Topic Options
#794 - 11/21/99 01:58 PM Good King Sauerkraut
Anonymous
Unregistered


I'd like to make a comment or two. This may be a spoiler to some, so I'll put in a few empty lines so that anyone who doesn't want to know can exit now.

|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|

|

OK. First, a question to Barbara: did the book grow out of the title ("his feets uneven"), or was the story well-advanced before the title suddenly jumped into your head?

Now some comments. First, about the blurb elsewhere on this site. I read it before deciding to buy the book, but, re-reading it now, I'm quite glad that I'd forgotten what it said! Reading the book, I'd no idea who was going to be killed and who was going to do it, and I don't think I'd have wanted to know. And there are 60+ pages before that happens, too.

I was also interested to meet Marian Larch for the first time (leaving aside a brief appearance in Jack be quick), but surprised at her relatively small part in the book. This became explicable once I read what Barbara has to say on the subject of the development of Larch as (eventually) a series character - again, on this site.

I was a bit surprised that neither the cover nor the prefaratory matter in the book contained either a few words about the story nor anything about the author. Maybe publishing on demand cuts these things out because I wouldn't be ordering the book unless I knew something about both? It's certainly nicely produced, though.

I did feel some sympathy for King, and his dilemma and the way he had to go in deeper once he'd started reminded me of Patricia Highsmith's books (hope that isn't an insult, Barbara!) On the other hand, a certain basic stupidity shone through, and his decision to frame Mimi just confirmed that.

Good dénouement! Now I wonder if Jon will explain exactly why he won't re-read this book?

(Oh - and I definitely can't understand why the book had to be retitled for the UK. The title is perfectly well explained in the text - and there must be lots of Americans who wouldn't know any more about Pogo than we do.)

Top
#795 - 11/21/99 02:57 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Story first, title later -- although the title did come to me fairly early into the writing. I'd already decided to call the main character King, because it's so obviously unfitting. Then when I thought of Sauerkraut, I went to the phone book looking for an S name with the same number of syllables and the same emphasis and found "Sarcowicz". I don't even remember the surname I was using before I thought of the Pogo rhyme.
Quote:
I was a bit surprised that neither the cover nor the prefaratory matter in the book contained either a few words about the story nor anything about the author.
Ah, that's my fault. Ed did ask me for some introductory matter, but I'm still clinging to the old notion that a book ought to stand or fall solely on the basis of its contents. Not a very realistic view, I know.
Quote:
I did feel some sympathy for King, and his dilemma and the way he had to go in deeper once he'd started reminded me of Patricia Highsmith's books (hope that isn't an insult, Barbara!)
On the contrary, that's a great compliment. Thank you!
Quote:
On the other hand, a certain basic stupidity shone through, and his Decision to frame Mimi just confirmed that.
You made my day, Andrew -- that's exactly the reaction I was aiming for. You want to like the guy; but he does so many dumb and hurtful things that you just can't.
Quote:
(Oh - and I definitely can't understand why the book had to be retitled for the UK. The title is perfectly well explained in the text - and there must be lots of Americans who wouldn't know any more about Pogo than we do.)
Yes, I thought it was pretty clear. Interestingly, the German edition kept the original title -- in English.

Top
#796 - 11/21/99 08:51 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Quote:
Now I wonder if Jon will explain exactly why he won't re-read this book?


Very simple, though somewhat embarrassing -- we Sophisticated Readers aren't supposed to react so primitively.

It was just too painful, and the outlandish crucial few moments were made so real by Barbara. On the theory that a well-drawn protagonist contains at least some elements that we can recognize in ourselves, I'll admit that there are moments when I can worry that I'm clumsy, socially inept, oblivious -- if not to the extent he is. (And in my more rational moments I figure I'm no more so than anybody else.) Anyway, when the double whammy happened, it was so outlandish and yet so believably prepared, I was almost as horrified as if I'd done it myself. I finished the book avidly, but I don't want to put myself through that moment again!

Quote:
I'm still clinging to the old notion that a book ought to stand or fall solely on the basis of its contents.


I understand and respect that, but I can also enjoy the discovery of a few words by the author in a new edition of a familiar book. Such as has been done with the recent paperbacks of Larry McMurtry's early work, for instance. Of couirse, on this website we already have the benefit of Barbara's comments on her books, and I wouldn't expect to see anything more extensive than that in an introduction; so perhaps the point is moot.

Top
#797 - 11/22/99 05:09 AM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Anonymous
Unregistered


On the last point - of course one has to agree with Barbara, but it's handy to have some idea about the contents before one starts reading. For example, I probably wouldn't read it if it was science-fiction or fantasy (yes, my mother used to say that I suffered from "fixed ideas", but life is too short), or if it was disagreeably violent - even though it's by Barbara. (Actually, I probably would read this book in those cases, since I'd paid for it! I'm the sort of person who always has breakfast in hotels if it's included in the price, and usually I finish up all the food on my plate, whether at home or out. I'm known to some as "the human dustbin [trash-can]".)

Anyway, here's my suggested blurb, an adaptation of Barbara's but not as explicit. (I was genuinely unsure about who was going to die - it could easily have been King himself.)

King Sarcowicz, robot-designer, is clumsy in his personal relationships and physically clumsy too. Yoked together on a lucrative project with people he dislikes, King finds undercurrents of double-crossing and treachery. Soon, there are two deaths, and a cat-and-mouse game develops as Marian Larch and her partner Ivan Malecki come closer and closer to the truth.

Like Jon, I found the two deaths, on adjacent pages, quite shocking (and I still retain some of my childhood over-squeamishness), but, unlike him, I couldn't imagine that happening to me. (By the way, where does the term "double whammy" come from? Not baseball again?!?)

One thing I forgot to mention: my first boss here at Leeds University Library was called Dennis Cox! But he's still alive, and will be 80 next year. (He was quite a distinguished librarian of the old school, but it was during his time (between 1973 and 1986) that the cataloguing process and issue system were automated and then re-automated. Those were jobs in which I was heavily involved, so I owe my interest in computing largely to him.)

Top
#798 - 11/22/99 09:10 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
PH Offline
Member

Registered: 11/18/99
Posts: 1016
Loc: Eastern Shore of Maryland
"Double Whammy" comes from the old comic strip =Li'l Abner=, by Al Capp. There was a character named Evil Eye Fleagle (sp?) who could curse his enemies by staring at them: this was referred to as "putting the whammy" on them. The "double whammy" was one variant. Fleagle's eyeballs would bulge, and he'd lean at an angle and the target character would be struck by some kind of disaster. The term has entered common speech as a synonym for a particularly evil curse. I seem to recall that Fleagle was from Brooklyn (or some such exotic locale), and wore a zoot suit.

Top
#799 - 12/03/99 08:10 AM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Anonymous
Unregistered


Its been a while since I read this book, must be nearly time for a re-read, but at the point of the second death I burst out lauging so what does that say about me? Whilst King was then walking around for much of the day I was willing him to give himself up and explain the events in the belief that since they were genuine accidents he would not suffer too much. It was, as Andrew said, when he deliberately started planning to frame Mimi that I lost sympathy with him. Up until then I had been totally on his side.

Top
#800 - 12/05/99 04:30 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Sue, you're not alone; my son laughed out loud at the same point.

Interesting that King should lose whatever shreds of sympathy he has left when he tries to frame Mimi...when she's trying to do exactly the same thing to him.  

Top
#801 - 12/05/99 05:13 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Anonymous
Unregistered


... I suspect this is going a bit too deep, but it occurred to me that if it's been established that the killer was either King or Mimi, one can understand King trying to frame Mimi - but why should she need to frame him? She knows that she didn't do it, so she must have guessed that he did and could perhaps have assumed that the truth will out.

Yes, it is a bit too deep, isn't it, though I personally did share King's dislike of Mimi, even though we know a lot less about her than about him.

Top
#802 - 12/05/99 11:48 PM Re: Good King Sauerkraut
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Well, perhaps she just felt the American Judicial System could do with a little help. She's a manipulator; I just didn't think it would be in character for her to sit passively and wait for the cops to discover the truth.

Top

Moderator:  Barbara