April 26, 2018, 07:50:41 PM

Author Topic: Casual Detectives 101  (Read 1341 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

September 24, 2012, 10:24:09 PM

merrythought

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 115
Casual Detectives 101

Details gleaned from The Guardian's article1  include:
  • plot: local election process upended by anonymous letters
  • themes: social class (snobbery) & social responsibility; broken homes & kids who have to take on adult roles; politics
  • tone: tragicomic, satirical
  • narrative point of view:  multiple narrators

Details gained from the New Yorker3 article include:
  • Plot: "describes young people coming of age in a place divided by warring factions..."; "A story of class warfare"; the analysis of a very small and closed society"
  • themes:  "the virtues of tolerance, constancy and willingness to act"; "Morality"; and Responsibility
  • tone: "black comedy" or as JKR feels 'a comic tragedy"
  • characters: Barry Fairbrother; households of a gourmet-grocery owner and his wife; two doctors; a nurse married to a printer; a social worker. Most of the families have troubled teens - two of which are Krystal Wheedon and Andrew ?

Thoughts so far?
  • What are your thoughts/feelings/expectations about the book at this point?
  • JKR explains how she came across the title in the New Yorker article3. What, if anything different than JKR's explanation, does the novel title suggest to you?
  • What aspects of the novel, as described in the Guardian (or New Yorker), appeal to you?  Is there anything you are not sure you will like?
  • We know the story takes place in a modern British village, and  Robert Crum of The Guardian suggests that  “Rowling's Pagford still sponsors thoughts of all those other imaginary towns and houses that form the landscape of the British literary mind – a rich, even exotic territory.” 2 Does the novel's setting have significance for you?  Do you have personal or literary knowledge of British villages?  What expectations do you have about the story based on its setting? 
  • Of the character we have some knowledge about so far, about whom are you most interested in learning more?

1 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/22/jk-rowling-book-casual-vacancy

2 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/sep/24/jk-rowling-pagford-casual-vacancy

3 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/10/01/121001fa_fact_parker?currentPage=1
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 02:48:32 PM by merrythought »


Logged
September 28, 2012, 03:04:07 AM
Reply #1

Armoracia

  • Forum Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 227
    • The Emotional Range of a Teaspoon
well - my very first thought about the title was "Hmmm. I bet "casual vacancy" means something different in England than it might here in the US!" To me "casual" means relaxed, not formal - so a casual vacancy might be something someone just walked away from without giving notice.

However, as the interviews show, it meant something completely different.

Really, the only experience that I have had of British towns/villages comes from reading Agatha Christie. However, I have quite a lot of experience with small towns, villages, and semi-rural areas in the midwestern US (enough to last this "city-girl-at-heart" a lifetime...) to figure that much of it will be highly relatable.

one of the things i enjoy about Jo's writing is her ability to make a scene vivid for me - so that i am "watching" it as if i were a fly on the wall. it sucks me in. i think that, no matter the subject matter, is what i am most looking forward to - being pulled into another, perhaps more realistic or gritty, but still another of her worlds.
Logged
October 05, 2012, 04:37:42 PM
Reply #2

HealerOne

  • Staffer
  • *****
  • Posts: 914
    • Chasing the Tale
JKR explains how she came across the title in the New Yorker article 3. What, if anything different than JKR's explanation, does the novel title suggest to you?

I must admit that the tittle had little significance to me until I read the explanation of this being a term for a vacancy of an office due to failure to comply with taking the office, or a scandal involved with taking the office, or a death of that individual. I found the title a bit off-putting in fact. But like a lot of JKR's writing, it soon was obvious that she had revealed the initial storyline - in fact - the whole book's premise in those 3 words ... The Casual Vacancy! A pretty nifty bit of wording! One could almost see the hornet's nest of gossip and complications that would come from such a local political conundrum. Of course it was all up to JKR to construct a story which would intertwine this storyline with characters that should prove to be engaging and complicated.

I remember when The Harry Potter series came out, how critics said JKR had broken all the rules when she named the series; "Harry Potter and ..."  - There was no way that this series would be taken seriously! Well the critics were wrong and I think those who said the title of this book was boring were also wrong.
Logged
October 05, 2012, 09:45:31 PM
Reply #3

JaneMarple9

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 439
Personally I hadn't a clue what "Casual Vacancy" stood for - like Armoracia says, I took it to mean relaxed. There again I'm not into politics :)
The setting seems perfect for lots of gossip.

"There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with a really big library"
Logged
October 29, 2012, 09:05:14 PM
Reply #4

Evreka

  • Quibbling Queen
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
    • Try & Trix
JKR explains how she came across the title in the New Yorker article 3. What, if anything different than JKR's explanation, does the novel title suggest to you?

I must admit that the tittle had little significance to me until I read the explanation of this being a term for a vacancy of an office due to failure to comply with taking the office, or a scandal involved with taking the office, or a death of that individual. I found the title a bit off-putting in fact. But like a lot of JKR's writing, it soon was obvious that she had revealed the initial storyline - in fact - the whole book's premise in those 3 words ... The Casual Vacancy! A pretty nifty bit of wording! One could almost see the hornet's nest of gossip and complications that would come from such a local political conundrum. Of course it was all up to JKR to construct a story which would intertwine this storyline with characters that should prove to be engaging and complicated.
According to Jo in an interview about this book, The Casual Vacancy in her mind also incorporates that there are all sorts of vacancies (or things missing) in the characters lives.

I'm not sure I would call those "vacancies" casual, though (unless I miss some meaning of the word)? What's missing in most characters lives in Pagford are mostly very significant things to each of them, I think.

Another thing I've wondered a lot over, is the cover. Is there anything in the election procedure in Britain to explain why the cover is red and yellow precisely?  :-\ If not, it can't be a mere coincidence that it's the Gryffindor colours, yet I fail to see where the Gryffindor values come in, unless it's related to Suhkvinder at the end? What do you think?
Logged
November 11, 2012, 01:06:58 PM
Reply #5

merrythought

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 115
According to Jo in an interview about this book, The Casual Vacancy in her mind also incorporates that there are all sorts of vacancies (or things missing) in the characters lives.

I'm not sure I would call those "vacancies" casual, though (unless I miss some meaning of the word)? What's missing in most characters lives in Pagford are mostly very significant things to each of them, I think.

Evreka, I agree that the vacancies are anything but casual, but are of tremendous impact in the novel.  There are many meanings to "casual" (trust Jo to select that word!):  accidental; unpremeditated; showing litte interest or concern; permissive; and, not close or intimate.  There is also the idea of being a casualty, which I think we could connect to several characters.   And, we could also consider that there might be a kind of irony in JKR's use of the phrase.

As for the red and gold, I have no idea!   :D
Logged
November 11, 2012, 05:50:42 PM
Reply #6

Evreka

  • Quibbling Queen
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
    • Try & Trix
Evreka, I agree that the vacancies are anything but casual, but are of tremendous impact in the novel.  There are many meanings to "casual" (trust Jo to select that word!):  accidental; unpremeditated; showing litte interest or concern; permissive; and, not close or intimate.  There is also the idea of being a casualty, which I think we could connect to several characters.   And, we could also consider that there might be a kind of irony in JKR's use of the phrase.
Interesting, all those meanings of the word, (I didn't know of half of them). It's a very interesting list... Many of those alternative meanings could well relate to various Pagfordians: "showing litte interest or concern" perhaps more than any other, one might even argue that the Pagfordians show little concern over the concern they lack...

Thanks a lot for the list! :D
Logged