviews' were 'independently conducted', and thus the sequence must be artificial.
    i was thinking the same thing, but like you, i haven't had a chance to read yet, as i just got the book and have very little time right now. But i did read this opening and my first thought was 'ok, so does that mean we have a choice to read all of one narrator first, continuing through the book 5 times in this way?'. If indeed they were 5 'independently conducted' interviews, shouldn't each narrative be complete unto itself? How can five separate interviews only yield one complete telling of the story? Or maybe that is the point?

    So yes, the sequence must be 'artificial' in the context of the book, with MD playing editor, chopping the 'interviews' into pieces and shuffling around the various parts to fit together. But that's just a preliminary thought. We'll see how it plays out.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Five voices

      i found this part most interesting:
      Originally posted by M[Z
      D]<center>
      Where no quotation marks appear only the
      worst should be assumed: an interruption
      by someone other than one of the before
      mentioned persons, the reader or even
      the author . . .
      </center>
      :-k

      Who could that be? And what purpose does mentioning the reader serve? Surely any reader would know that an interruption in the text is not his/her own doing?

      Guess i better get reading to find out.

      Comment


      • #4
        The rest of us are all going to feel so left behind, very soon.

        Like a child pressing his nose against the frosted window of a sweet shop in winter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by zakalwe
          The rest of us are all going to feel so left behind, very soon.

          Like a child pressing his nose against the frosted window of a sweet shop in winter.
          My thoughts exactly.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by fatwoul
            Originally posted by zakalwe
            The rest of us are all going to feel so left behind, very soon.

            Like a child pressing his nose against the frosted window of a sweet shop in winter.
            My thoughts exactly.
            cont'd...

            What I find somewhat depressing about this is that the book isn't readily available to the UK yet, so far as I am aware - which is why Shanks et al have been acquiring copies from other countries, sometimes at a higher price.

            That feels like elitism again, those with more money or resources being those who get to participate in a part of the forum, and those of us without being left behind, unable to make new discoveries or contribute to the exploration of a new book.

            Maybe I misunderstand the situation - seems to have been happening a lot recently.

            [I wanted to edit this into the previous post, but that didn't seem to be possible.]

            Comment


            • #7
              Mmm, up to a point. "resources" is unclear- you're hardly a net-n00b, the only barrier to your acquiring the book so far as I can see is cold, evil cash. Fair enough- I can't afford what they're charging right now, and it does feel a bit galling to be missing out on the early forays.

              Playing devil's advocate for a second, I think it might be a trifle disingenuous to play the doe-eyed innocent, crying "elitism", when you surely conceed you (like me and others... ) have not been above playing the intellectual/"hahaha, you're a n00b" snob card on people before. I'm not trying to start nuffink, mate, and I couldn't agree more with your central concern, but what say we bar up and wait for the UK release with fortitude? F_S, shanks et al can hardly be criticised for getting hold of the new book as soon as they can, given that they're clearly big "fans" (pace recent discussion of said term) of MZD's work.

              As you've said recently, it's a great community here and no one's out to be divisive, as far as I can see. At least among the main characters here.

              So let them eat cake...we'll catch up soon enough.

              Comment


              • #8
                I reckon it's just that the BEST board members got it first...

                Just teasing.

                As to my take on the colours...

                At first it does feel like it might just be a gimmik of some description, but then it feels, like said above, it could be the editing of five different interviews.

                This style sort of changes half way through the book though. Though the colours are still there, the writing style doesn't suggest it is five different people, rather a fluid story instead.

                As mentioned about also... the

                'Where no quotation marks appear only the
                worst should be assumed: an interruption
                by someone other than one of the before
                mentioned persons, the reader or even
                the author . . . '

                Is quite spooky... and does recreate that HoL fear of the book being something more. And I would say, as it is easy to finish in one go, the ending hits you more, and I found myself looking across at the bookcase to where I had left it (on top of HoL).

                One scary thing that did happen whilst reading it was a picture near the end.

                I don't think this is spoiling it... but I will leave a gap just in case..














                There is a picture towards the end with the Orange carnefly (?!) on it, and I SWEAR I looked at that picture about three times, and then when I turned back the pages after finishing it it was there. I know this has no relevance to the book, and of course it WAS there all along...but it was pretty odd/scary, and I wondered if anyone noticed/experienced anything similar... should we have a 'spoilers' thread with 'how finishing the book made us feel' as I for one felt the ending quite... strangely...but quite powerfully.

                Thoughts?

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK, so I'm assuming the worst.

                  There is only one place where no quotation marks appear, as far as I could tell, i.e. on p. 52, where suddenly it says
                  • Zzzzzzzabnousklidenyhavam mayanixiesnasohliktaratid
                  Clearly there was a crossed wire with the Klingon channel there or something. To be honest what bothers me at that point is not so much this outburst, but the dirty great quotation mark that precedes it, which, unless I'm very much mistaken, is none of the five 'official' colours, but instead manifestly grey.

                  Skip ahead to p. 64 and we get the following description of the Man With No Harms [sic]:
                  • I discovered sitting
                    opposite me The
                    Man With No
                    Arms. So startled
                    by his presence
                    —the greyness of his
                    presence, grey hair, grey whiskers,
                    grey eyebrows, greyer still his
                    wide eyes,
                    —pupooless eyes,—
                    eyelashes, long willowy
                    lashes rising out and up as
                    if they were falling away from the
                    earth itself, not grey at all but
                    a luminous
                    violet
                  No one could deny there had been an intrusion.

                  On the whole though, the language seems more, um, Joycean, than in HoL, with portemanteaux left right and centre, as opposed to the homographs you generally find in HoL, although you find those too. There is also the business of the butterfly, which MZD mentioned at the event in Holland (and notice what type of pasta the Story Teller is eating on p. 88).

                  I've yet to see if there's any discernible difference between the way the various voices speak. Although the 'explanatory' note seems to claim that they are not distinguished by 'characterizing phrases'.

                  In addition, the candles in the 'small parlor' where the Story Teller Tells his tale are 'ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and molasses' (p. 37), which effectively corresponds to the five different colours of the narrators' respective quotation marks. The fact that immediately before the five candles are introduced the fact that the orphans themselves number five is so emphatically asserted, leads me to suspect that perhaps there may be some connexion, yes? Like, for instance, that the narrators are the orphans themselves, forty odd years later, perhaps.

                  Anyway, just some initial thoughts.

                  Edit: Oh, and as regards a thread for talking about what we actually felt about the book: Shanks, do you want to do the honours?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We can edit now? That's no fun

                    I don't get the quotes thing, for now, but I figure I'll go back now that I have the story down, and try to separate things out later. Looks pretty intimidating though.

                    When I was flipping through the Dutch version, that song thing jumped out at me, but I didn't realize it wasn't in quotes.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      f_s, Im kinda clogging up the board with enough of my crap as it is But if you don't I will :)

                      As to your post, yes, my first thought to the 5 speach marks was the five children. Though Im not sure if you have said too much here! I guess people that don't have the book wont be reading this bit yet... at least I hope not.

                      Also yes, the long bit with the grey speachmarks...very interesting...as is the butterly. That the thing I didn't see in the sewing box picture near the end. I would SWEAR it wasn't there when I looked at the page, and was when I came back.

                      Did you not find the story seemed to flow a lot easier then the rest of the book... like it seemed more to come from one person (as it is doing in the book) when the Teller is telling.

                      As to the new topic, I think you should set it up. You shall be able to explain it better then me, though it will be interesting to see what feelings we all experienced from reading, and finishing the book.

                      Also, we have to be objective and wonder if the quotes thig was added in later to add a depth to the story that isn't really there. I know I have said this before, and you know MZD must have a plan, but there is always that chance... I mean... it had SLIGHT undertones of attempting to be clever and live up to the mystery that is HoL... Don't you think?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, slightly. The inside flap (the part that doesn't give anything away) sets it up as a difference between reading aloud and reading to yourself:
                        • Read aloud THE FIFTY YEAR SWORD will captivate any child. Read alone the complexities of nameless voices, misplaced narratives of hate, and the horrors of delayed violence, which only our retellings can rescue and restore, will thrill and touch the sharpest reader.
                        So I suppose that's us then.

                        I haven't had time to look into the quotation marks in any detail, but I couldn't discern any sort of pattern just while reading it. Superficially I read it as a sign that this is a story that has been told and retold many times (as it says in the blurb), and that the five narrators, although supposedly speaking separately are all quoting each other, essentially. In some cases one voice will quote something which starts and ends with a differently coloured single quotation mark, so we have three different colours for, ostensibly, two layers. If there is a secret pattern then I can only assume it's pretty intricate, but for the time being I'm satisfied with it as a marker of the communality of the story, i.e. that the narrators have told themselves, each other, and others the story so often that all their voices merge. From the 'explanatory' note it's clear that these five aren't the best of friends by any means, but they are nevertheless tied together (and, presumably, cut off from each other, as per the double+ meaning of 'butterfly') by this story, which in itself appears disjointed at first and then you learn to ignore the different quotation marks and the story, as you say, begins to flow more freely.

                        Anyway, I'm just rambling here, but I hope some of that made some kind of sense.

                        One thing I will say about the back flap though: what is that picture of MZD? Don't you just want to punch him, or push him in the river on that photo?

                        Edit: (just making the most of it) I didn't have the same experience with the sewing kit. The butterfly was always there. It did take me a while, however, to realise there's a butterfly in the picture on p. 29 as well. It seems to flutter through the whole book, just as the figurative 'cutting' language is there from the very first sentence, foreshadowing gratuitously, and appears again and again, coupled with the 'stitching' metaphors, like
                        • Chintana happily headed
                          off, threading her way through
                          the crowd and the ever helter
                          of severed mutters— (p. 24)
                        where you have both 'severed', and 'threading'. Obviously in order to stitch something together, you first need to pierce it.

                        Edit edit: Come to think of it — and I haven't checked or anything — but I wouldn't be that surprised if all the various words for hacking and slashing and cutting and piercing which you get in that long list towards the end, had actually all appeared previously in the text, metaphorically, fluttering around only to settle down finally.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just a thought : no quotation mark on the blank pages.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You mean how the blank pages almost invite the reader to fill them in?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
                              You mean how the blank pages almost invite the reader to fill them in?
                              The blank pages didn't factor into my reading, except for oh, this story is less than 50 pages when you don't count the pics and blank pages, and I should finish it pretty quickly. I have an underactive imagination or something. Plus the wide right margin for the text adds to that, I guess.

                              I do consider the blank lines between paragraphs, along with the picture pages, as my place for filling in. At those points I would usually mull over what I had just read before going on.

                              The one place I really felt author interruption was the end of page 14. I'm like hmm, what's going to be the word at the end of this sentence...[flip] ARGH!! PICTURE!! Can't flip past it, must look at the picture first, but what is the word??!! Everywhere else in the book, the interrupted sentences by the blank pages didn't get my attention like that one did.

                              Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
                              this story, which in itself appears disjointed at first and then you learn to ignore the different quotation marks and the story, as you say, begins to flow more freely.
                              When I first started reading, I was trying to make sense of why the quotes were the colors they were, trying to pick out different narrators, even though the sword note says the layout doesn't provide that. After a while, it was taking too long and I wanted to get on with the story, so I ignored them. When the Story Teller comes in though, I had taken a break to write a note down, and then I noticed the quote marks again. There's a bunch of 'em nested at that point, all grammatically correct, with different colors starting and ending, but sometimes the same color too. I still didn't have any theory on it though so I kept going. It's like, you can say the narrators have converging/consistent thoughts during this part, but it's easy to show it because all those nested quotes have to be there at that point.

                              The story went faster for me halfway through not because of the quotes, but because there seem to be a lot less words merged with words while the Story Teller's tale unfolds. I think the disjointment of the earlier pages may come from that part not being as traumatizing, therefore memory of what happened before is fuzzier when put together between the five, and then the actual story is remembered very clearly because they've probably relived that part over and over in their minds.

                              I noted only one other thought about the colors, it's a boring one:
                              How did Mark keep all these voices straight? Who laid out the text, when proofread, what guide did the readers get to look for mistakes? How would we know if there's a color typo in this?

                              Comment

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