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Old 04-19-2010, 05:57 PM   #16
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Darker things...

I'm surprised no one's commented on the darker observations she made in the novel, like the roaming hack abortion provider, the child molesting (hinted at) abusive and constantly drunk native Americans, and when she described a near-rape scene at her home one night.

Somehow everyone seems to be just not mentioning these parts of the story and focusing on the snicker-smile aspects of the farming life. I read into these parts a little more and thought about the darker side of living where and when she did...I'm just saying...

Overall I did not think the book was "funny" at all necessarily, and got tired of the constant anthropomorphism (sp?), "the mountain lifted her skirt, etc. etc."

I thought the book was interesting enough and am glad I took the time to read it, as I'm often in that area for work and for camping, fishing, etc. and it is the most beautiful country you could imagine.

For humor though, please do yourselves a favor and read Confederacy of Dunces, hilarious.

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Old 04-19-2010, 06:42 PM   #17
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I'm surprised no one's commented on the darker observations she made in the novel, like the roaming hack abortion provider, the child molesting (hinted at) abusive and constantly drunk native Americans, and where she hinted at was a near-rape scene at her home one night.

Somehow everyone seems to be just not mentioning these parts of the story and focusing on the snicker-smile aspects of the farming life. I read into these parts a little more and thought about the darker side of living where and when she did...I'm just saying...

Overall I did not think the book was "funny" at all necessarily, and got tired of the constant anthropomorphism (sp?), "the mountain lifted her skirt, etc. etc."

I thought the book was interesting enough and am glad I took the time to read it, as I'm often in that area for work and for camping, fishing, etc. and it is the most beautiful country you could imagine.

For humor though, please do yourselves a favor and read Confederacy of Dunces, hilarious.
I just read Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and you're right. It is rip-roaring funny. Since the voting I also read Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse, which was funny in a Jeeves and Bertie way. Actually, it basically was a Jeeves and Bertie story, except it didn't have Jeeves, or Wooster, or any of the usual gang of supporting characters; but change the names, and there you are. I will say this for The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald: I believed that she had spent time on a chicken farm, whereas I felt that a chicken farm was just a backdrop for the Wodehouse story; and whether or not he had any personal experience with a chicken farm, it certainly seemed more like a slightly researched setting for a story rather than something of which he had actual knowledge.

I'm also now reading Lamb by Christopher Moore, and so far it's had more laugh-out-loud moments in the first three chapters than the entire text of The Egg and I.

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Old 04-20-2010, 03:12 AM   #18
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I'm surprised no one's commented on the darker observations she made in the novel, like the roaming hack abortion provider, the child molesting (hinted at) abusive and constantly drunk native Americans, and when she described a near-rape scene at her home one night.

Somehow everyone seems to be just not mentioning these parts of the story and focusing on the snicker-smile aspects of the farming life. I read into these parts a little more and thought about the darker side of living where and when she did...I'm just saying...

...
I noticed it, too, I just hadn't got to it yet, okay Anyway, I those observations were part of what made it less funny for me, and when I read it, I wished she'd brought it more out. Would have given the story more substance.
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Old 04-20-2010, 03:58 AM   #19
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She also has a little girl, Anne, whom she infrequently mentions, at least in the first 70% of the book...

Anne could be the perfect baby, and therefore not requiring a mention.... I reckon that she would be at least 1 year old at 70% - surely (even at 6 months old) she would be part of the household as much as the other babies.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:43 AM   #20
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I really enjoyed reading this book. Before I began, I did some background reading about the time period and location, so I would have a better understanding of the context of the situations.

Here are some pictures of the area around that time. {Click on the picture to make it larger}
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ID:	50125A saw mill where men could earn extra money

I agree it wasn't always laugh out loud (then again not everyone sees humor the same way), but I was able to picture her descriptions in my mind. It was like seeing a movie in my head as she described clothing and shoes trying to dry, getting water for the wash, starting the stove and running to do chores in between.

I spoke to my mom about this time period and she agreed that the only way you could make it though a day sometimes was to laugh about situations.

It must of been a complete shock to "do" for herself and be so far away from "civilized" people. From what I read about the background of this book, her stories about living in the backwoods were hilarious to others.

I grew up listening to my grandmother speak of living in Oklahoma and Missouri (dust bowl times) and moving to California (Steinbeck country). It was a never ending, day after day, struggle to just keep up and survive. Women (and men) gossiped while doing daily chores. Everyone knew everyone's business and freely entered houses and borrowed from others if something was needed.

If you didn't grow it, harvest it, and can it, you may not have any food during the winter. The stove was "life": heat for the house, to dry clothing, cooking, boil water for the wash, heat up the iron to iron the good clothes and tablecloths that the neighbors would see during "visits".

Excitement was taking a bath, dressing up, and going to "town". It was pretty much a full day trip to get to town, pick up supplies, and get back, but you were able to "see" other people and things. Maybe even bought material to make a dress or shirt.

The "darker aspects" that were mentioned, were just that. Something that was a part of life then as they are today. At least now days we have laws that help protect and support victims. Back then it was still accepted that a man would sometimes beat his wife and children, that a man would drink, that some how it was the woman at fault if she was raped, and a woman pretty much needed a man in order to live away from her parents. Most everyone knew what was going on, talked about it, but really didn't interfere in other people's "business". Divorce was just not "done". It truly was viewed as shameful if you could even get granted a divorce.

It was probably a more enjoyable read for me due to having grown up listening to stories of the time and having some experience with the situations. We had chickens and rabbits (Yuck, plucking and skinning), grew, harvested, and canned fruit and vegetables every year, sewed most of our clothing, lived outside of town, hung out the wash, etc.

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Old 04-20-2010, 09:12 AM   #21
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I really enjoyed reading this book. Before I began, I did some background reading about the time period and location, so I would have a better understanding of the context of the situations.

Here are some pictures of the area around that time. {Click on the picture to make it larger}
...
Thanks for the pictures and the long post It's the kind of life most of my ancestors would have had (almost all peasants), but perhaps because it's a story from a land far away, I didn't immediately think of it. Your post helped to remind me of it. My fathers old enough to remember having plowed with horses when he first went into service on a farm as a teenager.
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:19 AM   #22
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I really enjoyed reading this book. Before I began, I did some background reading about the time period and location, so I would have a better understanding of the context of the situations.
What a nice comment you gave as, Dreams. So generous of you, as always.

To me also the book is very pleasant to read. I have not finished as I enjoy it and I want to taste carefully its flavors. It is not a great book, whichever way one looks at it. But ...

The book took me right in a pre milk shakes time. Let me share my notes.

Expressions like "untrammeled girlishness" make me more than giggle. A whirling crowd of aunts, she cousins (cousinesses?), sisters, friends of sisters, sisters of friends came to my mind at set it to a nostalgic, admired and amused state.

"There is one thing about the chicken business: if a hen is lazy or uncooperative or disagreeable you can chop off her head and relieve the situation once and for all."
1) What a useful metaphor if one substitutes the word chicken with a choice from the list {coworker, relative, repair man, tennis partner, bridge partner, et alia ad libitum}.
2) I like this "once and for all". Very feminine. All the commanding women in my life have used it to fence off my masculine promptitude to ... postponement.

"It rained at least three of the seven days a week..". It is not so much the Cold Rain Forest climate that impresses me as the need to make clear the exact number of days in a week. My older daughter (35 and she made a grandad of me just few months ago) keeps admiring me because I can compute 10% of 100 without a glitch. She has a degree in science by the way.
Unless she wanted to express 3/7 which I have yet to encounter in the funny systems of Anglo Saxon's.

"Bats hanging upside down in the cellar, flying in the open bedroom windows" Reading this I remember the first time I heard a real scream, the one that my younger aunt let go in the middle of the night because she thought to have a bat entrapped in her coiffure.

An other reason for constant mirth is the description of the bossy and insensitive behaviors of dear Hubby and the obvious pleasures she has in his company. Mysteries of the feminine soul.

I totally disapprove of putting green peppers in the chowder.
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:26 PM   #23
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Here's a line from the book worth pondering:

Why do more or less intelligent people go on honeymoons, anyway? I have yet to find a couple who enjoyed theirs.

My wife and I chose to forgo a honeymoon and instead go directly to setting up our home after reading about how honeymoons can add to the trauma that results from the major life change of marriage. After all this time, I can't begin to give the source for that article; but in terms of real life consequences, I suppose that fact that we've been married now for over 37 years should count for something.
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:38 PM   #24
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Here's a line from the book worth pondering:

Why do more or less intelligent people go on honeymoons, anyway? I have yet to find a couple who enjoyed theirs.

My wife and I chose to forgo a honeymoon and instead go directly to setting up our home after reading about how honeymoons can add to the trauma that results from the major life change of marriage. After all this time, I can't begin to give the source for that article; but in terms of real life consequences, I suppose that fact that we've been married now for over 37 years should count for something.
Wouldn't that depend on what you put into the idea of a honeymoon? Among my friends and family I guess what could sum it up, is that it's an extra nice holiday, scheduled around the wedding. So no extra stress, just a nice trip together to an exotic destination. But this is of course a more modern definition, from people who are used to travelling to foreign countries and and have lived together in a relationship well before marriage already. It would have been much different in the time Betty MacDonald married.
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:43 PM   #25
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I moved to Oregon during the late 70's and remember the weather during my time there as: raining, just rained, and going to rain. There was a t-shirt for tourists that said: "Oregonians don't tan, they rust." I can understand her feelings about the rain and just trying to have clean, dry clothing and shoes everyday.

The social class structure was interesting and somewhat carried over to present day. Yes, there was prejudice for "dirty Indians" (I'm part Indian) who did nothing much but drink (they usually couldn't get decent jobs off the reservation), but also "town folk" (small local towns), "city folk" (big cities), "backwoods", "hicks", "hillbillies", "white trash", etc.

When I read PG Wodehouse's book, Love Among the Chickens, I noted the class structure and found it funny that even though they were suppose to be "chicken farmers", there was still time to play golf and socialize with those of your social (or near social) standing.

I have a feeling that Betty's stories were toned down a bit for her book. I'm sure that the stories she told to her "city" friends went into a lot more detail and contained a lot more prejudicial comments about "backwoods folk" than what was published.

I'm beginning to think the reason I liked this book was that it was like some of the stories that I heard from my family.
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:48 PM   #26
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I'm beginning to think the reason I liked this book was that it was like some of the stories that I heard from my family.
That is my impression also and what I read in Ea's comments. This is very good in a book. The evoking power. Touching? Reaching?
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:01 PM   #27
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I have a feeling that Betty's stories were toned down a bit for her book. I'm sure that the stories she told to her "city" friends went into a lot more detail and contained a lot more prejudicial comments about "backwoods folk" than what was published.
I think she aimed at writing a 'light', entertaining, and sale-able book. Not too serious, but I'm not sure whether she would be so much less prejudiced in the book than in real life. At the time it was published, would people have noticed? And maybe I'm going to sound cluless, but how prejudiced is she actually? Compared to the current level then? Compared to today? I find it difficult to gauge.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:32 PM   #28
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I think she aimed at writing a 'light', entertaining, and sale-able book. Not too serious, but I'm not sure whether she would be so much less prejudiced in the book than in real life. At the time it was published, would people have noticed? And maybe I'm going to sound cluless, but how prejudiced is she actually? Compared to the current level then? Compared to today? I find it difficult to gauge.
I also thought it was a book written for the general population, but still toned down.

According to my grandmother and mother, prejudice wasn't so "politically incorrect" back then. They just didn't like "them" people or thought "poorly" of "them" people. It wasn't until I was in my preteens and teens that it became embarrassing to be with my grandmother around others. When we tried to explain why she couldn't refer to people that way, she just thought it was a "load of ****". She never could understand why all of a sudden it was wrong.

I don't feel that Betty was any more or less prejudiced than people today. I just think that we have been made more aware of the fact that it is (possible lawsuits) and have learned to be careful of what we say and how we say it. I think what people of today see as prejudice in the book was (like you mentioned) probably not even noticed then. (Today, I cringe when I think about some of the terms my grandmother used to describe people.)

Both books made me very aware of how lucky I am to be living in this era with all the conveniences we have to make everyday living so easy.
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Old 04-21-2010, 02:29 AM   #29
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Well, I've now finished, and I was happy to see that her daughter had a little more part in the last 30% of the book, even though we didn't get to know her personality (compared to all the different people and animals - even the nature!), and after the crazy woman had been around Anne smiled and lifted her arms up towards her mother.

I'm wondering if I have missed something about Betty's relationship with her baby daughter?
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:34 AM   #30
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MacDonald's description of the weather reminded me of the month I spent in Washington. You learn pretty quickly to ignore the rain if you want to get out and see the sights.

It rained and rained and rained and rained. It drizzled—misted—drooled—spat—poured—and just plain rained. Some mornings were black and wild, with a storm raging in and out and around the mountains. Rain was driven under the doors and down the chimney, and Bob went to the chicken house swathed in oilskins like a Newfoundland fisherman and I huddled by the stove and brooded about inside toilets. Other days were just gray and low hanging with a continual pit-pat-pit-pat-pitta-patta-pitta-patta which became as vexing as listening to baby talk. Along about November I began to forget when it hadn't been raining and became as one with all the characters in all of the novels about rainy seasons, who rush around banging their heads against the walls, drinking water glasses of straight whiskey and moaning, "The rain! The rain! My God, the rain!"
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Biography MacDonald, Betty: The Egg and I, LIT v1, 9 March 2010. Patricia Other Books (offline) 5 08-26-2010 03:19 PM
Other Fiction MacDonald, Betty: The Egg and I V1.0. 28 Mar 10 weatherwax ePub Books (offline) 3 07-31-2010 04:04 PM
Biography MacDonald, Betty: The Egg and I, v1, 9 March 2010. Patricia BBeB/LRF Books (offline) 3 03-28-2010 05:40 PM
Biography MacDonald, Betty: The Egg and I, v1, 9 March 2010. Patricia Kindle Books (offline) 3 03-09-2010 05:12 PM
Biography MacDonald, Betty: The Egg and I, v1, 9 March 2010. Patricia IMP Books (offline) 0 03-08-2010 11:19 PM


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