TDB&TB Question #11 - Bauby's Writing

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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TDB&TB Question #11 - Bauby's Writing

Unread postby Liz » Thu May 15, 2008 10:23 am

From Salon.com:

“Schnabel draws on Bauby’s fantasies to blast moviegoers with a kaleidoscope of dreamy images—some subtle, some banging loud—and an array of captivating music and sounds. The wonderful script takes the point of view of Bauby himself. The fourth wall between the audience and film has fallen away and the audience experiences the world through his eyes.”

Did you see this vivid world in his head while reading the book? Any other comments about his writing?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu May 15, 2008 11:32 am

Your question reminds me that I'd better hurry up and see the movie! (I've had this DARN distraction of having JD in the area lately! :banghead: ) As much as my uncreative mind could picture it, I did see this vivid world, and it was a real lesson in the value of cultivating the ability to have a rich imagination. I loved his writing style: clear, concise, creative, organized. I liked his subtle humor and subtle playing with emotions. There was a simplicity and spareness that made what he said even more effective. I marked several passages that just really got me.....amazing under any circumstances. :cool:
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Unread postby Liz » Thu May 15, 2008 1:26 pm

Betty Sue wrote:Your question reminds me that I'd better hurry up and see the movie! (I've had this DARN distraction of having JD in the area lately! :banghead: )

Life is tough, Betty Sue. :lol:

I realize now, that in asking this question I am tempting everyone to talk about the movie. I almost went there myself. If possible, avoid comparing his vivid writing with the movie. Hold those thoughts until we begin discussing the film.

In many cases, I felt his writing was vivid (his description of his condition from his point of view and his description of the day of his stroke). But not everything came alive for me. His recounting of past experiences didn't come alive for me as his current state did.

I did like like his writing, though. It was witty, concise (as Betty Sue pointed out), edgy, interesting, honest, insightful and uplifting. In a word....amazing, considering his condition.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 15, 2008 1:58 pm

BettySue, you poor thing! :lol: :bounce:

I think his writing reflected his personality but we don't really know how much, if any, his thoughts changed after his stroke. His sense of humor and irony is what really stood out for me. He suprised me many times with an ending line or a thought that made me laugh out loud. To be able to do that in those circumstances was very inspiring to me. His concise but vivid descriptions of places, people and things really allowed me to see those things. To think he wrote it all out in his head, memorized it and then dictated it!
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Unread postby gemini » Thu May 15, 2008 2:00 pm

When reading in one of the threads about the interview with the screenwriter, I first started to understand the trouble he had with the script until he decided to do it as a birds eye view from Jean Do's point of view. This way of writing seems to fit right in with Schnables artsy view of scenes, and sounds.

I did see Jean Do's world while reading the book, which I think was why he wrote it. He knew from his own shocked initiation that it was something the rest of us would not really comprehend. He had a very good writing sense where he told small stories that all ended with an enlightening view of some things we surely did not consider.

edit to add: Here is another funny after thought, when I first started my posts about these tidbits I referred to him as Bauby and now he has become my friend and I only think of him as Jean Do.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu May 15, 2008 2:16 pm

gemini wrote:
edit to add: Here is another funny after thought, when I first started my posts about these tidbits I referred to him as Bauby and now he has become my friend and I only think of him as Jean Do.

:-O I noticed that too about myself this morning as I decided on a title for this thread. The reason I chose Bauby was to give him the status /respect of being a writer.
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Unread postby magpie » Thu May 15, 2008 2:17 pm

Yes, I did see Jean-Do's world. That's how I read anyway--visualizing in my mind what I'm reading. I could see his kids on the beach, and imagine how he felt when letters were read to him. Then, to re-live the day of his stroke--I anticipated that from the start of the book, and it was just as disturbing as I expected. Wow.
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Unread postby nebraska » Thu May 15, 2008 3:03 pm

Well, it is one of those questions I have trouble answering now after book, tidbits, and movie. And I am sure there will be a question about the movie versus the book down the road........so.......I need to be careful, don't I?

When I read the book, I felt more like Jean-Do was sharing his thoughts and his feelings about the things he remembered and the things that happened to him in his hospital room. Rather than seeing scenery, I felt emotions and felt an intimacy with his thoughts. I am sure there were times when I envisioned an orderly walking in front of the crucial soccer play, for instance; but mostly it was an internal experience than a visual one for me. And maybe that is why we have started talking about Jean-Do, the name his friends called him, rather than Mr. Bauby. I think his style invites us to feel close to him.

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Unread postby fansmom » Thu May 15, 2008 5:55 pm

I thought his writing was very vivid, but the first time I read the book, having not had the benefit of the ONBC tidbits, I kept wondering about his past life. ("Now who is the mother of his children? Was he married to her? Who was the woman he was involved with at the time of his stroke?" etc.) That kept me a little distanced from him. After seeing the movie, reading the tidbits, and reading the book again, I felt as though I knew him much better.

I can't fault him for not writing in a more linear fashion ("I have two children and their names are . . . ") because of the extraordinary way in which he dictated the book.

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Unread postby Liz » Fri May 16, 2008 10:13 am

nebraska wrote:Well, it is one of those questions I have trouble answering now after book, tidbits, and movie. And I am sure there will be a question about the movie versus the book down the road........so.......I need to be careful, don't I?

When I read the book, I felt more like Jean-Do was sharing his thoughts and his feelings about the things he remembered and the things that happened to him in his hospital room. Rather than seeing scenery, I felt emotions and felt an intimacy with his thoughts. I am sure there were times when I envisioned an orderly walking in front of the crucial soccer play, for instance; but mostly it was an internal experience than a visual one for me. And maybe that is why we have started talking about Jean-Do, the name his friends called him, rather than Mr. Bauby. I think his style invites us to feel close to him.

Nebraska you put this very well, and that is more how I felt. His feelings were vivid to me.

fansmom wrote:I can't fault him for not writing in a more linear fashion ("I have two children and their names are . . . ") because of the extraordinary way in which he dictated the book.

Fansmom, I agree. I read the book before I did the research and then wanted to fill in some of the blanks. But maybe he didn’t want to share those things with us.
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Unread postby suec » Sat May 17, 2008 5:39 am

I agree with the point in the quote about the kaleidoscope of images. But I also agree 100% with nebraska. Rather than scenery, it was thoughts and emotions that I noticed. But I tend not to visualise scenery anyway; it is why the tidbit tours are so valuable to me.
I can't say I felt all that curious about the bigger picture regarding Jean-Do and his life, either. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the way he made it clear what was what in terms of what he was willing to share with us. The children and (their mother) Possibly it was because we are inside his head so much of the time that I felt no need to know. His personality came across in his narrative voice and little details he let slip: for example, wit being one of the things he misses; and the bit about him also tending to be the sort of person to do anyhting to get his own way. I've just realised I've agreed with nebraska again, I think!

Apart from the imagery, the oh-so-telling choice of words, and the humour, the other aspect that really stood out for me was the cohesion of his writing. OK, so we had these vignettes but each one was so carefully crafted in that way: the careful introductions and conclusions to each one, for example. But also the way he repeats certain types of image throughout.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat May 17, 2008 10:47 am

Good point, suec about each chapter. They were almost like mini-short stories.
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Unread postby Liz » Sat May 17, 2008 1:01 pm

suec wrote: Apart from the imagery, the oh-so-telling choice of words, and the humour, the other aspect that really stood out for me was the cohesion of his writing. OK, so we had these vignettes but each one was so carefully crafted in that way: the careful introductions and conclusions to each one, for example. But also the way he repeats certain types of image throughout.

Wasn’t that amazing? How does one do that without a diagram or without making notes and an outline. He was obviously compensating for the rest of his body with his mind.
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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