Fierce Invalids Question #28 - Part 4

by Tom Robbins

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Fierce Invalids Question #28 - Part 4

Unread postby Liz » Sun Jan 30, 2005 4:45 am

What did you think of Part 4 of FIHFHC?
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby suec » Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:01 pm

Shall I kick off then?
I can't say I have a strong opinion on this one so I went off to re-read it. However, overall, I think it was a bit of an anti-climax. Very funny in places, but I wasn't mad about the Vatican scene. Then again, he had to be got on his feet somehow. Some of it strikes me as ducking things, such the convenient death of TIT and Switters flying of. And questions that have been occurring to me all along, are still puzzling me. But then again, life isn't like that, with everything satisfactorily explained, to come back to the previous question.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:34 pm

suec wrote:Shall I kick off then?
I can't say I have a strong opinion on this one so I went off to re-read it. However, overall, I think it was a bit of an anti-climax. Very funny in places, but I wasn't mad about the Vatican scene. Then again, he had to be got on his feet somehow. Some of it strikes me as ducking things, such the convenient death of TIT and Switters flying of. And questions that have been occurring to me all along, are still puzzling me. But then again, life isn't like that, with everything satisfactorily explained, to come back to the previous question.


Thank you, Suec, for kicking it off. :thumbsup: I should have re-read it, but don't have that kind of time, being that I read so slow. I could be out on a limb here, but I'll stick my neck out and tell you my issues.

1) It appeared that the first 10 or so pages were written by "a pen dipped in acid". I was totally lost in the beginning. It was almost like it was written by a different writer. But if no one agrees with me, then maybe I need to read it again. :blush:

2) I still don't get why EoT's death meant that the curse was lifted. :-?

3) I didn't like the ending. I know it was so Switters, and thus realistic. I just wanted him to end up marrying Domino. :tear:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Larkwoodgirl » Sun Jan 30, 2005 8:49 pm

Probably no one will agree with me but here goes:

I realize this story is just total fabrication. However even total fabrication has to have a "ring" of truth to it.

This is a quote from a book written by Jerome Stern:
"If the work remains true to itself, readers will follow. But if you ask your readers to suspend their disbelief without regard to the premise of the story, they will stop suspending and start disbelieving."

I am as willing to suspend my disbelief as the next person. To me, this section of FIHFHC concocts some unbelievable and unsatisfying resolutions that serve only to move the story away from its core.

At the end of the section, I was definitely disbelieving. I felt a wee bit cheated.
""We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot

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Unread postby lumineuse » Sun Jan 30, 2005 8:57 pm

You summed it up very nicely Larkwoodgirl. I didn't exactly feel cheated, because the book was such a fun ride, but there was something very unsatisfactory about the ending. I thought it left a lot of loose ends for one thing.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:05 pm

Larkwood Girl and Lumineuse, I agree with you that it was unsatisfactory. It didn't live up to the first part of the book. But I don't feel cheated because the first 3 parts were such a fun ride. So I decided to go with it.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Larkwoodgirl » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:11 pm

Liz wrote:Larkwood Girl and Lumineuse, I agree with you that it was unsatisfactory. It didn't live up to the first part of the book. But I don't feel cheated because the first 3 parts were such a fun ride. So I decided to go with it.


Perhaps cheated was a bad choice of words. I was just very disapointed with the resolutions of some of the issues.
""We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot

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Unread postby Liz » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:13 pm

Larkwoodgirl wrote:
Liz wrote:Larkwood Girl and Lumineuse, I agree with you that it was unsatisfactory. It didn't live up to the first part of the book. But I don't feel cheated because the first 3 parts were such a fun ride. So I decided to go with it.


Perhaps cheated was a bad choice of words. I was just very disapointed with the resolutions of some of the issues.


Yeah. Me too.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby suec » Mon Jan 31, 2005 3:35 am

Liz wrote:
suec wrote:Shall I kick off then?
I can't say I have a strong opinion on this one so I went off to re-read it. However, overall, I think it was a bit of an anti-climax. Very funny in places, but I wasn't mad about the Vatican scene. Then again, he had to be got on his feet somehow. Some of it strikes me as ducking things, such the convenient death of TIT and Switters flying of. And questions that have been occurring to me all along, are still puzzling me. But then again, life isn't like that, with everything satisfactorily explained, to come back to the previous question.


Thank you, Suec, for kicking it off. :thumbsup: I should have re-read it, but don't have that kind of time, being that I read so slow. I could be out on a limb here, but I'll stick my neck out and tell you my issues.

1) It appeared that the first 10 or so pages were written by "a pen dipped in acid". I was totally lost in the beginning. It was almost like it was written by a different writer. But if no one agrees with me, then maybe I need to read it again. :blush:

2) I still don't get why EoT's death meant that the curse was lifted. :-?

3) I didn't like the ending. I know it was so Switters, and thus realistic. I just wanted him to end up marrying Domino. :tear:


1) I agree that the beginning was very different. The "Once upon a time" thing and the extended intrusive narrative commentary. The stuff about the "ear rings" when referring to the "nuns". He was reminding us that it is only a story, but I don't really know why he felt the need. It did distract me quite a bit. It was a bit like his character Switters doing a bit of verbal break dancing. But it did jar with me.
2) I didn't mind that one so much. I just thought that the curse had to be lifted somehow and EoT's death was very convenient. A little too convenient, but what the heck. I guess it ties in with TR reminding us it's fiction and therefore a device like that can work, maybe? I do think if the curse had been explained then it wouldn't have been true to the book. Although it is frustrating, too.
3) I was trying to think what it reminded me of, Switters flying off and the sentence in my head that kept recurring was; "and then he hopped right out of the story". Then I remembered the kangaro in Chocolat. The child no longer has any need or use for him, so off he hops. TR no longer has any use for him. For this book, it was as if TR was thinking, enough already. I'm off out of here. But I quite liked the mention of the legend, echoing what is said earlier. Maybe too that is why we got the "Once upon a time" stuff?
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby axelsgirl » Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:19 am

I was also dissapointed in Part 4, Things just ended too abruptly for me. Nothing was really resolved except Switters got the use of his feet back. I was sad that he didn't marry Domino, she was willing to give him her most precious gift, her miracle, after he was so brave and supportive of her dealings with the Vatican. He also doesn't go and see Maestra or Suzy after they practically begged him. Maybe all these female longings were "too vivid" for him .
As I've said before I had a hard time getting through this book, not enough action and too much verbal break dancing for me. This discussion has been really helpful in understanding this book and making it more pleasurable. ;-)
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Unread postby nebraska » Mon Jan 31, 2005 9:08 am

Part 4 didn't bother me a lot. What bothered me was the huge jolt from Switters trip to the jungle to the sudden change of sceney , Seattle and then on to the dessert. I was going along for that first part of the book -- Maestra giving him his instructions, his trip into the jungle, all the descriptive passages and detail in that part of the story and then bam! Suddenly the entire story veered off on an entirely new course. Or so it seemed to me. I know that things were eventually all connected and supposedly tied up, but it was a jolt to me when the whole book wasn't about what happened in South America. It seemed to me there was enough going on to fill the book right there in that location.

So by Part 4 my expectations were much different. I wasn't thrilled with going to Rome and the things that happened there, but it didn't seem out of touch with the way the rest of the story had gone. But then, maybe I missed something. I loved the book, particularly Robbins style of writing. But the deeper meanings that have been discussed here really passed right over my head at the time. Maybe if I read the book a second time, I would feel different about many things with the new thoughts I have about it now.

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Unread postby suec » Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:43 pm

Thinking about it some more, one thing that has been nagging at me is Switters's character development. Or more accurately, the lack of it. Perhaps I have missed it. But if you are going to set up a character with such a life-changing event and all that talk about paying for the knowledge he gains, well... how does it influence him? I thought it was, at one point, when he was unable to send those messages to Suzy any more and settling with Domino. But then that is unpicked at the end. It is as though TR can't change his perception of him as a "legend" and setling down is just a tad too mundane. OK, he appreciates the "floorness" of the floor afterwards, but that just isn't enough. Not for the massive changes he has experienced. (Think I've contradicted my last post, somehow, but never mind.)
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."


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