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  1. #16
    Gloriam Imperator kged's Avatar
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    Off the top of my head, I'd struggle to think of a better SF novel, and damn few mainstream novels come close either. It's nice to discover this thread - I actually did a search to see if anyone else was aware of the fact that Brad Pitt (!) is going to play Fr Sandoz in a movie adaption. He isn't the first name I would have thought of to play him, but given the right material he is a fine actor. This could be a real landmark of SF film, if they get it right...

  2. #17
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    (4) Why were Emilio's hands cut? Is there a metaphor to be found in this act?
    Seems to me MDR makes plain the hands were cut to demonstrate to Emilio and to the world his utter dependence on his patron; he became Supaari's property. Sandoz says "...he evidently decided to ransom us and brought us to his home and took responsibility for us. He made us part of his household."
    John Candotti then explains the significance of viewing the ivy.
    Which is what Sandoz would say about his life as a priest; it ought to be a complete and utter dependence on his god. Living that belief ruined his hands and led him to even more debasement through the actions of Hlavin Kitheri, events that eradicated his faith. The book is the story of how he got from that despair to "Do you suppose anyone was listening?" which isn't a reaffirmation of faith but an openness to such a reaffirmation.
    I can see no crucifixion metaphor here. He does not undergo this torture for the good of others; he undergoes this torture because he is who he is and how he acts because of who he is brings him to this point. He is so conditioned to believing that god 'let' this happen he fails to see that he made this happen. MDR is very explicit about the parallel to European colonization of the Americas, the tragedies that happened even with the best of intentions simply because the newcomers could not understand the indigenous peoples could be as human as they considered themselves. Emilio and his band saw what they wanted to see because they didn't know any other way to see things.
    Until we can drop our preconceptions of what is 'right', there isn't going to be any understanding.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; October 23rd, 2006 at 03:53 PM.

  3. #18
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    While I liked this book, I certainly didn't love it. The notion of a missionary expedition being dispatched to another planet is an interesting one, obviously paralleling the Jesuit expeditions of the past, but I had a hard time buying the fact that some fifty or so years in the future, a religious order would possess the ability to put together such a trip. More to the point, what of the secular governments or the military-industrial complex? Wouldn't they be more likely to play a part in this? Granted, you could argue that this story takes place in an alternate universe but, even so, I'd argue the road that got them to this point would have been radically different to the one we're familiar with. It would have taken much more than the U.S. losing a couple of trade wars to Japan (Russell's argument).

    Loved the characters. Very well drawn, very believable. But, at times, I found the writing a little silly. Not so much the dialogue as the description of the bonding scenes in which characters bond by sharing uproarious laughter over marginally humorous situations. Also, her constant referencing of pop culture kept drawing me out of the story. Beau Bridges. Caesar Romero.

    Loved the characters, loved the journey and would have liked the book a lot more if not for the end which, quite frankly, reminded me of Spielberg's mistep in Schindler's List. In the movie, Spielberg tells an effective story and then has to hit the audience members over the head with the maudlin and unecessary scene in which Schindler breaks down and the people he has helped crowd around him and give him a communical group hug. In the Sparrow, it would have been enough to have Emilio's faith shattered by what befalls his friends not to mention the utter disaster of their mission. But just to drive home the point, Russell has him sold into slavery. Then has his hands mutilated (Yes, symbolic of Christ's crucifixion for any stragglers who may have missed the painfully obvious parallels). Then he's is raped. Repeatedly. By his new owner. By his owner's friends. By the guards. At this point, why not make him eat a daily excrement sandwich? Finally, to top things off, just to make certain we understand that Emilio has hit rock bottom, Russel sets up an incredibly unlikely bit of staging that allows him to murder an innocent without even realizing what he is doing until it's too late. I mean come on. We get it! We get it!

    Thoughtful and interesting but, in the end, incredibly patronizing, I give The Sparrow a solid 6.5

  4. #19
    I read it some years ago, but I can remember two things about it: it was an impressive piece of writing - but I didn't like it much. I'm not now quite sure why, possibly because it is too downbeat. I have had the sequel for many moons, but haven't read it and possibly never will.

  5. #20

    some thoughts

    I read The Sparrow a number of years ago and tore right through the book. I really did feel like I knew the characters especially Emilio. I immediately read the sequel and was sorely disappointed.
    I have just reread the book for my book club (my choice) and still thought it was wonderful. It was interesting to read it again as I am more informed about Sephardim and Judaism so Mendes really spoked to me.

    I also read the sequel again and I have to say that I don't think I could truly appreciate it the first time round because I was so jazzed about The Sparrow.

    In some ways, I thought it was better than the first book now, I think because it delves that much deeper and explanations are to be had.

    I also didn't really think of the destruction of Meelo's hands a crucifiction parallel. That never crossed my mind. I thought of it as a grand and serious misunderstanding because no one would agree to something like that.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what my book club thinks.

  6. #21
    Ssnedwards
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    Red face great to gain a new favorite!

    Just read The Sparrow and The Children of God. This is my first time posting something here. I originally clicked "quote", whereas I wanted to actually reply as part of the book club discussion. I redid this post under the book club discussion.

    P.S. How is "quote" intended to be used?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Ssnedwards; April 16th, 2011 at 09:23 AM. Reason: Wished post to appear as part of book club discussion.

  7. #22
    Ssnedwards
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    Red face great to gain a new favorite!

    A friend heard I liked SF and told me about this book. She told me the author included a strong spiritual element. I read it and really liked it. I liked it even more after reading the sequel, [I]Children of God.[I]

    1) I think the book was originally marketed as a non-genre novel, because the author did not necessarily consider it to be SF. She wanted to explore a topic (the impact on faith of something personally devastating happening to a person of faith), and found the science fiction setting especially suitable; but it wasn't the . . . source of her story. She was exploring spiritual struggle more than she was exploring first contact. I think when a story originates from the basis of a science fiction concept, then it is a science fiction story first and foremost. But I think a story can have a science fiction setting, without originating from a science fiction concept. When the author feels the thrust of her story exists apart from the setting, then I think it is a non-genre story.

    2) I found her use of alternating time frames very effective. It not only built the anticipation to discover what had happened to Emilio, it also helped to emphasize the depth of the impact of that "event". To spend so much time alternating between the "before" Emilio and the "after" Emilio brought the alteration in Emilio into sharp focus.

    3) I think the quote is a really good expression of Emilio's path. The book expresses so well that outermost limit of faith--the questions that haunt and oppress--and the devastation of despair that follows the loss on the very thing that has been interwoven into the very fabric of your being. The loss of all certainty and confidence in what is truth. To be faced with a whole new reality that contains none of the positive assurances of the reality that has just been rent from you.

    4) I saw several replies that saw the cutting of Emilio's hands to be symbolic of Christ's crucifixion. I see it more as a physical metaphor for what is happening spiritually. The pain. The initial permission without understanding of what was being agreed to. The helplessness to fix or resolve. This was a permanent change that could only be adapted to--could only be survived or adjusted to. Things could never go back--never be the same. Both were permanent injuries that would "heal" but the things which healed (his hands and faith?) would never function in the same way. His perspectives on faith and physical health would forever be from a far different place.

    5) I don't tend to be analytical enough to have even noticed this one! I've always viewed stories that explored human culture encountering and interacting with an alien culture to be science fiction; so this book falls well within what is familiar for me. The biggest surprise for me was the thought of using meteors as space ships.

    6) I think a significant difference is the make up of the crew. This book wasn't intended as a spoof, yet the idea of a crew being developed as this one was seems the most far-fetched aspect of the story.

    7) Oh, I agree whole-heartedly that the book wouldn't have worked nearly so well if her characters hadn't been so easy to accept and identify with. As a continuation of my response to the last question, if she hadn't succeeded so well with each of the individuals that made up this crew I think the story would have been . . . more narrow-minded? What I mean is that an idea would have been presented wrapped in a fictional device, rather than the story becoming an experience lived out by the reader and responded to from their own frame of reference.

    8) I think it was handled . . . authentically? Since she was considering the impact on someone's active faith of an event of the magnitude of surviving the Nazi concentration camps, it had to be something personally devastating; and I think that sexuality is a core issue when faith is attached to the God of the Bible. I think the fact that Emilio's chastity was a central element of his relationship with God made the rape the deepest cut into his most vulnerable connection. I find Emilio's reactions feel authentic. Another reason I didn't find the violence or sexuality compromising the more philosophical and spiritual aspects of the novel was that the author did not in any way sensationalize the event that was the pivot for Emilio. Everything included was with effective intent and purpose.

    9) Faith can be in many things--not just in God. People can rely on friends, money, careers, or various causes for their sense of purpose and worth. Their faith in these things can be betrayed deeply. From that basis I think just about everyone can appreciate the sense of betrayal and struggle portrayed in this book.

    10) This book was a 10 for me.

  8. #23
    4/25/11 published!!!! expatrie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ssnedwards View Post

    P.S. How is "quote" intended to be used?

    Thanks!
    Like this.

    Welcome to the site.

    (on a note related to the topic here, I have a review of The Sparrow up on goodreads. Root around here and you should find my account somewhere.)

    Ah, heck. It's here.

    Generally, if you hit quote to posts with strange features, the site will show you what all those codes are, like spoilers.

    Spoiler:
    sample spoiler.


    But you do have to close the tags with the /. That's why your Italics of the title aren't working in your post.

    What's really nice with some of the tags is you can highlight and hit a keystroke to format it (works with control-I to italicize).

    --Brian.

  9. #24
    Ssnedwards
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    slow of understanding!

    Sorry, I'm somewhat computer illiterate. I tried selecting part of your reply and then clicking quote; but when I did your entire answer was included, not just the portion I had selected. ?

    Second, I don't follow what you were trying to explain about "having to close the tags with the /". When I to use the italics I see the . . . editorial markings? . . . included--those should translate to that word being italicized in the post shouldn't it? I thought I understood what you suggested regarding the keyboard shortcut, but when I tried it I was unsuccessful. ? (I saw that I was successful using the italics this time.)

    Thanks for the response to my post; I did check in on your review as was glad to see you gave it four stars. I came across the site by accident, and am looking forward to being more involved!

    Susan
    Last edited by Ssnedwards; April 16th, 2011 at 08:33 PM. Reason: wanted to add a comment, still figuring it out.

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