Never Let Me Go OPEN THREAD

WOW Y’ALL. In October, I WAS SUPER worried BOOKGUM WAS gonna blow up in my FACE, AND THEN when it went SO WELL, I thought this MONTH WAS GONNA get all crazy slow. IT DIDN’T! Y’ALL still KILLED it despite THE PROBLEMS OF THE Holidays. I don’t HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD here other than feel FREE TO DISCUSS whatever wasn’t COVERED IN REGARDS to NEVER LET ME GO and don’t FORGET THAT NEXT MONTH we are reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.

Now, A FEW OTHER THINGS on the agenda:

  • HOW AM I DOING? What do you THINK OF BOOKGUM so far and what are SOMETHINGS THAT can be IMPROVED? Are there OTHER THINGS TO DO/TALK about in between “book weeks?” SHOULD IT JUST stay strictly A BOOK CLUB? ALSO WHAT’S A good way to get NONTWITTER AND FACEBOOK monsters involved WITHOUT SPAMMING THE Videogum comments TOO MUCH. I HAVE AN idea for something, coming up, but we’ll HAVE TO SEE how that PANS out. Leave any AND ALL SUGGESTIONS below.
  • What week WORKS BEST FOR everyone in terms of K&C? I know cause CHRISTMASTIME IS coming up it can GET A LITTLE BIT crazy so let me KNOW.

I KNOW I’m not tossing out any hard hitting ANALYSIS, BUT I HOPE y’all still have plenty TO TALK ABOUT. I’VE BEEN SUPER impressed with all the WRITERS SO FAR and just wanna THANK YOU ALL again!

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39 Responses to Never Let Me Go OPEN THREAD

  1. shellbomber says:

    Can we get a show of hands… Did you like the book? It left me kinda meh.

    • T-bag says:

      I actually really liked it, but then I started reading Kavalier and Clay and realized that THIS is what a book should be. Holy fuck, I’m beyond excited.

      Also, great job AnAmPat and everyone so far. Now that we’ve done two books, this is officially the most successful book club I’ve ever been a part of!

    • jwormyk says:

      Its weird. I like dicussing this book, but I don’t know if I liked it. I will probably see the movie, but I wouldn’t say it is one of my favorite books. If anything this book left me conflicted and the feeling has only intensified the more distance I have.

      • jwormyk says:

        Also AnAmPat is doing an awesome job. I think if we have in jokes on the comments about bookgum maybe more non twitter facebook monsters will show up. Maybe start commenting that things are “fake and umbrella” to get people’s attention.

    • thepurplemonk says:

      I wasn’t too into it, until the scene where they go ask Miss Emily about the deferral. That was awesome, but it felt like a lot of build up. So, I was lukewarm about it. I unfortunately am living in Europe right now, so most discussion happens 7-10PM, and I end up reading it the next day. One day, I promise I’ll get into the thick of it!

      • tripl3fast says:

        I, too, only got into the book during part 3 with the lead-up to and meeting with Miss Emily.

        I had trouble liking any of the characters and I wasn’t into the writing style, especially the ‘cliffhangers’ to transition from one section to the next. To those who’ve read other books by Kazuo Ishiguro: is this fairly consistent across his other novels? or is the writing style a representation of Kathy as the narrator?

        That being said, I’m glad that I stuck with this book and had the chance to read some great insights during the week.

    • jarkrenshaw says:

      I have a healthy imagination so the way the book progressively filled out this alternate universe really got me. I also loved the rambling narrative style, a point of contention for some but I thought it was done well and made me interested in reading more Ishiguro. So I guess my hand shows that I loved it.

      • limesix says:

        I thought it was fantastic. I’ve never read him before, but the plotting and prose style were incredibly effective in drawing you into the world from Kathy’s (and by extension, clones in general) point of view, and slowly revealing the size and scope of what’s going on and what the story means so that it’s not till the end that you really comprehend it fully. It was a quick read but not an easy read exactly, but it has a meditative quality that had me thinking about it for days afterwards, which is the #1 quality for a work of fiction for me. Thumbs way up.

        Also, Chabon is probably my hands-down favorite writer (only Helprin comes close), but it’s been exactly the wrong amount of time since I’ve read K&C to talk about it – too long to remember things in enough detail to comment but too soon to read it again. So, see you after the holidays.

      • limesix says:

        Maybe it was clear (but maybe not?), but also really enjoying all aspects of bookgum. Thanks all for the hard work.

    • Mans says:

      When I read it (when it came out), I didn’t much care for it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t think it was “really super great” as the reviews lead me to believe. It was just okay, seemed sort of obvious and I hated the narrative voice.

      I’ve read more Ishiguro since then and I can say with certainty that I just don’t like what he does and how he does it. It does not work for me.

      I did not take the time re-read the novel, but I will say this: the essays this week have been really great and I think that they did much to expand what appreciation I do have for the book. I would not be opposed to seeing the movie now, or even re-reading it sometime with your writings by my side.

      What I am saying is good job. I like you all better than Ishiguro any day.

      • natatattat says:

        I’m going to agree with Mans with one caveat “The Saddest Music in the World” is pretty awesome. Otherwise, nothing he’s done has really stood out to me from other middling contemporary writers.

    • jmii says:

      I didn’t care for it. I thought the idea behind it was really great, but instead of exploring the whole sci-fi end of it, Ishiguro focused on the characters, which would have been fine, if the characters weren’t dry as dust and/or psychotic superbitches (I’m looking at you, Ruth). I don’t need likable characters, but I do need to understand their motivations – I just didn’t understand how none of them tried to buck the system (except Kathy and Tommy’s weak attempt at the end). Most people have a pretty strong drive to live by any means necessary, yet these characters sacrificed themselves too easily without any real motivation behind it. I’m sure Ishiguro had a greater message behind it, but it made for lukewarm reading, IMO. That being said, I did enjoy everyone’s write up of the book – it made me think about what I had read on a deeper level.

      I’m also involved in a book club at work, but I hope to be able to read Kavalier and Clay too. Just finished Let the Great World Spin, which I highly recommend.

      Keep up the good work, AmPat (and contributors)!

  2. Gina says:

    I just wanted to say that I really like how this is going so far! A few months ago I was thinking that I really would like to join a book club, and my only criteria was that we didn’t read any book that had pictures of champagne glasses or diamonds on the cover, and then boom! This shows up!

    I really like the last two books, and I’m really excited to continue on! I honestly didn’t think I’d stick with it, but so far so good!

    As for other ideas, I like how everything is set up with regards to the books we read, but I would maybe like some other posting in between, maybe about how we’re doing with the book, or about other books we’re reading? I don’t know, I’m not an idea machine. Anyway, keep up the good work, everyone!

  3. hotspur says:

    I just want to apologize to the hardworking monsters who wrote essays this week. I am about halfway through the book (the holidays did not cooperate with me as fully as I had hoped) and semi-enjoying it. I was really liking it at first but now it has been about 100 pages of pencil cases and poo-poo on shirts; I feel like taken individually these are all astute episodes, enjoyable to read and affecting, but I am not sure what they add up to just yet. And I kind of want them unfold for me on their own, so I avoided joining in here to avoid spoilers. I apologize, and I’m sorry for myself too as I was really looking forward to this discussion. But I want you to know that as soon as I finish the book next week I will read every word here at bookgum (and maybe throw in a belated two cents in the comment threads, for posterity).

    Also, thanks again to AnAmPat. This is not a book I would ever have read without your influence and I am glad to be reading it. Word for word it is very well done and psychologically it is sharp.

    Meanwhile, I bought a copy of the Chabon about 5-6 years ago, and all that time have been using it only as a pedestal for dust. So, tallyho — I am ready. I have been anticipating it for SIX YEARS.

  4. brrrrrian says:

    I didn’t read this book (Blood Meridian hangover? Maybe.), but The Patriot and the rest of you guys are doing a great job.

  5. jarkrenshaw says:

    I love bookgum so much! The past two books are books I never would have read on my own and they basically made all my dreams come true more or less. Also when friends question why I’m reading (I apparently exude illiteracy?) I enjoy explaining that this pop culture video blog I read has a comments community that started an online book club because WHAT?

    • Michelle says:

      We are totes in the same boat. I gloat about knowing of this awesome community and being able to have a book club wit them.

  6. Concert Addict says:

    Not Sure how gifs work on this site but I’m going to try:

  7. shellbomber says:

    Did anyone see the movie? I’m keeping my eye on OnDemand for it, but I think it just got out of the arty theaters.

  8. Mans says:

    ANAMPAT:

    I love Bookgum. I think the writing so far has been really good and I have learned a lot. One book we’ve done I hadn’t read and didn’t want to read and the other I had already read and didn’t like. In both cases, the essays were so good, my mind was changed somewhat.

    If I were to change anything, I would change how the books are selected. This is partially because I’ve already read all of these books except for the McCarthy ones. Books I love, like “Lolita,” I will happily re-read as many times as you all want, but some of them I don’t really want to re-read. This is of course my little problem and I should shut up.

    But WAIT! I do have a point: I would like less majority rule and more people picking out books individually. What I mean is that I think we may get so more unusual and exciting things this way. I am not afraid to have someone say “Hey, we are reading this because it looks good.” I like being surprised. The thing is, the voting gets us books that maybe we are all familiar with, but have never gotten to, but means we will never get confronted with a book that is totally new to most of us. Right? Am I making sense? I mean, “Lolita” I think is the only book selected published prior to 1985. They are all English language novels. All by white men. Etc. I am not trying to police the world (again, these are books I either LOVE or at least LIKED or ENJOYED or DIDN’T HATE which is to say good books) but I wouldn’t mid stepping outside of my own contemporary American experience–and I think getting away from voting will do that.

    ANAMPAT, you are doing a really great job leading this–it takes a lot of work to coordinate, I know, and it is appreciated. This is one of my favorite internet/reading experiences and I think it is going well.

    As for getting the word out: I don’t know–I guess we could tell friends that read. Or we could do real publicity and email lit blogs–they love to link to group reads.

    Again, good job to the writers this week.

    • Godsauce says:

      You are asking An American Patriot to abandon democracy. You have gigantic balls, mans.

    • hotspur says:

      Never having seen a photo of him I am going to go out on a limb and guess “Kazuo Ishiguro” is not a white male. (Although we read him by fascist decree, didn’t we?)

      Also, despite their DNA coding, there are huge cultural differences among UK Ishiguro, Tennessee-born McCarthy, Russia-born Nabakov who didn’t write novels in English until he was in his 40s, and even the uber-contemporary Chabon (stylist), Eggers (pathos) and Wallace (crazy ambitious and philosophical).

      But I see your point, Mans! My guess would be a way to obliquely address this is in the next round of voting, instead of giving us 60 choices, give us 30-35. Maybe whoever wrote an essay this round nominates one book and AnAmPat nominates 5, and maybe carries over the top 3 second-place vote-getters from this round. (This might be self-serving since I wrote an essay, but I also think the nominations should be submitted by email to AnAmPat so they are posted anonymously and no one votes a la “I hate hotspur so I vote against his choice,” etc. Also, getting to nominate something “incentivizes” essay-writing for anyone who is shy.)

      This system would provide tighter control over the options, allow people who really want to diversify the list a chance to do so, but still let democracy reign.

      Another system might be: You get 6 upvotes when voting for the next round of books… and 1 or 2 downvotes. My guess is people will spend downvotes on time commitments like Gravity’s Rainbow or books that look likely to win (trendy “white males” like Shteyngart or Safran Foer) and so we might find some unlikely mid-listers surging up the ranks. The downside is that downvotes might knock off controversial books like Blood Meridian and that would be bad.

      • Mans says:

        Hotspurt, you are correct about everything. Also, I totally acknowledge that you couldn’t pick more different authors than McCarthy and Nabokov. I in no way meant to denigrate the good choices we have before us. Again, this is more than a little motivated by me wanting us to read books I haven’t already read, my wanting to be surprised by a selection. I think a proper response is, “Shut it up, Mans. Shut it up.”

        But, I think your solution is a good one–either fewer options nominated by people for everyone to vote for, or everyone nominates things and ANAMPAT or someone selects one. I was happy he just picked Ishiguro, even though I am not that into the book.

        The thing is, the list of books we had to vote from was pretty solid top to bottom–I think it would be good to bring some of those from the bottom of the voting to the top. Just pure Democracy might mean that great books that we would all love, and that we might not all already have so knowledge of, will linger at the bottom.

        Let me say, finally: I don’t think that any of the books that we have up this round are bad or terrible or not worthy. Some I don’t like, but they are certainly books of some merit, and the Nabokov and Wallace are two of my favorites, and though I am conflicted on Blood Meridian, I am happy I read it. They are all great books–I just want to get to some more obscure ones.

      • hotspur says:

        Mans, do not shut it up. I am happy he picked Ishiguro too (though not sure I love the book; halfway through, I am starting to fear that it is just Michael Bay’s The Island as interpreted by Masterpiece Theatre). And I agree with you that it would be cool to see something come out of nowhere. Suffering my own very real hope for such an event, I recently bought a mysterious self-published novel that was alleged by an interweb page to be amazing. It is by a guy named Sergio de la Pava, so, bonus to all you crazy racists out there, I guess he’s not white (maybe he’s Spanish? Is Spanish “white”? If yes, why isn’t Mexican? If no, why is Italian? Honestly, I do not understand racial taxonomy), but I think it was written in English (not translated). Anyway, I hope to read it when bookgum is covering a book I already read; if it is awesome, I might nominate it.

  9. Mr. Xenophon says:

    I just discovered Bookgum so I didn’t get to read Never Let Me Go, but I’m really excited for K&C.

  10. Godsauce says:

    I enjoyed the book a lot, and I’d love to do this again.

  11. Michelle says:

    So… I’m watching the movie right now (a bad rip of it), and I am curious to know if you guys knew all along that Kathy liked Tommy, or she kind of just realized it towards the Cottages? I mean when she talked about Ruth and Tommy dating in Hailsham, it didn’t sound like she was jealous, but just concerned for Tommy because Ruth was sort of mean and fake. She just assumed her feelings were friendship, but not necessarily love interest. That’s what I thought anyways, but the whole scene where they look for the tape was maybe when she realized. ?

    • Jay Oaks says:

      Yeah, I thought she liked Tommy from the get-go, though having seen the trailer may have impacted that. But I felt her tone, while not overly jealous was longing, as if Ruth had something she wanted.
      This is also informed by me considering myself VERY MUCH like Kathy (but a guy version), to the point I was weeping when I got to the end. I just started college and moved far away from a girl I’m in love with but am just friends with (cliches!) and it’s been tough, and then SHE recommended this book to me and told me I remind her of Kathy and that like made me lose it along with the passage about stuff washing ashore at the end. Sorry to get so personal, but I think that helped me figure out where Kathy was coming from the whole time. Suffice it to say I loved the book but perhaps that’s because it connected so heavily to how nostalgic I am, especially now being away from my friends from high school.

      • Godsauce says:

        That is a hell of a place to be. I wish I had good advice, but I just wish you the best of luck.

  12. natatattat says:

    The only suggestion I have is that I would like if we could maybe do some non-fiction as well. I mean I know it’s not traditional book club stuff but it would be cool to hear what monsters have to say in response to a collection of political essays or some new scientific theory or even a biography, etc. I think it could prompt some good discussion…

  13. ali888 says:

    I loved this book, and I also loved Remains of the Day (Ishiguro’s most famous book). Ishiguro does muted atmosphere and self-deludenoids like no other.

    I was late to this party (missed Blood Meridian…d’oh), and I would like to see more diversity in the next round of picks. Great job with the write-ups, everyone!

  14. Grinth says:

    I blew through the book in less then a week. I don’t know if I loved it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like a couple of other people touched on, I think that is heavily tied to my penchant for nostalgia and melancholy. Two things Never Let Me Go has in spades.

    I do feel like it would be nice to have a little something going on between the weeks we discuss the books. Maybe it was because I finished Never Let Me Go so quickly but it felt like an eternity between discussion weeks. Of course come last week, I promptly didn’t make a single comment, but I loved reading everyone’s thoughts.

  15. natatattat says:

    Hey can we add “Sterling’s Gold” to the list?

  16. T-bag says:

    I think there definitely should be some sort of discussion throughout the month as we make progress through the novel. Mostly because I’m about 2/3rds of the way through Kavalier & Clay, and I am FREAKING OUT that I have no one to talk to about it. The last sentence I’ve read just about knocked me flat on my ass, and I don’t like the idea that I have to wait like 100 years to discuss it.

  17. Well, I’m a little late to the bookgum game, but I finished the book tonight (which is why I’m reading and commenting at 1 AM on a Sunday…). I enjoyed all of the essays and thoughts–I miss being in college! Which is so creepy but also true. I miss talking about books like they are the only important thing, and writing pages upon pages of UTTER CRAP but it was OK as long as it was supported by text. Sigh. The good ol’ days.

    Anyway! I liked what the book made me think more than I liked the book, if that makes sense. I enjoy reading books that are full of beautiful passages and images–quotable books. This was more about the plot than it was about the writing itself, which isn’t always my cup of tea (British!). I did enjoy how many times Kathy said “lorries,” so there’s that. I started the next book a few months ago but put it down for some reason, so I’m hoping I can follow through with it and actually contribute next time.

  18. hotspur says:

    Hey you guys, when are we discussing Chabon?

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