Submitted on Wed, 15 December 2010 19:31:28 +0000
A yellow belt is well worth missing the odd breakfast meeting! How great is that – kudos to your daughter. The breakfast meeting was well done. Sue had a ting thing timer and kept all the announcements right on track – that was very cool! Maharaj was a good speaker – talked about the different books he has written, why he wrote them, and where he was at when he did. He said going back to read Homer was – and I’m paraphrasing here – painful, because with everything written you become a stronger writer and your mistakes become blaringly obvious when you go back as the author to look at earlier work. He was very humble and quite lovely actually. Look forward to seeing you at the next meeting Lisa!
Submitted on Tue, 14 December 2010 13:22:05 +0000
I had to miss the author chat for the same reason Noelle did. Thank you for the opportunity to read it on the site. I trust the breakfast meeting went well. Had to miss that, too, but it was worth it. My daughter now has a yellow belt.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 17:24:20 +0000
Wow – first I have to say I am so impressed with our first author chat! Thank you to Ruth and Ingrid for pioneering such a great opportunity for WCDR writers to chat with an accomplished and gracious author. After reading the entries, I can’t wait to meet him Saturday! Well done, and sorry to have missed it. That being said, my daughter was by far the cutest child on stage singing the Christmas Rap medley. As she would say, (and last night did with great audience response)…peace out.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:34:44 +0000
Well, I’m signing off now. See you on Saturday
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:30:59 +0000
Okay, thanks everyone. Ruth, I can read from The AAB on Saturday? That’s good. I’d wondered if it was just from Homer.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:29:18 +0000
It falls in the same esteemed category as – What did the fish say when it hit a wall. ‘Dam!’ Is the math at the bottom of the page getting more difficult?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:23:44 +0000
From Ingrid and me, thanks so much for taking this ride tonight. We’ve had some laughs. We’ve considered some serious concepts. And we are looking forward to Saturday’s breakfast meeting when Robin will reveal more about his writing process and read a bit from his latest novel, The Amazing Absorbing Boy.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:23:24 +0000
It’s actually a joke that must be told with the joker present. He asks ‘what is green and invisible?’ When no one knows the answer he holds up his hand and say, ‘this watermelon.’ it’s the stalest joke i know and on that note….
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:20:38 +0000
I don’t get it either….
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:20:35 +0000
Well Ingrid, Ruth Lucy, and anyone else lurking out there. Thanks for arranging this. It was fun.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:20:23 +0000
I don’t get it…
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:18:27 +0000
Yes, I have a joke. What’s green and invisible? This watermelon in my hand. Haha Nyahaha. Boo
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:16:15 +0000
LOL! Thanks so much for trying this out with us, Robin. Maybe we should try teleporting Uncle Boysie in next time! Does anyone have any final comments?… or jokes? We always like a good joke.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:13:36 +0000
This was very, very interesting. It’s like a nice intimate coffee shop chat. This technology business. Next, teleportation
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:11:20 +0000
Thanks so much for joining us, Thelma!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:10:42 +0000
Hi Thelma Thanks for joining the conversation.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:10:39 +0000
Our hour is up — actually, it is past it, isn’t it? Oh dear. Robin, you’ve been most gracious. I trust this has been a good experience for you. I know I’ve certainly enjoyed it. Any general comment/observation that you’d like to make Robin? Either about this experience or about the book, etc.?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:09:31 +0000
HA! Yes, Miss Gwynn is playing hookie (hooky?) Do you realize it’s been nearly 11 years since we all sat round her dining room table, piecing together the next issue of LICHEN (literary journal)? Time sure flies.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:09:29 +0000
Robin — Gwynn would be here but her Internet in the boonies is so wonky, she’d probably still be rubbing two computers together to see if she can get a spark.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:08:58 +0000
I have to leave this conversation now. Thank you Robin for your patience and thank you organizers for allowing me to participate in this unique experiment.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:08:10 +0000
Good grief. I have a lot of characters raising a single eyebrow. I have to do a ‘search’ for ‘eyebrow’ to get rid of them. Mysterious little tic. Maybe I should add in ticks to my novels. They might be more interesting than raised eyebrows.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:06:57 +0000
Hi Ruth, Lucy and Ingrid I feel like we are at a Lichen editorial meeting. But Gwen is missing
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:06:02 +0000
Oh boy, talk about ‘ticks’… and tics… That last post of mine is rife with “recurrent”, and I didn’t edit out the “termed” and subconsciously is mispelled. I think I need sleep more than rum. ha.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:03:46 +0000
Hi ingrid You are right. In rereading Homer I spotted a couple other tics. Maybe we all write the same book with a different cast of characters, over and over.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:03:09 +0000
Dancing in the Dark — that is a line from the book that stuck out for me. But I’ll be darned if I can find it now. I thought it was at the end. At any rate, I remember reading it and thinking, gosh, that’s sad.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:00:55 +0000
LOL re a real Uncle Boysie in Trinidad. I think these recurrences might be termed what Timothy Findley called a “writer’s tick” (if I remember correctly). He spoke of the inevitable recurrent images/sounds/phrases/etc in a writer’s work. His happened to be the sound of a screen door slamming, the sight of a house’s lit window from outside, and other recurrent things that popped up in his writing occasionally, and always subconcsiously.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 02:00:52 +0000
Hi Lucy When I rediscovered him in Homer I wondered about his persistence (in the books) In Trinidad, Boysie is a common drunkard name.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:57:58 +0000
With homer though it was different. I knew from the beginning he would be called Homer. My original title for the book was Dancing in the Dark but Laurel Boone, my editor wanted Homer in the title.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:55:25 +0000
So that’s why I seemed to know Uncle Boysie when I was reading The Amazing Absorbing Boy! I hadn’t realized I’d met him before!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:54:07 +0000
Hi Ruth Maybe it’s the influence of Dickens or possibly the result of growing up in Trinidad where everyone has some nickname. There was actually a man called Balls there. His real name too! I suppose now I am less adventurous with names and as I am writing I continually adjust the names until they feel right. Then I stick with them.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:50:11 +0000
Hi Lucy and Ingrid I chose Homer for its ironic significance. The stories from the real Homer always revolved around heroic people. Ingrid, I was surprised to see Uncle Boysie in Homer in Flight. I had forgotten he was there. What to make of this? I don’t know…maybe there is a real Uncle Boysie somewhere in Trinidad.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:47:00 +0000
Hi Thelma. Good to hear from you. It’s freezing up here so we all envy you your time in the sun!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:46:05 +0000
Hi Robin, Let me add to Ingrid’s & Lucy’s question. Names are a huge part of the novel — I likened their use to that of Dickens’ in some aspects. Talk about the names, please do!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:43:56 +0000
Hello Ruth Definitely. The change in the pacing was deliberate, to reflect Homer’s increasing frenzy as he discovers new aspects of himself
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:43:14 +0000
Why the choice of name – Homer? I know it seems obvious but I’d like your take on it.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:41:39 +0000
Robin, I have to ask, though it seems a fairly superficial sort of query… But did you consciously carry forward the names of Uncle Boysie and Sushilla into later books? As I was reading, I didn’t think they were the same characters, but with knowing your subsequent books, these names leaped out at me.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:38:25 +0000
I’m just at the beginning of my re-reading and am enjoying the experience. When I read a book I’m usually so interested in what is going to happen that I read fairly fast. This time, as I know the book, I can read slowly and enjoy each page. I am really taken with the the way you “get” different characters, especially the comparison of Grants and Myrna and Vali and Rafi both the individual characters and the spousal relationships. This is beautifully done.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:38:22 +0000
Hi Thelma It also depends on the type of character and on his/her purpose in the novel
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:36:49 +0000
Hi Thelma No, I have to censor my characters, or at least, control them or they will go into directions that are not suitable in a narrative sense. Sadly, I have to crack the whip a few times
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:33:44 +0000
Thelma, I just checked Barnesandnoble.com and they only have used copies of HOMER available via their website, at present.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:32:35 +0000
Sorry, Robin. “Homer in Flight” — Heck, I knew that but my fingers are too warm. I think “internal conversations” are very interesting. They are not self-censored. Did you struggle not to censor your character’s internal conversations or did you allow yourself poetic license, and allow him to think freely?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:32:16 +0000
Robin — the flavour of the Caribbean is so intense — your capture of idioms and the musicality, etc. So it does seem right to reflect that in the narrative. Towards the end, I felt like there was a changing rhythm and cadence. The pacing was, for me, increasingly active. I wondered if this was deliberate reflection of Homer’s evolution/state of mind?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:28:40 +0000
Hi Thelma I am not too sure if it’s available in Barnes and Noble. It’s there on Amazon, though
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:26:07 +0000
Hello Ruth Yes, I believe the propensity for ‘interior thought’ is noticeable in Caribbean novels. It may be connected with the strong oral traditions, calypsoes, etc.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:25:54 +0000
Robin, would “Home in Flight” be available at Barnes and Noble in Arizona? Or, is it only available in Canada presently? Hello Lucy.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:24:52 +0000
Oh boy, yes, I’m in for rum! Hot buttered rum, to warm the heart, like they serve at Fortress Louisbourg!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:22:35 +0000
Hi, Robin. (No, thank goodness it’s NOT the guinea pig…she, who is the Princess!) This is very neat to hear the origins of Homer’s voice. One often wonders and tries to analyze the author’s possible thoughts in writing in specific way. Anyone else like to join in with a question or a comment? Lucy?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:21:05 +0000
I vote for rum!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:19:44 +0000
Okay. I get the ‘telling’ — speaking of ‘tellings’ I see Lucy Brennan offered up a hello. Any comment to add to that hello, Lucy?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:19:26 +0000
Hello Lucy This cold weather is calling for some brandy. Or rum.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:17:46 +0000
I totally got that fantasy world — in fact, I got it far more on the second reading that in the first. This quest he is on is very much an interior search and keeping him inside his head echoes all that, doesn’t it? And don’t we all have those moments when we are surrounded by scamps and ne’er do wells, who are messing with our lives? Is ‘interior thought’ a common Caribbean manner of writing?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:16:07 +0000
Ingrid Guinea Pig crisis?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:15:10 +0000
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:14:56 +0000
Hello Ruth In the Caribbean there is – or used to be – an inclination to tell, and sometimes, to over- explain. Traditionally, novels in the Caribbean were meant to instruct as well as to entertain so the emphasis on explicit details, etc
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:08:31 +0000
Hello Ruth About Homer being in his head too frequently, I should elaborate a bit on the last post. A fair bit of it was due to my inexperience as a novelist but a lot of it was deliberate. Homer had constructed this interior world that he hoped would immunize him from all his anxieties and from which he would be able to make all his scathing judgment. This was an important part of the novel- this fantasy world he had constructed within his apartment. Because he felt he had been denied the opportunity to participate, he began to invent and create. The real action was in his head. I felt this was typical of many immigrants.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:02:45 +0000
Hi, all. I see Robin’s already responded to some of the earlier comments in this discussion and already begun to answer Ruth’s question. I’ll keep checking in, but I’ve got a bit of a family pet crisis at hand, so I expect it’ll be sporadic.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 01:01:17 +0000
Robin — can you explain a bit more about what you mean with “Caribbean manner” of writing? That’s interesting.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:58:05 +0000
As I see Robin has checked in — if you all don’t mind, I thought maybe I could kick off our chat with Sue Reynold’s question from her post a couple of hours ago — she’s going to be on course tonight but muses on “Homer” as follows: A question I would have for Robin would be: how much of that (Homer being ‘in his head quite a bit’) was his own inexperience at writing novels and how much was a deliberate character trait of Homer’s (or something else entirely).
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:55:57 +0000
Here we go. I don’t like rereading my books but I have almost completed my rereading of Homer in Flight. Sue and Carin are correct as I see a few signs of a first novel here. There is too much telling, some scenes are too long and others too compressed, and Homer’s tirades and pronouncements often make him a less than sympathetic character. There’s something else: in rereading the book I feel that I was writing in a ‘Caribbean manner’ with lengthy monologues and long passages of introspection. Nevertheless, much more could have been dramatized in actual scenes.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:40:26 +0000
Greetings everyone. We are just 20 minutes or so from our first-ever LIVE e-chat with RAW author Rabindranath Maharaj. Yeah Robin for agreeing to be our guinea pig! Just a quick reminder for everyone to refresh your connection every so often to read the new posts and Robin’s replies. This will be great fun and an interesting experiment. Stay tuned… Ruth
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:30:22 +0000
No, we haven’t had it yet. We’ll begin in half an hour.
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:24:25 +0000
Not sure of time line. Have you had your conversation with Rabin Maharaj?
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:14:44 +0000
Hi, Thelma! Great to see you…way down there in warm Phoenix!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:13:26 +0000
An early hello and welcome to everyone this evening! And a little reminder that: – questions and replies should be kept fairly brief so as to allow a ‘quick turnaround’ to keep things moving along – and with this being a static post page, you will need to refresh the page often, in order to follow the latest additions to the conversation. It’s not ideal, but it will allow us to archive the chat for others to read at leisure later on. Looking forward to 8 o’clock!
Submitted on Fri, 10 December 2010 00:08:53 +0000
Hi, Thelma here.
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 23:47:31 +0000
I see you, Robin! You’re good to go.
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 23:02:49 +0000
Hello Ingrid or Ruth If you see this let me know so I will know I am here robin
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 22:56:51 +0000
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 16:23:47 +0000
Hello Ingrid and Ruth: Writing from sunny and warm Phoenix, Arizona. I’m going to just sit-in and listen today, if I can get the time differential figured out. Please let me know what the next book will be so I can participate in the conversation. Warmest regards, Thelma
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 16:21:19 +0000
Tonight: Hi all, unfortunately I won’t be able to log on tonight – I’ll be in Toronto (actually, maybe I’ll take my laptop and pop in from the workshop I’m attending…) Anyway, I’ve continued to read Homer again, and I continue to like the experience much better this time. I’m in total agreement with Carin that he’s too much in his head – a common failing with first time novelists. A question I would have for Robin would be: how much of that was his own inexperience at writing novels and how much was a deliberate character trait of Homer’s (or something else entirely). I must say, however, as I see him floundering around trying to impress Vashti, his lack of confidence and his motivations which are opaque even to himself sometimes, make me more and more warm to him (maybe I just know myself much better than I did the first time I read this!) He seems to me not just to personify the immigrant experience in this, but the entire human experience. I’m looking forward to finishing it.
Submitted on Thu, 9 December 2010 15:03:28 +0000
Lucy! So good to ‘see’ you! You were certainly missed at the B&B. But it’s good to have you join us here; I’ve enjoyed reading your observations. If you want to add a ‘smiley’, just type in a colon with a right bracket after it, and this programme will automatically load in one of those little faces. (I prefer the original punctuatation marks, myself. ha.) Are there any early questions for Robin? We’ll be logging on here this evening at 8 p.m. to chat with Robin.
Submitted on Wed, 8 December 2010 21:29:27 +0000
Obviously all that I’ve given towards this discussion is a spam sum, so I’m shamed into saying something more. All I wanted to do was read what you people had to say. It was eye catching! I don’t have those funny faces either as I’m a real amateur with computers. Anyway my reaction to Homer as I read the book when it first came out was that I believed it all and like most of you it depressed me a bit. I so wanted him to make it and be happy. But then that’s, as I said in Seven Questions, that’s me always looking for the happy ending; there were still possibilities for Homer at the end of the book. By the way, I guess I read it from a slightly different perspective: as an emigrant/immigrant; waiting for something to turn up since I’d been brave enough to make the big decision to come out; speaking to no one at week-ends for my first six months in Toronto, wondering when I went into work on Mondays whether my voice still worked; and look at me now: I told my friends I was going on a silent retreat to do my writing this past week and that even the meals were silent and they wondered how I was going to be able to hold my tongue; fortunately the meals were so good they kept my tongue busy. Great reading all. Was very sorry to miss the B&B! Now I’ll do my spam sum again! Where are the letters! 7 + 6=13
Submitted on Wed, 8 December 2010 14:38:20 +0000
Sorry you won’t be a part of the chat, Lisa, but your concert sounds like fun too! Yes, we should be able to archive Thursday’s eChat with Robin here.
Submitted on Mon, 6 December 2010 21:43:05 +0000
Sadly, no, I can’t make the e-chat, either. That is Christmas concert night at my house. Will there be transcript available on the site?
Submitted on Mon, 6 December 2010 17:55:27 +0000
Hi, all! I see Ruth has mentioned Thursday’s eChat with Robin and there will be a WCDR emailing about it as well. Here are the details: This THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9th from 8 – 9 p.m., Robin will join Ruth and I here on the RAW eChat page, where he’ll answer questions and talk to everyone about his experiences as a writer. The conversation is OPEN TO EVERYONE! We’ll also field some early questions for Robin from now till Wed afternoon, then he’ll post his answers in anticipation of Thursday’s online evening chat. Send your questions by email to Ingrid at: ajayeh[at]yahoo[dot]com. Join us on Thursday here on RAW’s eChat page! We hope to see those of you who can make it on Saturday, at the brekkie, where you can meet Robin!
Submitted on Mon, 6 December 2010 12:36:12 +0000
Hi Ruth, Thanks for interacting – nice! What’s the Thursday thing? Doubt that I’ll make breakfast. Too much weather uncertainty between Ajax and Lindsay. Also the $25. at the door fee is some what discouraging. I was amused by Homer’s writing experience. Much like mine. Dragged out difficulty finding a publisher, took him to the Ego Press. As yet I’m not there. LOL! Roger
Submitted on Mon, 6 December 2010 02:59:10 +0000
Lisa — Oh man! I’m sorry you can’t make the breakfast but I hope you can make the live chat on Thursday night. Do you have any questions for Robin about his life as a writer? Linda, hope you can make the breakfast if you have to miss the e-chat. Roger, Hokey Smokey man, great to have a male POV on the discussion. The scene with Mr. Flint is kind of touching, isn’t it? (what about that steely name, by the way) and it is great that he goes out of his way to find out where to find him and gets downright forceful, in fact. So Homer can assert for himself when he wants to. Which is wonderful. As to tolerance of the manipulators, well, you can find that almost every character, including Homer, manipulated others. But as he is the main character, I think that is where we invest ourselves the most. I love that he brought out strong emotion in you — of course men tear up! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, Roger. A character to pulls out emotions is a great character indeed. Hope you can log on Thursday night at least, and come to the breakfast on Saturday.
Submitted on Fri, 3 December 2010 17:09:28 +0000
I feel sort-of Homerish on this site. A man among women. As Homer was the lone male in the literature class he attended, it appears that Roger is the only male in attendance here. How come? Ideas? Aaanyway I finished the book. With tears in my eyes. (Yes, some men do tend-to-tear. I found it touching that Homer sought out Mr. Flint to give him a copy of his book and reconnect with someone he had shared time and thoughts with. Which was much appreceated by Flint — who realy wasn’t hard. Simply another man attempting to steel himself in a world in which he found little comfort outside of his personal escape mechanisms. Not unlike most folks. . . Seems to have been little reader patience with Homer, yet a great deal of tolerance with the domineering, manipulative women in the story. Or is that simply my male persective? Well written, insightful story that took Homer to an eventual safe landing. As I see it. . . What’s next? Roger
Submitted on Thu, 2 December 2010 15:44:12 +0000
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the echat next Thursday with the author. I wish I could, as it would be interesting to be able to echat with the author about the book. Great idea. Looking forward to the breakfast–sorry you can’t go Lisa. This will be my first breakfast with WCDR. Does anyone know what the next book will be for RAW? Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Wed, 1 December 2010 22:07:58 +0000
Aw, man! I can’t go to the breakfast next week because my daughter is being graded in karate. We got the notice yesterday. This is the first time I’ve actually read the book ahead of time. That’ll teach me for being prepared. Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Wed, 1 December 2010 17:59:27 +0000
Lots of fun at Books & Bevvies the other night! Now, who’s up for an “eChat” with Rabindranath Maharaj and Ruth and I, here on the RAW eChat page, from 8-9 p.m. next Thursday, December 9th? Details to follow…
Submitted on Mon, 29 November 2010 22:08:15 +0000
Wish I could be there. Have a great evening and hoist a bevvie for me.
Submitted on Mon, 29 November 2010 14:25:26 +0000
REMINDER! TONIGHT! Come out for a casual night at Books and Bevvies! Eat, drink, chat, laugh, participate in or listen to readings. We will briefly discuss the first 10 pages of HOMER. Readings take place after dinner, so feel free to come prepared with 3 minutes of material (you’ll be timed! so practice!) Please RSVP via the RAW link so we can prepare seating for those attending the event. No cost to the event, but participants are responsible for their own dinner/drinks tab. 6:30-9:30 pm The Brock House 918 Brock Street North, Whitby www.thebrockhouse.ca
Submitted on Mon, 29 November 2010 14:19:40 +0000
Welcome, Lisa! Great to have you here, to read what you think of the book so far, and to see that the nibbles at the literary buffet have stimulated your appetite further! I agree; it’s that outside view, that mirroring of ourselves, that is the literary writer’s job, in my opinion. And Maharaj’s mirror often disturbs. Has anyone ever begun to read a book SO disturbing or uncomfortable that they book the down? (and I don’t mean *disturbing content* as in the warning on a graphically violent film. I’m thinking along the lines of perception or viewpoint or the way plot unfolds, etc.) Just curious.
Submitted on Mon, 29 November 2010 13:10:23 +0000
I’m about halfway through the book right now. It’s making me think I should read literary fiction more often, because I really do enjoy it. I like it when a book makes me feel uncomfortable or forces me to look at myself, or at my culture. This book does both. Yes, a lot of it has to do with Homer’s unrealistic expectations and, yes, his personal failures are his own doing. I’m referring more to the unequal application of labour laws and other manifestations of racism. I would like to think those are uncommon experiences here, but I fear they aren’t. In my more genre-oriented mind, I would compare Homer with Data from ST:TNG or Spock from the original series. He’s the mirror that allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of the ‘other’. The view isn’t always pretty. I do share Heather’s frustration with Homer. So far, at least, he’s not doing anything active to improve his situation. I’d like to give him a good shake and tell him to get his ass out there and actually LOOK for a job instead of hanging around the park.
Submitted on Sun, 28 November 2010 15:26:09 +0000
Love those names! Funny, funny. One has to say that, no matter how one responds to HOMER IN FLIGHT, one does repond, and that is in no small measure due to the admirable skills of Mr. Maharaj. Now, Ruth and I are going to peer into the ether, here, and see if we might spy some shy ‘lurkers’… Who’s not speaking up? Come on. We can see you, your hands hovering over the keys, interested, but unsure. Don’t be shy. Plop your name and email into the box above and simply type in the word “Hello!” And if you add a bit more, no one is going to judge your typing skills or opinions or likes or dislikes. Not at all. We’d just love to hear your voice! And don’t forget books and bevvies is tomorrow evening!
Submitted on Sat, 27 November 2010 15:06:12 +0000
Lot. Balls. Jay. Sloh. Emms. Ack. OMG, I adore the supposed “north americanization” of names that would be tough on our tongues. And such great discoveries…the use of vomit as a plant tonic. What a scene that leads up to this… But one of my favourite parts of this book is the trips to the suburban park (notice how nature keeps poking in to this story, drawing Homer along to places of solitude and growth?) — there are all kinds of immigrants, as has been pointed out in our discussions a few times. And none so sad as Ralph McSween (Sweeney – can’t be by chance that name) — anyway, old Scot at the tail end of life, barely able to remember “the old country” becomes companion to Homer, sharing snippets of his life, his marriage, his sailor wartime life, …and then, when Ralph actually can access his childhood memories, it is time for him to be shipped off to the nursing home. Ah, in him, we have an immigrant of a different nature — stranger in the strange land of compartmentalized ageing that we are sooo good at in N.Amer. Homer’s journey is one of discovery for us. He may not always ‘get’ what he is seeing or experiencing, but we can. He is our avatar in this place — like it or not, the view is not always pretty.
Submitted on Fri, 26 November 2010 12:34:15 +0000
Heather, yes, he was careful without coming off as miserly. And I loved his attention to the small things, outfitting his apartment for example (oh, and wasn’t the landlady just great? still laugh when I think of her saying something like “yeah, sure, great apartment, great view, right over the pool, Olympic size…”; I thought she was written so beautifully, such a subtle hand at ‘overt’ sarcasm… and so completely from Homer’s POV that it had me sharing in his initial confusion: is she being serious or not??). The let-down as the reality of the place sunk in, was beautifully paced, mixed with his efforts to make a home (such nice symbolism here) and the reality of urine soaked carpets. One of my (many) favourite parts of the book.
Submitted on Fri, 26 November 2010 03:55:49 +0000
Ingrid, I wish I was as good with money as Homer. Not a chance. Homer had a very monk-like austerity about him, didn’t he? (Either that or a Homerwad of cash.) And that’s why I can’t be as good with money as Homer. No monk-like austerity and definitely no Homerwad of cash.
Submitted on Thu, 25 November 2010 14:57:33 +0000
And perhaps they got it in the end, but first they got a chunk of forested wilderness out in the middle of a nowhere that was NOTHING like where they’d come from…at least, not till they’d cleared the trees some, so that they could see the hills. I wonder if THEY ever felt like Homer, or if they were mostly too busy trying to survive to really think about it. Homer has the cushion of a little bit of money that allows him to sit and stew in his own grumpy juices awhile. His food and shelter may not be ideal, but he does have them. And he is very good at budgeting. That’s one of the things that’s endearing about him – he is careful with his money, and wants to make some order out of his new life.
Submitted on Thu, 25 November 2010 14:56:14 +0000
I’m having trouble making a longer post here, so will cut into two pieces. Ooo, some good stuff to chew on here! A similar thread is showing through much of the chat – trying to nail down Homer’s state of mind. And something that Roger said points the way: “The author, I suspect, is writing about something he REALLY knows…(It has a) Here-and-now familiar.” This IS familiar territory to all of us at some time, don’t you think? Each of us is familiar with how it feels to be in a position of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, frustration. Even if it’s in a new job, or in moving from one town to another. AND I also suspect most of us have the familiar stories of family who immigrated here. For me, it’s very close to home (my mum’s own story) and on my dad’s side, it goes back six generations, to ancestors who left relative comfort (by comparison), seeking, expecting a better life here. Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Thu, 25 November 2010 11:32:38 +0000
Of course, in my previous post, I meant to write grammatically incorrect. See why I don’t post much on the RAW site. I can’t be trusted. And I forgot to say that the bus ride in the book made such a comment about the cookie-cutter houses that were built in the area at the time.
Submitted on Thu, 25 November 2010 11:30:29 +0000
I read Homer in Flight years ago when it first came out, and I loved it. I think I read it in two days. Now, here’s something interesting – the thing that stays with me most from the book is the protagonist’s first bus ride in Toronto. He described the homes they were passing by comparing the scenery to The Flintstones cartoon where they ran the same background over and over when Fred and Barney were riding in the car. I think that’s a run-on sentence and may be grammatically correct, but it’s 6:30 a.m. and I’ve been up for quite a while, and I haven’t had coffee yet. Rabin has such a gift for simile and metaphor!
Submitted on Thu, 25 November 2010 02:18:20 +0000
The reason I suggest he’s not depressed is because he’s very angry — with the difficulties in Trinidad, the hypocrisy and injustice in Canada. And he’s eager to get on with things, he just doesn’t know how. Depression doesn’t embrace much emotion of any kind. I have the feeling that Homer is filled with emotion, overflowing with it even. But it’s misplaced and confused and repressed. Ah! Maybe that’s it. He’s REpressed. Not DEpressed. I love what Maharaj is doing with this book. I love the theme, the way he forces us to see the immigrant story. It is NOT entirely a bowl of jelly to come to Canada and try to make a life. I do think, though, that he (Maharaj) may have been so passionate about the subject, that he didn’t ‘get out of the way’ as much as he might have. While I adore the (vernacular) dialogue, etc., there are, at times, what almost come off as ‘monologues’, especially on the subject of unfairness, etc., that I believe would have made a stronger impression if played out in action — rather than straight dialogue. Best part: the humour is gorgeous. So subtle. So perfectly placed. Having said that, I feel I must offer up some examples. There are just too many not too… Later, gater.
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 23:26:37 +0000
Oh goodness. I spend a couple of days working on my book and stuff and return to read a fabulous conversation. Lovely! Now, as to conversation, I agree with Sue that the dialogue in this book is incredible. I often write down bits and pieces of what people say in my travels and they say some remarkable stuff. But when that dialogue is rich with dialect and idioms, it tickles my ear and carries me away to exotic places. So to ‘hear’ it unfold in the book, is a treat to me. Depressed. I think so (I don’t think Homer realizes it.) But I know what Carin means about him being a mirror — his perception of others has a kind of naive quality that allows the reader a different look at behaviours and attitudes. That whole factory experience was fascinating. A kind of hierarchy of immigrants happening there. And all the labour laws in our fair land still do not get distributed all that evenly. It is easy to prey on a culture of boss-fear and use it to your advantage. Just look at the Mexican and Trinidadian migrant farm workers from Simcoe way — weeks of labour for nothing. Granted, they were temporary workers but still… Ah me, I’m sounding like an ad for social justice, so I’ll sign off for now. But grand discussions, all. I agree with Ingrid — such upfront willingness to state your likes and dislikes is a grand to read. Simply grand.
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 18:18:48 +0000
Linda! Spoiler!! (kidding) I agree that the writing is wonderful. What I particularly liked was the dialogue – the dialect is handled so skillfully. I can hear the accent through the rhythms of the language and the wordchoice. Brilliant.
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 17:04:50 +0000
Finished the book! I admit I skimmed a few pages just before the end, as I couldn’t stand it anymore–too depressing! Just when I thought Homer’s life was starting to pick up it comes crashing down again. To the author’s credit, what kept me reading was the wonderful descriptive writing style. I also enjoyed the language, especially the humorous lines from Homer when he sees through the hypocricy surrounding him and blurts out his annoyance with it. I have to admit that I am a bit perplexed over Homer’s lines “They tried to wrest his heroism from him but he understood all their crooked games.” If the book ended with his life’s path working out for him, then I’d understand the line. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts (any of you on echat) about that line?
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 16:32:08 +0000
You know, it’s always fascinating to me to hear how others perceive a piece of writing, whether or not it’s an essay, a poem, or a novel. When that reaction is from other writers, it’s even more intriguing, in part because they articulate their views so well! Having said that, is there anyone ‘lurking’ on the sidelines who feels too shy to say hello? Please don’t feel pressured into spilling your guts. Just pop in and tell us if you’ve been reading the book, or reading along with the discussion here. We’d love to ‘see’ you!
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 05:20:15 +0000
Well I’ve only managed to get as far as the third chapter but Homer is fast becoming the type of character I would close the book on. His whole sit back and wait attitude is something I find it hard to connect with. I can understand how twisted the reality of Canada is from his fantasy but when things don’t work out you have to kick that dream to the curb and go after a new one. I agree with Heather – the sadness and negativity portrayed in the book make it a difficult read for me. They are feelings that I deal with and then move past so this way of thinking is light years away from me. I found in the first chapter that the author painted a strong picture of the influences that pushed Homer to flee Trinidad. In these early pages I understood his need to emerge from a place where everyone knows your business and is always willing to tell you what should be doing. But once in Canada when things don’t magically work out he begins the waiting game. I was hoping that he would get past this initial funk but from the comments I assume he does not. I’m finding this read difficult going but will push onward.
Submitted on Wed, 24 November 2010 00:58:25 +0000
I disagree with the ‘clinically depressed’ diagnosis. In fact, I think Homer is extremely healthy in his ‘realistic’ view of things. He’s like a mirror, showing us the depressing reality of situations that exist for immigrants. Having said that, I do think he’s TOO MUCH IN HIS MIND. Way too much. It’s an interesting quirk insofar as a ‘charactersistic’ but it can also be somewhat annoying if it’s overdone. And I think it is a little here. (Please understand that I’m the kind of reader that LOVES an internal journey, don’t need a lot of action, but even I need more action here.) I too often have the feeling that I’m privy to the author’s view of things instead of Homer’s. I don’t know Homer enough to ascribe ‘emotion’ and empathy to him, as much as I’d like to. Although I do like him. Homer is infinitely likeable. If unknowable. Maharaj is a master of observing the human condition. The trick, however, is giving that brilliance to a fully formed character… Homer is just a few nicks away from that, in my view. Just a few.
Submitted on Tue, 23 November 2010 22:30:53 +0000
I’m up to Chapter 8 and I’m already drawn in. That said, I’ve always been a sucker for a tormented soul. I thought Sue’s comment about Homer being clinically depressed was interesting, because I was watching his frustration grow and seeing a man with OCD tendencies. I understand his aversion to his job in the factory – a sticky menial job would get anyone down. But it was when he was journaling – not only his brain processing it over and over, but also his need to understand how to do the job leads him into visions of being thrown into the tank, or onto a product assembly line. It’s the endless worry and anxiety about the job, his life, his future, his dreams. It got me wondering – it’s one thing to come into a new country, a new culture and have your life turned upside down. But imagine how much more difficult it is for someone who is struggling with something like depression or disorders? I’m sad for Homer, can’t anyone show him a spot of kindness? Really?
Submitted on Tue, 23 November 2010 21:13:03 +0000
Hi, all! Wow, no shyness round here, is there? Opinions flying all OVER the place! That’s awesome! Sue, your comment “it’s a miracle he ever got himself on the plane” (LOL) got me thinking… It’s as if Homer’s imaginings of ‘what would be’ (as well as the potential for humiliation if he didn’t go) shoved him that far. But then his expectations are so unrealistic, so colour his view of things, that he becomes paralyzed by disappointment (and yes, perhaps depression as well). I agree with Linda; Vali and Rafi have it together, whereas Homer just can’t seem to GET it together. And yes, we do want some satisfaction, some growth at the end of the story. As writers, we do know that a character has to change in some way…even if it’s a small revelation about something. Does Homer find any? I’ll have to tackle the end of the book now. Only a few pages left. Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Tue, 23 November 2010 18:39:27 +0000
Hey all, finally logging on with something to say, although I’ve been reading the comments off and on. When this book was announced I was not thrilled. I read Homer years ago and really disliked it (thought it was very well written but couldn’t stand the story, frustrated with Homer). In fact, I had bought it in hardcover back then. When this was announced as the selection I thought “Oh well, at least I already own the book.” But when I went to find it on my fiction shelf, it wasn’t there. And then I had a dim memory of getting rid of it. I almost never get rid of my books, but I think I looked at it and thought “I’m NEVER going to read this again.” Never say never. So I bought another copy from Shelley at the last breakfast. All of that said, I’m actually really thrilled to be re-reading it. I actually like it better this time (although I’m only about 70 pages in). I think it’s because now that I’ve spent so long studying writing, studying story, I almost prefer to watch movies and read books that I think don’t work – I learn so much more from them. That’s not to say that homer doesn’t work – but I don’t think it’s a satisfying story. I forget what happens in the book in the end (although some of the comments in here are jogging my memory). But I can already see what’s frustrating me about Homer and his story. He’s so PASSIVE. He allows things to happen to him (it’s a miracle he ever got himself on the plane). This well may be a true immigrant story – as a marginalized person in this alien society, Homer may not feel that he has any power to change his life – getting on the plane was supposed to have been enough. Homer strikes me as someone who may be clinically depressed – there’s not only a lack of action – there’s a lack of will to action. I believe it’s hardwired into our DNA to want transformation of a character in a story. If they don’t transform, we want to understand what prevented them from transforming. But when what prevented them is internal (passivity as a character flaw), it’s hard to be sympathetic. I’m with Heather – I want to give him a good smack and say “snap out of it!” Anyway, I’m looking forward to finishing it – but I love that I now understand why I didn’t like it the first time round.
Submitted on Tue, 23 November 2010 14:24:21 +0000
Thank you for the welcome, Ruth. I must say I really enjoy being a part of this book club and echat. I’m a stay-at-home mom now for the past number of years, and I’m happy to be a part of this echat and club. I miss working as a librarian, but the hours didn’t work out for me anymore. So…I’m attempting writing again … I read more of the book last night, and was very happy for Homer when he was offered the librarian job. Yeah! Finally a happy note! Take that Jay!(still can’t stand her) I really am tired of her calling him “Ho”. I’ve never liked when someone shortens a person’s name, unless they’ve said it was okay. I love when Homer says to Vashti, “I want you to tell that sister of yours that my correct name is Homer. Ho, Jag-a-battie something. What she think, is a brothel we have here?” I’m still laughing. Way to go Homer. I must say I like Homer’s friend Vali and his wife Rafi. It’s true when Vali asks what’s the difference between Homer and Vali and Homer answers “Rafi”. Vashti has only brought Homer down, especially with the move to her sister’s. Anyways, it looks like there’s hope for Homer’s life to pick up now. I’ll have to read more.
Submitted on Mon, 22 November 2010 01:26:27 +0000
Hi Roger & Welcome Linda! Delightful to have such great company at this book chat. I’m thinking how interesting it is that everyone is so frustrated (even ticked off) with Homer. When a character creates emotional resonance, that’s a well-drawn character. Not well-liked. Just well-drawn. Actually, I like Homer. Like Linda, I enjoy his way of speaking. And I do like his steadfastness. Oh, he also annoys the hell out of me but there is such a roller coaster ride of hopefulness and despair that I want for him to have success. He dreams of so much. But will do little to strive for it (except ‘update’ his resume) — but surely getting on the plane and travelling all that distance — how can someone come so far and fall into such ennui? Depression? Is he lazy or simply so out of place that he is overwhelmed? But then how do others see him? He has friends, sort of, at the factory. At least, people who show concern for him. And Vashti falls for him. There must be something others see in our Homer. His varnished baby dresser (I mean, think about that — a g’d baby dresser for a grown man!) and other measly possessions should have been a tip off for Vashti. But they are a tip off for us — such a small stash of stuff in a culture that values consumerism. It seems so pathetic and almost sweet. I’m nearly done the book so I’ll have to wait for the end before I decide if I end up more annoyed or understanding of his behaviour. Looking forward to books and bevvies. Will there be chocolate? Can’t have a good book talk without chocolate showing up somewhere…
Submitted on Mon, 22 November 2010 00:46:43 +0000
Thank you for the “welcome” Ingrid. I also found that line of Mr. Sampath’s on the plane very funny. The characters attempt at English with their accent was both realistic and funny. I grew up with my grandfather (Italian) who had a very strong accent and would say things somewhat backwards –and would have to translate for my friends who just looked confused. My father-in-law is the same, and we all have a laugh (including him) at some of his pronunciations. Having been to Italy and not knowing much Italian, I’ve also had a little experience being on the opposite side of that–ie pronouncing words incorrectly and trying my best to pick up the language. You do need a sense of humour during those times. As for Homer, I like how he held steadfast to his opinions and had a strong sense of independence even when surrounded by harsh criticism. I enjoyed his honest observations of the shallow people around him: “…No, Mongolia and Albania and Timbuktu wouldn’t do. The children across there might already be programmed for their suffering. …” I hope that Homer ends up publishing a book of all his writings throughout the book, as that would make up for the depressing parts. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always have a happy ending–but that’s why I prefer reading books with happy endinds. Still need to finish last few chapters.
Submitted on Sun, 21 November 2010 13:54:53 +0000
1Today is beginning GREAT! I got Pay Pal to take my $20, WWfee! I didn’t lose as much as I thought when my PC maled yesterday & I’m @ chapter 10 with Homer! The title is interesting. Do you think Homer is flying from something or to something? He seems to personify the old, “…greener grass…” thingie. And experiences what most do when dropped into a new environment. Wether by choice or force adapting is a challenge. More traumatic for some than for others. I think that is played out by the differing attitudes of the charcters. Having done time in several institutions — school, family, university, industries, vocations, professions and the ministry — I found the same body-&-mind types in everyone of those cells. What differs is their uniform. It’s so (too) easy to say, “Why don’t they just…” The answer to that general question would take many hours of research, that we don’t care to contribute. . . The authur, I suspect, is writing about something he REALLY knows. That’s why it’s compelling. I like the realism of the settings. Here-and-now familiar. Looking forward to travelling with Homer. He seems an OK guy. Roger (Hope I get the question right
Submitted on Sat, 20 November 2010 16:59:47 +0000
I’m starting the book today. I also read it years ago, so it’ll be interesting to see if and how it strikes me differently. Interesting chat! Be back soon.
Submitted on Sat, 20 November 2010 15:10:22 +0000
I agree, Ingrid, about the characters. The author does a great job of bringing them to life. Some are funny, some are funny but annoying, but you feel like you’ve gotten to know a real person. The problem for me is that all of the characters are, well, characters. I can’t recall many “real” people, so perhaps it makes it a dish too heavily spiced for me. I too loved Mr. Sampath, by the way, Ingrid. He was one of my favourite characters. I enjoyed the authenticity of the settings, too, Linda. I admire the way the author strips the setting down to its most telling details. While any author could ably make the reader demonstrate the difference between Trinidad and Canada, it takes a special skill to describe Ajax and Etobicoke as if they were a world apart. I just couldn’t deal with the inertia and torpitude that seems to weigh down so many characters’ actions. This is especially true of our dear Homer. So many seem to willfully close their minds to moving, to action, to rescuing themselves. They’re victims of that inertia. It’s a very helpless attitude, and one for which I have little sympathy or patience. I feel like giving Homer a shake and telling hime, “Just get a job. Any job. If you don’t like it, find anoother one — before quitting. And another. There’s power in action.” I can’t say whether it’s a change in attitudes, Ingrid and Ruth, though I know the experience of reading Homer was “lighter” for both of you the first time around. Perhaps my less-than-understanding attitude is shaped by my two teenagers who need to find themselves jobs. Any jobs. Just do it. Hit the pavement, kids — the jobs won’t fall in your lap if your lap is sitting on the couch. lol
Submitted on Sat, 20 November 2010 03:01:00 +0000
p.s. Have to say I still love the amusing characters the author cooks up. When Mr. Sampath says to the flight attendant on the way to Canada, “Is you serving beveggies on this flight?” it cracks me up every time. Still, art doesn’t always elicit a good feeling; sometimes it’s the opposite. The point is that it’s stirred SOMEthing.
Submitted on Sat, 20 November 2010 02:54:11 +0000
Welcome, Linda! It’s great that you’ve joined us! I wonder if the times have made it harder to read a story like HOMER. He is a product (if you will) of the mid-90s and maybe during that time his predicament drew empathy more easily…? If so, I’m not sure. All I know is that this read has been a different experience for me than the first time. Anyone else have any thoughts or ideas on this? Heather? Do you think it’s a collective frustration with immobility and hopelessness that grates in this present day and age? Also, I found myself rallying somewhat behind those who had found those new lives for themselves (obviously not Grants). Funny, now that I think of it, most of them seemed to be the womenfolk! And while Homer finds it contemptible, they are undeniably survivors. Gotta love a survivor.
Submitted on Fri, 19 November 2010 23:25:24 +0000
I’ve read 80% of Homer in Flight, and then had to stop for awhile. I was finding it too frustrating and depressing. Like others have said, although I like Homer I was fed up with him not doing anything. I felt he was suffocating in his sister-in-law’s (couldn’t stand her!) house, while everyone tried to tell him what to do—which only made him hide more and do nothing. This is not my usual type of book to read, except years ago in University for English courses. Nowadays I need books that help distract me from my own moments of depression. So, I got to the point I couldn’t read anymore. I’ll have to skim to the end, when I’m able to. On another note, what kept me reading that far is I did enjoy the familiar setting (ie. grew up in Etobicoke), and the author’s writing style–his descriptions of scenery and characters. I’m new to RAW, and I must say I really enjoy being part of a book club and being able to e-chat. I’m hoping to make it to the breakfast in December.
Submitted on Thu, 18 November 2010 00:52:22 +0000
I enjoyed Homer’s progression from file clerk; to librarian — a filer of books (others’ thoughts); to writer — a filer of people. Homer’s quite adept at the analysis and dissection of people, isn’t he? His observations initially concern the superficial, extend deeper to observations about others around him, until he finally plumbs his own depths. Interesting. Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 23:06:41 +0000
Okay, I’m done. And I guess Homer sums up his immigrant experience on page 298: “Mr. Flint could not understand; there could be no return. People like Grants were forever trapped between two worlds, afraid to call either home, dancing in the dark.” You can never go home again, whether you’re talking geographically or temporally, about the home country or childhood. And Ingrid, I guess I feel the same as you about Homer as the book progresses: a little annoyed at his helplessness and paralysis. If we’re talking a quest, he’s just allowing himself to drift in the current rather than simply picking up an oar and rowing somewhere — anywhere. Again, that’s how I felt with the mom in February — “Get over it, for heaven’s sake!” I agree that he looks for the ideal and is, as a result, always disappointed. I think he’s just unwilling to face himself and his own imperfections, so he’s sailing off in search of the new-improved — gotta be better than the here-and-now, right? By the way, this attitude is remarkably like that of the reptiles. And we often hate in others what we perceive to be our own greatest faults. So, Homer … All in all, I have to say the author did a great job capturing the people, the diction and the Canadian landscape with authenticity. He’s obviously an astute people-watcher and a details guy par excellence. But the story leaves me feeling sad, Ruth. No happy ending, not really. And disillusioned. And Ruth, I find it really, really depressing at the displacement aspect. How horrible it seems to be an immigrant in Canada. Is happiness an illusion? Or is unhappiness a facade? Or both? Carin, I’ll stick around for the ride, but I can’t say I’m enjoying the scenery. You learn from everything though.
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 18:44:24 +0000
Oooo! That’s kind of neat! Yes, Heather, you’re right!
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 16:30:43 +0000
Picking up these Walter Mitty ripples …
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 02:21:53 +0000
Oh, nearly forgot!… I mentioned to Ruth a week or two ago that my response to HOMER *this* time round has been very different from what I recall it being, years ago. I remember a more lighthearted experience. This time it’s…heavier…and to be completely honest, it’s been kind of depressing, even annoying! And I can’t tell whether that’s simply a matter of me being older, or the world in which I’m reading it having changed, or me having more experience (and a piece of that chocolate coffee cake) under my belt, or a combination of all the above, or what! I just want to give Homer a shake. Uh, yup, maybe I’m just older, grouchier and less patient.
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 02:08:30 +0000
Hi again, all. I think it takes a certain courage to be willing to plunge into the unknown of ANYthing unfamiliar. That applies to reading a different kind of book, or moving from small town to city or one country to another, and so on. Sometimes we fit it, or it fits us, and sometimes there is only the discomfort of what rubs us the wrong way until we give ourselves up to it. Heather, you’re great for jumping in! Carin and Ruth, you make good points about displacement. To me, literary fiction looks at ‘what is’, not ‘what can be or might be’; it isn’t always pleasant, but it shakes us up, and is usually enlightening in some way. HIF examines one person’s dislocation from any place in which he finds himself. I don’t think it would matter where he went; he expects the unrealistic, thus unattainable. Homer’s journey is an inner one more than anything else. And it makes us look at things through his eyes, the eyes of someone who doesn’t see anything clearly. At first. Whew. Time for some chocolate coffeecake. Mmm.
Submitted on Wed, 17 November 2010 00:50:37 +0000
Oh Heather, you Calgon loving lovely… I can practically feel that fragrant steam from my own baths of yore. Nice nice memories… and I understand why you’d want to linger there. Nothing wrong with happy, but it’s not the whole yin yang picture, is it? Especially for the immigrant story, which Homer is (and Robin so beautifully tells). I mean, imagine yourself moving to, oh, I don’t know, Iceland or Japan or Buffalo. You’d have some adjusting to do, some coping and understanding (rather than the being understood that we, as non-immigrants, take for granted). I wonder what kind of story you might write from Buffalo? Now there’s a writing challenge! Might be that the immigrant story with all its bittersweetness appeals to me because my own family are from ‘away’, but I think it’s more that I live in a land that is made of away. And I want to understand. As well as be understood. Blather blather. I need chocolate. So glad you read this, even though it was out of your usual sphere. A courageous thing to do, and then to talk about it. I hope you’ll stay with the conversation for the duration. Your perspective is so important to balance things. Literary is merely one genre. Not the only. And certainly not THE. And now to the door of the fridge where the 85 percent is kept… Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 22:53:53 +0000
I love Homer, Ruth. Love him. But I really want him to achieve his dream. I hope he emerges unspoiled and untainted from the journey. Not unchanged, but unspoiled. I’m saddened to find this world he wanders through is peopled with such unkind, unhappy souls. This isn’t my world. I am very troubled to think it is a dark reflection of my world. I think one reason I avoid a lot of literary fiction is this negative outlook on life. I found it so in Lisa Moore’s February as well. It doesn’t fit with my “Don’t worry, be happy” outlook. (Maybe I just need more chocolate.) Page 171. Still sailing for a brighter world.
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 22:19:13 +0000
Heather. Not all quests have a happy ending, do they? And if we tell you the ending before you get there, will you get there? Homer, like so many of us, cannot see himself. He describes a kind of immigrant experience — his. But he is not all immigrants, is he? But, can his experience give us a taste of what it may feel like for some? And if it makes us uncomfortable, is that a bad thing? I don’t know. I’m still thinking on it. I laughed loud and hearty the first time I read this in 1997. Now, the laughter is more subdued. Post 9/11 maybe? Older eyes – definitely.
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 22:14:07 +0000
Ingrid — to kiss his beloved. I hit Inscribe before I finished. It was a premature inscription. Sigh. I am Luddite-ish with computers.
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 15:42:54 +0000
Reading Homer in Flight, I am even more a fish out of water than our dear protagonist. I am an eternal optimist swimming in the wrong literary pond. I just don’t know what to say. I am a white, middleclass Canadian desperately hoping that this isn’t reflective of every immigrant’s experience. But then, Homer wasn’t happy at home, either. Forgive this “Calgon, take me away” reader. I just can’t relate to the deep sadness and negativity in this extremely well-written and poignant book. I’m on page 94. Please tell me Homer’s quest has a happy ending.
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 14:33:40 +0000
Uh, Ruth…”to kiss…” to kiss what? Yes. I like your “to fit in with [into?] his own skin” take. That seems to be a large part of Homer’s ‘trouble’. He lives in his head, and unfortunately *nothing* can live up to the perfection of his imaginings.
Submitted on Tue, 16 November 2010 02:44:48 +0000
Okay. How about the quest theme? Anyone see elements of the “Great Journey” here? Who are the companions? Supernatural beings? Tutors? What is Homer’s “Holy Grail” — to fit in as a Canadian? To fit in with his own skin? To have a house and nice little patch of garden? To kiss
Submitted on Mon, 15 November 2010 18:50:56 +0000
Hey Roger — hope you picked up a copy of Homer from Shelley on Saturday. Carin…Giller was an amazing (!!) surprise. Dang those negative folks who think Gaspereau needs to maxi-print the novel. Patience will lead to great rewards and a lovingly turned out book anyone would love to fondle. As to the rest of you…chocolate? Hmmmm. I think reading goes quite well with chocolate. And tea. Now, has anyone found something of interest yet in the book? Don’t feel you need to stick to our discussion points…Ingrid and I would be delighted should someone let fly on anything that tickles your fancy. Like, how does a writer from Trinidad survive in Ajax?
Submitted on Sun, 14 November 2010 22:55:58 +0000
Hey Roger! Way to get in the chat – welcome. I wish you luck in the draw – you will love reading Homer. I just started and am hooked!
Submitted on Fri, 12 November 2010 10:55:49 +0000
I’m all for getting the smarts promised on the page that linked me here. How is that going to happen? I know nothing about “Homer…” Sooooooo I wanna win da book! Looking forward to the Classy Saturday Breakfast and all the classy folks of WCDR who will be there! Roger
Submitted on Wed, 10 November 2010 18:28:13 +0000
Ah, chocoooohlate…. Oh, right, fell into a bit of a theobromine ‘zone’ there for a moment. Well, cocoa plantations are *mentioned* in HOMER. Does that count? As to the Giller winner…yes, very exciting; even moreso because Johanna Skibsrud was a LICHEN contributor back in 2006! She was a runner-up in our “Tracking A Serial Poet” contest! Edit (HTML) | Spam | Delete
Submitted on Wed, 10 November 2010 03:13:17 +0000
Off topic, but… nice surprise with the Giller!
Submitted on Wed, 10 November 2010 03:11:55 +0000
Yes. Choc.Oh.Late. That’s what HOMER is about, right? If not, I’ll compensate by eating some while reading. Can’t wait, either way.
Submitted on Tue, 9 November 2010 20:16:03 +0000
CHOCOLATE?! Did you say cho-co-late??
Submitted on Tue, 9 November 2010 17:28:49 +0000
Are we talking about chocolate yet??
Submitted on Tue, 9 November 2010 16:36:51 +0000
Noelle, that’s excellent! Yay, Shelley! We’ll have to be sure to announce it at the brekkie. Welcome, Helene! Nice to ‘see’ you here! Hope you’ll join in the discussion… Anything goes. The “food for thought” tidbits Ruth and I posted are simply a starting point. Readers can pose their own questions about the book, sidestep into related topics, write about their own observations …whatever works!
Submitted on Tue, 9 November 2010 16:11:08 +0000
I talked to Blue Heron Books and she has a case she will be bringing to the WCDR breakfast meeting this weekend. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!
Submitted on Tue, 9 November 2010 15:47:14 +0000
I really just wanted to see if I could access echat from the office….we’ll go from there
Submitted on Mon, 8 November 2010 22:34:13 +0000
Checked out Homer in Flight from the library. It’s not my usual type of read but I’m going to give it a shot. Please be gentle!
Submitted on Mon, 8 November 2010 15:11:37 +0000
Hi, Theresa! Yes, I hope Shelley has LOTS of copies available. There’s even an audiobook available through Goose Lane Editions.
Submitted on Mon, 8 November 2010 06:00:00 +0000
I’m waiting to pick up my copy of ‘Homer’ from Shelley at the breakfast on Saturday. Hope this will be a quick read so I can join the conversation.
Submitted on Sat, 6 November 2010 21:09:58 +0000
I’m still rereading HOMER! And I keep getting interrupted. ARGH! However, I’m wondering if anyone out there in WCDR-RAWland HAS finished and is eager to start chatting…anyone? One thing I’ve already noticed that wasn’t apparent the first time through (because, of course, Robin hadn’t written the subsequent-to-Homer books yet) were some familiar character names. Did anyone else pick up on names that recur in later books? (a little brainteaser to get things rolling!)
Submitted on Fri, 5 November 2010 22:53:37 +0000
Ah yes…”Homer in Flight”…I am so enjoying getting back inside this ‘travelogue’. I recently read “The Amazing Absorbing Boy” and heard some lovely echoes from Homer. He is such a character — innocent abroad, and yet, there are such interesting layers to the lad. And what a cast of characters…
Submitted on Tue, 2 November 2010 23:26:00 +0000
Hello, all! Ruth and I are busy preparing to get the discussion rolling on Robin’s first novel, HOMER IN FLIGHT. We have some fun ideas brewing! In the meantime, we hope everyone has a copy or is in search of a copy of the book, is rereading or reading anew, and eager to join in a lively eChat. More soon…
Submitted on Mon, 1 November 2010 17:21:03 +0000
I was turned on to this site by a friend, so I decided to check it out, and it looks real promising. I too would love to publish something one day, it would do so much for me right now in my life. About the competition you’re having though, I believe you cannot rush or put a time limit on writing. The words or rhyme (if you write poetry) will come in their own time, nothing that is forced or hurried ever turns out well or is enjoyed. Besides as writers, like me, are you not always constantly editing the grammar, changing phrases or inserting different words that are more profound or visual? Just slow it down and take your time, I believe then you will surprise yourself, as I have. Don’t think I didn’t scroll through this post either to make sure it had no mistakes. he he he
Submitted on Sun, 31 October 2010 16:45:43 +0000
I’ve been looking forward to this chat. Can’t wait to get started. I read the book a few years ago so will want to refresh my memory, but don’t let that stop anyone whose memory needs no refreshment. May I extend a huge thanks to Ingrid Ruthig and Ruth Walker, for taking on the role of fearless facilitators for this fabulous book! I look forward to this!
Submitted on Tue, 26 October 2010 19:47:38 +0000
Hello e chatters, I think I may have to miss November’s breakfast meeting, ‘cos I’ll be in the UK promoting myself! I’ve burned a hole in Staple’s floor tiles, pestering them every day to see if my new business cards are ready; meanwhile, I’m trimming book marks and designing posters and doing everything but write. The writing is taking a back seat, but the deadline approaches and the final edit of my debut novel should be complete by the end of this week; well, it WOULD be complete, if I wasn’t swanning off to the writer’s retreat for three days. I’m looking forward to hearing David Coupland tonight at Blue Heron Books, and I was at the International Festival of Authors last week-end. Honestly, I thought I had some skill as a writer, but after listening to all the brilliant authors at the festival, I wanted to creep home and hide in the nearest closet. Time, as they say, will tell. Time, practice and opportunity. But we never give up do we? Wait! I can’t hear you. I said- we NEVER give up, do we? That’s better. Pick up thy pen and write. Ciao for now, Betty