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


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #121

OH! Heh -- just really taking a look at that cover now - and look at that - she does have the same wounds/scars as Hawley. Hmmmmm.
And more hmmmmmm - is it Loo or is it Lily?
Interesting, interesting....

(Elizabeth M. Nosal) #122

Hmm...Loo shooting Hawley. Definitely an interesting theory. It does seem like one of the big questions is whether Loo will become like Hawley or will forge her own, separate path. (Seems like Marshall echoes this struggle in his relationship with his mother and the looming memories of his father and stepfather.)

I'm reserving judgement about the water/whale symbolism for now, but I do like the overall sense of Hawley and Loo being up against forces so much greater than themselves, with the motifs of the powerful ocean and the vast, starry, meteor-filled sky.

Hawley wanted to change after what happened with Maureen, but we get this line of explanation: "It was easier to fall back on what he knew than try to change, even though he understood things weren't right anymore" (p 123, HB edition). That seems to be Hawley in a nutshell, as a younger man anyway. And when he inserts himself into the Ed King/Lily mess, he compares it to "the meteor shower...a trail of cold rock suddenly burning to life" (133). Unless Hawley is embroiled in some kind of life or death standoff -- especially where someone else's life is at stake, too -- he isn't fully alive. Once the danger is over, he slips back into his role of follower.

I notice all the Bullet stories come back to women in one way or another. It's one thing that keeps me from writing Hawley off as an idiot who keeps making his own trouble and ignoring his own instincts. It will be interesting to see how all of these stories compare and the threads that run through all of them when we come to the end. We talked about the gun collection last week, so when Hawley was taking inventory as he sat there in the booth about to face off with Ed King, I was thinking about how he might have been building up his store of weapons over time as a protective measure. This also makes me suspect the theory about Hawley moving Loo to her grandmother's town to protect her is accurate.

I'm glad you've been talking about the other cover here. I often judge books by their covers. I've discovered some of my favorite writers this way, so I'm pretty unapologetic about it at this point. With my cover, the outside has a watery and dark and turbulent look. The actual cover features the formal, beautiful map of the constellations with the cherubs on the margins. Together they do a nice job at hinting at the constant tumult of the story and the way the characters seem a bit a trapped by fate, tiny players in a giant, threatening universe.

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #123

Huh!! Awesome observation! I'm reading past this section just now and up to Bullet #5 -- and it's true for that too. (I don't think that gives anything away...??)

Since I'm not so great on symbolism unless it kind of smacks me in the face, or I hear others discuss it...I googled water symbolism and came back with these two hits that make complete and great sense when applied to this novel:

The biblical meanings: The word "water" is used in a variety of metaphorical ways in Scripture. It is used to symbolize the troublesome times in life that can and do come to human beings...
In some contexts water stands for enemies who can attack and need to be overcome.

In literature: Most often, water represents cleansing, life and freedom. Water is a contextual symbol in literature, however, meaning that it can symbolize many things depending on how it is used in a novel or a story.

Oceans, on the other hand, because of their scope in relation to the earth, often represent obstacles or abysses from which things emerge or that characters must journey across to reach a destination. Oceans are often symbolically mysterious places that can symbolize overcoming a great obstacle or being dragged down into deep depths by it.

Water generally cleanses, however, and it inevitably becomes a symbol of characters in stories handling difficult life scenarios. In any case, water is a symbol of power in stories. It has the ability to free characters as well as claim them.

Pretty cool eh?? I love how these explanations are so closely related to The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (in my opinion anyway). Perhaps not too original googling it - but I really liked what these had to say!! :wink:

(Elizabeth M. Nosal) #124

The explanation of the ocean symbolism seems dead on, right?

I have no idea what I really think of the scene with Loo seeing Marshall in the water and first thinking he is Lily. I have a feeling it will suddenly make sense when I read something else down the line or when I'm washing dishes. Anyone else?

(Jennifer D.) #125

@Penny_Kollar and @Elizabeth_M_Nosal -- thank you so much for your really terrific thoughts on last week's reading!! very interesting ideas in both of your commenting!

right?? and the other thing i notice/feel is that he also tends towards wanting to help when he is finding himself in the violent situations. so he can't be completely cold-hearted and lost.

i am also glad you mentioned the stars/meteors, elizabeth! i had a bit in the summary written up (when lily's tattoo was mentioned), but somehow missed including it when transcribing it over to google docs. doh! (plus - on the cover of my edition - the marks on the silhouettes, which seem to represent the twelve bullets, are also star shaped.)

the vastness of oceans and space are hard to ignore, wondering how they will come together in this story.

so cool, eh?? i had definitely thought about water and cleansing... but didn't know about the oceans, specifically, meaning overcoming great obstacles, or begin dragged down. hmmmmm!!! :slight_smile:

i'm very much with you in not being sure. i did wonder if it is just Loo's longing for her mother, her curiosity about what really happened to Lily, and then Loo's loneliness/lack of friends, which manifested in her being unsure about what she was actually seeing in the water.

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #126

Oh hahaha!! Yes @Elizabeth_M_Nosal!! In the shower is when some of my best thinking happens! :joy:

(Kim@Time2Read) #127

I like my cover with the planosphere(?) but I also like the one on your book, Jennifer. Interesting theory that is could be Lily, but I'm leaning towards the back cover being a silouette of Loo. I like how the poses seem to mirror each other.

(Kim@Time2Read) #128

I'm not so good with symbolism, either! So I really appreciate your googling skills!

(Kim@Time2Read) #129

I'm having trouble forming answers to this week's questions. I'm not so good with symbolism. So I'm just going to cherry pick questions to answer, and make a random observation or two.

Do you think Loo seeing Marshall in the water, but thinking it’s Lily for a moment, is foreshadowing? Or is this something else?
Again, I'm not good at symbolism, and I'm not good at foreshadowing either. I DO think it is significant, but I'm not sure how. My first thought was that Marshall and Lily are somehow related, but that really doesn't make sense. I'll be interested to see what the tie-in really is!

Did you know that the woman in the diner was Lily as soon as she walked in the door? Why do you think Tinti held off identifying Lily until the very end of that chapter?
I can't say I knew it immediately. Every time a woman appears I've wondered if it was Lily! But I was pretty convinced it was Lily when she started sharing her milkshake with Hawley.

How would you describe the relationship between Loo and Marshall now?
I don't think we can know at this point. We don't know if Marshall is angry that Loo got him into this, or if Loo resents the fact that Marshall didn't come to her defense. Even if we did, I think that is something they could overcome. But her dad threw him against a wall out of anger, and his mom revealed that the kids weren't innocent buddies. The conflict with the parents might be a little harder to put behind them!

Do you believe the kids are right in forging the replacement petition? Is Marshall justified in his fear of telling Mary about what happened to the original petition?
I don't think forgery is right. I don't know if his fear of Mary is justified. We haven't been given any reason to think Marshall would be in physical danger. I think they would have been better just collecting the signatures again, but that would have taken time β€” time they were obviously enjoying together.

Why do you think Mabel reported the firebird as stolen?
I'm not sure. I think she enjoyed her short time with her granddaughter and hoped to have more of those times. Perhaps she is disappointed that Loo has not returned the car, giving Mabel the opportunity to interact with her again. It may be her anger over being denied that opportunity that led to her calling it in, or it may be a hope that Loo will come back to her. She had to know the car wasn't stolen, but that Loo had it,

What is Hawley thinking when he take Lily to steal the car(s) from the impound lot?
That is hard to say. At one level, it is his wife's car, and he wants it because of his memories of her and the connection it will give him to her. So he probably wasn't thinking beyond that when he impulsively took Loo with him to steal cars. But really β€” WHAT was he THINKING getting his daughter started in a life of crime? I want to think of Hawley as a good father who puts his daughter first. And he does seems to love her and protective of her. But he seems to be possesive, too, particulary of Lily and memories involving her, and carries over to his behavior towards his daughter.

Random thoughts....

I thought the enjoyment that Hawley got in Ch7 when he punched the other guy seemed very much like Loo when she gets the metallic taste right before she attacks. Both have anger management issues. What else will they have in common? Is Loo set to follow the same criminal path that Hawley followed?

(Jennifer D.) #130

no worries at all, Kim -- i am fairly terrible with symbolism myself and while i managed to notice water playing a role, and feel we have a redemption/rebirth on our hands... that's the extent of my symbolism smarts. hahaha!! :joy: but i want to throw things out there that we can collectively chew on. i love how everyone's thoughts add terrific layers to the read and it's been hugely helpful!!

right?? i felt like that moment when Loo 'did as she was taught' and put her head down to hotwire the car and follow Hawley's lead was... significant. maybe?? it's hard for a child to go against a parent. but this situation seemed like a different level of... peculiar for their father-daughter relationship.

(Jennifer D.) #131

Hi everyone!!

How are you all doing this week?

Just checking in to see where you are at with the reading? I have not yet read this week's section... but I am looking forward to it very much!

Is this pace and process working for you all?


(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #132

Hi! I did finish it - only because I felt like I was spending too much time away from it each break? If that makes sense. I do think the next section coming up this week was my favourite part of the book - there is a lot that builds on what we've been talking about this week, so it will be great to dig back into it!

I'm good with the pace - the summaries and questions help ground where we're at each week to discuss without any spoilers - so it's all good for me! :wink:

(I know we're only half way through this one - but thinking ahead...any ideas on what our next one might be?? NO PRESSURE! Just's been great having this kind of online book club available again!)

(Jennifer D.) #133

Totally makes sense -- I am feeling the same way, and may just read right through once I pick it up again. It's a challenge for me to stretch out my reading. :slight_smile:

There are some thoughts for our next book club selection... but we haven't totally finalized it yet. :wink: I will let you all know for sure as soon as it's decided.

(Jane D) #134

I am a little late to comment this week....things got away from me. Jennifer, thanks again for the summary and discussion questions!! Also a shout out to everyone's comments. It makes the novel more 'meaty' to have other points to ponder.

I am going to address some of Jennifer's questions but a very mixed up manner (sorry).

  • Hawley does't know how to swim (at least in "Bullet #3 he confessed he didn't) and his father died on the water
  • Loo sees Marshall in the water, imagining him an apparition of Lily (this comes after having obtained the photo of Lily covered in seaweed and the scrapbook with newspaper cuttings about her death)
  • Halley & Jove see a whale that almost capsized their small boat during their escape in 'Bullet #3'
  • Marshall's father (a fisherman) died in the water and his ex-step-father is a Greenpeace-type protester who is out on the water protesting
  • The community is dependant on fishing and Hawley and Loo harvest shellfish to earn money....but I noted that Hawley does not go out on the water to harvest fish/shellfish.
  • And let's not forget the greasy pole contest that saw Hawley capture the flag as he fell into the water. (Did he know how to swim out of the water when this happened??? We aren't told.)

I am not sure what it all means. There has been a great deal of tragedy on the water in this story. The there more to come? The ocean is an amazing, magical place with hidden depths. Whales are certainly majestic creatures and two famous whales in text came to my mind during the scene of Jove and Hawley making their getaway in "Bullet #3"- Jonah's whale and Moby Dick.

Thanks for your summary of the water symbolism, Penny! Cleansing, mystery, rebirth, hidden all fits here.

Maureen and Hawley in Bullet #3
The thing that struck me about Hawley in this chapter is that is really hit home how connected he is to personal mementos. We already know that he has his own shrine to Lily consisting of photos and memorabilia that he has held onto for years taking from place to place. It is were he goes to self calm. But what struck me in "Bullet #3" is that Hawley has a reverence for other peoples memorabilia. Here are two instances that are evidence of this in "Bullet #3":
pg.89 (hardback edition US) Hawley chose a coffee mug from the cupboard with the photo of Maureen and Talbot on it. Maureen told him that Talbot had given it to her for Valentines day. After which he didn't want to use it: "He felt strange then and didn't want to drink from the cup anymore." There is also the letter that Maureen from Talbot that she told Hawley about (pg.93). When Talbot took the dying(?) Maureen from Hawley, Hawley told him that Maureen wanted the letter. (pg.98-99)
I think that this encounter solidified in Hawley something that was missing in his life...a home, and some one to love.

I knew from the description of the young woman entering the diner that it was Lily. For me the mention of the black lace gloves was the big give away. I think that holding off on Lily being identified until the end of the chapter was for dramatic effect. For me, Tinti is doing a great job at this in the chapters.

I think that this goes back to Hawely and his reverence for mementos and personal items. As soon as he heard that the car was registered to Lily a 'switch' went off and he had to get that car. I think he felt that he or Loo was entitled to it.

Ok, now I have a question/observation.
I am finding it super refreshing that nowhere in the book so far is there mentions of cell phones or computers etc. The teenagers are not calling each other or texting each other. Why do you think that Tinti left this out ? Or is this book set in pre cellphone dependant days? The only mention to 'technology' that I have noticed is when Hawley shot out the video cameras at the impound lot. Just wondering other readers thought. I don't miss it being there at all. However it does have me question the time that the Olympus, Mass. chapters of the story is set.

I will leave this here for now. I have to get to reading this week's section!!
I, too am thinking, that I may be reading through to the end this weekend. It seems to be ramping up!

(Penny / Literary Hoarders ) #135

Love this observation Jane!! - missing in his life - the home, someone to love - nice!!

I want to say more about water - because now that it's been brought up, looked into - there is more about it - and I'm looking forward to talking about it when those parts come up in later discussion. :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #136

LOVE this, Jane!!!

thanks for all of your great comments -- and no need to apologize at all!! the questions are totally there to use, or not; pick and choose, or build upon - whatever works best for you is great for us!! :blush:

and i totally agree that hearing from others in this discussion is making the novel more meaty!! great experience so far!!

(Kim@Time2Read) #137

I was wondering the same thing! Jennifer_D, will this be a monthly book club? I'm enjoying this one!

(Kim@Time2Read) #138

I'm just getting started on this section today! Based on what I've read so far, I figure it won't take more than tomorrow to finish, and then I have to wait for Sunday until the next discussion! So I didn't want to read it too soon!

(Elizabeth M. Nosal) #139

That is a nice moment when Hawley doesn't even want to drink out of the mug once he knows its significance. I originally read that response as a sign of guilt, since he knows full well the kinds of things he and Jove might do to Talbot. But nice to think of the moment as one of reverence instead/too.

You know, I started reading Bullet Five, and it got me thinking again about Hawley more or less schooling Loo in how to be a professional criminal. I saw that same switch flip at the mention of Lily being the owner of the Firebird. But I also am bothered by how it feels like Hawley is laying claim to Loo. He throws Marshall against the wall (and Loo was expecting this, was almost relieved when she finally saw Hawley react violently) and then the very next thing he does is make a professional out of Loo. I suppose I can understand his fear of losing her, and she is only 16 or 17 here even though she is out of school. But he puts Loo in a position where she doesn't have much choice, doesn't he?

(Very slight spoiler: The fact that we see Hawley reflecting on Lily's relationship with Mabel at the beginning of Bullet Five got me thinking about this. I just started the chapter, but my impression is that Lily is going to feel torn between Mabel and Hawley.)

And about whether Hawley can swim in present day -- I'd really like that cleared up, because if he can that means he moved away from his father's philosophy.

I also keep turning in my mind how Hawley tells Mary Titus that people don't like to think about the future and that's why they resent her petitions. I assume he recognizes that mindset in himself?

I think one could argue that if any teenagers would be able to avoid technology addiction it would be these two loners, Loo and Marshall, whose parents might not be quick to spend money on technology. I like the timelessness of the story, either way.

Oh, and so glad I'm not the only one wondering about the next book. :slight_smile:

(Jennifer D.) #140

so very true. in my mind, i keep coming back to that moment when she is about to hotwire the car and it read as such a resigned/without choice moment to me 'she just put down her head and did what she'd been taught' (paraphrased). that has really stuck with me.