Author Topic: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online  (Read 13740 times)

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #80 on: June 08, 2016, 12:51:00 AM »
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

June Book Club Online - Starts June 6

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zeven




You'll fall in love with Fikry, who owns a bookstore.  Does he have a future?  Will there be any bookstores in the future? Let's discuss it!

Join us in June.  This book is perfect for the lovely month of June, you'll laugh!  Yes, you will - OUTLOUD - We did.

If you are interested please post, we will post our discussion schedule shortly.



SCHEDULE

JUNE 6-9  CHAPTERS 1-3

JUNE 10 CHAPTERS 4-6 (Through "The Jumping Frog"


QUESTIONS, CHAPTERS 4-6

1. What is the purpose of chapter 4 "What feels Like the World"? Did you feel it captured a child's view of the world?

2. Why doesn't the author summarize "A Good Man" as he does other stories? f you've read it, were you surprised that it was Amy's favorite story? Why do you think that is? Who is the "good man"? in the short story? In the book?

3. Have you ever had an outing that went as badly as the visit to the garden? How funny is this chapter? How is this author's humor different from O'Conner's in "A Good Man."

4. Now that we know Amy better, what is she like? Do you like her? Do her different nail polish shades have significance or are they just fun?

5. How long did it take you to realize who the "author" in the reading was? Should  it matter to one's feeling about the book whether it's a memoir or fiction? Why do you think the author put in this plot twist.

6. Why on earth did the author choose "The Jumping frog.." to head the chapter on the wedding? (I have no Idea!)





Discussion Leaders: Joan K and Pat H

JoanK.,
Quote
Is the writer warning us that this book is more elaborately constructed than seems on the surface? I'm beginning to suspect so.
The first time I read this book alone I don't think I took the time to really give it as much thought or depiction.  Now, with discussing it with all of you, I have no doubt it is more elaborately constructed than seems on the surface, as you ask JoanK.

It for me is about life, circumstances beyond our control, and within our control and how we deal with them.  A.J. seemed to have his life all set for happiness, love, and a future with his wife and baby, and Tamerlane.  Circumstances dealt him a blow and now it appears he is grasping for survival.  Like the doctor asked him, "Are you trying to kill yourself?"  

I love the fact I don't really remember much about the book, because as I read these first chapters I am seeing things I never caught the first time around.  It's like when you go to a movie and watch it and you can't wait to see it again so you can see what you missed. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Leah

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #81 on: June 08, 2016, 10:23:27 AM »
Bellamarie - yes, that points out a glitch in the timeline as I had figured it. That reference puts Nic's death several months more recently than 21 months before. Good catch!  I think now that my focus on a timeline was fueled by a sense that matches what JoanK said about how there might be a more elaborate construction involved than we perceived on a first take.

I am sure I will continue to be zealously observant when time references are made - to see if they amount to anything.

Looks like we have gone beyond Chapter 3  - I have some reading to catch up on.
 See you later!

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #82 on: June 08, 2016, 11:14:30 AM »
I am just now beginning to read chapter 3 today.  I like to take my time making sure I don't miss anything especially when I start to see discrepancies.  In chapter 2 we were getting a glimpse into A.J.'s emotional, physical and mental state of mind and body, he is drinking too much, and mentions of having small periods of blackouts.  He wakes up in the morning and his mess is cleaned up and he has no memory of cleaning it up.  He doesn't think he has a drinking problem, yet he has blackouts.

Without getting ahead of myself since I have not got to the part where he gets the baby and is allowed to keep her, it sort of amazes me that any professional in child services would not first do a background check on him, learn he is having blackouts and drinking too much.  Not to mention he has had a break in or at least a police report of his valuable book being taken.  Hmmmm......  I'll touch back on this after I read chapter 3.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #83 on: June 08, 2016, 05:20:33 PM »
Looks like we have gone beyond Chapter 3  - I have some reading to catch up on.
No, we haven't yet, but will very soon.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #84 on: June 08, 2016, 07:47:04 PM »
Let's move on Friday. On Friday, let's start discussing Chapters 4-6 (through "The Jumping Frog ...) We'll hold off on the last chapter in this section (7. The Girls in Their Summer Dresses) for a few days.

Does anyone feel rushed by that? I'll try to get some questions up tomorrow.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #85 on: June 08, 2016, 08:01:37 PM »
Have we discussed the minor characters in the book? What does the police chief add? What does AJ's sister-in-law add?

Leah

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #86 on: June 08, 2016, 09:11:57 PM »
Lambiase is pretty warm & fuzzy - several good men all rolled up into one. Did anyone think there might be an association with Lamb to the slaughter because of his name? (or maybe the similarity in the words is a red herring) I just thought that was curious. Anyway, I really like him! What a down-to-earth good fellow! What a good friend he is to A.J. And Maya. He is warm, affectionate, humorous, well-spoken, and....well, you get my drift. He offers positive, uplifting balance (and friendly support) to the sometimes wobbly A.J.

Ismay is a sad song, and doesn't hesitate to assist her brother-in-law and Maya. Maybe she enjoys the diversion and being needed since her husband is so unavailable/involved elsewhere.

[Zevin has managed to make even these more minor characters as 3-dimensional as A.J. I care about them. She could easily bring them back to do encores in succeeding stories in which they become the main protagonists. Actually, now that I think of it, this is what Tana French has done in her Dublin Murder Squad series. The main protagonist in the first novel moves to the background in succeeding novels while a more minor character becomes the main character in the following novel. She does this throughout the series. Very satisfying to my mind.]

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #87 on: June 08, 2016, 10:21:40 PM »
Barb, you remind me of the scene in which Fikry and Lambiase meet, and Fikry suggests they are acting like characters in a bad novel.  At first Fikry casts L. as an unimportant supporting character, then apologizes--maybe he, Fikry is an unimportant supporting character in the saga of Officer Lambiase.

Phyll

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #88 on: June 09, 2016, 08:21:51 AM »
I am following along with you and Fikry (and Maya, too).  I am enjoying this book for a second time and like many of you, finding much more in it than I did the first time I read it.

On question #4....I was raised in a small town in eastern KS and that kind of curiosity by the townspeople seems very accurate.  Fikry owns a small, independent book store on a small, secluded island well off of the mainland.   What happens to one resident of this insulated "world" is of interest to everyone.  When I was growing up in a small town everyone knew who I was, who my parents were, and what I was doing all the time.  It drove me crazy at the time and I vowed to never marry a hometown boy and live in that town forever.  Well, I followed my vow and must admit that in later years I often missed the closeness and nurturing of that small town I was so eager to get away from.

And for #6....well, Maya is rather unbelievably precocious for a 25 month old but I am accepting that as a literary device.   ;)
phyllis

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #89 on: June 09, 2016, 10:50:10 AM »
Welcome, Phyll, I'm glad you're enjoying it.

I hadn't already read the book, and I'm sure finding much more in it with all of you than I would alone.

Ella Gibbons

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #90 on: June 09, 2016, 03:23:10 PM »
Hello Phyll, I think we all are share in your opinion that discussing a book with others is enjoyable with different insights.  I, too, was raised in a small town (on the wrong side of the tracks) and was unhappy for a number of years; I could write a novel about those years but it has already been done by numerous others. Our town had four  sections:  the wealthy, the middle income, the poor people and the black section.  I still think it is terrible to subject children to such environments, but I am sure it continues today.

Must catch up, just want to add a bit I underlined in my book.  Fikry, at the hospital, said he didn't want to die, he just found it difficult to here all the time.(Pg.35) That's not a crazy statement to me, who hasn't had that feeling now and then?????

I am enjoying all of your opinions about the book!  I smiled at Mrs. Cumberbatch, a customer, who said she was angry at being kept up all night reading the BOOK THIEF.  We discussed that book years ago, loved it, it's in our archives.

Maybe I missed it, and maybe it isn't important, but how and why did Fikry live on Alice Island.  It's a pain to get there, Fikry's mother has only been on it once in years!
He and Nic had a dream apparently to open this bookstore.  If it were me, I would have abandoned that dream once Nic died, but Fikry is struggling on.  Life happens.

 

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #91 on: June 09, 2016, 05:12:51 PM »
Well, I finally got my book from the library today and after having two grandkids spend the night, and four grandkids spend the day with me, I am off to my granddaughter's basketball game, so I will have to post later once I am home alone tonight.  I love all your observations.

I too was born and raised in a small town and loved the atmosphere.  I married my hubby who lived in a city, so that is where we have resided for forty-five years.  I go back to my homestead to visit my sister who lives on our many acres of land and love to return to the feel of "small town home" although our little town has grown much since I left.  I think A.J. stayed on Alice Island and has kept the bookstore because he hadn't quite dealt with the death and exactly what he wanted to do.  Now of course with little Maya coming into his life he is all of a sudden surrounded by all the townsfolk popping in to check on Maya and how he is doing.  It truly is a wonderful feel good story so far with chapter 3. 

Okay gotta run, will post more later.....
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #92 on: June 09, 2016, 05:24:27 PM »
LEAH: "Did anyone think there might be an association with Lamb to the slaughter because of his name?"

I never thought of that. Of course. I think the author is having a lot of fun with these stories.

ELLA: "Fikry, at the hospital, said he didn't want to die, he just found it difficult to here all the time.(Pg.35) That's not a crazy statement to me, who hasn't had that feeling now and then?????"

Oh, yeah!

ELLA again "how and why did Fikry live on Alice Island." Can anyone remember? He was probably the only person of East Indian heritage on the island, and that probably added to his isolation. There is only one (I think) passing reference to others' reaction to his race. And nowhere is it hinted that Maya was left with him because he was another person of color. But surely in  any small town, even a tourist destination, race must have been a factor.

PAT: "At first Fikry casts L. as an unimportant supporting character, then apologizes." Time will tell. Meanwhile, while AJ is changing, is Lambaise changing? What is his character? Has anyone read Jeffrey Deaver, his favorite author?

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #93 on: June 09, 2016, 05:46:54 PM »
Today, my mind is completely blank of new questions for tomorrow. But we seem to be doing fine without them. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #94 on: June 09, 2016, 05:54:09 PM »
I don't remember why Fikry settled there either; it was probably Nic's decision.  But it occurred to me that maybe it was the only bookstore they found they could afford.

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #95 on: June 09, 2016, 05:56:11 PM »
Ella: 
Quote
If it were me, I would have abandoned that dream once Nic died, but Fikry is struggling on.

Until Maya comes along, he isn't really struggling on, he's deliberately slowly killing himself with alcohol.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #96 on: June 09, 2016, 05:59:42 PM »
PHYLL and others: I have a theory that everyone has an environment where they feel most comfortable: big city, suburbs, small town, farm. Each has something to give and some limitations.  seem to fit best in  the suburbs, although I feel the limitations, too.

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #97 on: June 10, 2016, 11:41:05 AM »
When we move on, we don't necessarily have to stop talking about previous sections.  We can still finish up our thoughts.

In this section, we get to see a lot more of Amy.  What is she like? do you like her?  Her father wrote that A Good Man is Hard to Find was her favorite story, which surprised Fikry.  Why would she like this story so much?

Here's a link for anyone who wants to read it, but as well as being very good, it's horrifying and disturbing.  When I get a chance, I'll summarize it for anyone who doesn't want to read it but wants to know what it's like.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #98 on: June 10, 2016, 05:39:06 PM »
It's the one short story that the author doesn't really summarize, and I think it may be important to the book. So if you would summarize it, that would be great, PAT.

I see no one has posted on the new section yet. still reading? Good -- gives me time to make up some Questions.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #99 on: June 10, 2016, 06:55:24 PM »
Finally got the new questions into the heading. Have at them (and make up your own!)

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #100 on: June 10, 2016, 08:46:09 PM »
I think this will help answer why A.J. and Nic lived on Alice Island, and why he did not move soon after her death.

"Strangely enough, Nic's death had had the opposite effect on business.  Though he had opened and closed the store with the emotionless regularity of an SS officer, the fiscal quarter after her death had posted the worst sales in Island's history.  Of course, people had felt sorry for him then, but they had felt too sorry for him.  Nic had been a local, one of their own.  They had been touched when the Princeton graduate (and Alice Island High School salutatorian no less) had returned to Alice to open a bookstore. with her serious-eyed husband.  pg. 44

"Copies sell for upward of four hundred thousand dollars depending on condition and the mood of the rare books market.  I was planning to auction it off in a couple of years when the economy had had a little time to improve.  I was planning to close the shop and retire on the proceeds." pg. 31

So as you can see, Nic wanted to return to her small hometown to open the bookstore, he was from New Jersey.  After her death he was in a bit of a zombie state, and we know he was drinking heavily to the point of having black outs. From what we I can gather he did not plan to stay on Alice Island forever.

One last thought before I go on to read chapter 4.  I can't help but wonder about the fact Lambiase asks A.J. on pg. 33

"One last thing, I'm wondering who knew about the book?"  A.J. snorts.  "Everyone.  My wife's sister, Ismay teaches at the high school.  She worries about me since Nic... She's always bugging me to get out of the store, get off the island.  About a year ago, she dragged me to this dreary estate sale in Milton.  It was sitting in a box with about fifty other books, all worthless except Tamerlane."

Hmmmm.....Ismay was with A.J. when he found the book, the person who stole the book cleaned up his mess in the kitchen, Ismay wants him to get off the island, Ismay comes to help with Maya and washes the dishes even though he says to leave them.  Pg. 55  Ismay knows her husband is cheating on her, and she also knows A.J. knows it, and after she has a miscarriage she tries to kiss A.J. at the hospital. She said, " Nic was the good girl.  I'm bad.  I married a bad man, too.  And I know that bad people deserve what they get, but oh, how we hate to be alone."  pg. 78 

Is it a far stretch to wonder if she is in love with A.J., and could she have stolen Tamerlane?  Is the obvious in front of our eyes?  Okay on to chapter 4. 



 
 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #101 on: June 10, 2016, 08:51:58 PM »
One last thought......  I am really liking Lambiase.  He does seem like a great big cuddly teddy bear, and I love how he asked to be Maya's Godfather.  He has taken a real liking to A.J. and Maya. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #102 on: June 11, 2016, 08:09:37 AM »
Interesting theory, Bellamarie.  We'll wait and see.

For those who have read the book: as a courtesy to those who haven't, don't say if Bellamarie is right.

Lambiase is certainly looking like a good sort.

Ella Gibbons

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #103 on: June 11, 2016, 10:29:42 AM »
Thanks, Belle!  Yes, I remember Nic returning to her hometown now. 

Didn't you smile when you read that AJ said he would Google for info for the baby?  First time I've read that in a book and its true, you can Google for anything, I know!!!

I liked Ismay right from the start for some odd reason, perhaps because she is odd?  So like Nic, AJ thinks, but so unllke her in many ways.  The other character, Officer Lambiase, is at once likeable, helpful, a good friend.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories?  Hey, mystery lovers have you read it?  Sounds rather gruesome.

I see new questions in the heading, must read on and pay attention.   Will be back!!

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #104 on: June 11, 2016, 11:00:46 AM »
PatH., It really is only a theory because in complete honesty I can't remember anything about reading this book other than it took place in a bookstore.  I LOVE bookstores!  The beginning of chapter 4 just tugged at my heart.  First the intro What Feels Like the World..... "I did not encounter this story until after I became a father so I cannot say if I would have liked it as well P.M. (pre-Maya).  I have gone through phases in my life when I am more in the mood for short stories.  One of those phases coincide with your toddlerhood__what time had I for novels, my girl?   __A.J.F."

It is so sweet that A.J. is writing these thoughts down for Maya.  And how true is it that when you have children your world is on their time clock, and so you have to grab and go so much you don't have time to sit and read a novel.  During my years of owning my in home daycare which I just retired a year ago from, I could read a book and discuss it with this book club and sometimes not remember where I left off because of so many interruptions, and once grandkids came PHEW... forget about it.  I have kept a Grandmother/grandchild journal for each of my grandkids to give to them, and wrote a special poem and placed it with the story of each of my children's birth for them to have.  I hope they cherish it as I am sure Maya would when she reads A.J.'s writing he left to her.

This paragraph just made me smile and warm to imagine what it would be like growing up in a bookstore:  pg. 81

There are sixteen stairs until you get to the bookstore.  Maya slides her bottom down each one because her legs are too short to manage the flight with confidence.  She toddles across the store, past the books that don't have pictures in them, past the greeting cards.  She runs her hand across the magazines, give the rotating stand with the bookmarks a spin.  Good morning, magazines!  Good morning, bookmarks!  Good morning, books!  Good morning, store!

This is just so fun imagining a little toddler so excited to begin her day in the bookstore.  I am so happy to be reading this book with the club, I know for certain I missed this before. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #105 on: June 11, 2016, 05:00:39 PM »
Right, Bellamarie, you're guessing, but some of us know if you're right or not.

Maya in the bookstore is really charming.  I liked that the store is seven Mayas wide and twelve Mayas long.

I still haven't found a link to What Feels Like the World that works for me.


PatH

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bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #107 on: June 11, 2016, 11:29:05 PM »
Yes, PatH., that was so cute and this, "The store if fifteen Mayas wide and twenty Mayas long.  She knows this because she once spent an afternoon measuring it by lying her body across the room.  It is fortunate that it is not more than thirty Mayas long because that is as far as she could count on the day of the measurements were taken."

What child would think to measure with their body?  So cute!!!  I also like finding out A.J. named her middle name Tamerlane.  I suppose he felt she was like the book, "it was worth as much as all the books in the store combined."  Putting it in a child's comprehensive mind.

These next chapters had so much happening, and the time frame spanned what, 4 yrs?

 

 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Frybabe

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #108 on: June 12, 2016, 06:27:15 AM »
6. I saw an immediate connection of "Jumping Frog..". Amy kept "jumping" back and forth between the mainland and the island.

4. I knew a few people a lot like Amy. They dressed rather "dramatically" with flowing, long skirts, colorful scarves, tall boots, and floppy hats, though you couldn't call them hippies. They were creative types who chose jobs in the arts; the few I knew were in Graphic Design and in Marketing. The nail polish is an extension of the creative use of attire (and color), I think. So far, though, I haven't read that she also goes in for the fancy designs and embedded rhinestones that are popular today.

I found chapters 4-6 especially interesting and enjoyable.
 

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #109 on: June 12, 2016, 01:07:20 PM »
Isn't it interesting how the author touches on how NOT vaccinating your child for chicken pox can have the outcome of unnecessary discomfort for the child who ends up getting them?  My daughter was barely 6 months old when she got chicken pox from being around a friend's older child who was not vaccinated.  Back then my daughter was not yet old enough to receive the vaccine.

And another thing that jumped out at me even though it was not in the chapter of jumping frogs was:

"Once someone had asked A.J. if Maya was his.  "You're both black but not the same kind of black."  Maya remembers this because the remark had made A.J. use a tone of voice she had never heard him use with a customer.  "What is the same kind of black?  A.J. had asked.  "No, I didn't mean to offend you," the person had said and then the flip flops had backed their way to the door, leaving without making a purchase.  What is "the same kind of black?"  She looks at her hands and wonders.  pg. 83

The author is taking the time to make some strong points here.  Interesting.......

Is it just me, or has anyone else not figured out who the third-person omniscient narrator is?  I'm not sure I want to know yet, so you don't have to tell me. I suppose in time I will figure it out, but in these chapters especially this paragraph I just typed, I realized I don't see it as A.J. or Maya, and maybe it could me Amelia, but it makes no reference Amelia was present when this took place.  She could have been, but they are not married at this point and no mention of her being present in the bookstore at this time. Maybe it could be Maya, but I'm just a bit confused. Hmmmm.......  I'm beginning to wonder if I ever did read this book before of if I had planned on it and read just the few intro pages from Amazon.  Oh how I hate when my memory fails me. 

I love the nail polish colors, and YES the color names do make a significance in this story, as far as telling us the mood Amelia is in, or where she is seeing her life at the time of her wearing the colors.  Cute creativeness on the author's part. 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Frybabe

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #110 on: June 12, 2016, 02:26:35 PM »
Hah, the names of the nail polish. Yes, I noticed that too.

Me and my middle sister got bad cases of the Chicken Pox. My youngest sister, like your daughter, was an infant at the time and only got one spot on her. Imagine Mom having to deal with three children with Chicken Pox at once. Back then, I don't think they had a vaccine for it.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #111 on: June 12, 2016, 03:11:35 PM »
FRY: " I saw an immediate connection of "Jumping Frog..". Amy kept "jumping" back and forth between the mainland and the island".

AHH. I see it now. And they keep jumping back and forth about marrying.

In the short story, the frog actually never jumps. It's the narrator who jumps back and forth in his story and never gets to the point. I love that story: AJ must have never met anyone like the narrator, but I'll bet most of you have: starts to tell a story, and keeps wandering off the point. We seniors tend to get that way.

BELLAMARIE: AJ named Maya Tamberlane because "it was worth as much as all the books in the store combined." Good point.

"has anyone else not figured out who the third-person omniscient narrator is?: In  the case of the two kinds of black, I think it's supposed to be Maya. But that doesn't quite come off.

What do you all think of the way race is handled in this book? Do you like the author's decision to have racial differences present and make so little of them? (Is the incident with the two kinds of black the first time we know that Maya is Black?)

Ahh, the nail polish. I agree with FRYBABE that it's typical of Amy. I'm driving myself crazy trying to read deep significance into the names.

PatH

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #112 on: June 12, 2016, 10:30:27 PM »
JoanK
Quote
(Is the incident with the two kinds of black the first time we know that Maya is Black?)
That was the first time I noticed it, but later,looking back for something else, I saw a reference toMaya's "tan" skin.

nlhome

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #113 on: June 12, 2016, 10:39:45 PM »
Maya's good morning routine, "Good morning, magazines!  Good morning, bookmarks!  Good morning, books!  Good morning, store!" reminded me of the children's book Good Night Moon when I read those lines.

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #114 on: June 13, 2016, 12:14:53 PM »
Great point about the Jumping Frogs significance in this chapter.  I felt it could also have been name "Whirlwind" it seemed as though everything happened so quickly even though the author provided a bit of a timeline. 

As for knowing Maya was black, on pg. 57 it says, "Marian Wallace has no people on Alice, and no one knows why she was here or who she came to see or why she decided to kill herself by swimming into the icy waters of the Alice Island Sound in December.  That is to say, no one knows the specific reason.  They know Marian Wallace is black, that she is twenty-two years old, and that she had a twenty-five-month-old toddler.  To these facts, they can add what she wrote in her not to A.J.  A flawed but adequate narrative emerges.  Law enforcement concludes that Marian Wallace is a suicide, nothing more."

Not sure why the author felt it necessary to distinguish and then make a later point about the color of one's skin and the offending remark the lady/customer makes to A.J.

It's weird because going back and re reading this to determine Maya was black, I had a very funny suspicion come over me.  What if the mother did NOT commit suicide?

There is so much going on so quickly that I forget points I was seeing in prior chapters and because this book does not belong to me I can not highlight them with a marker as I usually do, and have little time to keep notes like I have in the past, I am forgetting my thoughts about questions I have come up.  Getting wrapped up in the relationship between all the characters and events happening I'm distracted from other things.  This author has a wonderful way to make you forget it is not just about Maya and A.j, or about a love story unfolding between A.J and Amy, but there is also the mention of inappropriate behavior and feelings Ismay has for A.J. and the mystery of Tamerlane and IF it was actually a suicide.  Gosh what is that quote I am thinking of that fits this book...... 

All genius is a conquering of chaos and mystery. Otto Weininger

Be back later my three granddaughters just stopped in to swim.  Time for some fun in the sun!!

nlhome, YES!  I love you mentioning Maya's Good Morning to everything is like Good Night Moon.  :)

Fry, I was getting a bit sea sick with the many back and forths of Amy coming and going on the Island.

JoanK.,  Indeed it is the narrator jumping around, and I feel a bit like saying ribbit, ribbit...... slow down! 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #115 on: June 13, 2016, 05:00:15 PM »
Like "Goodnight Moon"! Of course! My kids loved that book, and so do I. I'm sure that's where Zeven got the idea for Maya's chant.

When I saw how unrealistic the 25 month old Maya was, I thought "this author doesn't have children." But there are a lot of references to children's books in the story. Maybe she is an aunt. Or just likes children's books.

JoanK

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #116 on: June 13, 2016, 05:04:02 PM »
BELLAMARIE: thanks for doing that research. So Maya's mother being black just slid by me.

And "All genius is a conquering of chaos and mystery. Otto Weininger"

What a wonderful quote! Do you all agree?

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #117 on: June 13, 2016, 08:59:12 PM »
5. How long did it take you to realize who the "author" in the reading was? Should  it matter to one's feeling about the book whether it's a memoir or fiction? Why do you think the author put in this plot twist.

Oh my heavens, could anything be more bizarre than a fake author, looking like Santa Claus, asking for alcohol, drinking too much, hedging the questions and then throwing up all over the books he just signed.  Good grief!!!  Then to find out the true author is a lady.  I did not figure it out until,

 "All at once, Amelia is struck with a thought.  She turns around and calls, "No on travels without purpose.  Those who are lost wish to be lost."  "You're quoting The Late Bloomer,"  Leonora says after a long pause.  "It really was your favorite."  "It was,"  Amelia says.  "When I was young, I never felt young."  Something like that.  Do you remember the rest of the quote?"  "No," Lenora says.  "Writers don't remember everything they write,"  Amelia says.  "How could they?"

I am a writer, and up until reading this I always thought it was strange how I would forget things I wrote.  Immediately I thought, It's HER, she is Friedman!!!!

I have to admit Zevin must have laughed himself silly while coming up with the antics in this book.  Joan to answer your question why this plot twist?  I answer with, WHY NOT?  It was just plain fun! 
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #118 on: June 13, 2016, 10:13:30 PM »
2. Why doesn't the author summarize "A Good Man" as he does other stories? If you've read it, were you surprised that it was Amy's favorite story? Why do you think that is? Who is the "good man"? in the short story? In the book?

I have to say I cheated and read the summary in SparkNotes because 326 pages seemed a bit much to be called a short story for me.

Why it is Amy's favorite is beyond me.  Reading about O'Connor's writing I found this:

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is one of the most famous examples of Southern Gothic literature. Southern Gothic writing focuses on strange events, eccentric characters, and local color to create a moody and unsettling depiction of life in the American South. Southern history figures prominently, and stories usually draw upon the tragic history of slavery; lingering feelings of defeated regional pride after the Civil War; and isolated, often neglected locales. People, places, and events in Southern Gothic literature appear to be normal at first glance, but they eventually reveal themselves to be strange, disturbing, and sometimes horrific.

The good man in A Good Man is Hard to Find is Red Sammy Butts, who the Grandmother recognizes as the Misfit.  They exchange words about being good, religion and the grandmother says she is not sure Jesus really did raise the dead.  Red Sam then kills the grandmother for no other reason than he feels religion is pointless and adheres to his own kind of religion: "No pleasure butt meanness."  Violent triumphs.
http://www.sparknotes.com/short-stories/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/context.html

In The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry it makes no sense, because there has been no man of violence we see in this chapter.  Amy's father left her a note when he gave it to her for graduation that said, "Dear Amy, Mom says this is your favorite writer.  I hope you won't mind that I read the title story.  I found it a bit dark, but I did enjoy it.  A very happy graduation day!  I am so proud of you.  Love always, Dad"

I found it very strange, and then at the end of chapter The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, before the wedding ceremony Maya gives Amy a bottle of orange nail polish, Amy turns the bottle over and reads the bottom:  A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find.

Just call me very confused????  How would Maya know the name of the book?  Does this have any significance? 

Maybe I am making too much of it but when AJ. and Amy had dinner she reminded him of being very mean to her in the beginning.  Then when he proposed to her this sort of confused me before she gave him an answer:

This man, this A.J., is prickly and argumentative.  He thinks he is never wrong.  Maybe he never is wrong.  But he had been wrong.  Infallible A.J. had not sniffed out Leon Friedman as a fraud.  She's not sure why this matters at this moment, but it does.  Maybe it is evidence of some boyish, delusional part of him.  She cocks her head.  I will keep this secret because I love you.  As Leon Friedman (Leonora Ferris?) once wrote, "A good marriage is, at least, one part conspiracy."  She furrows her brow, and A.J. thinks she is going to say no.  "A good man is hard to find," she says finally.  "Do you mean the O'Connor story?  The one on your desk.  It's an awfully dark thing to bring up at a time like this."  "No, I mean you.  I've been looking forever.  It was only two trains and a boat away." 

Does anyone else find this extremely troubling?   ??? ??? ???  Maybe I had too much sun today!!   

   
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden

bellamarie

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Re: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ~ Gabrielle Zeven ~ June Book Club Online
« Reply #119 on: June 13, 2016, 11:01:12 PM »
Oh and one more thing......Amelia can not be the narrator because in the previous post it refers to Amelia's thoughts.  So who on earth knows Maya's, A.J.'s and Amelia's personal thoughts and feelings?   
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”
__Anthony Trollope, The Warden