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Topic: Opinion about an author

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Subject: Opinion about an author
Date Posted: 3/12/2008 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2007
Posts: 559
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I was wondering if anyone could tell me how James Michener's books are.  I have a couple of his books but they are mighty thick books.  I picked them up because I just wanted to read a different author.  I wanted to make sure I wouldn't get bored with it before I started reading it because they are very long books.

Thanks for the help!

Renee D. (pontiacgal501)


Date Posted: 3/12/2008 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 5,548
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Well...I've been reading Hawaii since last month (!).  It is massive for sure, but it is also a fabulous and very interesting read.  And it will feel like a real accomplishment to be able to say I read it.  It's my first Michener book, and though my next book will most assuredly be both slimmer and lighter (so I can rest!!), I will definitely read more Michener in the future.  I say by all means give him a go.

Date Posted: 3/12/2008 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2007
Posts: 1,477
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Authors come and go and still people read Michener.  My son picked up "Tales of the South Pacific" (one of which is the basis for the movie musical 'South Pacific') and ended up doing a report on him as a short story author in his high school class. 

Some are better than others.  I loved Hawaii, remember reading "Space" and couldn't get into a 3rd one.  They are all well researched and begin at the beginning of time and end at the story he wishes to tell.

My advice, start the book, and if it doesn't grab you within 100 pages, move on to something else.  So many books, so little time!

Date Posted: 3/13/2008 7:52 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Oh, but for Michener, you should give him about 150-200 pages to grab you!  Seems as though he has the same MO in every novel: Pick a location (Hawaii, Texas, Mexico, Alaska)...begin with the formation of the Earth, move through dinosaurs and the coming of man...and THEN begin the plot.  The first time it was neat.  The second time...okay, already. 

Now, here's where I admit I didn't read ALL his novels.  I would start with Centennial or Hawaii, I think.  I remember liking Poland, but I couldn't pronounce anyone's name!!  I think I finally assigned my own names to the characters to make my reading flow easier! LOL...

Date Posted: 3/13/2008 10:39 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2007
Posts: 559
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Thanks for the help!  I'll give it a try and she how it goes.

Date Posted: 3/13/2008 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 1,241
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I think Hawaii and Texas are perhaps the easiest of all his novels to read. Perhaps you could start with one of those.

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
Posts: 626
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I adore Michener.  The last one I read was The Novel.  No talk about the beginning of Earth in this one.  It is about the process a writer goes through to get his book published.  I LOVED IT.  I was lead into some interesting new book directions.   If I recall there is also a murder  in this story. 

I also read: Hawaii and loved it, Centennial - loved it,  The Source - loved it.

People who don't like him say he's wordy or uses too much description.  I devoured them. 

I have some others on my tbr.

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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I've read a couple Micheners years ago and I agree that his endless wordy beginnings starting with the dawn of time have been a drag in some cases.  But he has one book that didn't have so much of that, a novel called The Drifters, about a group of young people who meet in Spain and end up driving around Africa together in a van.  I've read it a couple times and really enjoyed it.

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 2/29/2008
Posts: 20
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My mother loves Michener.  I never could get into all that detail. 

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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I just requested The World Is My Home which is his autobiography.  I haven't read any of his novels, but I would like to sometime.  This book looks really interesting.

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 643
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I have Hawaii on my bookshelf. Read it years ago and loved it.

Last Edited on: 3/15/08 10:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/17/2008 3:58 AM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2007
Posts: 47
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I remember reading a fair amount of Michener after Centennial was made into a TV mini-series.  Discovered that the trick is to just skim over the first chapter or two, after that he gets interesting.

Date Posted: 3/17/2008 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
Posts: 215
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I have read Hawaii, years ago. After that picked up Centennial & it wasn't til page 175 or after that the story started; have not read since; simply to much detail for me; i like to spend time reading like Gene Wolfe who writes differently so it is a concentrated effort to read but is extremely well written stories; or books like Lee Child's Jack Reacher series that move & have action etc in them; i am sure if you have lots of time to read & enjoy extremely long books before coming to conclusion with extreme details in them this choice is good; try one & see if you like it; the books were very good; would i spend that much time reading more of his? no. To many excellent authors out there to spend that much time on one that overwhelms me with details at this time of my life.

Date Posted: 3/17/2008 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2006
Posts: 9
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I say go for it!

I've read several by him and I think they are wonderful - really get you into the time/place/characters in the story.

As an author, he reminds me of Michael Crichton - not in style or topics, but because each book is about an entirely different place/time and each requires an immense amount of knowledge/research. I do admire that in both of them.

One thing I would say about Michener is that if you try this book and don't like it, don't rule out others by him, since each is about such a different topic, you're bound to find one you'll find interesting. = )

Date Posted: 3/17/2008 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,509
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I agree with the skim until you pass the formation of the place he's going to talk about.  Hawaii was my favorite, but I've been there, so that may help.  I also really liked Poland but found Alaska to be interesting but not as good as the other two.

I have Centennial in my TBR pile.

Last Edited on: 3/17/08 5:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/17/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 150
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THE DRIFTERS is one of my all-time favorite books!...and i haven't been able to get into any other Michener books since...but i've recommended THE DRIFTERS to lots of other people.  Its a very different "formula" than his other books. 

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 1,241
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Thanks for reminding me about Drifters. I haven't read it for years and years. I'm going to have to dig it out and give it another read.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 333
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I don't recall The Drifters.   It sounds kind of like Iberia or Caravans, but I read them so long ago I don't remember much.

I loved The Source.  It's about an archeological dig in Israel.  When an artifact is found, a story is told about the people associated with it. 

I also liked Chesapeake.

Years ago a friend told me of a review of a Michener book (Texas, maybe?).  The reviewer first suggested not buying the book, but if you did be sure not to drop it on your foot.



Date Posted: 3/20/2008 6:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,509
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 be sure not to drop it on your foot.

Tee hee, so true!

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 7:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2007
Posts: 559
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I dug my Michener books out and I have Chesapeake and Centennial.  I may wait awhile before I read it though.  I want to try to get some of my thinner books read.  I also have right many wish list books that I want to read and try to make someone happy.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,535
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I enjoyed Hawaii, but was bored to death with others.  Michener's books are very detailed which is something I don't really care for in my books.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 10:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 1,385
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I loved Chesapeake and The Covenant. The beginning of time thing gets wearing. I love tracing a family or a place over generations though. That is the fascinating thing about Michener.