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Old 09-06-2012, 10:11 AM   #1
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Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Here anyone may discuss anything regarding the selection before, during and after reading.

Please use spoiler tags during the rest of this first month if discussing specifics from later parts of the selection.

So, what are you thoughts on it?

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Old 09-06-2012, 10:47 AM   #2
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I got the book and will start reading it soon; it'll be next after the one I'm currently on.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:15 AM   #3
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I've read the first chapter and in it David Mitchell certainly captures the world of a 13 year old with its interests and fears.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:59 AM   #4
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I agree. I'm about halfway through now and while the first part is good, there's a really good part near the middle.
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:22 PM   #5
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Reminded by this month's selection that it has been my library for almost two years and needing a break from history books I started it last Wednesday and was so caught up with it that I stopped reading only when I could no longer hold my eyes open. Finished it early yesterday and although I didn't like the last two or three chapters so much decided to re-read it because I did have a bit of trouble keeping all the boys straight and guessed at (or ignored) the meaning of a lot of the British words.

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I agree. I'm about halfway through now and while the first part is good, there's a really good part near the middle.
I am curious though...which part near the middle are you referring to? I was especially captivated by solaruim.

When transferring Black Swan Green to my PE I was surprised to find two other of Mitchell's books (Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet) in Calibre! Not at all sorry, but am wondering why I bought three books not knowing whether I would even want to read (or finish) more than one. Must have been trying to use up Fictionwise bonus points!
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Old 09-15-2012, 07:03 PM   #6
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I found it easier to read this book in short segments, alternating it with another book. Maybe it was the writing style necessary to represent the teenage voice. It certainly does bring back memories of the social pressures and awkward years of middle school, which I suppose must be universal whether male / female or British / American. I enjoyed the 80s flashback and the British slang. I also enjoyed the big sister and little brother interactions, and the age difference helped magnify the coming of age story. I liked how the last chapter had the same title as the first chapter as the story has progressed over the course of a year.

One thing I didn't like is the voice seemed inconsistent to me. At times it was a brilliant representation of a boy on the cusp of becoming a young adult. He knew he was learning life lessons but couldn't always place them into a bigger context. At other times the writing seemed too lucid. Although I enjoyed the poetic, insightful writing of these passages, I found myself wondering if at some point we were going to find out that the book was being narrated by an adult and there would a point-of-view shift.
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I am curious though...which part near the middle are you referring to? I was especially captivated by solaruim.
Spoiler:
Yes, it was Solarium! I loved that part. I'm close to the end now and I can tell that that chapter was my favourite of the book.

Not that Madame Crommelynck's views are the last word on the subject, but the chapter was surely very interesting and made me ponder things (such as beauty and truth) in an alternate light.

And the humour! Every time she said "And I say 'Go to hell!'" I was . I was captivated by the chapter, and just waiting in anticipation of the next thing she'd tell to go to hell.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:54 PM   #8
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I regret missing the vote for this month. I would have cast my vote for True History of the Kelly Gang, but the comments so far have me interested in Black Swan Green. My memories of that time in my life are largely unpleasant, but it does sound good. I hope I will be able to fit reading it in before the discussion dies away.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:08 PM   #9
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I regret missing the vote for this month. I would have cast my vote for True History of the Kelly Gang, but the comments so far have me interested in Black Swan Green. My memories of that time in my life are largely unpleasant, but it does sound good. I hope I will be able to fit reading it in before the discussion dies away.
that will make it two of us - I am buying it right now!
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:19 PM   #10
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I found it easier to read this book in short segments, alternating it with another book. Maybe it was the writing style necessary to represent the teenage voice. It certainly does bring back memories of the social pressures and awkward years of middle school, which I suppose must be universal whether male / female or British / American. I enjoyed the 80s flashback and the British slang. I also enjoyed the big sister and little brother interactions, and the age difference helped magnify the coming of age story. I liked how the last chapter had the same title as the first chapter as the story has progressed over the course of a year.
I'm also reading it in tandem {with Amelia Edwards' fab book}.

The very perceptive points you make above exactly reflect the feeling I got when reading it--I live in Ireland but my boyhood was spent in Pennsylvania and I think that anyone can relate to those years when reading the book, regardless of where they live.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:35 PM   #11
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I found it easier to read this book in short segments, alternating it with another book. Maybe it was the writing style necessary to represent the teenage voice.
I had to take a break from the book after a couple of hours, there is only so much teenage angst I can cope with at a time. You could not pay me enough to be 13 again.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:00 AM   #12
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I had to take a break from the book after a couple of hours, there is only so much teenage angst I can cope with at a time. You could not pay me enough to be 13 again.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:02 AM   #13
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One thing I didn't like is the voice seemed inconsistent to me. At times it was a brilliant representation of a boy on the cusp of becoming a young adult. He knew he was learning life lessons but couldn't always place them into a bigger context. At other times the writing seemed too lucid. Although I enjoyed the poetic, insightful writing of these passages, I found myself wondering if at some point we were going to find out that the book was being narrated by an adult and there would a point-of-view shift.
Oddly, that was perhaps my favorite aspect of the book, the palimpsest of the boy's voice and the man's. Clearly it didn't bother me, nor was I waiting for a reveal; I just enjoyed the play of the language.

I wondered, though; I wouldn't have thought that a 13-year old in 1982 was as innocent as Jason (as I'm quite confident they aren't now). Since we can assume that Jason is Mitchell, it must be accurate, but it seems like a throwback to an even earlier time. Like *cough* mine.

I loved the evocation of the time of wonder/time of agony; I wasn't as enamored of the plotty bits at the end, which seemed to me pretty standard fare.
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Old 09-26-2012, 03:42 PM   #14
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So I am really glad that I read this. I won't say much at this point as I will wait until the discussion is scheduled to start, but I will mention that I did find so much English public school slang difficult . I wish that the book had included a glossary. I will also add:

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I agree. I'm about halfway through now and while the first part is good, there's a really good part near the middle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
Spoiler:
Yes, it was Solarium! I loved that part. I'm close to the end now and I can tell that that chapter was my favourite of the book.

Not that Madame Crommelynck's views are the last word on the subject, but the chapter was surely very interesting and made me ponder things (such as beauty and truth) in an alternate light.

And the humour! Every time she said "And I say 'Go to hell!'" I was . I was captivated by the chapter, and just waiting in anticipation of the next thing she'd tell to go to hell.



Most definitely that chapter is a standout.
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Old 09-26-2012, 04:26 PM   #15
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So ...I will mention that I did find so much English public school slang difficult . I wish that the book had included a glossary.
If you need any translations, please just ask .
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