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Topic: Michener

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Subject: Michener
Date Posted: 10/13/2008 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
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Do you consider James A. Michener's Chesapeake to be a classic?  Why or why not?  Have you read any of his other novels?  How do they compare?  Which is your favorite?

I just started reading this last week and am currently 1/3 of the way through.  I can't believe I've never read it.  I may be biased because I now live in the region, but I'm so intrigued, this is an excellent novel.  I love all the intertwined relationships and the scholarship is top notch.  My favorite line so far, "...those Americans who lived within the benediction of the Chesapeake ..." (p381).

I am reading a library copy, but this is a book I must own.  As soon as I get a credit for a book I've mailed, then I'm ordering it.

 

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 1:10 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
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I don't know if I consider it a classic (since folks have different definitions of what that should include), but I loved that book.  I read it way back in high school, and have recently collected a copy for myself to reread.  (Of course, thanks to this site, I have a rather large TBR pile.)  I grew up near enough to the region to identify with the terrain and the history in the book, so that may have been part of the appeal for me.  I am always impressed with Michener's research, too.

After enjoying Chesapeake so much, I tried some of Michener's other books and was never able to get hooked the way I was for Chesapeake.  I'm not sure if I just needed to get older to enjoy them, or if I needed the regional connection.  (When my TBR pile shrinks, maybe I should try again.)

 

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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There's a kind of a joke about how one gets ready to spend the winter up in "Lake Wobegon" country in Minnesota.  Preparations include stocking two or three James Michener books . . . .

Personally, the Michener tome that impressed me was Hawaii.   I found the interactions between all the different racial and ethnic groups fascinating.  The writer does "flesh out" his characters pretty well, doesn't he?

Date Posted: 10/15/2008 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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I'm not sure what genre Michener's books would fall into. Not classics. Looking at the forums, I wonder about putting them under historical fiction, but that doesn't seem right either, because the books are so all-emcompassing as far as timeframes for a region.

Anyway, yes, I've read and enjoyed Chesapeake. I'd also recommend Centennial and Texas. On the other hand, one I could not get interested in was Space. I have a copy of Tales of the South Pacific (which is not nearly as BIG as the others) on my to be read list.

Date Posted: 10/16/2008 8:36 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
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I'm kind of jumping in here and I apologize.  I read some of Michener's books a long time ago. 

Last night I was looking up the meaning of some book-related words - I think it started with "potboiler" - and I ran onto "airplane book."  I'd never heard of this (it's on Wikipedia, of course, lol).  I was astounded to find Michener mentioned there.  Boy, somebody reads faster than I do or else they had long flights!

BTW, I was also looking for a definition of "historical fiction" since the line between some of these genres was confusing me.  I know there will be a certain amount of overlap but I was having some problems getting any handle on it.

BTW, I enjoyed whatever Michener book(s) I read at the time. 

(Edited because I checked and I'd definitely read Hawaii and not Tales of the South Pacific.)



Last Edited on: 10/16/08 8:41 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 10/19/2008 9:16 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
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Let me ask in this thread - what's Michener's best book? If somebody had never read any Michener, and thought he should check out at least one book by the guy, what would be the best one to read?

Subject: Michener
Date Posted: 10/19/2008 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
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I would suggest that you select one featuring a geographic area that you are familar with or interested in.  I hope others who have read more Michener novels, will also respond with specific title recommendations.  Once I finish Chesapeake, I plan to read The world is my home, which is not a novel, but autobiography.

Please post your thoughts here once you make your selection.

Date Posted: 10/19/2008 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
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I've only read one Michener---Hawaii.  I am thoroughly glad I read it, because it was huge and quite an accomplishment.  It was about 800 pages.  I felt like I'd finished a long-distance race when I finally finished it.   I was exhausted sometimes at the middle.  But by the end, well--the scope, spance and sheer grandeur of it all was so interesting.  But whew!  It was long and sometimes tiresome.  But also enthralling and a page-turner.   

I am very glad I stuck with it and gutted through it.  Because now I can say, "I've read a Michener".

Date Posted: 10/20/2008 7:17 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
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I have to agree with Matthew--start with one that features a geographic area that you identify with.  I think that's why I enjoyed Chesapeake so much.  Because of my interest, Michener's detailed research-based prose wasn't tedious to read. 

I'll have to look at his titles again.  Now that I've moved a couple of times, it occurs to me that I may find some of his other novels more interesting.

Date Posted: 10/21/2008 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
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Rick, I would definitely read Chesapeake. SOme of his I can read and some not, but I really think that one is the best. It's on my list to re-read. I read it before I lived in Maryland, and don't live there now, but there are images he created in my head that have lasted since 1983, and which frequently surface. For example, every time I hear or read "Quaker" or see of even hear a goose.

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 10/22/2008 8:39 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
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Well, given that I grew up in Maryland, and went to school and lived in Virginia, and I trust jk h's recommendations, I better make it Chesapeake. goodreads.com rates The Source a bit higher, but I'll read Chesapeake. If I like it, I'll read another one.

Date Posted: 10/22/2008 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
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Just remember when the canvas is that large, the paint's a little thin! Like Rutherford's books.

Date Posted: 10/22/2008 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
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In my "defense," I don't believe Michener had even written Cheseapeake when I was reading him.  Now I can't believe I once read such long books.

Who stole my attention span?

Date Posted: 11/24/2008 11:12 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2008
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The first Michener I read was The Drifters.  Then Recessional and The Source. I've read half of Poland and the first 50 pages of Hawaii. His books are truely amazing. I consiter failure to finish my issue, not his.

I esspecally love The Source. I would love to read it again, but it is very, very long.

 

Date Posted: 11/25/2008 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
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Thanks for the recommendation, Matthew--I've lived in Hampton Roads, VA for almost six years, so I guess Chesapeake would be a good intro to Michener for me, too!

Date Posted: 12/15/2008 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 12/11/2008
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I make a point to read a Michener novel at least once a calender year.  I've read Centenial which is the only novel by him to be made into a motion picture.  I think it was his most widely sold novel.  Earlier this year I read Texas at 1311 pages it is the longest novel I have ever read. There are a couple of fairly short novels by him, 300-400 pages called Legacy and The Journey.  They pretty good reads also.

Interesting discussion about reading the novel first that closley matches where you live.  As I mentioned above Centenial was my first Michener novel.  While Centenial takes place in Colorado's high plains it's the closest geographicaly to where I live.  Chesapeak hadn't even corssed my mind because it's 'back east'

For 2009 I'm leaning toward The Source for my yearly Michener novel.

Date Posted: 12/25/2008 4:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2008
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Heh! I reside in Hawaii, but haven't reread the book since moving here 21 years ago. I read it as a teen, many years back and was enthralled by the "lusty" parts of it (the way only a teen boy can be.)

I am really more a fan of non-fiction and science fiction nowadays, but looking back, my favorite of Michener is The Source. Stories within a story makes for suitable intervals of reading without trying to hold onto too many characters at once. Covers a VERY long time period in the Holy Land.

I have read Centennial and I think Chesapeake, too. So long ago. I know I read Caravans and Tales of the South Pacific as well.

I also attempted The Drifters but found it trite and insipid. I think most reviewers of the time of  its release agree.

If I were looking for another to read of his, it might be The Covenant, about South Africa...

Subject: Caribbean
Date Posted: 1/8/2009 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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Michener's Caribbean is an excellent read. Like most of his work it is extraordinarily long but in the end worth it.

Date Posted: 1/10/2009 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 1,385
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I read Chesapeake a long time ago and loved it. I would also recommend The Covenant. My thing with Michener is that he always seems to start at the beginning of time, but once you get into the book--it is fantastic. You definitely learn about a region of the world. The only one that I tried but could not get into was Poland.

Date Posted: 1/11/2009 12:04 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2007
Posts: 559
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I'm glad I came across this thread.  I picked up a couple of his books at a library sale but I haven't ventured reading them yet because they are so thick.  I am going to try to read them this year.  It's hard for me to read as many books right now because I am going to school full time and working full t ime but I will try to read them.