Friday, September 16, 2016

Read-Along Check In

I've finished reading the "Childhood" section of  Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend for the second time, and I've begun my post on it, likely to be up by Sunday, but I want to pause and ask what readers think of the ReadAlong so far. As I wrote earlier, this is the first time I've ever tried something like this, and I'm very happy with what's happening here so far, but I'd love to get a bit of feedback from you at this stage.

First of all, are there still a few new readers just beginning the novel, trying your best to catch up with the rest of us? Feel free to comment anonymously, but I'd love a quick Hello from you if you're not too shy.

Next, as we're at different stages of our reading (some have finished the novel already; some are reading it for the second time; some are halfway through, gobbling it down, and not keen on slowing down to listen to our conversation about chapters they read last week) -- how is the pacing for you so far? If I continue to post at this rate -- approximately ten chapters per post discussion, about two posts (so twenty chapters) per week, does that work for you or would you prefer faster or slower, bigger chunks at a time or smaller?

Is the discussion format adequate? I'm thrilled to see the conversation emerging via the comments section, and I love that you're giving each other feedback. I'm going to do my best to continue facilitating the Comments discussion, but I'm trying to relax a bit about taking responsibility for it (although, of course, I will never relinquish my responsibility to keep the discussion civil).  But I'd love to know whether or not the conversation is meeting (or exceeding) your expectations or if there are suggestions for how we could improve it. The one thing I worry about sometimes is that because some of us have been meeting like this for at least a year, the conversation might feel a bit too chummy to join, if you're shy. I hope it's clear that we're all very keen to welcome new voices and to entertain new perspectives, but let me know what you think.

If you're not comfortable at all in commenting right now, or perhaps ever, that's fine too, absolutely. But even if you're probably going to remain a lurker, if you could pipe up bravely just enough to say whether or not you are finding the posts or the comments helpful to your own understanding of MBF, I'd love to hear that.

I think that's it, for now. I'll be busy writing our next post, but I'll check in later and see what you're thinking. (and your comments on the earlier posts/earlier chapters are still very welcome as well)

Wishing you a good weekend -- Happy Reading!

16 comments:

  1. I finished the book yesterday, but I tend to gobble books, so don't mind me. I'm eager to read the next one, but think I'll take a break and read The Bone Clocks, which my daughter loaned me. I very much appreciate the work you put into analyzing the book and phrasing questions to promote discussion, so whatever pacing works best for you is fine. It also will not hurt my feelings if you don't respond directly to every comment! I know that takes some time!

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    1. The Bone Clocks! You'll have to report back with a thumbs-up or down. The only David Mitchell I've read so far has been Cloud Atlas -- a Big! book in many ways, one I knew my too-quick reading didn't do justice to. Wonderful stories individually, but to make the connections between them for myself convincingly, I'd have needed to let the whole sit with me longer, I guess. Curious about The Bone Clock, now that I have more free time (supposedly! That gets gobbled quickly, even in retirement).
      Thanks for your understanding re comments and my time, and I'm pleased that you find the analysis and questions worthwhile.

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    2. Well, I sat down after work yesterday to start The Bone Blocks, but on the very first page I started to think it sounded familiar. . . . I checked my reading log, and yep, I'd read it in February of 2015! So, I downloaded the next book after My Brilliant Friend -- gotta love the instant gratification! Oh, and I did like The Bone Clocks. Haven't read Cloud Atlas yet.

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    3. Oh dear! I've done that as well. . . thank goodness for the reading log, at least.

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  2. As all of you may know,I've finished all four books,so I am re-reading with a great pleasure. I appreciate your introductions very much,as well as all comments that I find very interesting and valuable.
    I am reading always parallel a book or two (finished The Childrens Act and started The Summer Before the War),so I'll try to follow the pace the others are comfortable with.
    As I have very complicated situation with my father's health right now,I might skip a post or two,or be late with my answers to comments,or would not check the spelling,so please forgive me
    Dottoressa

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    1. Your comments are always so welcome, Dottoressa, and you needn't ever apologise for spelling errors, really!

      I'm glad you mentioned being "late" with comments or with replying to comments -- I hope everyone will feel they can add to the conversation at any point, even weeks later. Obviously, those comments won't get seen by as many readers, but at the very least, I'll see them (I have comments programmed to come through my mailbox)

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  3. I gobbled up this book! I loved the format, the way the author makes it work, the immersion in postwar Naples, the brutally honest narrative about close friendships where boundaries blur and, if we are honest, we wonder, do I love this person, or the person I appear to be with them. The imagery of the dark basment, the attic apartment of the Don, the terrors that lurk beneath daily life were so richly woven into the plot. The title - and a way of looking at the whole narrative- became evident to me when I realized the phrase "brillant" may not be referring to the person I originally thought. I ordered the next book, and will be re-reading this, and commenting.

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    1. Glad to hear you're enjoying the book, Megs, and looking forward to your continued comments throughout the Readalong.
      So far, you're finding the structure of the Readalong (pacing, length of posts, etc.) is working for you?

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    2. The pace, length of posts are good. I must go back to your questions regarding the first part of the book as I re-read- and get a better handle on which family is which.

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    3. Good to know pace, etc., is working for you. And I do hope that readers might continue to visit and revisit those earlier posts and that they could be a lasting resource -- the discussion seems worth a good read, to me, so many interesting voices and observations.

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  4. I am a newcomer to the group and am enjoying it. I am in the process of reading for enjoyment and am currently nearly through book 3. I am happy to go back and reread the chapters in book 1 with perhaps more discernment. The difficulty is that does knowing how the story develops, encourage you to perhaps read more than is really written down at that point?

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    1. Well, you're speaking to someone whose most recent career involved so much rereading and analysis of text -- never too much, in my opinion ;-)
      When you get to the end of the fourth novel, I think you'll agree that Ferrante's narrator (and thus, arguably, Ferrante herself) sends us right back to the opening chapters.
      I agree, though, that readers must always be attentive to the text on the page and be aware of what and how and why they're projecting on that text. But we always read more than what is written down and we never read the same text twice. . . for me, that's a huge part of reading's richness -- yours too, I suspect.

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    2. Thank you Mater. I was beginning to think that I am too finicky in my comments, though so enjoy being involved. By the way for some reason I loose my comments when I use my Ipad, this is via my samsung galaxy note, though I do get a warning that there could be licence problems!

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    3. Ah, the frustrations of technology. . . although when it all works, we have this connection between readers. . .

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  5. Pace is absolutely fine for me. I'm about half way through the book first time round, but will return for previous chapters as and when. Thanks for all your thought provoking prompts, they are really helpful. Barbara

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    1. Oh great! Thanks, Barbara, and I'm so glad you find the prompts helpful.

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