Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Flingo

Smoke and Mirrors - The Wedding Present

Recommended Posts

Rescued Thread

Opal 28th February 2006 12:13 AM

The Wedding Present

I thought I'd start with the first of the stories. Just reading this was enough to convince me that this book was a great buy, and that I'm likely to enjoy the rest of it. While I've enjoyed most of the other stories I've read so far, this one I think is one that will stay with me for a long time.

It had such a lovely start, I thought it was going to be a sweet, fluffy kind thing that leaves you with a warm feeling inside. As I read it I thought about how lucky the "real" Belinda and Gordon were, how through the present they could appreciate what they had, and see how badly their lives could have turned out. It seemed that they had the perfect fairytale kind of marriage which still sounded believeable. I was just thinking how lucky they were when it came to an end (maybe that's one of the good things about short stories, you can't see how close to the end you are, unlike with novel-type books). The ending was sad, but it was the line "whether it would be worse to love someone who was no longer there, or not to love someone who was." that really did it for me. I was on a very long journey while I read this, and after reading this story I think I just sat and stared out the window for ten minutes thinking about that. The author said it was orginally meant to be fable-like, and for me it really was.




Sorry of that sounds cheesy, but I'm not too great on reviewing things I've read, although I think if all the stories in here affect me as much then I might get good at it! :o



Hazel 2nd March 2006 07:12 PM

It's funny but I really didn't fancy this book at all so when it won the vote I thought I wouldn't bother joining in but something made me buy it and after starting it last night I am really glad that I did. We all say that BGO has made us pick up books that we wouldn't normally read but I can emphatically say that I would NEVER have picked this up in a million years!

The Wedding Present was a great short story, and definitely the stuff that short stories are made of. It really took a fluffy, chocolate box moment and gave it a macabre twist. Dark, sad, and haunting - great stuff! I liked that the couple kept the present despite reservations and were drawn to reading it throughout their life. It was a good twist on the whole "mystery of a great marriage" question.

I am looking forward to reading the rest now and am so glad I decided to join in on this one - especially as I read the book I voted for and it was disappointing!



Mungus 2nd March 2006 07:43 PM

Although the book as a whole hasn't grabbed me, this story was very good. It very much reminded me of a Roald Dahl 'Tale of the Unexpected' and there isn't much finer praise than that in my book. Not that I've read them for a long time... I wonder if they've dated?



Grammath 3rd March 2006 11:44 AM

I thought this was one of the best of the stories I have read so far too, well executed even if it is basically a twist on "The Picture of Dorian Grey".

I wonder why Gaiman chose to put it into the introduction rather than let it stand alone - there are other stories in the collection with which it could easily have been swapped. Those who don't always read introductions (of whom I am one) could easily miss it.



Flingo 8th April 2006 04:30 PM

There is a comment in the section about "Troll Bridge" which explains another short story author puts a story in the intro - I guess this had some sort of influence on Gaiman.

I've only been reading Smoke and Mirrors this afternoon, but this is by a gerat margin the most powerful story that I have read so far. I, too, didn't see the twist (although I felt like I should have done). A beautifully written and styled short story.

ETA - I have just realised how Pinter-esque this title is. It could work quite well as a play, although the letter would have to be a character in it's own right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Flingo
      Rescued Thread When Bill has caught up with some things, please can we have the forum for this back, and then get it moved? Cheers!



      Flingo 8th June 2006 11:06 PM

      I thought in Bill's absense we could start a couple of threads about Holes here and have the discussion that so many people are keen to do before we forget what we want to say. It should be able to be moved once the new board is open, shouldn't it?

      So what are people's first impressions? I know some people have finished it - but please remember anyone could call in here, so spoiler if necessary!

      I really enjoyed Holes. My children's librarian mentor has been urging me to read this for ages but I had never got round to it, and am now really disappointed that I left it so long!

      It's really clever, although it takes a bit to understand where all the threads of the story are going.

      The writing is so easy to read, and you feel drawn in almost immediately. I could felt the heat of Camp Green Lake radiating out of the book - a huge acheivement!



      megustaleer 8th June 2006 11:34 PM

      I read it some years ago, and loved it. I really don't know why it has not been a bigger hit as a 'crossover' book. I thought that the way all those plot threads were neatly tied up was just so satisfying, and so clever!

      Have just checked my reading list, and it is six years since I read it, and I can still remember quite a lot of it; it really made an impression!



      katrina 9th June 2006 06:02 PM

      Hey, this is my second read of this book in a year, as I had to read it at the start of my PGCE course, its a really popular keystage 3 yext. I prefered it this time around, the first time I was annoyed by it, but I can't remember why now.

      Thought the writing was good, and the sense of the lake and the heat were well depicted.



      Momo 9th June 2006 06:20 PM

      I can well imagine that it's six years since Meg read it. My oldest son read it when he was a year younger than my youngest one is now and he is five years older. It had just come out otherwise he would have done it earlier as my younger one has.
      Anyway, even though both my boys had read it, I never did so myself. Somehow it always seemed like a book for little boys. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't that at all. (We even have the DVD and I never watched that either!)
      I will recommend this book to anyone. It's a quick read, yet very interesting and there is a lot in this. More than last month's read.



      katrina 10th June 2006 08:30 AM

      I was wondering if anybody had watched the film version of the book, if I have time this week I'm going to borrow it from school and take a peak at it, I've heard its quite a good adaptation



      Flingo 10th June 2006 10:45 AM

      I picked it up on Wednesday, and will be watching it tomorrow.

      I think we ought to have a thread about the film in this section, so that we can discuss comparisons and similarities? Whoever watches it first can start that!



      megustaleer 16th June 2006 08:56 AM

      belweb says on another thread that she thought the plot was full of holes! I beg to differ! The thing that I like about this book is that there are no 'holes', everything is all neatly sewn up at the end!

      Admittedly a lot of the connections are contrived, but I thought that was part of the humour of the book. My reactions were along the lines of 'Well I Never!! and 'Who'd've Thought It!' , and I thought it was all very cleverly brought to a satisfying (if not necessarily satisfactory) conclusion.

      I wouldn't have accepted the neat conclusion in a serious adult novel, but 'Horses for Courses', eh? And there's plenty of food for thought in there, too.

      The book probably suffered from being read in the middle of reading for an Eng. Lit. degree. I'm sure it wouldn't stand comparison to the other books occupying belwebb's thoughts.



      Momo 16th June 2006 01:45 PM

      I don't know either what kind of holes belwebb saw in this novel. As Meg already mentions, and we all should consider this, this is a children's book. We cannot expect deep meanings that you will only understand after studying English Lit.



      belwebb 16th June 2006 05:28 PM
       
       
       
      Yes, you've made some valid points. However, when you say 'contrived' I think that's the word I should have used - it was incredibly contrived, but then, like you say, I was in the middle of an English lit course!



      elfstar 16th June 2006 06:38 PM

      I enjoyed this book, it had a nice 'roundness' to it,there was no unhappy or unresolvesd ending for the protagonist, the characters were not as deep as they could have been but it is a childrens book and a such it was very acceptable



      donnae 19th June 2006 11:17 PM

      I really enjoyed this book. I loved how the story of the past was neatly interlinked with Stanley's story. Contrived maybe, but very enjoyable still. At least it ties up a lot more ends than last month's read!
       


      As this was a children's story, I liked the manner in which the anti-racialism was dealt with, not too heavy-handed. There were some obvious morals going on in the book, but they didn't overshadow the story.

      There is a sequel to Holes called Small Steps. This follows the lives of Armpit and Xray.

      Holes is a book I will be encouraging my children to read - I think they will all enjoy it. One of my daughters has watched the film and enjoyed it. Flingo, have you watched it yet?



      Adrian 20th June 2006 01:50 AM

      I was thinking the same thing, donnae. It's pretty obvious when you read it.



      megustaleer 20th June 2006 09:34 PM

      Because it is a children's book, and apparantly a straightforward account of Stanley's misadventures, perhaps there is a tendency to whiz through it without picking up the clues?

      Once you know how it all fits together, of course, a lot of it was clearly hinted at in advance.

      Hindsight's a wonderful thing!



      Adrian 20th June 2006 09:52 PM

      I certainly did that, not giving the book its due respect and racing through it. I'll have to re-read it, or maybe listen to the audio version.



      Flingo 23rd June 2006 08:47 PM
       
      I did watch it - though it was really nicely done. Louis Sachar actually wrote the screenplay, which I think helped keeping it true to the book.

      Recommend watching it if you enjoyed the book.
       
    • By Adrian
      This is for people who have read just the first few chapters. If you haven't yet, reading the following will be a spoiler.





      I watched the R&J review and have bought the book. So far I'm maybe a dozen pages into it.

      I'm not loving the double first-person narrative. It reminds me of Kevin Sampson's Outlaws, where the same story is told from multiple viewpoints. I find it just detracts from the story, and makes the book feel a bit gimmicky. Maybe it'll grow on me as I read more, and it certainly won't stop me reading it.

      Secondly, I'm not yet buying into this "Chrono-Displacement Disorder" plot device. It's too Sci-Fi for my liking, and just too "handy" for the author: "I need to have the guy time travel, so here's how I've made it happen." I'm hoping it's resolved later on. If it's a premise I have to swallow just so the book could be written I'll be disappointed.

      As you might have guessed, I'm not wholly convinced just yet.

      What's your first impressions of the book?
    • By Adrian
      I'm about halfway through (he's spending Christmas with her family and has just found out her Mum's a manic depressive - and after reading this book, love, so am I), and unless I get I get some positive feedback here, I'm giving up.

      I posted my first impressions earlier, and I'm afraid it's getting worse.

      Firstly it didn't grab me from the start and I read other books inbetween - always a bad sign. Still, I vowed to stick with it, and once I got past the awkward narrative structure it improved. The enforced double-narrative seemed a little contrived, and I felt whenever the authour switched voices in mid-scene Niffenegger was really forcing the change of voice to make it obvious it was now the other person narrating. Seemed a bit like Kevin Samson writing in Outlaws, where each narrator gets his own unique voice.

      Secondly, the basic premise of the novel, time travel, is mishandled and cack-handedly written. Two versions of himself in the same time frame? (Believe me ladies, if we could do that to ourselves the human race would be extinct). Some evolutionary mishap in the human genome being allowed to rewrite the laws of physics? Those I could live with, but TTW is just an affront to basic common sense. I keep asking myself questions instead of losing myself in the book. Why just appear now? Why just disappear now? More important is the where? How does he go to a particular place as well a particular time?

      Also, the nastiness of the bloke: "I can't help myself so I can do whatever I like." Beat people up? Sure! Rob and steal? Why not! Buy stocks cheap? Who wouldn't! Run naked through the neighbourhood? Well, I tried this, and the police would just not believe my story!

      Most importantly, I don't care about the love story. So he loves her and they love each other, and so forth. I find both of them so insufferable that I don't care about their relationship(s).

      I'm half-heartedly interested in the secondary goings on. I like Kimy, and I like Clare's room-mate, but can't stand the room-mate's boyfriend.

      My current thinking is, "This is not a book to tossed away lightly. It is to hurled with great force."

      I'd like either an incentive to finish it (bearing in mind I have a long list of others waiting on my TBR pile) or, preferably, a precis of the ending. I'm guessing she dies of some disease he can't prevent, and he knows it (of course he knows it, he just can't get involved in any ethical situation that would ruin the house-of-cards plot), but doesn't tell her.

      God, I hate them both. Hey Audrey, try going back in time before Stephen Fry wrote Making History.
    • By Mad Dog & Glory
      Having finally finished The Time Traveler's Wife last night (yes, I know, I'm a bit behind), I was left feeling a little dissatisfied. I loved it for around 200 pages, but then I thought it tailed off badly and left a lot of unanswered questions. Not only the time travel - I had no problems with suspending disbelief, although the most unbelievable part was that they were allowed to lead a 'normal' life, rather than Henry being captured and studied by the US government.

      It's the so-called 'normal' life that concerns me. It seems incredible that I could read a 500+ page novel centring almost exclusively on two characters, and at the end not really have much of an idea of each other's personalities or how they went about their daily lives. At one point, Henry buys a lottery ticket knowing the result and wins several million dollars, so Clare can have a studio. No other mention is made of this. So are they millionaires? They seem to live in normal-sized house, in a normal street. So what do they do with themselves when Henry isn't time travelling? They're not watching TV, as Henry can't. They can't spend all of their time in bed.

      The other huge problem with the novel is lack of conflict, which is essential to all drama. Henry and Clare have this 'perfect' relationship, and are only unhappy with each other over the miscarriages. There were all sorts of potential themes and conflicts that Niffenegger shied away from. Why does Clare never question the fact that this man came into her life at the age of 5 and, as they say, ruined her for other men?
      Niffenegger seems so intent on making this the perfect love story that she misses a lot of tricks.

      My guess is that Audrey Niffenegger will be a one-hit wonder. She came up with a brilliant idea, and also came up with a good structure (although some disagree), and played out every permutation of time travelling possible. But in the end a great idea can get you only so far, and I don't feel she has the skills as a novelist to get as much out of the story as was potentially there.
×
×
  • Create New...