On The Sofa (7)

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    Craig @craig

    As happens occasionally our sofa gets a bit too full and we have to move to a new sofa. This is a place to congregate, somewhere to “hang out”. It’s a topic for general chat about anything you want, and a place for new members to pop in and say “hello” without worrying about making any real contribution (we know that your first post can sometimes feel daunting). We’d love to hear from you all. We’re very friendly.

    This is a continuation of the previous On The Sofa thread which had reached its maximum posting limit.


    @craig -Ha!  have we ever been seen together?

    Anonymous @

    Rather embarrassingly I was reading what I thought were new comments from the Sofa.

    @craig @pedant

    A new member – dreamer of Gallifrey – was pointing out a controversial article about the alleged missed opportunities of Season 8 and stated that “Moffat should step aside for Sherlock.”

    Fortunately, pedant managed to reply for me but I realised, just in time, that this was the old sofa during its reopening, and it was December of last year!

    Goodness; how time flies.

    And yet the same arguments prevail: “Moffat should go, S8 was a disaster, this is a sci-fi program not a fairy story, Sherlock is taking up all of Moffat’s time” etc etc.

    We want some new whiners. Some totally off the wall complaints. Just to entertain me in the hospital. It’s not too much to ask, is it? 🙂

    Obviously I kid.

    No whiners permitted. None. Unless there are jolly good reasons!

    Anonymous @

    @miapatrick good to see you back!

    And yes, spot on with your comments about the timing of Jones’ rebuke.

    @ichabod yes, “all property is theft” is Proudhon. Kind of a hobby of mine

    Anonymous @


    I wasn’t criticising books of over 600 pages -just that I couldn’t read them. Hilary Mantel, Antonia Byatt, Dickens…

    Outstanding novelists and each have at least one with a whole lot of pages. The Russian authors: like their music, is verdant, mystical, vast and miraculous. A host of phrases, motifs and complimentary themes which are delicately layered and positioned with perfect execution in contrary motion.

    I just can’t comfortably sit still for that anymore. Trying to teach students to conduct a Russian score when you have 1700 pages of score to know completely: right down to every single pause and crescendo is very difficult. But it’s an excellent exercise, one of complete dedication and vocation. I hope someone is left to do it or we’ll have concerts of only Vivaldi, Mozart and Bartok: not knocking them at all. The crème of the crème without a doubt  – but there’s so much more, so many astounding feats of compositional tone that to lose even one is to distract us from what ground we’ve gained in the past 250 years.

    Long books like long symphonies have a point. I don’t think we can lambast them because of length alone (unless it’s the Ring Cycle, because I’ll giggle at that whilst in a straight jacket surrounded by 10 000 pages of score!)

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion   Okay, you’re right; and I did read some Big Books back in college etc., and enjoyed them.  But lately, I’ve had no urge to return to them for a re-read, or pick up a Tom Wolfe novel for the first time.  Might have something to do with, um, the prospect before me, now that I’m in my mid-seventies.  When I was a student teacher, my Master Teacher was a guy who re-read “Moby Dick” every year.  He was crazy, but also brilliant, the kind of teacher you only find (at Secondary level) in a private school, I think.  I have no idea what I learned from him, but I think I learned a lot.  On the other hand, I have no idea what I learned from reading “Moby Dick”, either, but probably . . .

    Anonymous @


    Oh no, that private school argument again 🙂

    I taught at two very expensive private schools in my first two years: we’re talking $40 000 per semester (not including food, cafes, uniforms, camps, books and computers: just tuition).

    No-one there had the post grad qualifications I did -and no-one seemingly, had any passion. It was weird. When I arrived at the so-called tough schools in Bris, here, I found the passion that alarmingly, had been missing in the previous two schools.

    I know what you mean about Moby Dick! Boy-oh-boy. Not easy: me, I find that hard work and as I was saying, I don’t have that ability anymore – nor the patience!  🙂

    Kindest, puro.


    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion   The private school I taught in was a bit of a special case; no uniforms, that’s for sure.  It was in Manhattan, at the north end of Central Park, bordering Harlem, and it was pretty bare bones.  Most of the staff were old commies, as I recall, and most had had careers in the “real world” (the maths guy had been a printer, had gone back to school to get his ed degree, e.g.).  Most of them were older than the norm, and all the ones I knew had passion in plenty.  The school had originally been the student-teaching “model” school attached to NYU, I think, and I was placed there for my teaching term by the NYU School of Ed.  The kids were mostly West Side professional people’s kids and scholarship kids from the neighborhood, not the children of the rich.  They were smart, funny kids who taught me why the Vietnam war was a terrible mistake.  So it was an unusual place, nothing like your standard prep outfit (although most of our kids did go on to college).

    It died some time in the eighties, I think, combined with another dying private school.  This was during the bottoming out of NYC, when everyone with kids who could flee to the suburbs did so.  I was gone by then, but I do miss the place.  There’s no argument to make, actually; it was small, but great, and flourished in its time.  I was proud to be a part of it — but even then, living in a one-room apartment on W. 86 on a salary of $7,500 a year was a dead end.  If there are any school like it anywhere still, I’d love to know about it.

    Anyway, I’m very glad to hear that your tough schools in Brisbane had what you’d been looking for — public rather than private schools, I’m assuming?

    Anonymous @

    @purofilion I’m glad to hear that there are people on here that don’t like Moffat, I wanted to bring it up before, but thought knowing my luck, nobody would agree… If he’s gonna be writing stories like “Kill The Moon” then he has to go, that is by far the worse Doctor Who I have ever watched.

    Does anybody feel differently, maybe you think it was good? Maybe you think one of the other episodes were worse.

    Anonymous @

    I think saying don’t like was too far, he has done a great job, but clearly his mind is now elsewhere.

    Anonymous @


    I’m sorry but I don’t know what you mean here:

    “I’m glad to hear that there are people on here that don’t like Moffat, I wanted to bring it up before, but thought knowing my luck, nobody would agree…”

    I was actually saying that it’s typical that some ppl don’t like Moffat. I however, think he’s unbelievable: of all the showrunners I’ve ever read about, Moffat is undoubtedly the best. I wouldn’t anyone to think I am disappointed in Moffat in anyway at all.

    When I said this, it was a comment about other people:  “Moffat should go, S8 was a disaster, this is a sci-fi program not a fairy story, Sherlock is taking up all of Moffat’s time” etc etc. I wouldn’t come on a Dr Who site and ‘hate-on’ the showrunner – that would be an unsophisticated thing to do.

    In fact, I  liked The Forest episode: not my favourite, but still great anyway. I also loved Kill the Moon. That episode was a winner to me. The gent who wrote that may well be our next showrunner in two years. Bring it on 🙂

    Anonymous @


    why do you think Moffat’s mind is elsewhere? As far as I know, his mind has been completely on Doctor Who, no?

    Sherlock is not some massive production in the same manner of Who, in my opinion.

    But I understand people have different tastes. That’s fine: it’s what makes the world go around.



    You are confusing “willing to critique” with “don’t like”.

    We are a little less childish here. Take note.

    Anonymous @

    @craig Oh, so that’s what the sofa threads are for…
    I’ve already posted a couple of times but I guess on a seemingly close-knit forum like this I might as well introduce myself- I’m an Australian in my twenties who watched reruns of Hartnell and Pertwee as a kid; followed the Eccleston and Tennant series as they happened (‘my doctors’, I guess); quit at the arrival of Smith and basically forgot about Who (with the exception of watching the 50th special) until this year, when I noticed the ABC playing through the entire revived series on weeknights (leading into series 9), and made a habit of it, including now enjoying the Smith run. I love Capaldi and Clara, though something about series 8 overall didn’t quite hit the mark for me- but I have a good feeling about the new series.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @gunslinger — First of all, Moffat didn’t write Kill The Moon, Peter Harness did. It’s an episode not without controversy but I think you’ll find that it’s not without its fans here. I suggest you pop across to the episode’s dedicated thread to see the bunfight in its full, awesome majesty.

    And speaking as someone who’s already seen The Magician’s Apprentice, I don’t think there’s any indication that SM’s mind is elsewhere. If the quality of that keeps up this year is going to be a belter. And I’d argue that s8 represented a freshness and a renewed boldness compared to Smith’s final season. The Sherlock argument is kind of bogus too. It’s hardly a full, concurrently running series. Its key challenge is finding the time in its leads’ schedules rather than overly taxing SM. (And even if it was, Joss Whedon at his busiest was running full runs of Buffy and Angel and a half run of Firefly and while it was with mixed success, I think Moff is up to the challenge of 12 eps of Who and three of Sherlock.)

    As @pedant says, no one, not even SM, gets a free ride here. But critical faculties do have to be engaged.

    @supernumerary — welcome

    Kharis @kharis

    The Pompeii parallel is simple. The face is to remind him to save someone, “not the whole town just someone.” He saves someone from Gallifrey.  He goes back and saves someone.

    Kharis @kharis

    Wait, wait, wait? @jimthefish. You SAW WHAT EPISODE?   HOW???  Jealous.  I am so jealous right now.


    Kharis @kharis

    And it’s 2:38 in the morning here, so sorry this is vague and childish, buuutttt…Moffat rocks.  End of story.  Good night.  🙂

    Anonymous @


    I think @jimthefish has said it very well indeed. There is an unfortunate group of Moff-haters who claims Sherlock has taken him off his ‘game’. And yet, Sherlock is basically 2 movies -at the most:  As Jim said (and I only found this out this yr) Whedon did all three shows and all three were fresh, consistent and clever -particularly that first and only season of Firefly. I’m fairly sure Moffat can do the same -with less to juggle, actually.

    I couldn’t remember Harness’ name! Thx for that.

    @kharis -yes, certain very lucky people were able to see a filmed version of the first episode of the coming season. They’re sworn to secrecy but we have precious little time to wait ourselves. ….

    Indeed, Moffat rocks.  So did RTD. Mustn’t forget him. 🙂

    Missy @missy


    Sorry, but I couldn’t find the Robot of Sherwood thread.
    I felt that there was some wistfulness in his face, as if human contact and gratitude suddenly got to him. I found his hand touching where she had kissed him, poignant. It was probably the first time I was truly aware of how alone The Doctor really is.
    Does that sound daft?



    Missy @missy


    Kill the Moon, is not a favourite of mine either.



    Missy @missy


    There was talk that SM would leave DW soon, but never stop writing for Sherlock – as long as ‘the boys’ still wanted to take it on.
    I’d rather he stayed for both and I agree, don’t forget RTD, but also Mark Gatiss. He brings a lighter colour to DW methinks.



    Anonymous @


    I just left a post on the Robot of Sherwood thread. Just press your email tag or alternatively scroll to the top of the Forum page to see the Activity page and click -it will show the latest posts or recent activity on various threads.

    Anonymous @

    @ichabod  by public I mean state schools. Incredibly vapid ppl at the private, fee paying schools, where young men ask their friends to be: “what does your father do and what car do you drive?”

    A friend of my boy’s goes to this school. On a sleep over he asked Boy Ilion: “so, er I presume your school doesn’t have much of an alumni, being so cheap”.

    I know. Cripes. I’m going pink with rage and respond for him: “actually, dear, C____ School has a terrific alumni and unlike your school it doesn’t cost anything to be part of.”

    This shut him up. We haven’t seen him since. He’s on some tour of the States -with the school -for 3 months.

    Little ..little thingamy.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @Purofilion I share your sentiments entirely about Public schools. Back when I was at Uni and working part time in an International Hotel we did a lot of school functions. It got known that I would not work on the private school dos. The kids or past students were horrifically behaved, arrogant shits. I however jumped at the change to do public school formals. One night we have a toffy private school in the ballroom and Elizabeth City High in a smaller set of rooms. (Elizabeth is the poorer end of town) The kids were saying at the beginning of the night that they had better be on their best behavior given there were private school kids about. I smiled, said nothing but hoped that they wouldn’t be corrupted by the private school kids. AT the end of the night the teachers were relaxing and we went up to them as a group and congratulated them on the behaviour of their students. They nearly fell of their chairs in surprise.

    Having said all that my S/O and I sold out completely and sent our boys to a private school but it is not one of the toffy ones. Sadly the local public school has not got a good name and as a parent we had to put the boys welfare before our ethics. Fortunately the fees are not in the $40,000 a term bracket. I can’t imagine how anyone could afford that. A friend of mine recently moved south of the city in order to enroll her son in a good public school and she said that in one term they had done more to help with his learning issues than the private school had in eight years. Does not surprise me at all but they did mark him out for a special school award for the trip to Nepal and not our son who went with him, probably because his father was wealthy and they were hoping for a “gift”. Little did they know his Dad.

    And just to add to what has already been said, long may Moffat reign as show runner. (A sentiment shared by the Pres’ of local fan club and by other Who loving acquaintances, which reminds me I have a link to a Scifi blog to share but too late tonight. Will make a note to self for tomorrow.)






    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @ania- oh I know, I get a tingle whenever I log on here and see the countdown! Nice to see another Dickens sceptic. I suppose the rambling does come down to taste- Anthony Trollop, who didn’t bother at all with the forth wall is a very chatty narrative-voice-as-character and I find him pretty perfect. What Dickens has to say just doesn’t interest me very much. I don’t really feel any writer should be sacred.

    @arbutus- yes, the film leaves me cold. Very clever, ground-breaking, sure, but I’m not a fan of the sentimental as a genre- hence, I suppose, not much liking Dickens- and the whole rosebud thing is a little sickly to me. Moffart, as @ania points out, has that darkness. This is also, incidentally, why I like TP- there always is a bit of darkness, of human (and Dwarf, and Troll, and Goblin etc) nature. The Third Man, on the other hand- love that film.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @purofilion- thank you!

    @purofilion, @ichabod: I actually went to Public (brit) school, fees were about £12,000 a year by the time I left. In some aspects the school in If… had something in common- we had some very good, motivated, interesting and interesting teachers, but the day to day life in the school was a nightmare- it was a boarding school, and it was by and large the other pupils who were the problem. I’d been to a state primary school, it was like immigrating to a different country. My mother had had a knife pulled on her as a teacher in a comprehensive near where we lived, hence the private school and the boarding part was at my (brattish and a little harsh, I realise now) request.

    Kharis @kharis

    @purofilion Wow, @jimthefish He is incredibly lucky.  I’m going to see the 3D recap and I’m over the moon.  I seriously feel like a kid, all giddy to see what Moffat has in waiting for us.

    I’m guessing that @jimthefish lives in England, which I’m also jealous of.  I tried to work at the BBC, but unless someone there applies for a work visa, a non-citizen doesn’t stand a chance.  I was willing to do anything they wanted too, but it’s all red tape.  🙁

    I have to just be happy that Doctor Who is available here, and not delayed, like Downton Abbey.

    Yes, RTD also rocks!  Doctor Who fans are lucky when it comes to incredible writers.





    Kharis @kharis

    Sorry, I’m writing while on video chat.  What I was trying to say is that someone at the BBC has to apply to have a non-citizen come to work at the BBC.  That is hardly ever done.   So I gave up on the dream of living in Cardiff.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @kharis — the screening was actually in Scotland as part of the Edinburgh International Television Festival. There was quite a good Q&A with Steven Moffat too and other forum members lucky enough to be there were @scaryb, @wolfweed and @xad4.

    Yes, it’s tough getting a BBC gig for residents in the UK, so it must be doubly daunting for those overseas.

    Anonymous @


    well done helping out at the formals! (for those in the States, that’s a ‘prom’)

    After I graduated from a Brisbane school, I visited my Adelaide friends at their school graduation dance. In the mid ’80s it wasn’t called a ‘formal’ yet: I think.

    I recall attending a Churchie formal . This is the 40K a semester school I referred to above, which I taught at and where my first ‘boyfriend’ attended (as well as all his friends).

    So used were they to formal occasions, and so disrespectful of the event itself, the boys became over-excited and foul. A chicken fight ensued within two hours and the following day, my mother and others, demanded the school either clean our gowns or replace them completely -a taffeta marsh mellow dress in pale pink covered in chicken fat is not a dress one can simply ‘soak.’

    The school coughed up, boys were suspended and formal apologies issued. I believe an article ended up in the Courier Mail actually written by a Yr 12 student (he was a witness!) and who pursued a successful career in journalism after that.

    The formals I attended at the tough schools were quite sombre affairs at first: the boys and girls, never dressed to the nines before, having never seen the inside of a function room covered in tasteful decorations and plates of elegantly presented food, were dumbfounded into silence.

    Eventually, they relaxed. It was sweet to see the young gents, hastily trained by dads, opening the door for their dates, standing when a lady left the table and presenting them with a corsage.

    And yes I know Elizabeth and Elizabeth High: I recall visiting friends in Elizabeth many years ago who had established garlic and ginger farms. The poverty in this particular home was the harshest I’d seen. No heating, a neatly swept dirt floor, an outside shower with a modesty screen made of two old car doors.

    Nonetheless, the children were well mannered, ironed curtains hung above the only two windows and the food was utterly delicious. I believe, like my parents, that they were Czech immigrants, but they’d arrived with 4 children and with no education whatsoever. Illiterate in both their native language and English, made it very difficult indeed to get ahead.

    I’m reminded of the nasty fellas who painted my fence this past month and how they begged for money claiming they were poor: each day they showed up with a new pair of exquisite runners, tattoos, sporting a variety of hair cuts in the latest trend… and dye jobs. Poor? No, I think probably not.

    @ichabod your description sounds wonderful. What a special place:

    “The private school I taught in was a bit of a special case; no uniforms, that’s for sure…..  Most of the staff were old commies, as I recall, and most had had careers in the “real world” ….  Most of them were older than the norm, and all the ones I knew had passion in plenty. “

    But yes, NYC and a salary even back then of $7500 wouldn’t help much.


    so you wanted to live in the UK? Are you from Oz or the States? I’m sorry, I may have asked that question before (my memory is touchy!) and if it’s too personal then just ignore me. 🙂

    I finally understand what you mean about the Pompeii ‘thread’: the Dr saves a family from this dreadful ‘act of god’ and it’s a parallel to saving Gallifrey-the children, for example. It’s a reminder of what he has done, or depending on the time line, what he has still to do. For me, not knowing exactly why Capaldi has this face, isn’t really an issue: after all, the actor had been in the show, but years before. Chosen for this part, his ‘history’ in the role doesn’t really need much clarification beyond what you’ve carefully suggested. I like that @kharis.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion Jeez, I actually *forgot* that odd switch in meanings of “public school’ and “private school” — I have either a cold, an actual flu-bug, and have been sleeping for days, only getting up to feed the cats and go buy soup. So, some people here have seen the Magician’s Apprentice, and must now keep mum until after public release on the 19th? Oh, poor yous — my hear bleeds for ya! Grrr! But never mind — I’ve got my ticket for the 3-D recap on the 15th, and after that it’s just a short canter home to the 19th.

    On schools — the (defunct) one I taught at was wonderful and quirky; nobody blinked an eye when I had my 9th grade core class read “Gods, Graves, and Scholars” for an Ancient History unit, or turn The Odyssey into a (black and white) graphic novel.  I hear from my kids now and then — Henry W., who looked exactly like one of those little Sumerian figurines and is now a psychiatrist in Manhattan, and T.F., who went the flower child route and now lives on some sort of commune in New England and pops up on my fb page now and then, for example.  My gods, we had a roaring good time!  If not for them, I would never have come across (in my prep reading) one of those poems from the Ancient World (in this case, Sumeria) that starts, more or less, “Why are the children of today so feckless and disrespectful?  And as for the life of the intellect — !”  Well, we can all fill in the gaps.

    My husband went to one of the “posh”, expensive schools, and last time we went to a reunion, some fool in a straw boater and blue blazer stood up and harangued us all about how the “White race” (!) and its virtues are being swamped by tides of immigrants; he’d read a book, you see.  Nobody told him to can it, although the air was thick with discreet embarrassment, and eventually he ran down and sat down.  Stevie loved the place, in memory anyway, and was completely oblivious and impervious to the racist/classist poisons on offer there, along with an excellent traditional upper class education.

    Hell. Off topic, and, worse, eyes are closing again; back later!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @all you Dickens dissenters. I have to stand up for Dickens who after all gave us Christmas as we now know it. I have always had a soft spot for a weighty Dickens tone. His writing is at time very clunky but other times it is brilliant. Our Mutual Friend is my favourite even though the plot makes less sense than a standard Moffat series ending, maybe why some fuzziness in terms of plot doesn’t bother me at all if the story, characters and themes are good enough. I have always liked long novels, the first one I wrote was about 700 pages. No wonder I couldn’t get a publisher to look at it. It is said that a first novel should never exceed about 300 pages. Tell that to Salmon Rushdie.

    I read War and Peace when I about thirteen but sadly these days I no longer have time for long reads. I have tried reading Wolf Hall twice but given up not because I wasn’t interested but due to time restraints. I find with a novel one has to be fully immersed hence during the year I tend to only read non fiction which can be put down and picked up again days or even weeks later.

    @ichabod My favourite person also went to a “posh” school. He does not have overly fond memories of it however but then I certainly don’t have fond memories of my WC school though I do have excellent recollections of the teachers, who despite understaffing and underfunding and some pretty badly behaved students, did a wonderful job and were mostly inspiring people.

    @miapatrick, I have heard horror stories about English schools. I think Coal Hill must be rather an exception. We had a friend who grew up in working class Leeds. He often repeated an account of starting school in Australia. While his teacher was introducing him to the class he was sizing up the boys in the room. Before she finished her spiel he had worked out which boy was the biggest and marched up and punched him in the face. That would have been the done thing in his former school, “otherwise I would have been beaten up in morning recess.” The class and teacher naturally were shocked, much to his surprise.



    Missy @missy

    I enjoy Dickens, but can understand why some people don’t. He is wordy, or if you want to be pretentious “Verbose?”

    Thing is, he was actually living in that century, saw all the poverty and misery. He’s like a news reporter of the time.

    One could say that the Brontes and Elliot are a touch wordy too, Austen not so much.

    Anonymous @

    @janetteb I must stand with you on Dickens. And I also must support the flurry of writers mentioned above: the Bronte’s in particular and Austen also. I won’t even say the latter is “fluff”.

    Love is all around.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @janetteb, @purofilion- well this is why articles like the one mentioned are so absurd- however little I care for Dickens (I’m more of a Trollope woman (though that doesn’t sound right…) he treats his saints with cynicism and his sinners with compassion.) But it’s clearly a matter of different, not superior taste and how anyone can confuse the two in the way Jones did is beyond me.

    @missy- for me its not really the wordiness. (Though I do think Dickens would choose ‘verbose’ 😉 )I’d honestly prefer to read Richardson, unabridged. I vastly prefer Radcliff, and she certainly knew how to fill the pages. I do by and large prefer pre-Victorian literature. Of course Eliot (apart from the Historical Novel) all the Bronte’s (but particularly Anne) Gaskell could also be quite wordy- writers typically were at the time. Austin was unusual in her pared down prose style, partly, I think, a result of a decade or so between first writing and publishing her first two books- that’s a lot of tinkering and thinking time.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    I feel I also have to put in a defence of Dickens too. In terms of the depth of his social vision, he’s possibly the greatest novelist who’s ever lived. As for the writing style — I don’t really like the word verbose — it was partly a symptom of the time he was writing in but also partly the point. Part of his appeal is in his use of language, use of what’s essentially rhetoric and irony and all the other tools at a writer’s disposal.

    I can’t help but feel that modern prose has gone too far the other way and tends towards generic pared-down sameyness. It’s part of the reason I like writers like Chabon and Franzen so much. At least they’re not afraid to actually be writers.

    Having said that, I’m entirely with whoever said above that they don’t want to read huge doorstop books. I entirely relate. Bring back the novel of sensible length, I say. Currently reading Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things which I’m finding profoundly annoying but too well written for me to stop. But the fact that’s it’s 600-odd pages is just insult to injury.

    Missy @missy


    Thank you, saw your message.


    Anonymous @


    ah yes, Franzen’s The Corrections!  2000 -2001?

    Missy @missy


    No, I don’t like the word verbose either, as I said, pretentious. Our English teacher pounded into us, that when writing, never use a long word, when a short word would do as well. she was right.
    There are too many rules and regulations nowadays: don’t use “lly” words, don’t use “ing” words, it can stop a person writing freely – that only one “L”

    Dickens passion for calling his characters by daft names, is quite unique too. Has anybody read Barnaby Rudge?
    I have all two volumes. A film was made i believe years ago, I think they should try again instead of all the usual adaptations.


    Missy @missy


    Never having read Radcliff I cannot comment. But Gaskill is probably one of the most boring writers I’ve tried to read.
    Somewhere on here, Terry Pratchett was mentioned – can’t find where. Love him and have every Disc World book -for adults.

    @jimthefish Chabon and Franzen are new to me? I believe I’ve heard “The Book of Strange New Things”



    Anonymous @

    @missy you might like Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and The Wonder Boys. Awesome narrative. The last two pages of the former is virtually one glorious sentence; a sonata really.


    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @Jimthefish- Franzen is one of my favourite modern authors. I see what you mean about writers who are not afraid to be writers- one thing that always sends me reeling from writers groups is this tendency towards a common type of prose-everything has to be completely simple, you can’t leave the reader in any kind of uncertainty for a second, everything seems to get rather flattened out.

    (I only said Dickens would say verbose as a joke!)

    @missy- the terry Pratchett conversation began near the end of the last sofa thread, where we were talking about the rather unpleasant trolling of Pratchett fans in the Guardian- an article stating that Pratchett’s books were trash and, essentially, insulting anyone who likes them. I do feel compelled to point out that my saying that I don’t like Dickens wasn’t in anyway a denigration of him, but an illustration of how one person can not enjoy reading a particular author without saying that the author writes trash- the point I was making was that I can’t get on with him, but he is a vastly loved and admired writer, it would be ridiculous for me to say he wasn’t good. 🙂

    Radcliff is I think one of the better gothic novelists, though she did spend a lot of time describing Italian scenery. Gaskell is very patchy but I do like Mothers and Daughters and North and South (though the latter does get quite silly at the end).

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @missy- also re Pratchett- the ‘young adult’ books really aren’t very different from the ‘adult’ ones. In fact, they deal with some quite messy, indeed, adult, themes. If anything, I’d say they’re young adult in that the main protagonist is, in fact, a young adult, as did ‘Equal Rites’, and much along that vain.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @miapatrick. Sorry minor correction, Wives and Daughters not mothers. I really enjoyed that book and agree with you that the ending of North and South lets down what is otherwise an excellent book. The fault, ironically is Dickens. Gaskell wrote the novel in installments for his Household Works magazine and he pressured her to submit “copy” resulting in rushed work and sadly it shows. (the ending of the book is nowhere near as silly as the ending of the TV adaptation which was about as anachronistic as plastic water bottles on a 1920s mantle shelf.




    Arbutus @arbutus

    @miapatrick    I meant to say in response to your comment about Citizen Kane, that I’m not above a little sentiment, but I need it to be pretty well leavened with humour. I’ll take Casablanca, where we are smiling at the end, any day! As a teenager, I read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice both within a short time of one another, and liked them both, but preferred Austen for her humour and her relatively unsentimental view of her characters. Jane’s story was engaging, but the events always seemed so unlikely, and I found her awfully hard to like.

    Radcliff is I think one of the better gothic novelists, though she did spend a lot of time describing Italian scenery.      I confess to a weakness for writings that immerse me in a place, my own tend to lean that way. Although I suppose there can be too much of a good thing.  🙂

    @jimthefish   Cheers. I love Chabon, although I have yet to read Franzen. I agree with everyone who has said they like a beautifully-crafted sentence. I don’t mind pithy either, when it is done really well, but it often isn’t.



    one thing that always sends me reeling from writers groups is this tendency towards a common type of prose-everything has to be completely simple,

    Writers’ groups can be prone to groupthink and when I chaired mine I as very careful ensure a counter view was always offered. But groupthink cuts both ways – it only takes one person to say “Oooh that was lovely and vivid” and the nodding along starts, so someone needs to get stuck in with “Do you have any plans to get on with the story at any point soonish?”. There are few things more tiresome than a writer in love with the sound of their own prose  – except it is not the sound, because it is the act or reading out that often exposes the turgid.

    I once managed to make a member cry simply by asking “But what it is about?” (meaning what’s the theme?). I’m dead proud of that.

    If you wish to write at length you absolutely must first learn to write concisely. It’s called killing your babies.

    And on the subject of writing, you should all go out and buy my friend Julie Mayhew’s new alt-history novel The Big Lie. She is, in my considered opinion, a bona fide genius. The novel, like her first, Red Ink, is alas shoe-horned into the cancerous, arbitrary and insulting “Young Adult” category (which should be taken out into the woods and beaten to death with a large log), but don’t let that put you off.




     As for the writing style — I don’t really like the word verbose — it was partly a symptom of the time he was writing in but also partly the point.

    Well, up to a point. He was often paid by the word and, more than once, it shows. None of that detracts from his importance, but it should equally not be swept under the carpet.

    Craig @craig

    @pedant While the category “Young Adult” may be arbitrary, and to some insulting, was nice to see a lot of YA writers get behind a cause and do something positive yesterday and today. I donated. I urge others to do so too. And it’s now fee free, so no one makes money – all you give goes to the cause.



    @craig Absolutely. No criticism of the writers at all. They have to writer what publishers will take.

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