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A Thousand Acres books – Wildlives.co

Aging Larry Cook Announces His Intention To Turn Over His , Acre Farm One Of The Largest In Zebulon County, Iowa To His Three Daughters, Caroline, Ginny, And Rose A Man Of Harsh Sensibilities, He Carves Caroline Out Of The Deal Because She Has The Nerve To Be Less Than Enthusiastic About Her Father S Generosity While Larry Cook Deteriorates Into A Pathetic Drunk, His Daughters Are Left To Cope With The Often Grim Realities Of Life On A Family Farm From Battering Husbands To Cutthroat Lenders In This Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction, Smiley Captures The Essence Of Such A Life With Stark, Painful Detail


10 thoughts on “A Thousand Acres

  1. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  2. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  3. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  4. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  5. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  6. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  7. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  8. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  9. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian


  10. says:

    Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he s having right now That s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction We have to stand up to that, and say, at least to ourselves, that what he s done before is still with us, still right here in this room until there s true remorse Nothing will be right until there s that He looks so, sort of, weakened Weakened is not enough Destroyed isn t enough He s got to repent and feel humiliation and regret I won t be satisfied until he knows what he is Do we know what we are We know we aren t him We know that to that degree we don t yet deserve the lowest circle of hell Jane Smiley s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres takes most of its inspiration from King Lear, but works that soil with bountiful quantities of modern nutrients In the original, the elderly Lear, wanting to retire from his royal duties, seeks to distribute his kingdom among his children, with the largest share going to the daughter who loves him most makes you want to smack the guy However, there is no fool like an old fool and Lear, offended by the simple, if unadorned, honesty of his youngest, Cordelia, and manipulated by the flattery of his elder two, Goneril and Regan, disinherits Cordelia The play portrays the elder sisters in a very dark light But how might that tale look through their eyes Are they really that awful Maybe Lear had it coming Maybe Willy the Shake is a bit too locked in to a misogynistic, patriarchal world view to give the ladies a fair um shake Enter Jane Smiley, stage left, to introduce King Lear in the Great Plains.Jane Smiley image from The SpectatorShe parks the kingdom in Iowa Unlike Kinsella s vision of the place, this version ain t heaven Larry Cook is both old and a fool In a fit of one upsmanship in the face of his highly manipulative and competitive bff, Harold, Larry decides to step back from his work and hand the farm over to his children This seems ok, I guess, to the oldest, Ginny Goneril and her younger sister Rose Regan , but the youngest, Caroline Cordelia , a lawyer, expresses her reservations about how it is being done This is enough to set off the old guy and he writes her out of the deal, even at one point literally slamming the door in her face Don t let it hit you on the nose on your way out Caroline is not exactly interested in farming, so the insult is about personal rejection than lost acreage Smiley does not offer an exact correspondence of her characters to Shakespeare s There will be no Cordelia dying in her father s arms here, and this Lear appears to gain no wisdom or compassion from his experiences Ginny is our narrator through the story She loves her Daddy, and tries to make allowances for his constant verbal abuse and irascibility In fact she is incapable of standing up to him Rose despises Larry, and for good cause, as it turns out, but the two sisters had protected Caroline from Larry s worst inclinations, so her affection for her father is untainted by Ginny and Rose s darker experience of him There is major departure here from the source material Rose and Ginny hardly suck up to pops to gain advantage like their Elizabethan counterparts had Their husbands do a good job of that though Ginny genuinely, if misguidedly, loves her father And even if Rose had been plotting against Larry, well, he really deserved it But in fact, the sisters are bewildered recipients of Larry s surprise largesse than anything else I set about correcting my friend William Shakespeare something no sane adult would attempt I gave the royal family a background and a milieu I gave the daughters a rationale for their apparently cruel behavior Austin Allen quoting Smiley in an article in BigThink If Lear were guilty of Larry s sins, it would certainly alter our view of his daughters behavior And that is one of the points The Elizabethan sisters are presumed to be incompetent to run anything, because they are female Smiley points out some of the potential horrors of running a profitable farm, and it is clear that farmers of either gender would be challenged to make a go of it However, Ginny has always been prevented from doing much with the farm, kept in domestic service her entire life Rose is a tough cookie, who has endured an abusive husband, but is very much a competent, no nonsense sort, to a fault She proudly proclaims that when she wants something, she takes it Both Rose and Ginny have been poisoned by their environment, both natural and familial The poisons used on the farm, it is implied, are the reason why Ginny was never able to bring a pregnancy to term, and why Rose has breast cancer she has had a mastectomy How awful is it when one s identity involves land and the very land that reflects the self has been poisoned There is something to being rooted to a place There is comfort in the solidity, reliability, history, pride and maybe even beauty of a place Generations past may have established a home, a residence, property in a particular location and invested years and lives both molding the land and taking sustenance from it Their efforts planted the seeds which became the roots from which we spring But what if the land, the roots themselves are no good What if the means used to sustain the human place relationship has fouled both What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead Poisoned land poisoned lives.Does the land define a person The book opens with a quote The body repeats the landscape They are the source of each other and create each other The landscape is mostly flat, with a central mound from which all can be seen, the division of local land among rival families, yet for all the visibility it is what lies unseen that devours the characters The difference between appearance and reality, between what is visible and what lies hidden permeates the novel Ginny talks with her husband about dealing with Larry You re right I don t understand him But a lot of the taking issue that you see is just us trying to figure out how to understand him better I feel like there s treacherous undercurrents all the time I think I m standing on solid ground, but then I discover there s something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place There s always some mystery He doesn t say what he means Larry presents to the world as a successful farmer and family man, when in fact, he has been destroying his own land and abusing and, effectively, killing his family at the same time That he has taken unfair, predatory advantage of his neighbors only adds spice Ginny recalls a sane childhood with her father, but the reality lies in another field There is enough mendacity in the air to warrant an EPA alert, and I could not help thinking of another fictional patriarch every time the daughters call their father Daddy.This is a place in which family is held as the pinnacle of human value, but when the Ericson family moved away, when Ginny was a kid, she desperately wanted to leave with them It is only when Ginny is able to separate herself from the land that she can be her own person Motherhood and apple pie do not go together much in this view of the heartland Rose and Ginny s mother dies young Rose is afflicted with a dread disease at a very young age and her ability to complete the raising of her children is not certain Ginny, who takes on some parental responsibility for her nieces, is not as close to them as a real mother might be In fact, the greatest maternal love Ginny experienced was from Mrs Ericson And poison in the well water, it is suggested, prevents her from completing a pregnancy Not many cards being sent on Mother s Day in this place Like Lear, Larry goes a little funny in the head, and doubling down on foolishness, insists on wandering about on his own during a large thunderstorm Dick Cheney, anyone, doubling down on torture after the report on its ineffectiveness came out He will not listen to reason Further misery stems from this unfortunate outing In fact there is an awful lot of misery in this tale, of the short term, long term and terminal sorts Unlike Lear, who at least picked up a bit of compassion and humility from his excesses, Larry learns nothing from his errors I did get the impression that in presenting what is certainly a feminist look at Lear, the guys come off pretty badly, tarred with a dark brush the way Willie the Shake treated the elder sisters in the original Harold is totally poisonous, as is Larry Ginny s husband seems pretty reasonable a lot of the time, but we are given a much darker view of him later in the tale In one scene, eager to gain both land and Larry s blessings, Ty talks to Ginny about dealing with Larry you women could handle it better You could handle him better You don t always have to take issue You ought to let a lot of things slide which sounds to me a lot like just lie back and enjoy it Ginny thinks of Ty as dumb and passive, whatever his better qualities might be Rose s husband is a drunk and an abuser Even the returning prodigal, the handsome and charming Jess, the one who wants to farm organically and restore some purity to the land, engages in a bit of shtup and tell, and ultimately proves less than reliable So what are we to make of all this Lear offers a structure but the story seems to be about both feminism and America The women here, even the tougher and perceptive ones, have to put up with an unspeakable amount of crap, and are castigated for griping about it The parallel is to the treatment of the land, which endures a similar abuse, as farming becomes of a heavily mechanized food production system than something that allows one to feel a connection to the earth What about readability, characters, does it make sense, can you engage, will you care A Thousand Acres is a very readable book This darkly dramatic story flows along at a rapid clip and it will definitely hold your interest Ginny is our guide through this particular part of Iowa, and will engage your sympathy, although you will want to roll your eyes at some of her behavior It is understandable how she came to be the way she is, for the most part, and we want her to come out of it all ok There is a revelation about Ginny s history that makes one wonder how she could have blocked a particular memory I suppose it is possible, but it was a stretch to accept Battles are engaged, dirt is done, plots are hatched, backs are stabbed, poison is prepared, truths are told, cars are crashed, lightning bolts flash There is plenty of drama to be experienced here, as plowshares are beaten into swords If there are giants in this maybe no longer good earth, they are pissed and taking revenge Watch out A Thousand Acres is powerful stuff No fertilizer needed EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s web site, FB page and Huff Po blogAn Interview with Mary Camille Beckman, of Fiction Writers Review, in which Smiley talks about writingAn interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive on politics in her writingRoger Ebert has some unkind things to say about the film that was made of A Thousand AcresA 2003 profile of Smiley from The Guardian