Dog-eared and Cracked

The Night Circus

December 13, 2020 Jay and Phil Season 1 Episode 10
Dog-eared and Cracked
The Night Circus
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Dog-eared and Cracked
The Night Circus
Dec 13, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Jay and Phil

It's Jay's pick this time and he recommends the The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Listen in as Phil and Jay muse on the optimal number of characters in a novel.

(Spoiler alert, it's not  π. )

Phil explains the reasoning behind his lack of reckless disregard for fire, while Jay somehow manages to fit sock puppets into the conversation. Will Phil enjoy the Night Circus enough for their friendship to survive this test of literary limits? Tune in to find out.

Have some feedback on one of our shows?  Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/Dog-eared-and-Cracked-112028897241197 or at www.dogearedandcracked.ca and leave some feedback. We'll read it on the show.  Even if it's about how much you disagree with our ratings. Really we will still read it on the show.  Maybe. Possibly. Likely. Ok, honestly we won't. Hey, don't be like that. Wow.  Fine. yes, ok already. We'll read it on the show anyway.

Show Notes Transcript

It's Jay's pick this time and he recommends the The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Listen in as Phil and Jay muse on the optimal number of characters in a novel.

(Spoiler alert, it's not  π. )

Phil explains the reasoning behind his lack of reckless disregard for fire, while Jay somehow manages to fit sock puppets into the conversation. Will Phil enjoy the Night Circus enough for their friendship to survive this test of literary limits? Tune in to find out.

Have some feedback on one of our shows?  Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/Dog-eared-and-Cracked-112028897241197 or at www.dogearedandcracked.ca and leave some feedback. We'll read it on the show.  Even if it's about how much you disagree with our ratings. Really we will still read it on the show.  Maybe. Possibly. Likely. Ok, honestly we won't. Hey, don't be like that. Wow.  Fine. yes, ok already. We'll read it on the show anyway.

Phil [00:00:12] "Secrets have power. Magic is secret and secrets are magic. And years upon years of teaching and sharing magic and worse, writing it down in fancy books that get all dusty with age, has lessened amd removed its power bit by bit. It was inevitable, perhaps, but not unavoidable. Everyone makes mistakes."

 

Jay [00:00:49] Welcome to Dog-eared and Cracked, the podcast where each host subjects the other to his taste in books. Sometimes we are rewarded with the experience of reading a book we may not have otherwise enjoyed. Other times, our lifelong friendship may become seriously threatened. Philip K. Dick, anyone? Regardless of the outcome, we always end up laughing about it. Best of all, for our podcast listeners, no reading is required. If you do want to read along with us, head to dogearedandcracked.ca to see our upcoming titles. We'll also tell you more about what we have coming up at the end of the show. I'm Jay. 

 

Phil [00:01:26] And I'm Phil. 

 

Jay [00:01:26] And this week we're discussing my pick: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. 

 

Phil [00:01:33] Now, before we get into the book, I just want to say that if you like the podcast, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. The reason that's important is that, you know when you search for podcasts and it starts popping up suggestions for you? Well, the more ratings and reviews you have, the more likely you are to be on that list. So we're easier to find and it allows us to reach more people. And you can also leave us feedback at dogearedandcracked.ca,  and who knows, we might read it on the show. 

 

Jay [00:02:03] Phil, before we get into the book, tell us a little bit about the author, Erin Morgenstern. 

 

Phil [00:02:09] So, yeah, Erin Morgenstern, I knew absolutely nothing about her life, but I did go beyond the Wikipedia page. You know, she's born in Massachusetts. She's a theatre grad. Having read The Night Circus, I was not entirely surprised to learn that she's also a visual artist. And one of her works was illustrating a tarot deck in which the illustrations are entirely in black and white. It's called the The Phantomwise Deck. Now, Jay, do you know about National Novel-Writing Month? 

 

Jay [00:02:42] No, no, I don't. 

 

Phil [00:02:43] OK, so it's a thing where every November, it's called NANOWRIMO for short. And the idea is that you commit to writing a first draft of a novel over the month of November, a minimum of 50,000 words. So you register, you don't have to pay anything, but you just register as a way of stating your intention. And then there's all these people all over the place banging out these drafts of novels. I think, very impressively, my daughter actually did this in high school one year. So The Night Circus started out as a national novel-writing month project. Morgenstern has said that she's not a write everyday kind of writer. She's more of a binge writer. And so that's how she wrote this book. She did the first drauft in one month. And I did read a story in The New York Times in which she talked about what she thought the appeal of The Night Circus would be. And I liked her quote. She said, "I thought it was going to be a weird book that maybe a few weird people would like, and there were far more weird people than I expected." So, the book has sold millions of copies and been translated into 37 languages. It's been optioned for film. She has a funny frequently asked questions page on her website where she says things like, no, I don't know when the film is coming out or how you can get a part in it. 

 

Jay [00:04:07] Yeah, I actually read that. I can't believe people are asking that question. Clearly, I'm going to play the lead role. Don't they know that?Wow. 

 

Phil [00:04:19] After The Night Circus, she said she played a lot of video games, didn't know if she was going to write another book. And then she holed up in western Massachusetts for two years in a house with no cable or Internet and wrote her second book, The Starless Sea. 

 

Jay [00:04:35] Yeah, which I understand isn't really a sequel, is that correct? It's more of the same kind of genre, but a different book. Different story. You know, we did promise our listeners that no reading was required, so I guess we should probably provide a summary of what this book is about. 

 

Phil [00:04:51] I was thinking our listeners are probably readers. We shouldn't tell them, be  like, "Go out and read the books! Buy them at your local independent bookstore!"

 

Jay [00:05:01] We're not condemning reading. We're just saying we're trying to expand our audience to those who have never picked up a book in their life. 

 

Phil [00:05:09] So you want me to give a summary of the book here?  I will, I'll give some spoilers, but not maybe the hugest ones, really. It's a book about love and magic and fantasies and being trapped in them. So, it takes place between 1873 and 1903, mostly in the late 1880s and 90s. And there's a brief kind of part of it that takes place in the present, although you don't really realise that until the end of the book. So here's here's our setup. There's a magician called Hector Bowen, whose stage name is Prospero the Enchanter. And right at the start of the book, his illegitimate five year old daughter Celia is dumped on him after his ex has killed herself. And Hector trains Celia in magic. And we learn pretty quickly that he's no illusionist. He can really make things disappear, you know, bend things, heal bones and so on. And then this nameless and seemingly ageless other magician, a guy who has no shadow, appears and he offers Prospero a challenge. One of them challenges the other, I don't know. They each have a ward and they challenge each other. So Celia and her counterpart, Marco, train for years. They don't know who their opponent is. They don't know what the challenge is. They don't know when it will take place, and they don't know how they can win it. And while that's going on, this wealthy and eccentric impresario called Chandresh Christophe Lefebvre creates this seemingly magical circus that only runs at night. Everything is black and white. It has these weird attractions like a tent full of bottles that have different smells that evoke stories, a maze of clouds. You could actually find a full list of the tents online. I went and looked. I thought, somebody must have must have catalogued these. And sure enough, they have. So it turns out that the circus is the venue for our challenge. Our heroes are the two challengers, Celia and Marco. And they they keep creating these like wilder and more amazing tents, which are part of their mortal combat, that they're, they're locked in this mortal combat and they're trying not to fall in love with each other at the same time. So that's what the book is about. And, you know, having read it, actually while I was reading it, I kept thinking, OK, of course, we always ask each other, why did you want me to read this book, which I'm very curious about. And I also have to say that if you liked it, I felt like I may have to completely reassess some of my assumptions about you and your tastes. 

 

Jay [00:07:47] Well, my first book was, of course, The Warriors, but that didn't seem to fit the criteria of a romance novel. So I had to pick something different. I like this book because it -- and I wondered if it might fit kind of what we're trying to do with with books outside of the usual, call it bromance. What I liked about this book is it's effectively it's a romance novel, but it's one written very differently than your traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc.. The author, Erin Morgenstern, she's created something romantic. And she's got descriptions of fall evenings and the sights and sounds of a turn of the century circus. It's one of those books that it's been a few years since I first read it. But, you know, it always stuck in my mind as an enjoyable read. So I thought, what the heck? It's something I wouldn't mind rereading. And I thought you might enjoy it.  

 

Phil [00:08:44] Now, how did you come to read it in the first place? 

 

Jay [00:08:46] I had to think about that because I was trying to remember how I got onto this book in the first place. And I think what happened was because I bought it around the time that was published, I think it was one of those books that was showcased in the bookstore. You know how some books are on a shelf of their own or the their shelves face out so that they're more appealing to the eye. And the cover was an interesting black and, black-and-white kind of design with a cardboard cut-out. And I was a sucker for that. I leafed through it, I liked the pace of it. And the storyline seemed interesting. 

 

Phil [00:09:26] You know that depending on the bookstore, it's like the supermarket. A lot of the -- depending on the bookstore -- a lot of the publishers have paid to have their books placed like that. Facing out. 

 

Jay [00:09:35] Well, I'd always wonder about that. And then I started thinking, jeez, you know what? Maybe I should buy my own independent bookstore and showcase my own books. Let's see how that goes. Just write under a pseudonym, expand the chain, and then you'd expand sales. Look, I'll find room on the shelf for Adventures in Bubbles and Brine, if you want just a few extra bucks there, Phil. one of the things that I found interesting about about this book is  the narrative perspectives. And they're constantly flipping around. For example, dispersed throughout the book is a side plot. And you had mentioned this, where -- this is where the reader finds themselves approaching, walking into and entering a circus show and then experiencing that. And as you get further into the main plot line, you realise that that subplot that involved you as a reader was about going to see this actual legendary circus and possibly even to witness the showdown itself. It's not clear as to what part of time you're in. And the main storyline as well  is told by different characters. And I was wondering, what did you think of the multiple narrators as a storytelling device? Was this distracting or complimentary? 

 

Phil [00:10:51] I mean, I didn't find it distracting. It's, it's really, it is a relatively linear plot. Right? I mean, it takes place over two converging timelines. Right. So you've got the Celia story. And then we introduce this other character called Bailey. And, you know, and that's in a different timeline. And then as as the chapters move forward, those two timelines get closer and closer together. So you realise at a certain point they're going to converge. And then the part where you're actually seeing the circus yourself is written in the second person and only comes in every so often. And you only realise, I think near the end, that that's actually the present, because I believe it gives an email address and the rest of the book is taking place in the late 19th and early 20th century. 

 

[00:11:40] Now, the thing about this, like, I didn't mind the plot, the plotting, or I didn't find it confusing. The thing that kind of surprised me is that the book uses devices that I normally like, I really cannot stand, so one of them is writing in the present tense, like I find that tiresome at the best of times and, you know, maybe tolerable, like up to a novella length, but not past that. But a whole novel full of it? I was like in the beginning, I thought, OK, how much longer is this going to carry on? And then writing in the second person, which is, "you approach the circus," you... I mean, to me, that's even more irritating than writing in the present and it makes me think of those like, you remember those old tex-based computer games? Like, "you lock the door behind you. 

 

Jay [00:12:31] Yes, yes. 

 

Phil [00:12:31] "The troll jumps."

 

Jay [00:12:32] That's right. 

 

Phil [00:12:33] So, but here's the thing. Like, I really dislike those, but I did not particularly dislike them -- in fact, I didn't really mind them in The Night Circus. So somehow I was surprised that I did not hate these devices in this book. And I mean, I guess that's maybe a testament to, you know, Morgenstern being a really good writer, a better writer than most people who use these devices. It might be because the book is really imaginative and it just, it makes its world seem so real that I didn't mind that. 

 

Jay [00:13:09] Yeah. 

 

Phil [00:13:09] So, yeah, I mean, I wasn't bothered by the multiple plots. 

 

Jay [00:13:15] The third plot -- so if we if we say the first plot is is Marco and Celia, the second is Bailey, the third is you yourself as a reader -- I found the last one didn't really add anything to the story. I would describe it as kind of high-quality filler, but it was really only a page most of the time. So I didn't mind it, but it really didn't convey anything to me. 

 

[00:13:40] I mean, I think she was trying to convey a sense of mystery, but it didn't really come off for me. I found it a little distracting, but that's probably one of the only harshest criticisms I'll come up with for this novel. What about the pace, the pacing? Because that would play into it as well, I think. Right. In terms of you can get away with a lot of things that in other books might have hired you. But if you can work on a pace of the novel, did you find it moved along quickly enough or lag? Or...

 

Phil [00:14:11] Yeah, I liked the pacing. I mean, I was curious about how that Bailey storyline was going to connect with the rest and it does take quite a while to get there. But I also didn't feel like I was in any kind of hurry to get there. I was willing to go along and see, you know, see how it went. 

 

[00:14:28] But, you know, I want to go back just a sec to that that second-person plot line. I mean, I think the point of that really comes at the end when you see the email address. I can't remember where it is. I think it's on a card, maybe because you realise that this circus has persisted till the present, right? It's like 130 years later or whatever. And that the "you" who's going to the circus now -- that it's still around. I mean, I think it's maybe a lot of, a kind of a kind of circuitous way to get us there. But I think that's the purpose. 

 

Jay [00:15:04] Well, you -- and you get why she named her character Bailey, don't you? 

 

[00:15:08] Barnum and Bailey Circuses? 

 

Phil [00:15:11] Oh, of course, Jesus. Well, well, now... 

 

Jay [00:15:20] I'll edit that out, Phil.

 

Phil [00:15:25] No. Totally over my head. I admit it should not have been. 

 

Jay [00:15:38] Let's, let's talk, let's use that as an example then, because... So this boy Bailey is basically dared to sneak into the circus and that chapter is the first one where we meet Bailey. But it takes place 12 years from the previous chapter. So, did you find that the book jumped around a little too much in time and location, or did that work for you? 

 

Phil [00:16:07] I don't know, I mean, we're sophisticated readers, aren't we? 

 

Jay [00:16:10] I had to mark down the dates on a piece of paper to keep them straight! So, I guess it's sophisticated because I used a fountain pen to do that. But it really, I found it, I found it a little complicated. And this is even my second read around. My impression is that she conveys a really good sense of design and performance in her writing. And that's a huge theme. I mean, it is the circus, I suppose, and definitely details are everything to her writing. And I was going to ask you, are there any passages that really stood out for you? 

 

Phil [00:16:46] So, yes, there weren't any passages that really jumped out at me. But having said that, you know, even if there are no individual passages, I was really swept away by this whole idea of the circus, right? I mean, I don't read a lot of fantasy. So maybe this book seemed like it was more special or unique to me than it is. But to me, I felt kind of swept away by this, you know, just captivated by this whole notion of the circus and the circus as the arena for a challenge, you know, because you've got this audience who are watching, but they don't really understand what's going on, even though  they're enchanted. I think it's a lot more interesting than having gunfighters blow each other away. But but I felt a bit like the circus goers, like, OK, what's the next tent going to be like, you know, oh, like there's a tent full of bottles. What happens when you open them? And... 

 

Jay [00:17:42] Yeah. 

 

Phil [00:17:42] And the ones, yeah, I mean the ones I like the most  were -- I guess instead of individual passages of writing, I was thinking more about which tents and acts drew me the most, and for me, they were less the huge fantasy, like lots of platforms, carrousel kind of ones, than the more simple emotional ones. Like, there's one where there's a pool of tears and you pick up a stone and you feel some kind of burden and you're burden is relieved when you throw the stone, you know, into the pool. 

 

[00:18:15] So, you know, I like those simple ones. 

 

Jay [00:18:17] Yeah. 

 

Phil [00:18:17] Resonated with me. 

 

Jay [00:18:19] There's a real sense of flow. I don't know how to describe it. It's almost like poetry. There's for example, and I'll just read this to give the listener kind of a feel for what her writing is like. And if they're interested, they can read the book. There's a description of how a bonfire is lighted. And this bonfire is a pivotal piece to the novel because it inaugurates the circus and at the same time is always lit and becomes ultimately the focal point of power in the in the circus. But I'll just read this out. 

 

[00:18:57] "As the clock begins to chime near the gates, the first archer lets his arrow fly, soaring over the crowd and hitting its mark in a shower of sparks. The bonfire ignites in an eruption of yellow flame. Then the second chime follows. The second archer sends his arrow into the yellow flames and they become a clear sky blue. A third chime with a third arrow, and the flames are a warm, bright pink. Flames the colour of a ripe pumpkin follow the fourth arrow. A fifth, and the flames are scarlet red. A sixth brings a deeper, sparkling crimson. Seven and the fire is soaked in a colour like an incandescent wine."

 

[00:19:36] And she goes on, of course, to spell out the rest of the chimes of the clock. But it was that kind of poetry that I really enjoyed. And I agree with you. The tense, the the specifics of kind of the creativity, I guess, is what really resonated with me on that. 

 

Phil [00:19:54] Yeah, because it's for me, it was not like anything else I had ever read, I found I didn't -- I did not love that passage with the lighting of the fire. 

 

Jay [00:20:04] Oh, OK. I didn't realise it was offensive. Are you -- you're afraid of fire, Phil? 

 

Phil [00:20:16]  I'm cautious about fire. We, we, um yeah. 

 

Jay [00:20:23] Let's let's talk about characters. 

 

Phil [00:20:24] Let's say we've had, my family has had a few houses burned down, so... 

 

Jay [00:20:34] Oh God, so I apologize for reading that passage. 

 

Phil [00:20:35] No, no. 

 

Jay [00:20:35] Well, there's another character as well that we haven't talked about yet. His name is Frederic Thiessen, and. 

 

Phil [00:20:39] He's a great character. 

 

Jay [00:20:41] Yeah. Yeah. So he he designs the clock for the circus, right? And... 

 

Phil [00:20:47] Yeah. 

 

Jay [00:20:47] He becomes so enchanted with the circus after he does that and visits it that he begins to write and write about it. And in the process of sharing the word about the circus, he taps into people's love for it and he actually ends up becoming the founder of a group of night circus followers, called Les rêveurs. I guess, which would be something akin to like Deadheads who follow the Grateful Dead everywhere they tour. 

 

Phil [00:21:12] Only more challenging because they never know where the circus is going to be next. 

 

Jay [00:21:16] Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's just part of the fantasy. Like, clearly this would not work and we'll talk about that in the real world. But it's a stylised version of something. 

 

[00:21:26] But what I thought was cool about this idea of of following the night circus, wherever it went and the writing about it and really developing that love for it. Have you ever had kind of that kind of rabid affinity for an event or a show and like what would something have to do or look like for you to feel that way about it, Phil? 

 

Phil [00:21:50] Do we talk about Phantom of the Paradise here? 

 

Jay [00:21:53] Yes, please. So what is it about Phantom of the Paradise that really appeals to you? Can you describe it? 

 

Phil [00:22:00] Part of me thinks maybe it's just because I saw it for the first time when I was like 13 or 14 and it was so weird and unlike anything else I'd ever seen. But it does have that kind of appeal among certain people, right? Like there are huge fans. I mean. For me personally, actually, the closest I've come to this, I would say, has to do with one of your favourite musicians. I say that sarcastically. 

 

Jay [00:22:27] Poison? 

 

Phil [00:22:27] No, Bob Dylan. 

 

Jay [00:22:32] OK. 

 

Phil [00:22:32] So, Dylan is the performer I've seen more times than anywhere anyone else. Like I've been to nine Dylan shows in three countries and he's the only person we've actually, like, travelled. I think that I have travelled specifically for a show. Like, you know, several years ago when Phoebe, my daughter, was turning 16, she said, "Bob Dylan's playing in Montreal, like around the time of my birthday. Can we go?" And I was like, I don't know, it's a lot of money, da da da da da, and then it's like, no, screw it, we're going. 

 

Jay [00:23:08] Have you seen the first Shrek movie? 

 

Phil [00:23:11] Yeah, I think it's the only one I've seen. 

 

Jay [00:23:13] That one blew me away to the point where, the movie had been rented for Erin and Sean, but once they're in bed, I just had to stay up and finish it, even though it's just -- it's obviously a kids' movie, but I was enthralled. And I don't know if it was the character development. There's subtle humour, animation,  just this plotline that was a refreshing riff on tropes and parables. So that was something that sticks in my mind. And the other is actually there's a show in Las Vegas called Absinthe, and it's it's like an anti Cirque de Soleil performance. And...

 

Phil [00:23:52] So, like lots of animals? 

 

Jay [00:23:54] Yeah, yeah, well, I mean, that's just it, right? Cirque de Soleil was in itself an alternative to the old Barnum and Bailey circus idea. So we've come full circus -- oops, I mean, full circle now. It had acrobats and it's like a raunchy version of Cirque du Soleil. It's like an aggressive comedic show paired with acrobats, and it's in a tent that was very similar to kind of what I think The Night Circus was going for as well. It's a great show. 

 

Phil [00:24:21] Yeah, I thought one thing I found interesting was that the Night Circus doesn't only have these wild fantasy kind of tents. It also has your kind of normal circus tents, right? There are acrobats and there is an illusionist and you've got a Tarot card reader and, you know, a fortune teller. So it's not all this wild stuff. It's also, it also does do like regular circus things, too, right? 

 

Jay [00:24:50] Mm hmm. It's just an enticing place that she's she's created for the reader and enticing, imaginative world like almost a universe within a universe. That's something you just want to kind of explore. 

 

Phil [00:25:05] You are more of a romantic than I realised. 

 

Phil [00:25:10] OK, so people find that there's a ton of characters in this story. Do you think the book would have benefited from fewer characters and more of a backstory to each of those? 

 

Phil [00:25:27] You know, The Night Circus is not a character-driven book, right? It's a book about emotion. It's a book about spectacle. I mean, the characters are important for sure, but they're not you know, they're not, I think they're not what draws you to the book. So it didn't really bother me that they weren't, they didn't maybe all have as full a backstory. I think there are a few moments, though, where where she does -- where Morgenstern does reveal something about character in a like, in a very, what's the word I'm looking for, like in a very concise kind of way. So I did think of one example of this, like, do you remember the first time we meet Chandresh? 

 

Jay [00:26:11] That's right. Yeah. At the dinner party. Oh, no, he's throwing a dagger at a review of his work. That's right. 

 

Phil [00:26:19] Yes, exactly. He's throwing a dagger. He's throwing this knife over and over at this review until he shreds it. And here's what the review says: "Mr. Chandresh Christophe Lefebvre continues to push the boundaries of the modern stage, dazzling his audiences with a spectacle that is almost transcendent." So, like, most of us would be very happy to get a review like that. Chandresh is enraged at the word "almost.". 

 

Jay [00:26:46] Yeah. 

 

Phil [00:26:46] That it's "almost" transcendent. So, you know, that tells us a fair bit about him. And she is apt at doing those little kind of capsule characterisations, I think, right? 

 

Jay [00:26:58] Yeah, I agree. Is there a magic number for number of characters, do you think, at all? 

 

Phil [00:27:04] Probably someone's written an algorithm. 

 

Jay [00:27:05] I think A.I. is going to write the next, novel though, anyway. And they'll know the right number of characters. 

 

Phil [00:27:14] Yeah. "The maximum number of characters one person can handle is... 

 

Jay [00:27:17] Yeah, yeah. It's N-1 or something. So, time is another theme or character, if you will. And this novel is set in a time period which in retrospect has been highly romanticised. So for example, correspondence is always through messages written with fountain pens. In today's modern world, Phil, what does a night circus look like? 

 

Phil [00:27:46] I think, I think Marco blocks Isabelle's number on his phone. 

 

Jay [00:27:51] He texts, everyone texts each other. So do you think that's part of the appeal of the book? So kind of the magic of the novel for me is that it's a combination of the real and the unreal, does that make sense? 

 

Phil [00:28:07] No, I think if you were to set it now, you'd probably have to have some device like digital technology doesn't work on the grounds of the circus or something like that. You know, that physical. 

 

Jay [00:28:18] I think you're right. 

 

Phil [00:28:19] That physical aspect is really one of the keys to this. 

 

Jay [00:28:24] Yeah, well, this gets interesting, though, because now we're into let's say you and I were part of the novel. If you're actually in the circus watching it, they worked hard, a couple of the illusionists, to make it look like it was an illusion versus it was actually true magic. Anyway, we're getting complicated now, but... 

 

Phil [00:28:43] Yeah, no, that's a great point. And, you know what I was thinking a few years ago -- I was at the Atlantic Film Festival and they had like their little promo video that they showed before, you know, before the films would start. And it was kind of like scratchy and made to look like it was edited on film. And I thought, it's amazing. Like now that you can actually make everything look perfect, people value the imperfect. Right? So  they've made it to simulate, you know, the way it would have been if you were if you were doing it on film rather than digitally. So I think yeah, I think that's a great point in that that's what the illusionists are doing. They kind of have to make it look a little shabbier so that it does -- so people don't realise that they really are whatever, transforming paper into birds or whatever it is they're doing. 

 

Jay [00:29:33] Yeah, all right, let's talk about movie rights. We always like to ask this question of ourselves, and you had mentioned earlier on that they've been optioned and I read that myself as well. So we're not going to get into whether it could be made into a film or not, because we've debated that before. I did want to ask, though, is there room for a sequel or spinoff to the story -- or better yet, how about a sock puppet show using atmospheric technologies like scenting systems and the finest audio sensory systems? What do you think, Phil? 

 

Phil [00:30:05] You and the friggin' sock puppets? Well, it's interesting when you get a book that has a really very fully created world like this one, right? It does, I guess, raise the question of, you know, like I could, I could imagine retellings and wanting to follow other characters. What happens to Bailey in the ensuing decades? But I mean, I could. It's interesting. It's being made into a film. I could really see it as a series, although I also think, you know, there is really an element, that element of kind of, that element of magic and fantasy that it has. I think you'd have to be very skilful, to translate it to the screen. 

 

Jay [00:31:00] Yeah, they did do a mini-series, a series, I want to say, 10, 15 years ago called Carnivale, and it was the same. It was set in the Depression era and it was a travelling circus. And I want to say that a couple of characters were magical. So you're right, it does lend itself well to to kind of a series that way. All right. So, Phil, we've come to the part of the podcast where we offer our personal rating for the book. We have been using a scale of one to five. Past listeners may remember that we are flexible on this point. On at at east one episode we assigned score well below zero. Typically, though, a one will mean that you scalped your ticket to the circus and a five means you signed on as an acrobat. So, Phil, what are you thinking for The Night Circus, with all that apple cider and caramel candy. Do you feel satisfied or feel like throwing up? 

 

Phil [00:31:59] I would give it a solid 3.5, I think. I don't want to give away one of the the major plot points, but I thought that the resolution of the challenge just seemed a little, I don't know what the right word is. I want to say over the top, although I -- actually it's because, I don't, when I was reading this book, Sara said, "Oh, I really liked that book, but some of it is over the top." And I didn't ask her what she meant, but I wonder if that's what she had in mind. So I did feel like I was not completely satisfied with the way that was resolved. 

 

[00:32:40] At the same time, I'm always impressed with people who just create something unique. Right. And I have not read anything else like this. I'll go to 3.75. And it does make me want, it does make me curious about her next book for sure. 

 

[00:33:02] How about you? 

 

Jay [00:33:03] Yeah, she she uses a lot of excellent descriptive prose to paint scenes in ways that I wouldn't have otherwise imagined them and a beautiful blend of realism and fantasy. I do agree that the ending -- I would use the word "unsatisfying". A little bit slightly unsatisfying, you know, a little perhaps overblown. But at the same time, it just seemed a little bit like it tied up a little too quickly. 

 

[00:33:29] And that was the one thing I do remember from the first time I read it. I thought she could have, here I go criticising her, but anyway, she paints vivid imagery, uses an economical use of words in this book. She goes beyond visual cues and incorporates sense and sounds to to describe kind of what the experience you know, feels like...

 

Phil [00:33:51] Yeah, that brings up something I wanted to bring up and forgot, so I'm glad you did. 

 

Jay [00:33:53] Well, yes, she hits on, I would say, even four out of the five senses. You know, she's got, her descriptions of inanimate objects solicit our imagination, and we're inspired to think about what those objects would feel like underneath our touch. I would have rated it myself, probably a 4. You know, it's hard to find a perfect book these days, I would say four and a half actually like you, as I think this through I'm I'm inclined to to increase my rating that way. It's a book I would definitely recommend. And like you, I would say it's very unique and not something I've come across before. And I would say I don't think I've necessarily come across that kind of writing sense and maybe you can only do it with a circus and magicians. But overall, I thought it was a great book. 

 

Phil [00:34:46] I enjoyed it. I still can't believe I didn't get the reference to Bailey. 

 

Jay [00:34:56] Do you have any other final thoughts other than you're not paying attention?

 

Phil [00:34:58] Well, maybe the, you know, the ending that we consider overblown. You know, I believe when I asked my daughter if she'd read The Night Circus, she said, "No, but I remember when everyone else was." And so my impression is that this book did really well among the teen girl audience. I don't know if that's true or not, but the ending there or that that plot device that you and I see as overblown, you know, that I was a bit put off by I could totally see why if I was, you know, if I was maybe more of the the target audience -- I don't know what it's like to be a teenage girl, but I can imagine if I was a teenage girl, I would like that a lot more. And I don't mean that in a disparaging way. Like, teenage girls are a great audience, and if you've got them, you're doing well. So, you know, it may just be a question of, it may be a question of audience, that point, you know. 

 

Jay [00:36:01] Yeah, fair, fair. 

 

[00:36:04] Well, that's it for this episode of Dog-eared and Cracked. As our regular listeners know, we typically rotate a couple of fiction books with two non-fiction books. This will conclude our series of romance fiction. If you have some ideas on books you would really like to hear about, leave us some feedback on our Facebook page. Phil, we're switching over to non-fiction now, so I think that means we can do The Warriors is by Sol Yurick.

 

Phil [00:36:28] Three more. No more than that. Because because after your non-fiction pick there's my fiction one. So we do Hard Core Logo before we do The Warriors. 

 

Jay [00:36:42] All right, well, OK, let us know something about your your pick... 

 

Phil [00:36:46] Sure. So next week, we're doing Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber. Now, Graber is an anarchist, an anarchist anthropologist. He died actually just a couple of months ago, quite suddenly while he was in Venice. He taught at the University of London, I believe. I think he'd been maybe fired from Yale for his opinions and he just had this observation one day, I remember seeing it on Twitter where he said it kind of feels like most jobs are just like bullshit and nobody would miss them if they disappeared. And he invited people to tell him about their bullshit jobs, which they did. And he went on to write a book about this phenomenon. So that's what we're going to discuss and find out if we have bullshit jobs or not. 

 

Jay [00:37:34] Yeah, it sounds actually really interesting, and the book after that will be The 50th Law, if you really want to read ahead and but I can't wait. 

 

Phil [00:37:45] All right. See you next time.