An author's penultimate work

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An author's penultimate work

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12wonderY
oct. 6, 2015, 9:06am

Rummaging around in my Favorites collection trying to respond to another thread on this great new group (Thanks Limelite !), I notice that sometimes one particular work stands above everything else I've read by a particular writer.

Of course, not having read all of their works, that assessment can change over time. But here are a few that stand tall for me.

Edna Ferber's The Girls
Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April
John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat (Admittedly, I haven't yet read The Grapes of Wrath, but I've read most of the rest of his shelf.)

2lilithcat
oct. 6, 2015, 9:34am

Sorry, I'm confused.

Ferber's penultimate work was Ice Palace, von Arnim's was her autobiography, All the Dogs of My Life, while Steinbeck's was Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.

The works you mention were pretty early in these authors' writing careers, nowhere near towards the end of them.

3Limelite
oct. 6, 2015, 10:06am

>2 lilithcat:
Perhaps punning on pen ultimate, as in most favorite from the pen of _____?

If not, I appreciate your research on penultimate works. It's an interesting legitimate topic for sure. I wonder that there doesn't exist a group devoted to the idea since, one would think, those books could very well represent authors writing at the very pinnacle of their careers.

We certainly pay (lopsided, IMO) attention to debut works and too often prematurely hail a new writer as the next Steinbeck or next Margaret Mitchell. And they more likely than not turn out to be nothing more than the next flash in the pan.

As for The Enchanted April, it was the movie that drove me to the book, and the book drove me to fall in love with the Tuscan spring so much so that, under its influence and the influence of Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, I took a 4-month trip with myself (not by myself) to Europe, spending a month in each country, starting in April with Greece, then Italy, followed by France, finishing in Great Britain.

And just like Arnim, Russell inspired me to buy the play-book after I'd seen the movie. Since then, I've watched both films again. There are authors who can infuse travel with the most seductive romance.

I wrote a review of The Enchanted April for another Group I founded, Readers and Book Lovers, on Daily Kos titled, To Those Who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine.

4Cecrow
oct. 6, 2015, 10:16am

Debut works do often suffer from that "first novel" syndrome, although you find exceptions like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter where it remains enduring as that author's most renowned effort. I think that must be kind of terrible for an author to experience - a big splash with their first effort, then spending the rest of their lives trying and failing to top it, like it becomes some kind of nemesis.

52wonderY
oct. 6, 2015, 10:33am

>2 lilithcat: See how much richness is already spilling over in this group?

It's been decades since I've read Ice Palace, but I remember it as a serious, almost solemn history. I treasure Ferber for her sly phrasings, much more evident in her lighter works.

But, WHOO HOO Thanks for pointing out those other less-well-known works. I haven't stumbled across them yet. Elizabeth and her German Garden is autobiographic too, and it is sitting on the never finished pile next to my bed. Will try to keep a sharp eye out for All the Dogs of My Life.

6.Monkey.
oct. 6, 2015, 10:39am

Ftr, I was also confused by "penultimate" here.

7Cecrow
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 10:53am

>2 lilithcat:, I may have to check out that Steinbeck journal, I've scarcely read him yet but definitely like what I have so far. I like to dabble in writing myself, and reading about the self-doubts of the greats is kind of motivating.

"Penultimate" is one of those words I can actually trace to exactly when I learned its definition. Thank you Lemony Snicket for The Penultimate Peril, lol

82wonderY
Editat: oct. 7, 2015, 8:58am

Duh! I feel like a dunce. I did mean it as pen-ultimate. And I had never looked up the definition of 'penultimate.' Send me to sit in the corner. With a good book, please. (I'll even wear the silly hat, if I can have some caramel chocolates.)

9.Monkey.
oct. 7, 2015, 9:11am

XD *sends over some nice Belgian pralinés*

10RickHarsch
oct. 7, 2015, 11:52am

>10 RickHarsch: It was swimming in your brain mass somewhere.

11alco261
Editat: gen. 26, 2016, 12:52pm

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

12Meredy
oct. 7, 2015, 2:56pm

>8 2wonderY: Don't feel bad. One less person misusing the word (any word) sounds like a good thing to me. And maybe somebody else learns from it. It's the arrogant intractables who won't yield because "my eighth-grade teacher told me" or "everybody says that" who get under my skin.

Here, I've got some dark-chocolate-covered vanilla caramels that I've been slightly hoarding. Have some.

132wonderY
Editat: oct. 7, 2015, 3:10pm

//Gratefully accepts the slightly sticky wad and the kind words.// Mmmmm DARK chocolate!

Those pralines were delish too!

14Cecrow
oct. 7, 2015, 3:13pm

Hey, if there's chocolate in the offing I'm going to start deliberately misusing some grammar around here!

15.Monkey.
oct. 7, 2015, 5:01pm

Hahahahaha! There's plenty to be had over in these parts! XD