Ducks, Newburyport - week 4

TalkClub Read 2020

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Ducks, Newburyport - week 4

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Mar 28, 2020, 3:15pm

Discussion Plan for Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

(Page numbers are from two editions: US Biblioasis and UK Galley Beggar Press. All weekly breaks occur at a break in the text 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%

today: 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

Note: No on is following the pace. One person has finished, and I think the rest of us are behind. Still, discussion is targeting through page 777us /786uk.

Mar 28, 2020, 3:26pm

I'm on page 715, where the theme went from permanence, to internet porn, to how we can't set in each others' feelings, we can't know what's really going on inside, back to our unnamed narrator and her relationship with her mom and then details on her open-heart surgery at 8 years old.

quotes so far:
the fact that I hope we can just go sort of Amish if necessary, the fact that that’s my plan A

the fact that I was damaged by Mommy’a illness, the fact that it broke me

the fact that I couldn’t sleep last night, the fact that I had to get up and read Zadok Cramer to calm down

(Zadok Cramer was the author of The Navigator, first published in 1801. It was a guide for settlers and travelers moving westward into or through the interior of the United States during the first half of the 19th century.)

Mar 28, 2020, 3:32pm

my bulleted notes to page 715

• Stuck a mall due to collapsed entrance bridge p582 - burning house in flood
• Pollution p590
• Cathy’s apocalypse prep p592
• Mommy’s illness broke me p604
• Cougar rescue, as narrator reads it p607
• Eustacia Vye - The return of the native, mentioned in The catcher in the rye 610
• All-nighter 623
• On Golden Pond - Fonda’s and Katharine Hepburn
• Joyce Carol Oates p631
• Some things are definite p635 - goes on about 30 pages
• I 🖤 U spitball p675
• Zadok Cramer p682
• Bobby p681
• porn/sex p683-688 (to eggs...) and then more
• open heart surgery at 8 mentioned p694
• vaguely on the theme on not seeing others feelings
• details about the open heart surgery ~p715

Mar 28, 2020, 3:33pm

No specific questions this week, but please share where you are, how your reading is going, and your thoughts on this book - at whatever point you're at.

Mar 28, 2020, 5:29pm

In this section, my notes were about the "preppers" and "homeschoolers" because it felt prescient with everything going on now. And then they become homebound because of the lion in the area. That also is very relevant to everyone now. At one point when they are all home from school to stay safe from the lion she thinks

"I'm trying not to flip out entirely, the fact that having them home during the daytime actually makes me feel a bit queasy even at the best of times, the fact that I think I associate it with them being sick, and when they're sick, I feel sick, the fact that they're not sick though, they're just home . . "

So the lion's story and the narrator's solidly converge in this section and I really like how these two stories come together.

There is also increasing violence in this section - she thinks a lot about her friend Cathy's experience with an shooting incident. Violence, particularly gun violence, is a major theme in the book for me and it starts to show more in this section.

Mar 28, 2020, 11:52pm

That’s all ahead for me, but the healthy kids at home definitely strikes a note now. Also, at my current point, I wouldn’t have targeted violence as a theme. Guilt, powerlessness, inadequacy, self-criticism, self-doubt and anxiety all come to mind...along with pollution, cultural neglect, and the psychology of Trumpers and survivalists.

Mar 29, 2020, 12:41pm

I managed to catch up today. I don't think I have many new thoughts on this section. What stood out to me was that I noticed her dry humour more than I had in previous sections.

Her anxieties continued, and she's now given me new concerns about bridges that had never entered my mind before! There were a lot of worries relating to gun issues - domestic murders, worrying that a shooter would come into her kids' schools. I wondered how active a worry this is for parents in the US?

In all, I recovered my respect for the book in this section, but at times i'm still finding it very dense to read. I'm enjoying that the mountain lion tale is now merging into her story, and wishing that Leo wasn't away so much so we could have more narrative on her marriage.

Mar 29, 2020, 12:42pm

>6 japaul22:, >7 dchaikin: yes, the forced homeschooling definitely struck a chord. It did cross my mind a few times how difficult the book would be if she'd written it during current times.

Mar 29, 2020, 1:46pm

>8 AlisonY: I think school shootings are on the minds of many American parents. After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary (the shooter killed something like 20 first graders, 6-7 year olds, I can't think about it without crying), all schools now have active shooter drills where they practice hiding in the classroom and being quiet. I do think about it with my 10 and 7 year old boys. I can't worry about it constantly or I'd go crazy, but if I'm home during the school day and hear sirens, I would admit that my mind goes straight to "I hope everything is ok at the school". It's something that I believe could happen and sadly doesn't feel like an irrational fear.

Mar 29, 2020, 3:33pm

I had one of those self evident realizations last night. I was frustrated reading and then I realized she’s not speaking _to_ me (or to a reader). Our narrator is talking to herself, for her own benefit. Somehow that helped...I think it did, anyway.

Apr 1, 2020, 5:16pm

>4 dchaikin: Some things are definite

I loved that section. Partly because I was pleased that I got my wish for a change of pace/rhythm/structure and partly because it was so funny and poignant.

Apr 4, 2020, 9:24pm

Liz - I really liked that section too.

I've slowed down a lot, have about 200 pages to go. (well, 138 to the end of the regular narrative). I'm about to start the finishing thread, but it will be a week or more before I actually finish.