eBook ☆ ePub A Thousand Acres ç 9781400033836 ´ moneyexpresscard

ePub ☆ A Thousand Acres ñ Jane Smiley

ePub ☆ A Thousand Acres ñ Jane Smiley Aging Larry Cook announces his intention to turn over his 1000 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 Caro “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 uantities 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 fairumshake Enter Jane Smiley stage left to introduce King Lear in the Great PlainsJane 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 uoting 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 humanplace relationship has fouled both? What if the place that is expected to sustain life drains it instead? Poisoned land poisoned livesDoes the land define a person? The book opens with a uote 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 DaddyThis 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 ualities 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

doc A Thousand Acres

eBook ☆ ePub A Thousand Acres ç 9781400033836 ´ moneyexpresscard ´ Aging Larry Cook announces his intention to turn over his 1000 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 b Rim realities of life on a family farm from battering husbands to cutthroat lenders In this winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Smiley captures the essence of such a life with stark painful detai In the beginning I felt there were a lot of characters to keep track of but while some names are mentioned later on that I did not recall that was not actually a problem for me I only realized while reading other reviews that this was a spin off of King Lear and that helps explain why some of the characters while otherwise humble cheated on their spouses and even tried to kill the people closest to them I thought that the idea of “the death of the American farm” was the most powerful part of this book but the use of the game of Monopoly to describe this fell shortIt seemed at times that Smiley was trying to convince the reader that organic farming is the best way There were long descriptions of what people ate and these were supposed to be character traits including a vegetarian from Seattle who doesn’t drink beer but likes CokeI enjoyed this book thoroughly through the first third but after that it became over dramatized and lost me All of the characters got dramatically angry or stepped out of their character at some point and there wasn’t one I could cling to

Jane Smiley ñ A Thousand Acres text

A Thousand AcresLine 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 g King Lear 1970's Iowa farm dynasty riveting storytellingHaving never read Jane Smiley before I'm glad I started with this dazzling 1992 Pulitzer Prize winner Set in 1970's Iowa farm country we follow the Cook family Larry the cruel no nonsense patriarch and his daughters Ginny the narrator Rose and Caroline At the onset of the story Larry decides to retire and pass down the farm to his daughters and their husbands Caroline the youngest the only daughter who managed to get off the farm and works as a lawyer is skeptical about this plan Larry who doesn't tolerate opposition is incensed A rift in the family is born cracking it open and spilling out all kinds of secrets eventually bringing forth the painful truth at the coreI was amazed while reading this; first because I was drawn in almost immediately I was so uickly invested in the lives of her characters I was also amazed at how Smiley incorporated the ambitious Shakespearean inspired plot taking the story to dark and deep placesDespite all this depth and darkness there is an accessibility that carried me through with ease Marriages with tensions lost pregnancies and an unwelcome sexy interloper ramping up the drama Betrayal and death and storms and unforgivable actsThanks to its setting there is a lot of detail about the minutia of American farm life which sounds like a heck of a lot of hard work However this tale is about so much than tending corn fields and hog raising It's about family secrets identity and perspective shaping each person's truth It tells about the unfair rules pertaining to the sexes and the oppression and abuse of women It's also about destiny Ginny in particular lives in a passivity even when she commits her most brutal action which forces her to wait as she has her whole life The book also deals with legacy an inheritance which encompasses than just money and objects This inheritance encompasses lessons and truth passed down from those who have come before This truth brings with it the death of innocence the American dream shattered The coveted multi generational farm symbolises the fallacy of dreams at its great tragic heart