Sunday, May 25, 2008

Book Tour: Water for Elephants

The book for this tour was "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. It followed a character as he worked in a circus during the 1930s. It was very interesting and a good read, especially for the many details of the inner workings of a train circus. Only towards the end did I find it a bit rushed, as I wondered about the fate of one of the characters (Walter/Kinko) and why the main character (Jacob) did not try to find out more fully what happened to him. Other than that flaw, I would recommend this book for a nice summer beach read.

Below are the questions for this tour:

Originally forced to share quarters,Kinko (Walter) seems to have an intense dislike for Jacob. One day, Jacob helps Kinko's dog Queenie and Kinko becomes his friend because of this small act of kindness. Has someone performed a simple act of kindness that changed your feelings toward them? How did this small act affect you? Can just a small and simple thing have a profound effect?

I believe many times that a small act of kindness will lead to even bigger acts.

We moved 800 miles away from our family and friends when we finished college. Being so far away, it was hard to meet people and re-establish ourselves, and I have found the people who became our friends here have become our "family" by the many small acts of kindnesses that they have done for us. Often those small acts are reciprocated, and was built upon so that now, there is nothing that we would not do for the other.

What does the title mean to you?
Why do you think Sara Gruen chose it as the title?

I find the title refers to an act that is impossible (you can't bring water to elephants, it is better to bring the elephant to the water). The fact that a murder is done by an animal (and supposedly knowingly) would be the impossiblity that she refers to. That is the obscure meaning I take, but the more literal meaning would be that it is a common phrase concerning circus's.

On page 109, old Jacob complains about how his family keeps secrets from him: "And those are just the things I know about. There are a host of others they don't mention because they don't want to upset me. I've caught wind of several, but when I ask
questions, they clam right up. Mustn't upset Grandpa, you know... Why?
That's what I want to know. I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don't know about what's going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?... I've decided it's not about me at all. It's a protective mechanism for them, a way of buffering themselves against my future death..."
Reading this, I could see myself in both Jacob & in his family members, both in respect to our infertility situation and other matters.
Whose viewpoint do you relate to most in this passage and why?

I would be agreeing with Jacob, as I prefer people to be up front with me and not to protect me. I tend to be a type of person who would rather not couch things for the "protection" of the person. (Not that I don't sometimes do that myself, I just would prefer not to). When we were dealing with infertility and IVF, I preferred to deal with it frankly and truthfully--and most of my family and friends know that is how I am.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at 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!)


loribeth said...

I too thought that Kinko & Camel disappeared rather abruptly. But I guess that was sort of the point, that people would come & go mysteriously from the circus.

Love your take on the title!

Samantha said...

I agree the ending got a bit rushed too.

I thought the title also referred to the murder, but more the ambiguity of the situation, in that Jacob's memory of what exactly happened could be mistaken, just as the other nursing home resident thought he brought water to the elephants.

Deb said...

I was a bit disturbed by the fact that the others that had been redlighted had found them but didn't try to help Kinko. He was hurt bad but he was also a small person... couldn't they have tried to find help instead of leaving him? Alas, that is probably the way it was at that time unfortunately. Help in those situations was not easy to come by especially depending on where the train was on the trip.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Lori said...

I agree with you about the ending being rushed.

JuliaS said...

I too was rather distressed by Walter/Kinko's exit from the book. They said he survived the toss, but had two smashed legs. I can't fathom being left to die along in such agony.

I agree with your comments on being "upfront and truthful". Sometimes not being told is the greater pain. Only one of my miscarried babies we found out a gender for. I did not know this until months after the loss when I was referred to a specialist. For some reason, even though we had gone in to go over the path report, my doctor didn't tell us the baby had been a girl. I don't know if she thought it would hurt me more, or that it would have meant so much for me to know or she just didn't think of it. I hand-delivered the records and read them prior to the RE appt and was so shocked by this revelation. In a way, it was like losing her all over again - because now she wasn't just a baby, she was a baby girl - my baby girl.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Killing time...

Things I have been doing lately: Job hunting Cuddling with cats Worrying about the world at large Worrying about Michael's future...