*** Ducks bootcamp - prep thread

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*** Ducks bootcamp - prep thread

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1dchaikin
Feb 1, 2020, 4:44pm



Our mission statement*

Ducks book camp – aka the Beast. We are driven, energetic, motivated, and dynamic …designed to um…get through the entire book. Do not think “Ducks boot camp will get me in reading shape.” You are asking for miserably long days, however, in the end, if you survive, and reach the of Ducks, you will definitely be in the best reading shape of your life. We shall push you ourselves to get to the end in a safe, kind (?) friendly (?) way. We shall be challenged, while burning through brain cells (?) for a leaner brain in minimal time. Prepare to experience reading you will never regret.

*yes, pulled from actual bootcamp websites

2dchaikin
Edited: Feb 1, 2020, 4:53pm

Sorry, second-rate humor day. Actually this thread comes from discussions in my thread about reading Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman as a group read. The only actual purpose is to motivate ourselves to actually pick up what is apparently a 1000-page sentence. The only motivations is... that some of us want to read the book.

So, this is the planning thread to check interest, maybe discuss if CR is even the right format for this kind of group read (will this work?), and, assuming all good, layout a schedule.

Rough plan:
1. start this thread
2. check interest here
3. make a plan here, this month
3. buy the book (if you don't have it)
4. start reading the book on March 1
5. ??

So, step one is complete. 🙂

3dchaikin
Feb 1, 2020, 4:55pm

Step 2

Whose in? Post here if you're interested and let's check that we actually have a group.

(several people expressed interest on my thread. I'll send PMs)

4dchaikin
Feb 1, 2020, 5:04pm

When you are all sinew, struggle and solitude, your young -- being soft, plump, vulnerable -- may remind you of prey

5japaul22
Feb 1, 2020, 7:13pm

I'm still interested but I'm also a little stressed because I've been getting way less reading done than normal and I feel "behind". So I long book might not be the most pleasurable for me right now. I'll have to see how February goes . . .

6kidzdoc
Edited: Feb 1, 2020, 8:09pm



Recruit Morris reporting for duty, SIR!

I have the UK paperback edition of Ducks, Newburyport, which I purchased in London in September, so I am eager and ready for Basic Duck Training.

7arubabookwoman
Feb 2, 2020, 1:27am

I was scared at first that we were meant to read Ducks starting NOW, but I’m in for March. I will be reading on Kindle, and will try to figure out where we are without page numbers.

8klarusu
Feb 2, 2020, 4:26am

I’m in! I have the UK paperback edition heading my way. Basic training is a go. Never leave a reader behind! Do we have to get tattoos?

9ELiz_M
Feb 2, 2020, 7:57am

My current read also has some reservations about speaking Duck:


I have to finish U.S.A. first and will join late-March or April.

10AlisonY
Feb 2, 2020, 9:41am

Great intro!

I'm in. Definitely maybe. I'm certainly in for giving it a go, but if it's not working for me (the book, not the group) I'm giving myself permission to bow out. It's way too long for reading heroism.

Looking forward to upping my P.T. with that extra kilo in my backpack to and from work.

I'm hoping I can keep up with the group reading pace. 300 pages a week is about my usual pace, as some days I don't get reading at all.

I've not done a group read on LT before - how do they typically work? Do we just metaphorically pass the smelling salts when someone's flagging, or is there spoiler alert chit chat as people work their way through it? Or all of the above?

11dchaikin
Edited: Feb 2, 2020, 11:53am

>5 japaul22: and >9 ELiz_M: since dates aren’t set, let us know if a different date will work better. We could always do April. All the same to me, at least.

>6 kidzdoc: that’s the spirit!

>7 arubabookwoman: i have pacing-coordination ideas. Coming later.

>8 klarusu: tattoos are absolutely required. But we need a design

>9 ELiz_M: awesome quote! Dos Pasos might prefer the opening mountain lion. Wondering if the these ducks are merely prey...

>10 AlisonY: I have two paces in mind, and both are well under 300 pages. I have a 5 week and 8 week plan of 200 or 125 pages a week. 8 weeks because I like slow, 5 weeks because, well, 200 pages is a lot of required reading. We could push a fast pace, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth it. Let’s be lazy and talk more.

(If it doesn’t work for me, I’ll jump ship too. Just so everyone knows. Boot camp dedication has it’s limits).

As for how group reads work here in CR...well, typically they don’t. That’s why we don’t have many. (See Litsy where they work really well.). So, I’m trying to think of ways to make it work. I think if everyone really wants to read the book, it will work. And I think (hope) slow and lazy is the way - as a group. Here, with a thread for each part, in theory, anyone can read at any pace. If you’re faster, limit discussion to place in specific thread. If you’re slow, come to thread as you like. But - best if a few are roughly on a similar pace.

12dchaikin
Feb 2, 2020, 11:41am

I believe there are four possible formats:

- Limited Edition. United Kingdom: Galley Beggar Press. 4 July 2019. ISBN 978-1910296974. 1,022 pages

- First Trade Edition. United Kingdom: Galley Beggar Press. 4 July 2019. ISBN 978-1910296967. 1,030 pages

- United States: Biblioasis. 10 September 2019. ISBN 9781771963077. 1,040 pages

- Kindle ??

Darryl, you probably have the First Trade Edition.
Liz, you probably have the US Biblioasis edition (this is what I have)

13dchaikin
Edited: Feb 2, 2020, 11:52am

From the US edition page numbers, these are the typical break points:

1-2 ....
81-83 ....
103-104 .... begins: “When they were ready, she would take them outside the dark and narrow den.”
158 list: NO HOMEWORK NIGHT)
189 LET THEM EAT CAKE
231-232 .... begins: “She had seen him in the forest.”
297-298 ....
360-361 .... begins: “To her kittens, she was a great beauty.”
396-397 .... begins: “Puddles favored by crows have a sweet, earthy taste.”
429-430 ....
444 TOP SHELF
461-463 ....
485-487 .... begins: “Mountain lions, being stealthy, see more people than people see lions.”
506-507 ....
560-562 ....
581 .... begins: “The shock of losing her cubs reverberated like rain on water.”
619-621 .... begins: “When so tired she could no longer step safely, the lion hid herself for sleep,”
635-662 list: the sun will rise and set every day
662-663 ....
720-721 ....
732-733 .... begins: “She drifted through populous areas and remoter spots.”
776-777 .... begins: “A lot of wilderness exists between the cracks,”
818-820 ....
862-863 .... begins: “Another rifle shot, and it was she who crawled and cowered through the forest.”
875-877 ....
902-903 ....
915-917 ....
926-929 ....
938-939 ....
947-949 ....
988 end
991-1015 glossary
1017-1020 appendix
1021-1022 thanks to

.... = mountain lion sections separated from text on either end by a line with four dots.

14klarusu
Feb 3, 2020, 3:56am

Oh Lordy! My copy arrived this morning ... it’s very ... erm ... compact 😂

15japaul22
Edited: Feb 3, 2020, 7:42am

I went ahead and ordered it instead of using my library copy and worrying about renewals. March is good for me - I can't pass up a wonderful group like this for book discussion!

I've done a lot of group reads on LT and generally people give a heads up with a chapter number (or page number in this case) in bold so people can skip that post if they are worried about spoilers.

Personally, I'm not expecting any huge plot surprises in a book like this and won't worry about reading spoilers. In fact, I've found in other big stream of consciousness books that I've read that it helps to know a little bit about what is coming. It keeps me engaged and paying attention when otherwise the words can sort of wash over you without meaning much.

16dchaikin
Feb 3, 2020, 2:09pm

>14 klarusu: the opposite of a little thing : )

>15 japaul22: oh, yay! Probably we will do March, unless there is preference for another date. And, I agree I don’t think spoilers are likely an issue. Still, some sequence threads with the fresh conversation starts might worth a try. It’s my plan.

17AlisonY
Feb 3, 2020, 2:23pm



I went ahead and got the best quality duck tattoo money could buy. Cause you guys all said you were in with getting the group tattoo, right?

I realise I've set the bar high here, but, you know... just do your best.

18dchaikin
Edited: Feb 3, 2020, 2:27pm

Thinking of reading plans, I have in mind a weekly discussion. Each week I’ll start a thread for a specific section and then we can share - well, whatever - thoughts, progress, sense of momentum, questions, references, etc. So, it means I would like to establish an “official” pace. Of course, we read at our own pace, but this would serve as reference point and conversation point.

Since our book is all one sentence there are no (known) natural phase or topic breaks. Even pages numbers won’t do. But we do have some the break points I posted above. >13 dchaikin: So I plan to just arbitrarily use those.

So, my point here. Please let me know your thoughts on the pace. We essentially have the following options

- 1 week, 1000 pages (no!)
- 2 weeks, 500 pp/wk
- 3 weeks, 333 pp/wk
- 4 weeks, 250 pp/wk
- 5 weeks, 200 pp/wk
- 6 weeks, 167 pp/wk
- 7 weeks, 143 pp/wk
- 8 weeks, 125 pp/wk
- 9 weeks, 111 pp/wk
- 10 weeks, 100 pp/wk

As an example, the 5 week plan would look like this (page numbers are US edition)

Week 1. 1-189 - pta sign: LET THEM EAT CAKE
Week 2. 189-397 - 4-dot break begins: “Puddles favored by crows have a sweet, earthy taste.”
Week 3. 397-581 - 4-dot break begins: “The shock of losing her cubs reverberated like rain on water.”
Week 4. 582-777 - 4-dot break begins: “A lot of wilderness exists between the cracks,”
Week 5. 777-988 and appendix

19dchaikin
Feb 3, 2020, 2:25pm

20AlisonY
Feb 3, 2020, 2:28pm

I'd be able to manage a 4 week pace I think (all being well), but happy to go with something slower if that's the consensus (or faster, but I'd likely have to play catch up on the discussions).

21dchaikin
Feb 4, 2020, 8:05am

4-week pace would be fast for me 😊

Just curious, does anyone here do one book at a time? Because, for me, the 4-week pace means this is my March book. Whereas with a slower pace, I’d mix. If I were a one-book-at-a-time person, then I would prefer the 4-week pace.

22dchaikin
Feb 4, 2020, 8:06am

Also, I wouldn’t mind some more tattoo suggestions... ducks, mountain lions, mountain lions eating ducks...

23klarusu
Feb 4, 2020, 9:09am

>21 dchaikin: A 4-week pace would be probably the quickest I could manage because I'm a multiple book reader. 5-6 week pace would probably be a bit more realistic for me.

24ELiz_M
Feb 4, 2020, 9:18am

I'd prefer a slower pace -- 6 or 8 weeks.

25japaul22
Feb 4, 2020, 9:24am

I'm a multiple book reader and I think 5 or 6 weeks sounds about right.

It's so hard to know, because sometimes I feel like if I stretch out a long book too much, I never get the flow of the book or get immersed in it. So, to be honest, no matter what pace you set, I will play it by ear to get my best reading experience. But I think it's a good idea to set a general pace for discussion.

26dchaikin
Feb 4, 2020, 1:48pm

I think the average is 5 1/2 weeks so far...without my input.

(I like 8 weeks personally, so that would move the average to 6.)

27dchaikin
Feb 4, 2020, 1:50pm

So, I googled Duck tattoo fail. I wish I hadn’t.

28AlisonY
Feb 4, 2020, 2:58pm

I'll go with the flow. I'm generally a one book at a time gal, but I'll fit in with whatever works.

29klarusu
Feb 4, 2020, 3:04pm

>26 dchaikin: Mine were just the minimum thought I could manage ... going slower is absolutely fine by me! 🤣

30valkyrdeath
Feb 4, 2020, 6:15pm

I was considering joining in here, but I got the Kindle sample of the book and read the first few pages and had to give up as the constant repetition and random word associations were already irritating me to much. I'll be reading this thread with interest to see how everyone gets on with it though.

31dchaikin
Feb 5, 2020, 2:13pm

I came in favoring a 5 week pace, the not so random example at the end of >18 dchaikin:. I suggest that’s the way to go.

32dchaikin
Edited: Feb 5, 2020, 3:45pm

>30 valkyrdeath: this is a good idea, Gary, to try out ten pages or so and see how it goes.

And, Gary is not the only one. See this Washington Post reviewer:

Reading ‘Ducks, Newburyport’ is mentally taxing — and physically exhausting by Scott Bradfield

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/reading-ducks-newburyport-is-...

33japaul22
Feb 5, 2020, 2:46pm

Mine came in the mail yesterday and even though I love long books, it made me nervous . . .

We'll see.

It didn't help that I ordered The Golden Notebook in the same order which is supposed to be an April-June group read for me.

34AnnieMod
Feb 5, 2020, 3:40pm

I am just going to grab some popcorn and just sit back and read what everyone has to say about the book - neither its structure, not its topic really makes me want to read it. :) for now anyway.

35dchaikin
Feb 5, 2020, 3:44pm

Annie - Scott Bradfield wasn’t encouraging?

36dchaikin
Feb 5, 2020, 3:46pm

Oh, right, here’s some 🍿

37AlisonY
Feb 5, 2020, 5:58pm

I got my library copy today. My difficulty may be waiting until March (if I like it) - I'm not sure how many renewals I can get away with. An April return date may well be pushing it.

38dchaikin
Feb 5, 2020, 7:26pm

Alison - you could go bravely ahead and hack out a trail for us. 🙂

39dchaikin
Feb 6, 2020, 1:07am

To counter Scott Bradfield, here’s a more optimistic review from the Guardian.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann review – pushes narrative to its limits by Alex Preston

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/15/ducks-newburyport-by-lucy-ellmann-...

FYI - I found both reviews helpful and not spoiling anything.

40AnnieMod
Feb 6, 2020, 1:39pm

>35 dchaikin: Nope... neither did >39 dchaikin:

I tend to read more genre books than general fiction because I like my books structured and with a storyline (yes, I am oversimplifying) - stream of consciousness never appealed to me. Both reviews are awesome and both tell me why this is a good book and why I most likely won't enjoy it.

Take Ulysses - I did read the thing and I did not hate it. I can see why it is considered a great novel. And it is just not my thing. Give me a story where something happens... :)

Will I never read Ducks? Who knows. One day, I may be in the mood for it. But I am much happier in genre-land just now - so I will just listen to what everyone thinks and stick to the books I enjoy just now.

>36 dchaikin: Thanks! :)

41dchaikin
Feb 6, 2020, 9:14pm

42dchaikin
Feb 6, 2020, 9:16pm

It's interesting reading the various expectations here.

43dchaikin
Edited: Feb 17, 2020, 3:57pm

Official Discussion Plan

US Biblioasis and UK Galley Beggar Press page numbers. All occur at a break of some sort, as noted.

March 7: US 1-189 : UK 1-199 ending at the PTA sign: LET THEM EAT CAKE, ~19%

March 14. US 189-397 : UK 199-406 - 4-dot break begins: “Puddles favored by crows have a sweet, earthy taste.”, ~39%

March 21. US 397-581 : UK 406-591 - 4-dot break begins: “The shock of losing her cubs reverberated like rain on water.”, ~57%

March 28. US 582-777 : UK 591-786 - 4-dot break begins: “A lot of wilderness exists between the cracks,”, ~76%

April 4. US 777-988 : UK 786-998 and appendix

Eta uk edition page numbers

44dchaikin
Edited: Feb 14, 2020, 10:36pm

45AlisonY
Feb 15, 2020, 5:59am

Thanks Dan. The soft back UK edition seems to be 9 or 10 pages further on from your page numbers, but the stop points are clear and obvious so sounds like a good plan.

We have Mallards in our pond out the back at various times (usually until the smaller but more bullish Moorhens chase them off their turf). I'll try not to think ill of them if this readathon becomes at all painful.

46dchaikin
Edited: Feb 15, 2020, 4:14pm

>45 AlisonY: Right, don’t blame actual ducks. : )

So my p189 is your p198? Good to know. if you get really bored, send me the UK page numbers and I’ll add them.

47NanaCC
Feb 15, 2020, 5:38pm

I’ll be following along to see how everyone is doing with it, but timing for me right now isn’t going to work with my real life commitments. It does sound like fun, and as usual, Dan, your threads are intriguing.

48dchaikin
Feb 16, 2020, 12:16am

Colleen, there aren't many perfect times for a 1000 page book, generally speaking, of course, there never are for all of a group of people. Glad you're following the threads. Maybe if you get to the book later on, you can share some of your thoughts along the way then.

49OscarWilde87
Feb 16, 2020, 5:36am

Hi Dan! I finally made it here and I had a great laugh about the duck tattoo nack and forth, so thanks for that to all of you here. Timewise I'll not be able to participate in the group read. I will follow along, though.

50dchaikin
Feb 16, 2020, 11:47am

Oscar - careful, we might ask you to join. You still have time to get a copy.

51dchaikin
Feb 16, 2020, 11:48am

Thanks to AlisonY, I updated the break points with UK page numbers. See >43 dchaikin:

52OscarWilde87
Edited: Feb 17, 2020, 2:19pm

>50 dchaikin: That is true. When are you planning to start? I'll check out the review first. I feel myself being dragged in here. Nooooooo.... :)

edit: I just re-read large parts of the discussion here. My preferred pace would be 7 weeks and a start around mid-March would be fantastic. I'm not saying I'm in yet, though.

One sentence... This is going to be Ulysses all over again.

53VivienneR
Feb 17, 2020, 3:12pm

>34 AnnieMod: I'll join you! May I share your popcorn?

54dchaikin
Feb 17, 2020, 3:44pm

Oscar - I haven't read Ulysses, but interesting you bring it up. See the review linked in >39 dchaikin:

However, the schedule is set. See >43 dchaikin: (I'll bold the title so it stands out a bit better). The plan was to start reading March 1. Sorry about pushing the schedule a bit, but if you do read in 7 weeks, you can simply post as you catch up.

>53 VivienneR: You can share Annie's, but we have lots more: 🍿🍿🍿

55ELiz_M
Feb 17, 2020, 4:36pm

Care of richardderus:

"The pro tip on how not to feel overwhelmed by Ducks, Newburyport: Mentally replace every instance of "the fact that" with a period."

56valkyrdeath
Feb 17, 2020, 5:02pm

>55 ELiz_M: I tried that with the first pages that I read a while ago, and suddenly it reads like perfectly ordinary prose (aside from the occasional random list of words). It's not one long sentence at all, it's a regular novel that's had a "find and replace" done on the punctuation, in the process extending the length of the book by about 20%. I guess it worked as a marketing gimmick to get the book noticed by talking about the one continuous sentence. Either that or she was paid by the word.

57japaul22
Feb 17, 2020, 6:42pm

>55 ELiz_M: interesting! I'm still not sure if I'm going to read along with the group read, but that is very good to know. I sometimes miss things like that when I get caught up in being confused. (I remember your comment about the ellipses in The Pilgrimage reflecting Miriam's direct thoughts and thinking - oh, of course!)

58AlisonY
Feb 18, 2020, 3:47am

>55 ELiz_M: I have to ask as I've seen the word period used a few times recently on different threads on CR - do North Americans generally not use the term 'full stop'? I'm just curious - I'm not used to seeing that used instead of full stop in the UK.

59klarusu
Feb 18, 2020, 3:51am

I’m really looking forward to starting ... remind me of this a few weeks in 🤣🤦‍♀️

60japaul22
Feb 18, 2020, 7:24am

>58 AlisonY: Yes, we use period. I've only heard the term "full stop" a couple of times and wouldn't have been positive what it meant except through context.

61AlisonY
Feb 18, 2020, 7:30am

>60 japaul22: Interesting! I was completely thrown by the use of the word period when I first saw it mentioned on a thread. I never realised before that we call it two different things.

62tungsten_peerts
Edited: Jun 8, 2020, 1:27pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

63dchaikin
Feb 18, 2020, 12:51pm

>55 ELiz_M: thanks Liz! (And Richardderus )

>56 valkyrdeath: huh. I wonder how this idea will impact my reading of the book. And I wonder what the author’s take on this might be. Seems strange to be a simple gimmick...seems curious too. I take it “the fact that” is the most common phrase in the book?

>57 japaul22: aw, hope you join us sooner or later, Jennifer.

64dchaikin
Edited: Feb 18, 2020, 1:01pm

>58 AlisonY: >60 japaul22: >61 AlisonY: this is just a very entertaining conversation for me. I didn’t know “period” was a west-side-of-the-pond thing. I always thought “full stop” was the really formal way of saying period.

>59 klarusu: I’ll post a reminder here on March 1 - our official kickoff date (but I think once you get that tattoo, it will serve you a permanent reminder.)

>62 tungsten_peerts: it’s a dangerous thread, Glenn. You might end up joining is if you acquire a copy. I suspect...I suspect responses will vary. It may require some patience, or it may not hold up. But I think we’ll all enjoy. But, really, if you’re interested, it’s a good time to try, with some crowd encouragement. We’ll start March 1. See >43 dchaikin: for the schedule.

65tungsten_peerts
Edited: Jun 8, 2020, 1:28pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

66dchaikin
Feb 20, 2020, 7:24am

>65 tungsten_peerts: Wow, Glenn. Good deal (good bookseller, too)

Mark (thorold) posted a nice little quote on poetry and ducks in the interesting articles thread.
Coleridge once described poetry as “wild ducks shaping their rapid flight in forms always regular”. That’s one way of looking at literature, everything unusual being absorbed into the larger flight pattern of a given work. But another perspective might focus less on the regular forms than on the wild ducks. This way of looking at literature places the onus on the random encounter – the moment when one duck peels off.


His post is here:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/314124#7072412

The source is an article in the Guardian by Will Harris, here:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/19/top-10-random-encounters-in-litera...

67japaul22
Feb 24, 2020, 7:44am

I’m starting to get excited about this again. I’ve been very up and down about joining in since I have several other very large books planned as group reads this year. BUT, I think I’m back to wanting to give it a try. I will at least give it a go. Looking forward to March 1!

68dchaikin
Feb 25, 2020, 1:09pm

>67 japaul22: yay! My own feelings circle around a lot. But, March 1 will be my kickoff. I’ll post a reminder here, Sunday.

(If you start Mar 1, read 31.5 pages a day to meet the March 7 discussion. 🙂 )

69dchaikin
Feb 27, 2020, 10:46pm

🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆

70AlisonY
Feb 28, 2020, 7:37am

I feel I should have been lifting weights this month in preparation for picking this up on Sunday.....

71dchaikin
Feb 28, 2020, 8:07am

Think of reading ducks as a full mind and body workout (does not apply to ereaders, sorry)

72Dilara86
Feb 28, 2020, 11:33am

I won't be reading Ducks, Newburyport with you at this time, but I'll be lurking for future reference... Incidently the audiobook's out: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/28/how-a-1000-page-novel-became-a-45-... It's 45 hours long!

73dchaikin
Feb 28, 2020, 5:50pm

>72 Dilara86: some quick math puts that at ~3 minutes a page.

Thanks for posting. I’ll checkout the article when I get some time.

74dchaikin
Feb 29, 2020, 9:32am

>72 Dilara86: that was a really interesting article, especially about the time and effort put into making this an audiobook. I will check out a sample next week, to get a sense of it.

Wonder if anyone wants to listen and tag along with our group. It would be nice to have an audio perspective. Well...45 hours is a lot to ask for nice.

75tungsten_peerts
Edited: Jun 8, 2020, 1:28pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

76dchaikin
Feb 29, 2020, 8:47pm

>75 tungsten_peerts: Your arm muscles can rest one more day, care of leap year. Tomorrow 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆

77klarusu
Mar 1, 2020, 7:39am



This image seemed a fitting start to the month 😂

I'm going in ... I may be some time!

78dchaikin
Mar 1, 2020, 10:02am

>77 klarusu: 😂 😂

Good reminder to keep an open mind with language...but it has me wondering about ducks’ crimes against god.

79dchaikin
Mar 1, 2020, 10:18am

The day has arrived.

I don’t have a great kickoff post. I was going to at least provide a picture, but my phone is protesting. I’m sitting in a coffee shop after dropping my daughter off at Hebrew school. I have 2 hours, a perfect place to begin.

I’ve lost track of who is in and who so out, who is starting today, or has already started (anyone? I don’t think so) or who will try this out later. So, please take a moment to post an update one way or the other.

(I might drop a reminder in some private messages.)

80dchaikin
Edited: Mar 1, 2020, 10:25am

Reminder - 1st discussion

March 7:
- US 1-189
- UK 1-199
- Kindle/ebook ~19%

ending at the PTA sign: LET THEM EAT CAKE, ~19%

ETA : 🍿 will be served (no calories!)

81klarusu
Mar 1, 2020, 11:01am

🙋‍♀️ I’m in!

82japaul22
Mar 1, 2020, 11:29am

I'm in and started this morning. I'm not sure if I'll tire of it as it goes along but I really like it right now, about 40 pages in.

How are you thinking discussion should work? I've done a lot of group reads on LT and there seem to be two different models, both of which have pros and cons.

One is for everyone to discuss as they read at their own pace, but mark the post with a heading for where it is in the book. We could do section 1, and then whatever we want to say. That allows for people to comment as they read instead of saving up comments for a certain time.

Or we can discuss only the section that we've planned to complete on the dates we've completed. This usually creates more discussion, BUT rules out people who aren't reading at the designated pace and also means that people who've read ahead need to save up their comments for each section separately.

Just curious, because I already have a few initial comments I'd make, but I want to go along with what will work best for the group and wasn't sure if I should wait til March 7!

83dchaikin
Mar 1, 2020, 12:16pm

Jennifer - good questions. I’m trying not to strangle with structure. I’m trying to limit it to a planned pace. I think that will help.

My only plans are to start a new thread every Saturday. So, this thread should do till then March 7.

I have a rough picture in mind on how we will use each thread, but no guidelines. Certainly, I have Litsy in mind, but I know it doesn’t exactly apply. We’ll have to see what works and be flexible. If something works for everyone, I’ll keep doing that!!

I am going to post as if we’re all on the planned pace (even if I’m not). And I encourage us to use that pace as a discussion structure - a reference. So, if you’re on page 400 today, consider yourself ahead. If you haven’t started yet, consider yourself behind the “official” pace.

Having said all that, I encourage everyone to post whatever is on your mind here till Saturday. It’s a good place to collect our initial impressions. I think it’s a really good idea to note where you are before posting, when applicable.

Short answer: Post your initial thoughts here.

84arubabookwoman
Mar 1, 2020, 12:23pm

It’s D-Day!!! I will be starting today, and back for discussion 3/7.

85AlisonY
Mar 1, 2020, 1:17pm

I'm off the blocks too, currently somewhere around page 50. I'm still not entirely sure what my thoughts are on it, so will read on for a while before I post anything much. I'm tuned into the narrative rhythm now (I think).

86ELiz_M
Mar 1, 2020, 7:28pm

For those that have already started, are you setting aside time to read large pieces in one go? I assume it's not terribly conducive to reading 15 minutes here and there....?

87japaul22
Mar 1, 2020, 7:56pm

>86 ELiz_M: I'm not sure yet, about 60 pages in. I usually don't like reading long books in short snippets, but I actually think it might work for this one. It's basically a peek inside the narrator's brain and internal dialogue, so I'm not sure it needs to be a long "peek" each time. After too many pages my mind starts to skim the words instead of really reading, so I'm only reading 15-20 minutes at a time right now.

I've actually been wondering to myself how she has such a long stretch of time to think with 4 kids.

88dchaikin
Edited: Mar 1, 2020, 8:42pm

Like Jennifer, I’m a little surprised how much I like it so far, but I’m only 19 pages in. I have to go slow because my brain wants to make some sense of the associations. And I keep looking words up, like pulchritudinous or terrapin.

>86 ELiz_M: Liz, I think 30 minutes to an hour would be my ideal stretch. It’s a lot of anxiety to take in at once.

>87 japaul22: I like this question. Feels like it all happens at once so far, just one strung-out thought.

>85 AlisonY: I found a rhythm, but my brain is rewiring and I think it will be different when I pick it up again. Will see what happens as it goes along.

89AlisonY
Mar 2, 2020, 3:40am

I'm probably averaging 30 minutes at a time too, but given that it's one extended interior monologue with lots of randomness interjected I think you could quite easily read it in very short snippets here and there as well (although it might take you forever to finish). I did a bit of that yesterday, reading a few pages here and there as I was cooking our Sunday dinner.

So far I find myself oddly drawn to keep returning to it to read some more, but to say I love it would probably be a step too far.

I now get why there will be no spoilers if anyone posts early...

90kidzdoc
Mar 2, 2020, 6:54am

Count me in, although my copy of Ducks, Newburyport is back in Atlanta, and I won't return there until March 14th.

91dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 7:34am

>90 kidzdoc: I guess you’ll have to content yourself with duck news for now. Fortunately there’s a duck army making headlines:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia-china-51658145

92japaul22
Edited: Mar 2, 2020, 8:07am

Curious how everyone is approaching this book. This is one where I'm reading with pencil in hand (I'm one of those who will "defile" a book with writing ;-) !!) Because it's sort of circular, and I like to circle character names or write names off to the side so that I can quickly go back to find other places where the person or topic/theme was mentioned.

I will also say that I'm really connecting to this since this narrator is probably about the same age as me and I also grew up in the Midwest (even went to school in Ohio) so I'm really getting all of her references that may be obscure to others.

section 1
Speaking of obscure references, my mother made porcupine meatballs regularly (pg. 54) and FLORENCE Y'ALL on page 67 is a reference to a water tower in Florence, KY that I used to drive past regularly when I lived in Cincinnati. The story is they wrote "florence Mall" on the water tower and then found out they weren't supposed to advertise on the water tower so they replaced the M with a Y'.

93AlisonY
Mar 2, 2020, 10:02am

>92 japaul22: thanks for the explanation on some of the references, Jennifer.

My approach is different to yours and Dan's, I think. Now that I'm in a reading rhythm, I find that my brain is wired to keep connected to the main track of her train of thought and is actively avoiding getting derailed by the word associations or the 'the fact is' tic, both of which cause me to lose my thread at times. The plus with this approach is that I find I'm keeping track of the true story better. The negative is that there's a risk I'm missing out by not spending enough time thinking about the other stuff.

94arubabookwoman
Mar 2, 2020, 12:30pm

Anyone remember the old Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”? The style of writing here reminds me of the style of that song.
And I am googling things here and there. For example, I had never heard of the sinking of the Bourgogne. There’s a wiki article about that, but I was unable to find a book about it. (I think she implies she gave her husband a book about it, but maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough).

95Dilara86
Edited: Mar 2, 2020, 1:08pm

>94 arubabookwoman: I haven't read Ducks, Newburyport yet, but is it possible the book in question is The Counterfeiters (Les faux-monnayeurs) by André Gide? It's not *about* it, but it mentions the Bourgogne.

96dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 9:04pm

>89 AlisonY: i tried reading in bed. Got 4 pages and fell asleep, but they were a good four pages. Not sure that’s an advertisement for reading in snippets...

97dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 9:29pm

>92 japaul22: I take notes but not _in_ the books - mainly because I don’t know what to do with them then. For this i’m using my notes app on my iphone (and The Free Dictionary App and Safari. And Bookly where I track my time reading. But it pauses when I look up words.)

>93 AlisonY: I’m noticing some plot, and I’m trying to find the rhythm, but you’re having better success than me. I like that idea. This book presses me to stay on the words, because if I drift off focus looking for big picture I quickly get lost. So, then I slow down again.

But it’s interesting as there is some thought. It’s not all happening at once, but happening as her days happens.

>92 japaul22: Also, really cool about your Ohio connection with the author. I keep wondering whether she had to go back and spend time in Ohio to write this, or whether she had enough in memory from childhood to construct it all.

98dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 9:33pm

>94 arubabookwoman: I definitely remember the song. Interesting. This feels different to me. Because he searched for touchstones and she mixes in a lot of seemingly random stuff. (But it’s not random) Actually, it feels a little like an internet search engine and a distracted mind working through the Internet. Like, ooh, let’s click here. But...now I‘ll think about Billy Joel when I pick it back up

99dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 9:37pm

>94 arubabookwoman: Bourgogne - how fascinating and awful is that. She did give her husband a book, but I didn’t catch the title.

>95 Dilara86: interesting. The book she got her husband was specifically about the disaster. So, I don’t think that’s it. She doesn’t mention the author. She might have mentioned the title...

100dchaikin
Mar 2, 2020, 10:10pm

Regarding the Bourgogne - thought this page was interesting for the comments:

http://www.oceantreasures.org/pages/content/shipwrecks-stories/the-collision-and...

101AlisonY
Mar 3, 2020, 4:48am

The Bourgogne tragedy was also new to me - thanks for the links and extra info.

I'm up to page 114 on Ducks, and I'm now really starting to feel the love. I feel like there's more of a story coming through in the narrative - at least some of the snippets are collectively starting to make more sense. I've now got better wired into taking in and enjoying all of the writing, including the word associations, which feels like a development from where I was yesterday.

I'm thinking back a little to Knausgaard's writing as I read, in that the logical side of my head thinks it's preposterous that this should work, but the emotional side is really starting to get invested in it nonetheless.

102ELiz_M
Mar 3, 2020, 7:38am

>94 arubabookwoman:, >99 dchaikin: I just read this last night. No specific book title mentioned.

103arubabookwoman
Mar 3, 2020, 11:55am

>100 dchaikin: The comments to that article were fascinating, especially those of descendants of the victims of the tragedy.

104arubabookwoman
Mar 3, 2020, 11:57am

I don’t know where the book is going, or why the Bourgogne was mentioned, but I do note that there was only 1 female survivor (out of about 300 female passengers) of the tragedy.

105dchaikin
Mar 3, 2020, 1:02pm

>101 AlisonY:/>104 arubabookwoman: Alison - that’s encouraging. Like Deborah, I’m still trying to figure out where this going, or what it’s doing. My latest perspective is to sort of put all the word associations aside, as like a doubletalk*, some people interesting noise coloring the more main thought processes. Somewhere in there I also thought of all the random stuff that pops up on Facebook, but that didn’t feel quite right.

*doubletalk is, I think, a Philadelphia thing. I’ve only heard It once. Someone talks, and after they finish the sentence or phrase, they keep talking, almost like a grumble. It’s sometimes garbled, sometimes the words are clear, but it’s always extra, unnecessary and most closely resembles an “um” or “uh” kind of pause.

Seems like everyone posting is holding a good pace. I’m struggling. Got to page 91 this morning, but that’s 14 pages from my goal today, and to read 21 pages this morning, I had to take a break. Anyone else having issues?

106dchaikin
Mar 3, 2020, 1:13pm

>102 ELiz_M: thanks!

>103 arubabookwoman:/>104 arubabookwoman: aren’t they, fascinating. All the relatives over 100 years later. Several comments mention Victoire La Casse (or Lacasse) as the lone woman survivor and that she wrote an account. There is a gruesome quote from the Gide book ( >95 Dilara86: ). And one poster said they were writing a book on the Bourgogne.

107japaul22
Mar 3, 2020, 1:17pm

>105 dchaikin: I can't do "pages per day" - feels too much like an assignment. I will read at my own pace (which will probably ebb and flow) and participate in discussions when I can.

I'm not sure the book is "going" anywhere and I'm fine with that. I'm just enjoying discovering snippets of facts about her life and where she is in her day amongst all the rest of the nonsense brain chatter.

I'm not one to get distracted by looking up references I don't know, so that isn't bothering me.

I'm surprised that I like the sections about the lioness. It's such an interesting contrast. I find those sections very calming and necessary. It occurred to me that it sets up an interesting contrast between the human condition of stress and overthinking but physical comfort and safety vs. the lion's calmer inner being but more stressful physical danger.

Do we know her name yet? I'm on page 100 and haven't noticed it yet.

108ELiz_M
Edited: Mar 3, 2020, 2:22pm

>105 dchaikin: I'm definitely not holding the pace. But I also voted for the eight-week schedule. :) I can only read a little bit at a time, in the evenings.

109dchaikin
Mar 3, 2020, 10:08pm

>107 japaul22: I've been thinking about the mountain lioness. When we hit the second section, it was such a contrast. Elegant language, pure, undistracted. Then she jumps right back in to the flood in random information.

I haven't caught her name.

>108 ELiz_M: I might fall back, but for now I'll try to keep the 5 week pace.

It seems this is a book where everyone has to just find their own way, their pace, their own purpose for reading it... our own balance of what we are or aren't ok with. Brings up some ideas of questions.

110AlisonY
Mar 4, 2020, 6:50am

My caveat on yesterday's enthusiasm is that while I'm enjoying it at the moment, it feels like enjoyment of the 200 page variety. Not sure whether it will sustain me for 1,000 pages.

111japaul22
Mar 4, 2020, 8:31am

>110 AlisonY: I’m wondering the same thing. Not sure how I’ll feel once the novelty wears off.

112dchaikin
Mar 4, 2020, 1:16pm

I’m thinking more about switching, now, to an 8 week plan.

My thought process is like this: for me, 15 pages a day is about perfect. Stress free reading. I’ll enjoy it and could go on doing that forever. I’ve been pushing trying to get 35 pages a day. I can do it, but it’s a little stressful and 5 weeks is a long time to push that way.

I think Liz is following the 15 ppd pace. And theaelizabet, who read this recently, also suggested that pace to me.

Then I come here and see >110 AlisonY: and >111 japaul22: and I’m thinking it’s not just me, and maybe the pace is the issue. But is it the pace?

————————-

On a separate note my reading style has changed. I’m less focused on the word associations, more focused on the more drawn (still kind of random) stuff. If you like, I’m seeing more picture and less noise. Also my reading has sped up. I zoomed between the second and third mountain lion sections (from 3 min/pg to 2.5, “zoomed” is relative). And I think I like this better, reading it this way. Anyway, interesting to me.

113arubabookwoman
Mar 4, 2020, 6:14pm

Since I’m on Kindle, I’m not sure how the pace I’m reading equates in page numbers. But I do find that after reading a while, my mind begins to wander and I begin skimming. I think I have a limit on how much I can read at a time, so I think I’m going to follow that pace: read til my mind wanders.
That being said I like it very much. As the mother of 5 kids, with a chaotic family life, and daughters who during their teenage years were very critical of me, I’m finding I really identify with the narrator. And though she keeps saying she has a terrible memory, I’m intrigued by the things she does remember, and the way her mind works.
When my memory faltered, I used to tell the kids it was because I gave them each half my brain when they were born.

114tungsten_peerts
Edited: Jun 8, 2020, 1:28pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

115dchaikin
Mar 6, 2020, 1:23pm

>114 tungsten_peerts: well, I’m sorry you have a cold, but interesting experience you’re having with Ducks. I had to look up FOV. Cool about Ohio - I didn’t know we had anyone from Ohio before this thread.

I’m battling neck issues this week, peaked yesterday. My doctor blames my standing all day at work and not the book. I stand all day at work because of my neck, so that was discouraging. But she gave what I needed and at least not much pain today.

I’m on page 180, so should just slide in on time tonight (although I’m supposed to lead a discussion on Willa Cather’s My Mortal Enemy tomorrow too, and I neglected it all week. Might be a busy reading night...)

116AlisonY
Mar 7, 2020, 12:24pm

>115 dchaikin: funny you should say that about your neck, Dan, as reading Ducks did hurt my neck midweek too. I brought it to read while my son was at his swimming club, and because it's so heavy I ended up with it resting on my knee and reading looking down at it, rather than holding it up in front of my like I'd normally read. Who knew reading could be so debilitating?

I reached the week 1 target yesterday, so here are my brief thoughts (+ and -) so far:

+ Now that I'm in the groove of the prose style and it flows nicely in my head, I'm enjoying the narrator's thoughts. She covers a lot of different random topics, but there's more depth to it than I expected. I'm identifying with the random worrying.
+ I think it's pretty smart how her narrative approach makes you think about how we think, not just what we think. In that way it's different from stream of consciousness, as we don't think in nicely formed sentences - we jump around topics, not finishing one thought before we get distracted with something else. It seems so obvious now Ellmann has done it, but I think she's the first person to portray the reality of the thought process so well.

- She brushed past her older kids coming into the kitchen before they went out to school. I would have liked that interaction to have evolved, especially with the older daughter, which would have built up the story a little more. Maybe that's still to come.
- If it continues as I expect with more of the same for the next 800 pages, I think I'm going to be frustrated that she didn't call it time at 300 pages or so.

117dchaikin
Mar 7, 2020, 12:46pm

118dchaikin
Edited: Mar 7, 2020, 12:50pm

>116 AlisonY: Love this post. The unpredictable dangers of literature... our necks...

Would you mind reposting the heart of this over on the discussion 1 thread?

ETA- oops, you already did. 😊

119AlisonY
Mar 7, 2020, 1:21pm

>118 dchaikin: sadly I think it's middle-age that's debilitating rather than reading, but I'm happy to blame Ducks.