May 2017 - The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, by Hannah Tinti

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twelvelives
hannahtinti

(Kim@Time2Read) #81

I think some of the best discussion my in-person book club has had have involved books most of us did not really like. Conversely, some of the worst have been about books we all liked a lot. In fact, I'm not sure you could call them discussion.

"What did everyone think of the book?" "I liked it." "Me, too".....
"What did you like about it?" "The main character!" "Oh, me too. She's was great!" "Yeah, she was."
"What did you think about 'secondary character'?" "He was a jerk!" "What a pig!" "Yeah!"
"Does anyone else have anything you want to say about the book?" "Nope." "I liked it a lot." "Nothing."

The discussions about books we don't like seem to go much better!


(Jennifer D.) #82

Welcome to discussion day!! :blush:

Please feel free to openly discuss any aspect of the novel from chapters "Hawley" though to the end of "Dogtown" (HC: pgs 1-81; PB pgs 1-103)

Below, I have included a summary of this week's reading along with some questions/discussion points for your consideration. I hope what we have read so far has given you a lot to think about and chat about here with us!!

Spoilers will follow if you have not quite finished the first part of our reading, so be aware of that.

Summary

Chapter 1 - “Hawley”
* Novel opens with Hawley teaching 12yo Loo how to shoot a gun
* Assortment of guns owned by Hawley, and he always carries one
* Learn that his wife, Lily, died by accidental drowning in Wisconsin; Loo was very small when this happened
* Hawley moves them around the country all the time, lives in temporary homes and motels
* Scene where 12yo Loo hand-rolls a cigarette for her dad
* 2 observations from Loo about her father: “This was how her father must see things, she thought. A whole world of bull’s-eyes…. Hawley was always watching. Always waiting.” (p. 8; PB)

Chapter 2 - “The Greasy Pole”
* With each move, they keep only a few possessions - buy new clothes, toys and whatever they need in each new town
* Loo values a telescope and a planishphere, which had been her mother’s, given to Loo on her 6th birthday. These always travel with her on moves.
* They eat ramen noodles, soup warmed in the cans, and chinese food on special occasions
* Loo's 11th birthday -- they are in a motel in San Francisco. Hawley gives Loo a chessboard as a gift. Loo plays alone. “Loo knew how to drown out noises. She’d been drowning out things for as long as she could remember.” (p. 14; PB)
* Hawley then moves them to Lily’s hometown of Olympus, Mass. Hawely stops at Lily’s mother’s house (Mabel Ridge). Loo waits in the car but observes the encounter.
* Hawley warns Loo not to go to “Dogtown” - a rugged, wooded area of town
* Hawley ends up buying a house “with money from a safe-deposit box in Boston.”
* He also buys Loo a yellow bicycle - her first one - which she learns to ride in a day
* They spend the summer digging clams
* Registers in a new school - the one Lily’s mum attended. Principal Gunderson went to school with Lily. His family owns a restaurant, so Hawley begins selling his catch directly to them.
* This doesn’t sit well with other fishermen in town, and they begin to menace Hawley/his possessions.
Joe Strand and Pauly Fisk, in particular, retaliate against Hawley -- Hawley eventually has enough and breaks Joe’s jaw, then drives over and throws Pauly in the ocean. But jumps in after him so Pauly won’t drown. Loo witnesses these incidents
* Hawley is left alone after these incidents
* Loo becomes a target at school, especially by the sons of Joe and Pauly. Jeremy and Pauly Jr. bully and harass Loo. Loo does not tell Hawley what is going on.
* Marshall Hicks, to quell rumours, follows Loo after school one day, takes her shoes and throws them in the ocean. Loo knocks him out with a piece of driftwood, then breaks one of Marshall’s index fingers. Marshall never tells.
* Loo then creates a ‘rock-in-a-sock’, and takes it too school.
* Loo corners Jeremy and Pauly Jr. in the bathroom and beats them with the rock-in-a-sock
* Principal Gunderson calls the dads in for a meeting. Peace brokered, but all three men agree to join Gunderson’s Grease Pole team
* At the event, Hawley takes off his shirt and he has bullet hole scars across his body.
* Hawley captures the red flag on his attempt, and the town goes wild.

Chapter 3 - “Bullet Number One”
* Hawley is on his own at 16, partnered up with 25yo Jove
* They break into a summer home, during the off season, to rob the place.
* Hawely is shot fleeing the scene
* They find cover somewhere and Jove extracts the bullet

Chapter 4 - “The Widows”
* After Hawley’s triumph at the Greasy Pole, he is no longer shunned. Women start to bring food over to the house.
* Some are true widows, some are ‘fishing widows’, with husband off on long catches
* Hawley has become a regular at the Flying Jib bar, and hangs out with Strand and Fisk
* Hawley is now also accepted at the daily market
* Loo, meanwhile, is struggling with anger.
* The taste of tangy rust fills Loo’s mouth when she’s ready to hit someone. (p. 49; PB)
* Loo is fighting with the girls at school. Gunderson threatens her with expulsion, so Loo turns her anger towards the parade of widows instead.
* Marshall and his mum, Mary Titus, show up at Loo’s. Mary has a petition and is against the commercial overfishing going on
* Mary sends Marshall up the street, but comes into Loo’s home. She pours Loo wine and they drink and talk.
* Mary sees the shrine to Lily in the bathroom and laughs.
* Loo, upset by the laughing, pushes Mary - who falls back and cracks her head on the tub
Hawley arrives home to this scene

Chapter 5 - “Bullet Number Two”
* Hawley, now 25yo, has a car, his guns, and $7K cash - on the road in Arizona
* He stops at a motel for the night, gets an uneasy feeling about two men in the motel office/backroom
* Young woman and her baby locked out of their neighbouring room. Hawley tries to help, but no one is around. “Amy” ends up staying in Hawley’s room
* During the night, the 2 men seem to be looking for Amy. A gunfight ensues. The two men are killed and Hawley is wounded.
* Amy takes Hawely to a doctor on a nearby reservation. She has seen his container holding the $7K in cash.

Chapter 6 - “Dogtown”
* Loo is now 16yo, and they’ve been in Olympus for 4 years. She’s just had her 16th birthday, where they went to the fair and Loo chose to go on the Galaxy Round Up. She pukes afterwards. Hawley gets upset that that carney was flirting with Loo. Loo feels empowered as she realizes she drew the carney’s attention. Hawley, meanwhile, checks for his gun, reminding them it is always on him.
* Though they are settled in, and Hawely is managing, Loo is still avoided/ignored
* Marshall is now Loo’s lab partner in biology class and they seem to get along
* Marshall invites Loo to a party in the woods
* On the night of the party, Loo rides her bike to Dogtown and follows the map to the party location, getting a little lost along the way
* There are lots of engraved stones, “save”; “truth”’ “work”; “loyalty”
* Marshall’s favorite stone says “Never Try. Never Win”
* Marshall kisses Loo
* The police arrive to breakup the party.
* Loo gets away and hides in the woods. She then goes to Mabel Ridge’s house.
* Mabel is dying lots of yarn. She brings out a box of Lily’s possessions, after Loo asks if there is anything of her mother’s around.
* Mabel refuses to let Loo have a photo, but Loo takes a lace glove.
* Mabel give Loo the keys to a Firebird to drive home… never asking whether Loo can drive/has a license (she doesn’t)
* Loo makes it home; parks the car down the road.
* Hawley has been waiting up -- he doesn’t get mad, just wants to know that Loo is okay.

Discussion Points and Questions

Please know -- the following points are provided to encourage our discussion, but should not be limiting for you in any way. Feel free to post your own questions and comments!! Hearing thoughts from all readers will help add to the experience for all of us!!

  1. This novel has an interesting structure as chapters jump between the current time and Hawley’s past. As well, years may have gone by (Hawley goes from 16 to 25; Loo goes from 12 to 16). Does this style of storytelling work for you? How are you finding the story, so far?
  2. The novel opens with a gun lesson for 12yo Loo. Is this a bold statement from Hannah Tinti, about what’s to come? What sort of impression does this give you at the very beginning of the story? Do you feel it is unusual for Hawley to own several guns, and strange that he would teach his 12yo how to shoot?
  3. We know from reading the table of contents that alternating chapters are titled for bullets #1 through #12. And we are given a glimpse of Hawley’s scars in the Greasy Pole chapter. After we read about Bullet Number One and Bullet Number Two, how did you feel?
  4. Hawley has been providing Loo a different sort of life, until they settle in Olympus. How do you feel about their father-daughter relationship at this point? Do you feel Hawley is doing the best he can? (Is anyone else wondering where his money is coming from?)
  5. Why do you think Hawley chose to finally settle in Lily’s hometown? How is Lily’s absence adding to the story for you? Do you think Hawley and Loo have been coping well with Lily’s death?
  6. Loo really struggles with her anger, and acting out on her impulses for violence. We aren’t given a lot of information yet… so what do you think is causing Loo such distress? Do you think Loo acted out in such ways before they settled more long-term in Olympus?
  7. Do you remember being the ages of Loo in this early part of the book (ages 12 through 16)? Does it feel like Tinti has done a good job capturing what things could be like for someone this age?
  8. We meet several secondary characters -- do you feel they have a strong presence in the novel? Do you feel any of these characters are, or will be, important to Loo as the story progresses?
  9. When Loo goes to the party in Dogtown, we hear about all the carved stones -- what did you think about this, and why do you think they are important to the story (if they are important to the story)?
  10. Which moment, scene, or quote stood out for you in this first section of reading? Are you keen to read on, to find out where this is all going?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about what we've read so far -- and I hope this read has been going really well for you all.

:slight_smile:


(Jennifer D.) #83

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on what we've read so far, Elizabeth!! Thanks for posting. I agree with, or noticed, so many of the same things that you did (which you will probably notice in the summary and questions I just posted. :blush:). This definitely feels like a very layered story -- lots to wonder about and pull apart.

That scene in the whale's heart... oh my gosh! I find Tinti's portrayal of Loo -- and this struggle she's having between anger, violence, and vulnerability -- to be so well done.

As I often find when reading fiction -- the lack of communication between characters is always interesting to me. In the case of this novel -- Loo not talking about being bullied, Hawley not talking about Lily... though they are together as father-daughter, and seem to respect and caring for one another, there is also a distance, and the feeling they are both living independent lives/always just doing their own thing.

I am finding the secondary characters quite well done, and I hope they continue to have a presence/importance in the story as we move ahead.


(Jennifer D.) #84

I have experienced this as well. With my current in-person group, so far, our reads have had mixed receptions, some liking and some disliking. So this really was the first time we've had a unanimous feeling for the same book. It was such an enjoyable chat.


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #85

1. This novel has an interesting structure as chapters jump between the current time and Hawley’s past. As well, years may have gone by (Hawley goes from 16 to 25; Loo goes from 12 to 16). Does this style of storytelling work for you? How are you finding the story, so far?

I really do like this structure - it's working well to bring this sense of mystery to the story - we are going back and forth and slowly it's being revealed, well, what we hope will be revealed as to how Hawley met his wife, what happened to her exactly? It's definitely a style that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's happening, what's going to happen next, etc.

2. The novel opens with a gun lesson for 12yo Loo. Is this a bold statement from Hannah Tinti, about what’s to come? What sort of impression does this give you at the very beginning of the story? Do you feel it is unusual for Hawley to own several guns, and strange that he would teach his 12yo how to shoot?

It's giving the impression of a hardscrabble life and upbringing! It's unusual, but we seem to be given the impression that it is necessary given Hawley's past?

3. We know from reading the table of contents that alternating chapters are titled for bullets #1 through #12. And we are given a glimpse of Hawley’s scars in the Greasy Pole chapter. After we read about Bullet Number One and Bullet Number Two, how did you feel?

I think this is really great! It's adding a very interesting aspect to the story, and I like how Tinti has structured this - we first see his body is riddled with bullet wounds, and then slowly we're given details to how each of them got there. So interesting!
I haven't read this article in Publisher's Weekly in depth (I don't want anything to potentially spoil the story! BUT - the image she has of the chart of the Bullet Wounds, the Chapters, the POV was really cool to see. (If you scroll down the article the image appears near the end.)

4. and 5.
There is a distance there isn't there? They don't seem to have a closeness? It's more of a wariness? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds - there is obviously a hate relationship with Lily's mom and Hawley - adding to the mystery of what happened here!

6. Loo really struggles with her anger, and acting out on her impulses for violence. We aren’t given a lot of information yet… so what do you think is causing Loo such distress? Do you think Loo acted out in such ways before they settled more long-term in Olympus?

The rock in a sock!! Holy smokes! Is this anger been bubbling up and now that they are in a constant place she's able to let it rise to the surface?
I think this is the "coming of age" aspect - before she's not as aware of the constant moving around - or it's something that she has liked up until this point before moving to Olympus. After so many years of staring at these pictures and seeing these items as a constant presence in her life - she's wanting to know more now. It's not good enough for Loo to know this was her mom - WHY does he keep these, why this shrine in the bathroom all the time? Why this shrine if he never speaks about her. I think the teenage angst is coming out and she's tired or frustrated with it all. (If that is coming across properly)

(I'll need to return to the other questions in a little bit.... :slight_smile: )


(BookBroad) #86

I find Loo's anger and ability to rein it in, up to a point, to be remarkably similar to her father. His reaction to the other fishermen, both ignoring them until they crossed his invisible line, and then the single, violent moment of reprisal was fascinating when seen through the lens of his past. Beyond that single violent interaction, he still seems completely disconnected from everyone. Even after he wins the flag and the other men begin to treat him as a loyal friend, Hawley never seems to be anything more than a dispassionate recipient. He goes along with their friendship in the same way he went along with their enmity, and I can see that disconnect forming in Loo as well.


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #87

I like the visual mapping out of the Points of View - Seeing the chapters from Loo's POV and then Hawley's POV.
This structure is something that I really like and I look forward to seeing how they connect or pull apart.


(Jennifer D.) #88

Thanks for sharing those, Penny!! I had them up my sleeve to include with our discussion and you saved me some copying and pasting! YAY!! :joy:

I've had a funky day, but will be back in a bit to engage with the comments shared -- thank you @Penny_Kollar and @BookBroad for taking some tie to adding your thoughts!!

Back in a few....


(Jennifer D.) #89

I love that you made this connection! It's so true how similar they are in how they manage their anger, and how they control (or not) their emotions.

after only reading about 2 of the bullets and the injuries... i am seriously concerned for Hawley's longevity. the human body can only take so much, eh?! :scream:


(Sararuna) #90

The structure of Twelve LIves works so well and each almost stands on it's own as a short novella. I love how for each bullet and subsequent life in Olympus the stories simply float out with no completion.

Since I grew up with a father who hunted learning about guns and how to shoot seemed completely plausible then as we learned more about Hawley's life his motivation on a different heft.

As Hawley's scars were exposed the structure of the book really dawned on me and I was eager to see how each dramatic/tramatic event unfolded. The chart is amazing, I hadn't seen it before yet it really ties things together...and yes I completed the book, how could I not!

Even though Hawley was estranged I believe he'd hoped to tame some of Loo's wildness by reuniting her with her grandmother. As Loo enters her teenage years her hormonal explosion, coupled with Hawley and her desire to learn more about her mother.

Ah, the stones. At first I read Never Try Never Win, then later realized punctuation completely changed them, Never Try, Never Win! I googled and discovered there really was a Babson Carved Rocks at Dogtown. I think they become a pivotal thread.

This book stays with you!


(Kim@Time2Read) #91

I love how you summarized each chapter!

1. This novel has an interesting structure as chapters jump between the current time and Hawley’s past. As well, years may have gone by (Hawley goes from 16 to 25; Loo goes from 12 to 16). Does this style of storytelling work for you? How are you finding the story, so far?
This style is working well for me. I like the glimpse into the past, trying to figure out what happened that led up to the present day.

2. The novel opens with a gun lesson for 12yo Loo. Is this a bold statement from Hannah Tinti, about what’s to come? What sort of impression does this give you at the very beginning of the story? Do you feel it is unusual for Hawley to own several guns, and strange that he would teach his 12yo how to shoot?
Well, I've not been around guns and have no desire to be, so this is all speculation on my part, but I don't find it unusual to learn that Hawley own several guns. Even though I haven't been around guns, I do know there are gun cabinets and display cases for collections and that gun owners often have more than one type of gun. Of course, Hawley may not be in the 'collector' class. I really don't find it strange that he teaches his 12 year old to shoot. I think that is probably common for people who own guns, and it is probably good they teach their children to handle guns safely. And at this point in the story, it seems likely that Hawley believes there may be a reason that Loo needs to know how to defend herself if a situation arises.

3. We know from reading the table of contents that alternating chapters are titled for bullets #1 through #12. And we are given a glimpse of Hawley’s scars in the Greasy Pole chapter. After we read about Bullet Number One and Bullet Number Two, how did you feel?
It made me want to know more. It was pretty easy to think at the beginning that Hawley may be an evil person who was constantly in trouble, hence being shot 12 times. However, the first bullet shows him at a time when he was young and vulnerable and easily influenced by an older friend. The second time he was trying to do the right thing, being protective.

4. Hawley has been providing Loo a different sort of life, until they settle in Olympus. How do you feel about their father-daughter relationship at this point? Do you feel Hawley is doing the best he can? (Is anyone else wondering where his money is coming from?)
They seem to me to have a pretty good relationship. Hawley is obviously concerned with Loo's well-being, and she obviously loves him. He worries about her and is devoted to her. I don't really know if he is doing the best he can, but he seems to be trying. I'm not sure why he is continually on the move, and I don't think the constant moving is helping Loo, but I do believe Hawley was doing the best he could.

5. Why do you think Hawley chose to finally settle in Lily’s hometown? How is Lily’s absence adding to the story for you? Do you think Hawley and Loo have been coping well with Lily’s death?
I think Hawley realized that Loo needed some stabliity in her life, though sadly, at this point it appears he waited too long. I think he was also hoping to help her connect with her mother through the grandmother. Right now the absence isn't adding much for me, except there is a bit of mystery. I know we are told that Lily accidentally drowned, but I'm thinking there is probably more to that story. I don't think Hawley is coping well at all with Lily's death. The 'shrine' just doesn't seem normal after all these years, though truthfully, I don't remember if we've been told how long ago the drowning happened. I think in one sense, Lily is coping because it is all she knows. However, Hawley's pain has been taken on by Loo, and I think a lot of her anger issues will probably be traced back to the absence of her mother.

Ok...I'm going to break here and come back tomorrow to add some more thoughts!


(Kim@Time2Read) #92

Ha! I've been good and stopped with Dogtown. I was afraid if I didn't I might accidentally reveal a spoiler as we discuss this week's reading!


(Jennifer D.) #93

Thank you!! I have found it very useful with online book club discussions.

And thank you for all of your great thoughts on the book so far.

Heh!! :slight_smile:

So far, I've been good and am keeping with the schedule. But, it's HARD!


(Jennifer D.) #94

Just a reminder that this week's reading covers:

May 7th - 13th: Chapters "Bullet #3" through end of "Weathervanes"
(HC pgs 82-162; PB pgs 104-205)

And new discussion points for this part of the novel will be posted on Sunday, May 14th.

So far, it feels like everyone is quite taken with the story, so I hope the book continues to keep you engaged!

All of the observations and comments you have been sharing are terrific -- and definitely have me thinking about things from different angles. I love how this adds so wonderfully to the read!!

I have been thinking on my responses to the questions for week one, and definitely need to gather some thoughts to share here!!

:blush:


(Jennifer D.) #95

So, one of the things I am VERY curious about is the source of Hawley's money -- to buy the house, and sustain them while he was struggling with employment when they first arrived in Olympus. I am thinking more on this will be revealed as we read further, but it is a huge curiosity for me at the moment. :slight_smile:

I am also curious about the stones of Dogtown -- definitely want to know about them, how they came to be, who created them... hmmm!!!

They structure of the novel is working well for me too. Non-linear storytelling is, generally, something I enjoy. I think one of the things I am appreciating with how Tinti has written this book is that this non-linear style adds an extra emphasis on the idea of 'how well do we really know someone?' people are complicated, and relationships deal with a whole lot of unknowns.

That rock-in-a-sock scene totally stood out for me. The anger Loo has going on is sad, and her pre-meditation was just a little chilling. For all of the good moments we are shown between Hawley and Loo, it's been a very unsettled life. Perhaps being moored to Olympus feels like her freedom has been curtailed - adding to the issues that are making her struggle (mum's death, being bullied, no friends/other family...) even though she seems free to come and go as she pleases in town.

So much to consider!!

Can't wait to get in to the next part of the reading, to see about some more bullets... and life in Olympus.

:blush:


(Kim@Time2Read) #96

6. Loo really struggles with her anger, and acting out on her impulses for violence. We aren’t given a lot of information yet… so what do you think is causing Loo such distress? Do you think Loo acted out in such ways before they settled more long-term in Olympus?
Well, I don't think we know, but I'm guessing she didn't act out as much for a couple of reasons. For one, she was never around long enough to make friends OR enemies. Also, she was younger, and while there may have been some bullying going on, I don't think for very young children, especially ones who are used to being alone and feeling different, it may not be as big an issue. Middle school is hard for any kid! I'm guessing the distress is partially from moving so much and never being able to form long-term relationships; not knowing HOW to form longterm relationships. Also, the not knowing about her mother — about the circumstances of the drowning, her life in general — is causing Loo to question who she is and how she fits in. I think the shrine leads her to believe her mother was pretty much perfect and the comments Hawley makes — 'just like your mother' puts a lot of pressure on Loo to live up the these unrealistic ideals. I think Hawley may recognize this, too, which is why he brought her back to settle in her mother's hometown.

7. Do you remember being the ages of Loo in this early part of the book (ages 12 through 16)? Does it feel like Tinti has done a good job capturing what things could be like for someone this age?
It's been a long time since I was those ages and a time when kids were more naive. There weren't designer labels. But the writing does seem authentic and it is easy to think these events are not out of the ordinary. Well, other than Loo getting away with attacking the boys. I've got to think that would be dealt with more harshly in most schools now.

8. We meet several secondary characters -- do you feel they have a strong presence in the novel? Do you feel any of these characters are, or will be, important to Loo as the story progresses?
Most of the secondary characters, other than Marshall, have not yet had a strong presence. I think the principal may have a bigger part in the story, and I'm hoping the grandmother becomes more important to the story. And of course Lily, though not actually present, is always there in the background, so she has a prominent role in hte story.

9. When Loo goes to the party in Dogtown, we hear about all the carved stones -- what did you think about this, and why do you think they are important to the story (if they are important to the story)?
I think there is a story behind the stones that will turn out to be important, but at this point I'm not sure what it is. I think Marshall's favorite may be particularly significant and I'm looking forward to continuing the story to find out why.

10. Which moment, scene, or quote stood out for you in this first section of reading? Are you keen to read on, to find out where this is all going?
I'm not sure there is a moment that stood out to me. I do like the 'tenderness' Marshall is showing towards Loo. I also like the very brief interaction with the grandmother. I can't wait to find out where this is all going. I am particularly interested in learning how Hawley and Lily met and why the grandmother hates Hawley so much that she would avoid her granddaughter. And of course, I'm interested in the Marshall storyline.


(Kim@Time2Read) #97

This has me wondering, too! I feel like somehow it ties in with Lily, but I'm not sure how. And of course, it could have nothing to do with Lily!


(Jennifer D.) #98

LOVE these observations, @Kim!!


(Kim@Time2Read) #99

Ok....I'm revising my answer. I've been thinking about the book (we are packing up our house for a remodel and wrapping glassware in paper leaves a LOT of time for thinking!) and there IS one moment I keep coming back to. That is the scene where Loo enrolls in the local junior high, and Principal Gunderson mentions that he knew Lily and they were friends. Hawley asks him to tell something about Lily and the Principal says "She was a free spirit" and "Everyone liked her". Hawley points out that that is not what Lily told him and the Principal replies "I mean.....I like Lily....I liked Lily very much".

I feel like this is significant somehow. At this point, I'm thinking that Principal Gunderson was Lily's 'Marshall'; the quiet kid who liked Lily and tried to be her friend. I hope we learn more about this as the story develops!

I also have to say, I'm really enjoying this 'stretched-out' format for bookclub. Unlike my in-person bookclub where we all finish the book before we meet to discuss it, this slow reading is leaving lots of room for speculation. I can't wait to hear what others think!


(Jennifer D.) #100

Awww!! That's nice. I am also hoping Gunderson has a larger role as the story unfolds.

I am so happy to hear you are liking the format we are trying here, Kim!! Thanks for saying so. :blush: