Book Tour: Water for Elephants

I actually thought Lemonade for the Elephant would be a better title, but maybe that’s why Sara Gruen is a bestselling novelist and I am one of her readers.

This is my 7th book tour with the Barren Bi+ches, but my 1st for a non-IF-related book. I found it much harder to find a focus and more difficult to develop questions. With the other books, I had a sense for what my fellow readers would think in certain situations. But with Water for Elephants, there was no known common ground. No shared focal point. I felt like a chicken let out of the coop onto the big open range.

Or maybe like a camel let out of a train car after a long Joliet-to-Providence run.

What is your favorite circus related memory?
I have only one circus-related memory and it’s not a good one. My parents had taken us to the Greeley Stampede (cross between a circus and a carnival) with my parents one summer when I was about 11. Through the course of the day I ate a few pickles. And later on some cantaloupe.

It was stiflingly hot. After we saw the animals, my sisters and I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl, our favorite ride. Something happened, though, after we got off the ride. Gurgling and burbling, the contents of my stomach were churning about and causing me pain and nausea.

I found a trashcan, topped with rotting-in-the-heat cotton candy, just in time to hurl.

It was decades before I could eat pickles or cantaloupe or cotton candy again.

Are you still with me? The answers get better, I promise. (At least I’ve given you low-hanging fruit [ahem] on which to comment.)

Looking at himself in the mirror, the old Jacob tries “to see beyond the sagging flesh.” But he claims, “It’s no good….I can’t find myself anymore. When did I stop being me?” How would you answer that question for yourself?
I’m not even halfway to Jacob’s age, but already I wonder, at times, where the 19 year-old Lori went. Or the 24 year-old Lori. Or the 37-year old Lori.

But I don’t feel I have ever stopped being me. If anything, I continually become more Me.

It seems like you go through the first part of your life adding to yourself. Trying on. Acquiring.

And the last part of your life is spent shedding. Discerning. And finally, losing. This part of Elder Jacob’s viewpoint brought a little panic to my innards. Like Jacob, I fear losing my stuff, my loves, my well- functioning body, control of my destiny.

Something that struck me about this book in particular was the rich, descriptive way the author handled Jacob as an elderly man. His frustration was so apparent, his physical manifestation so perfectly described, that of all of the elements of this book Jacob the Elderly is what stays with me. You had the sense that Jacob didn’t foresee his latter years being the way they were, and his almost “ride off into the sunset” ending perhaps what he had envisaged for his end. Do you think about what’s at the end of the road someday? When you think about it, what do you see for yourself?
Did you read A Prayer for Owen Meany? (spoiler alert: don’t read this paragraph if you plan to read the book). The premise of being able to see, in a premonition, your own tombstone both fascinates and frightens me. Would YOU want to know the date of your death?

Or the manner?

I once volunteered for Hospice. As part of the training, we had to write about our own death.

It was impossible for me. Try as I might, I could not come up with anything except the super-predictable and bland ending where I die in my sleep.

Let it be so. Let me be the picture of health until then. And let me have helped my children raise their children to adulthood.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list here. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Empty Picture Frame by Jenna Nadeau (with author participation because she’s a blogger!)
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Chicklet reveals this season’s must-have shoes for both style and comfort. They are SO must-have that she bought TWO pairs. Make sure to visit the current entry on All Thumbs Reviews.

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Say Goodnight, Dick.

0 thoughts on “Book Tour: Water for Elephants”

  1. I agree – I had a little more difficulty shaping my answers for this non-IF book. I enjoyed the read, but the themes didn’t fall into something that I felt would be shared by the entire IF blogosphere. Just a few years ago, my husband and I went to the State Fair, and ate a lot of weird stuff – and then rode some sort of tilt-a-whirl. I was fine, but the poor guy didn’t do so well. I wasn’t even sure I was going to get him home! I highly doubt he will ever ride anything again!

  2. Goodnight, Dick. (I loved Laugh In when I was a kid!) I too find the non-IF books harder to develop questions for… although I can almost always find an IF angle, lol. I too find myself becomeing more fearful as I get older. Even without infertility, I think you become so much more aware of how fragile life really is & how easy it is to lose the things you hold dear. (TMI alert) As for your fair experience, I’m glad you were able to find a garbage can… I was never sick at the fair myself, BUT I had someone on a ride high up in the air lose their lunch while I was standing close by. My friends thought it was hilarious, but almost 30 years later, I still can’t think about it without gagging.

  3. I agree – I had a little more difficulty shaping my answers for this non-IF book. I enjoyed the read, but the themes didn’t fall into something that I felt would be shared by the entire IF blogosphere. Just a few years ago, my husband and I went to the State Fair, and ate a lot of weird stuff – and then rode some sort of tilt-a-whirl. I was fine, but the poor guy didn’t do so well. I wasn’t even sure I was going to get him home! I highly doubt he will ever ride anything again!

  4. Goodnight, Dick. (I loved Laugh In when I was a kid!) I too find the non-IF books harder to develop questions for… although I can almost always find an IF angle, lol. I too find myself becomeing more fearful as I get older. Even without infertility, I think you become so much more aware of how fragile life really is & how easy it is to lose the things you hold dear. (TMI alert) As for your fair experience, I’m glad you were able to find a garbage can… I was never sick at the fair myself, BUT I had someone on a ride high up in the air lose their lunch while I was standing close by. My friends thought it was hilarious, but almost 30 years later, I still can’t think about it without gagging.

  5. I third ‘lemonade’. (Or, “Contaminated Water For Rubes”)It was an entertaining story, but still just seemed kind of flat to me.Cracking up about your mention of Jacob’s ‘sagging flesh’ after the remark about ‘low hanging fruit’.Treat insight about the first part of your life being about ‘adding’, the second about shedding. Perhaps we’re always doing both, but in the first part the net effect is adding, while in the latter the net effect is shedding. Which brings the question, has the balance shifted for me yet, and if so, when? Did waiting until my 40’s to have kids prolong the moment of that shift?I’d like to hope that we don’t become NOT ourselves, but more fully ourselves–refined, concentrated. The parts of the lives we lived before still with us, and informing who we become, but still always with us.I guess that’s my hope, that at the end of my life I don’t feel I have ‘lost’ myself, but have perfected it, and am fully connected and participating in my community–because I have so much more to offer. Perhaps Jacob’s isolation at the end of his life is about his attention being on his losses–what he has shed.Thanks for provoking some more thought on this, Lori. I enjoyed participating in this with you, too. Love.

  6. I third ‘lemonade’. (Or, “Contaminated Water For Rubes”)It was an entertaining story, but still just seemed kind of flat to me.Cracking up about your mention of Jacob’s ‘sagging flesh’ after the remark about ‘low hanging fruit’.Treat insight about the first part of your life being about ‘adding’, the second about shedding. Perhaps we’re always doing both, but in the first part the net effect is adding, while in the latter the net effect is shedding. Which brings the question, has the balance shifted for me yet, and if so, when? Did waiting until my 40’s to have kids prolong the moment of that shift?I’d like to hope that we don’t become NOT ourselves, but more fully ourselves–refined, concentrated. The parts of the lives we lived before still with us, and informing who we become, but still always with us.I guess that’s my hope, that at the end of my life I don’t feel I have ‘lost’ myself, but have perfected it, and am fully connected and participating in my community–because I have so much more to offer. Perhaps Jacob’s isolation at the end of his life is about his attention being on his losses–what he has shed.Thanks for provoking some more thought on this, Lori. I enjoyed participating in this with you, too. Love.

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope you can make a good circus memory with your kids at some point :) I agree with Gabrielle. I also liked your thoughts on losing/not losing yourself.

  8. Lori, I love, loved, loved this answer:“But I don’t feel I have ever stopped being me. If anything, I continually become more Me.It seems like you go through the first part of your life adding to yourself. Trying on. Acquiring.”Beautifully said. Confession here: I cried when I turned 20. Because I was convinced that I would never in my life has the intensity of feelings (good and bad) that I had experience in years leading up to it. 14 years later, and so, so wrong. How was I to know that I was just beginning acquiring the me that exists now, and that she would have the capabilities that I do now? How are we to know?

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope you can make a good circus memory with your kids at some point :) I agree with Gabrielle. I also liked your thoughts on losing/not losing yourself.

  10. Lori, I love, loved, loved this answer:“But I don’t feel I have ever stopped being me. If anything, I continually become more Me.It seems like you go through the first part of your life adding to yourself. Trying on. Acquiring.”Beautifully said. Confession here: I cried when I turned 20. Because I was convinced that I would never in my life has the intensity of feelings (good and bad) that I had experience in years leading up to it. 14 years later, and so, so wrong. How was I to know that I was just beginning acquiring the me that exists now, and that she would have the capabilities that I do now? How are we to know?

  11. I loved your reply to the second question – about becoming more you, adding on and acquiring more. What a neat way of looking at it. Thanks for your insights!:0)

  12. I also had a hard time thinking of a question for a non-IF book (which is why I chose the one from the back of the book).Thanks for sharing your answers!

  13. I loved your reply to the second question – about becoming more you, adding on and acquiring more. What a neat way of looking at it. Thanks for your insights!:0)

  14. I also had a hard time thinking of a question for a non-IF book (which is why I chose the one from the back of the book).Thanks for sharing your answers!

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