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Speaking my mind ... and doing it a little differently
June 9, 2011
1:50 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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June 5, 2011
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Seriously, how exciting is this? 'The Gnoll Credo' arrived today in a neat and efficient Amazon cardboard wrap! Joy!

I have read the first section on the preview PDF and I am sure I will enjoy the rest of the book. Believe it, or not, I have not read a book for about 20 years! "OMG! What have you been doing?" … well, as a child I was forced to read and didn't do it very well. I persisted through school and even to college! I can read, but I speed read. I do not want to speed read 'The Gnoll Credo'.

I have a kind of scotopic sensitivity whereby reading (on paper) is very difficult. You know when you look at a lightbulb filament and then close your eyes? You see the filament burned into the retina. Reading on paper is a lot like that for me … the lines burn in and blend over each other.

I can read perfectly well on a computer screen.

I must say, the paper is beautiful. The "acid-free archival quality paper" was a good choice. For somebody who takes a lot in by feel, I do love the feel of the book.

I have read another chapter in the book and I've managed to do this by looking at it on a diagonal and continually shifting the perspective. I am happy that I can physically read this book and I will do just that …

… but slightly differently.

I have quite recently decided to take control of the weight I have added to myself through my 30s and gain stamina and fitness through increased activity. This is a lifestyle thing, not exercise. I have a wonderful "playground" just over the road almost directly outside my front door: a several square mile area, criss-crossed with farms, derelict hamlets, Victorian countryside decay, green grass, cows, bunnies, deer, woodland, quarries and all sorts.

My playground:

What I'm going to do is go down into my playground, walking, running, whatever and then take a rest and read a chapter. Savouring slowly, I'll then proceed home. Blending activity with rest and reading out in my natural world is something I really want to do; enjoy the summer months mixing in both the fun of activity and the beauty of reading.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
June 9, 2011
10:57 pm
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Paul:

The paper is wonderful, isn't it?  It's also green-certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forest Initiative.

Your reading plan is solid, and one I heartily recommend.  TGC is written episodically, so there are plenty of natural stopping points.  And I believe it'll have much greater impact when read outside.

Keep us posted on your progress.

JS

 

 

**** NOTE: CONVERSATION BELOW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS ****

**** Continue at your own risk ****

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 12, 2011
2:27 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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I am so enjoying this book and re-reading previous chapters as I go in order to really compound what I'm reading. On the face of it, the underlying "message", if you like, is not coming as a great surprise ... but the tale is a real adventure. I'll hold my final thoughts until I've read the whole book and had some time to mull over what I've read.

... for now, I'm really enjoying it and finding it easy to slide in and out of without losing the plot.

It was absolutely siling it down today so I left the book at home. Maybe once it's more read and more used I will feel happier taking it out in rain. On the upside, I got caked in mud, soaked to the skin, stung to hell by the nettles and had a blast! I read a chapter while relaxing in a hot bath with a whisky.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
July 25, 2011
2:49 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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Damn! That was a harsh kick in the balls! I've just finished 'Goodbye' and now I'm faced with the word 'Death' as the final chapter. I guess I knew it was coming, but how will it end? I suppose I'll just have to pluck up the courage to read it.

I'm glad there's an epilogue - I'm starting to wonder what I'll read when out on my walks as this is the first novel I've picked up in about 20 years. I have another book on order 'Feet in the Clouds' by Richard Askwith, a tale around the obsession of fell running. I've ordered paperback, so hope it's a good read.

So ... to 'Death' and whatever may be.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
July 25, 2011
11:43 pm
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Paul:

Whatever I could say at this point, I've said more eloquently in the book, so I'll let it speak for itself.

Yes, I cried writing that part.

JS

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July 26, 2011
1:37 am
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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It sent my heart racing and I feverishly tried to hold back and read the words without my eyes leaping ahead and speed reading. I ended up doing both, so that adrenaline sense of heightened perception matched Gryka in that final leap!

To be absolutely honest, I was not sad - I snarled with her as it all happened. Maybe it's the Celt in me.

More than "if you're going to die, die with your boots on". Take 'em off and go out the same way you came in - barefoot, kicking and screaming!

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
July 27, 2011
4:42 pm
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Paul:

It shouldn't be sad.  Saying "goodbye" was the sad part.

Die biting the throat.

JS

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July 28, 2011
1:38 am
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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... a hell of a read!

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
July 29, 2011
2:20 am
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Paul:

I take it you've finished, then.

Make sure you read this.  You can come back and talk about it whenever you're ready.

JS

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August 1, 2011
2:42 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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It is about 20 years since I last read anything for pleasure - that book was 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' by Hunter S. Thompson. I read it in one sitting ... really, sitting in the bath ... which went cold and I was shivvering by the end. I think the smoke helped my concentration at the time.

I don't read well. I said at the top of the thread that I have a kind of scotopic sensitivity when it comes to reading. I have managed this book in small chunks resisting the urge to speed read, which is my gift and curse when it comes to reading.

I came along for the ride.

I don't think I have the literary fortitude to make any kind of review, but I did enjoy it. I don't mean that in a "meh" way ... I did enjoy it. I found the environment often difficult to rationalise, seemingly some kind of post-feudal, fantasy world, but then mixed in with the present. I like to see that as a kind of connectivity between us here in the real world and the story going off, as a story.

The message doesn't come as much of a surprise to me, but I think I am a lot further down the track than many. My life is already very rationalised and this is something that perhaps comes about from divorce - you simply drop everything you cannot carry and sever all ties with everything that has gone before. Rebuilding your life in the next place is not simply replacing everything but deciding what you want in your life this time around - this is not possession, this is simplicity and the few things that matter: tribe, freedom and giving each other space to be ourselves.

Again, I enjoyed the ride; that ride drew me right in at the end and I did snarl with Gryka and have both a grin and a sneer as it all came to its conclusion.

Some of the gnollic words and phrases will stay with me. I already understand them to various degrees, nerga perfectly, hazra nachti mostly and haouka is something I want to play with when I get older. I don't mean that flippantly.

I won't say I live life to the full, but I doubt gnolls do either. Living life as honestly as you can, honesty to yourself and to your breed is right. That fullness is not about constantly pushing the edges, but about savouring the depth of what it is that you do have. Aregi, I suppose.

I would heartily encourage others to read the book as I have - get out into your playground and read it a little at a time, mixing activity with rest. The archival quality paper is very much resistant to mud, cow muck, sweat and even blood ... and washes out well.

It's a tale that draws you in. Thanks J - I won't say "much enjoyed", I will say much savoured.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
August 2, 2011
3:13 pm
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Paul:

No, people aren't gnolls -- but we're much more like gnolls than we like to admit.  That's part of the tension of the story: how different are we, really?

As far as vocabulary, I only made up a term when the concept was important and English was inadequate to describe it.  I'm glad I was able to communicate them to you, because they're not just narrative conceits: they're important concepts to us all, today, now.  Especially haouka.

As far as the setting, the world of Aidan and Gryka is completely consistent in its geography, technology, and background.  What throws some people off is that the Epilogue takes place today, in modern times, as a dialogue with me, the author. 

The Epilogue confronts the reader directly, instead of leaving the events of the book behind in a fantasy world comfortably removed from our own.  This is intentional: unlike Fight Club, which gives you a convenient escape hatch ("Oh, he's crazy!"), I don't push you away: I pull you in.  So you are absolutely correct that the purpose is connectivity.  (More about that here, which I'm sure you've read.)

However, I don't conflate the two worlds: each is consistent, and they don't bleed into each other.  The ending of the Epilogue should make the difference clear.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!  I'm always trying to find out
how much I managed to communicate of Gryka's life, because I've done my
best to honor her by writing TGC.  I'm glad her story was meaningful to you...and I will note that the story rewards multiple readings, because you'll notice things you might not have the first time.  There are events and concepts which I've stated very plainly, and that I still haven't seen anyone comment on.

JS

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August 2, 2011
3:29 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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I have skimmed over the Fight Club/Gnoll Credo post when I first found your site. Now that I have read 'The Gnoll Credo' I will read it again in some depth.

I never really liked 'Fight Club' - too "American", no substance and no real grit. I don't mean to deride Americans there (well, maybe I do), just "American" culture. It was a mesage that was too much of a yawn for most of the people it attracted ... of those I have met.

I still think some of the anthropology was mixed fantasy/modern - I'll have to re-read to pull out some specifics. Give me a year and I'll want to read it again. I enojyed it as a ride and don't want to have to dissect it, but if I can pull out some instances next time ... I will. Not that it mattered! As I said, "connectivity" - pulling a "tale" straight back to the "present and real world"; yes, which the epilogue did.

I was grateful for the epilogue.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
August 12, 2011
2:42 pm
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Paul:

Enjoy it however and whenever you're moved to.  I ask because I'm always trying to improve my writing.

Live in freedom, live in beauty, die biting the throat.

JS

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September 16, 2011
10:57 am
South Florida, USA
Wanderer
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August 31, 2011
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Paul Halliday said:

I still think some of the anthropology was mixed fantasy/modern - I'll have to re-read to pull out some specifics.


 

I think it was the mention of orcs that signified "fantasy" to me (and distracted me just a hair - too much Tolkien in my youth :), but I loved how the setting was pretty much pure early history.  That made it more real to me, and somehow made the gnolls much more real as well.  They were a perfect fit in the setting and in the story, which made it seamless.  Not a minor accomplishment.

I found myself thinking, "Damn, we DID manage to crowd them all out, didn't we?"  Which just intensified the sadness.

JS, what really helped was what you wrote at the end of the book - thanks for waiting for us.  The comfort conveyed by that hope of reunion with long-absent loved ones...

Just...well done.  Very well done indeed.

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September 16, 2011
5:58 pm
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skitterling:

If I've made Gryka and her world real to you, then I've succeeded in my task.  Thank you.

The world of The Gnoll Credo involves "fantastic" creatures -- like gnolls -- but it involves no magic.  As I've discussed at length in this thread and elsewhere, all of its creatures must survive on their own merits.

There are other differences, too: as implied by "Departure", the Church is less dominant (though still a major force) than in our own Middle Ages, leaving human culture with the beginnings of a secular/logical tradition, of which Aidan is a prime mover.  And it should be clear that the gnolls are not going down without a fight -- nor are they intrinsically doomed, unlike the human foraging tribes that have fallen inexorably to the farmers.

As far as our hope for future reunion -- we've got a monumental task ahead of us, and I barely even know where to start.  But the first step is for us to accept that task, because as the book says, humans have no choice at all.  The alternative is Orwell's boot stomping on a human face, forever. 

And as more of us start to understand that seven billion people eating grass seeds at a rate only made possible by massive energy input from petroleum and rapid depletion of ocean fish to make up for the lack of complete protein, and at the cost of rapid topsoil depletion and destruction of watersheds via agriculture's toxic byproducts, is utterly unsustainable and will collapse under its own weight with or without anyone's help...

...enough of us will start to understand the message of TGC and begin making its future real.  Congratulations on being one of the first.

JS

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October 27, 2011
7:02 am
Wanderer
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I just finished TGC yesterday. I will be making a longer post with my thoughts on it after I've had a chance to digest it and examine its impact on my life. Never thought I'd say that about a book that frequently is referred to as a fantasy in its Amazon reviews.

I just wanted to comment on Paul's bit about the Gnoll phrases and Gryka's final hunt. I also find the phrases and the concepts they represent to keep popping up forcing me to examine them and their relation to my day and its events. The mark of a truly great writer and writer's vision.

As for Gryka's last meal, it made me think of the scenes in 300, Gladiator, and Last Samurai. Friends have been acknowledged, goodbyes said, and all that remains is a final triumphal warriors battle. Won or lost, all battles should with the true warrior biting the throat...or cranium as the case may be.

 

Lastly, haouka. This concept resonates with me. I come from a long lived family that remains vital until the last five years to decade of their life when dementia, alzheimers, or diabetes rears its head and brings a meaningless withering end to a formerly vibrant life. Why? Why must we keep surviving without living? I found this site through my various forrays into the paleo eating and way of life. I feel lucky to have found this lifestyle as I feel it will truly let me live my life to its fullest and help prevent or at least delay the negative aspects of my heritage. Though I'm sure my family does not share my sentiment I personally would love to spend my last years exploring new experiences with possibly dangerous consequences. Why die in a hospital bed when you could do it with e heady rush tryinig to conquer a new challenge.

Thank you J. for writing the GNC and for all the work you do to shed light on the food conglomerates betrayal of our lives.

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October 31, 2011
4:07 am
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wan2ride:

TGC is fantastic, but it's not a fantasy.  It's a biography.  Unfortunately, books have to be shelved and categorized somewhere.

Our entire culture is based on denying aging and death.  Drug advertisements show fit, handsome retired couples frolicking on the beach like teenagers.  It's all part of a giant scam -- whose aim is to make us sacrifice our most passionate, productive, vital years in return for the false promise of a happy, carefree retirement in which we can be just as active at 70 as we were at 30.

The concept of haouka is powerful.  Its existence and apparent ubiquity shapes gnoll culture -- and it would radically reshape our own.

As I've said to others, the words will come to you in time. 

Welcome home.

JS

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March 10, 2012
4:25 pm
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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June 5, 2011
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It's coming up a year since I read TGC.

I had hoped to have moved by now, further down into my secret valley, but it's taking time ... things need to be done, Banks need to be satisfied and so on, but ... we'll be moved soon and what a view I will have to show you guys. We're so very excited!

I'm going to read TCG again. Same drill - a chapter, or section, an evening taking in a breath while out walking. I was very careful not to get the book wet or dirty last year, but this time ... it's all open ... dirt, rain, whatever. The paper is of such a good quality, I know the book will take it.

Others here who've read the book, read it again ... it's a new year, spring is upon us.

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March 11, 2012
3:12 pm
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Paul:

I look forward to the pictures!

TGC is a dense book, with no wasted words...and though I've written plainly and explicitly, there are still themes that I haven't seen anyone pick up on yet, particularly in the Epilogue.  I encourage others to follow Paul's lead.

As for myself, though I'm sure I've read every sentence well over a hundred times while writing and revising the text, I still occasionally discover (or re-discover) meanings, implications, and subtleties upon re-reading...

...but I don't do it often, because it's bittersweet to be reminded that I can't talk to Gryka anymore, through Aidan.  Yes, we've said our goodbyes -- but I'm human, and I don't let go of the past as easily as gnolls do.

Hazrah nachti.  "We have a future to make," I remind myself.  "Keep moving forward."

JS

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