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Discussion thread for The Fixer September 11, 2007

Posted by daveintexas in Food, Literature, Sex, Women Ranting.
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The September book selection by the lovely and talented (and armed and dangerous) Lipstick and Kevlarchick.

Mine arrives from amazon.com today. Something to read on the way to Boston this Friday.

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1. kevlarchick - September 11, 2007

Study and discussion questions forthcoming!

2. Sobek - September 11, 2007

I finished late last night. Good book. I look forward to the discussion questions.

3. daveintexas - September 11, 2007

I sincerely hope there will be no math on this test.

4. Mrs. Michael - September 11, 2007

Dave’s Math Test: What’s a Kopek?

5. harrison - September 11, 2007

Q: What’s a Grecian Urn?

A: About 450 a week.

6. Sobek - September 11, 2007

Q. How many versts is Kiev from the shtetl?

7. kevlarchick - September 11, 2007

Malamud uses a lot of colloquial Yiddish terms. The main character, Yakov, is a “shlemiel” – a down-and-outer who compounds his problems with his bad choices and decisions.

And in Yiddish, his last name “Bok” means “goat.” An allusion to the Jew=scapegoat theme perhaps?

8. daveintexas - September 11, 2007

Is kopek Polish currency?

It’s either that or a sub-generic Hungarian cigarette. Here, here’s a buck and a half, gimme a pack of Kopek Lights, box.

hmmm.. could be a hygiene product too…

9. harrison - September 11, 2007

A kopek is a piece of a Russian Ruble.
My wife still says, for something cheap, that it costs kopeks.
Kopek=almost worthless.

10. Retired Geezer - September 11, 2007

I had forgotten that the author had also written “The Natural”.

I’m about a chapter in. Good so far.

11. mebelmiheeff - September 11, 2007

феликс мебель москва Сегодняшний ассортимент мебели поражает воображение. Похоже, полет фантазии дизайнеров не знает границ: богатый выбор форм и расцветок, отделка всех цветов радуги. И не стоит забывать, что мебель бывает самой различной: отечественной и импортной, дорогой и дешевой, мягкой, офисной и т.д.

12. mesablue - September 12, 2007

So, what does the russian guy think of the book?

13. Wickedpinto - September 12, 2007

he thinks all the letters are backwards?

14. daveintexas - September 12, 2007

heh… it’s some sort of furniture ad..

Felix furniture Moscow today’s assortment of furniture strikes imagination. It is similar, the flight of fancy of designers does not know the boundaries: the rich selection of forms and colorings, finishing all are color rainbow. And it does not be worth forgetting, that the furniture is most varied: domestic and imported, by road and cheap, soft, office, etc.

15. kevlarchick - September 12, 2007

why is this thread getting spammed so bad?

Or, as the protagonist in The Fixer would say: “it’s a job for a goy.”

16. Sobekovich - September 12, 2007

Oy, I should have such luck, to get the job for a goy.

17. Fofa - September 12, 2007

What do you think about this game? All comments accepted.

England 3-0 Russia

18. Sobek - September 12, 2007

That’s meshuggenah. Now I’m verklempt.

19. skinbad - September 13, 2007

I took a sick day today with a nasty cold. About noon, some lawnmower parts arrived and I stripped the bolt hole of one of the rear wheels trying to put it back together. Dismayed at my dripping nose, greasy hands, and eight inch lawn, I went inside and started the book. I’m to the part where they’re talking about pumping blood out of Yakov’s penis unless he starts menstruating soon. I decided my day wasn’t so bad.

20. Mrs. Michael - September 13, 2007

Dave,
We got math but here’s the formula:

9/5 C + 32 = F

…and answers…

40.5 C = 104.9 F and… 33.8 C = 92.84 F

Either way… pretty damn hot for Russia!!!

21. Dave in Texas - September 13, 2007

Which part?

22. Mrs. Michael - September 13, 2007

Dave? No comprende, buddy!

23. Mrs. Michael - September 13, 2007

Skinny — Sorry you got a cold. Hope you feel better soon.

Yeah — that part of the book was creepy for me too and I don’t even have a penis. I just completed another internal cleansing — which has its period of dark valleys — but my suffering was nothing compared to our Fixer-dude.

24. Dave in Texas - September 13, 2007

Which part of Russia were you in when it was so hot?

25. Mrs. Michael - September 13, 2007

I’ve never been to Russia. Setting for the book is Kiev.

So, Dave. I’ve been meaning to ask:

How has the “weather” been in your office filled with cool fems.

26. Dave in Texas - September 13, 2007

Oh… misunderstood. I haven’t started reading it yet, just got it yesterday.

Funny you should mention ac… the unit that controls this side of the office is out right now, so it’s almost 80 in my office. I thought they were fighting back. I managed to keep it at 74 for a few weeks and nobody seemed to notice.

27. skinbad - September 16, 2007

I’m done. Kind of an abrupt ending. I thought to wrap it up he would need Ning Cheng Gong to show up and strangle Yakov just so he could get an evil, Asian erection. I liked it.

Kind of similar to Darkness at Noon. I read an account of a Cuban political prisoner when I was very young and it really stuck with me. The whole idea of the mind still being free even if the body isn’t is pretty powerful. KC will have to put me some knowledge as to the title. I’m trying to figure out a meaning there but it all seems to be a reach. Interesting parallels with his wife leaving him and him leaving the faith. I found myself wondering if it has been made into a play. I appreciated my toothbrush and shower more than usual this evening.

28. Retired Geezer - September 16, 2007

I think it was a little book by Solzhenitsyn ? called Gulag Archipelago, that really stunned me.

Yesterday I got lost in a subdivision and came to a dead-end. There was a yard sale so I got out and walked over.

The only thing I bought was a book by Elie Wiesel.

Unusual find for a Spud State sale.

29. Mrs. Michael - September 16, 2007

Book by Elie Wiesel….unusual find for a Spud State sale.

RG — probably why you found it at a yard sale with other junk.

30. skinbad - September 16, 2007

Sunday School lesson today covered 2 Corinthians. The main focus of the lesson was on reconciling ourselves with God. Interesting topic after just finishing the book.

31. daveintexas - September 16, 2007

I’ve got about 80 pages to go. I’m still pondering the meaning of the jail visit from his father in law.

Question. Why are they waiting so long to charge him? They could kill him easily, who’d raise a fuss? They don’t need his confession, and if they were breaking him down, they could be a helluva lot more serious about it.

I know he’s a political pawn, it just seems to me that they’re playing with him.

Vey iz mir.

32. kevlarchick - September 17, 2007

I think the reason for the delays in his is twofold: it increases the tension in the story–the incredulity, despair, and (I think) triumph, of Yakov.

“Some were even calling his name.”

When I read that sentence for the first time I cried. I knew he was not alone anymore.

33. kevlarchick - September 17, 2007

“‘I’m a fixer but all my life I’ve broken more than I fix.” (page 96).

The title of the book…maybe a reference to his simple profession and the irony of his life, the Russian political system, the paradox of faith. In order to be “fixed” spritually, one must be completely broken.

34. kevlarchick - September 17, 2007

Some questions:

Yakov spends most of his life cursing God, Judaism, and all believers in general. In the end, did he reconcile with his God?

What happens to Yakov at the end of the book?

35. Sobek - September 17, 2007

“In the end, did he reconcile with his God?”

No. I didn’t see any evidence of that whatsoever. I was encouraged when he saw and appreciated valuable elements in the gospels, but that was all it turned out to be — he picked out some good bits he liked, but without embracing the theology behind it. Even after reading the Torah, his final conversation with his wife bore no indication of spiritual reconciliation, and nothing happened after that which would allow a reconciliation.

36. Sobek - September 17, 2007

“What happens to Yakov at the end of the book?”

***SPOILERS***

He is “fixed.” The problem at the beginning of the book was his complete and total alienation. At the end, he is known throughout Russia, and because he has become a symbol, he has also become immortal.

I love the contrast between the first and last lines. At the beginning of the book, everyone was running in the same direction. We see that Russian hatred for the Jews was universal. By the end, he has caused a fracture in Russia, with some hating and others supporting him. In that sense, he has transcended the issue of “will he live,” which ultimately is unimportant because, historically speaking, no one ever does. The real question is, “did he make a difference for the better?” and the answer is emphatically “yes.”

Because that’s the answer, I like to think that he will be acquitted. The book is overall a hopeful one, and Malamud’s message would be partially dampened if the groundswell still resulted in conviction and life in solitary.

37. daveintexas - September 17, 2007

Well, I guess I have about 50 pages to go. He still looks screwed to me.

Is shtetl a word for village or more of a place where Jews segregated themselves from the rest of the population?

38. skinbad - September 18, 2007

Yea, I’ll vote for acquittal. He reconciles with his wife and realizes even if he’s not a “true believer” his faith is part of him in a cultural way and there is value and loyalty in at least going through the motions. He’s still got issues with wondering if God is there and all of the why, why, whys, but he finds more peace being with his people than without them.

shtetl: a small, pre-World War II, Jewish-populated town in eastern Europe–so says one of the websites.

“The concept of shtetl culture is used as a metaphor for the traditional way of life of 19th-century Eastern European Jews. Shtetls are portrayed as pious farming communities following Orthodox Judaism, socially stable and unchanging despite outside influence or attacks.”

http://www.answers.com/topic/shtetl

39. Retired Geezer - September 18, 2007

Malamud’s message would be partially dampened if the groundswell still resulted in conviction and life in solitary.

Don’t be too sure. After seeing the feelgood ending to The Natural, I was shocked to read the book and find out it was different.

40. kevlarchick - September 18, 2007

I don’t think he was acquitted. I think he was condemned for life and possibly even assassinated. Maybe that’s why the book still upsets me.

I believe Yakov lived out his life as the miserable schlemiel that he is–but his humility ignited many people.

41. skinbad - September 18, 2007

As far as acquittal goes, I’m just a sap. It’s what I want to believe. I’m well aware that one of the super-duper important rules of “serious” literature is NO HAPPY ENDINGS! Now I’ll have to go find The Natural to see what innocence R.G. is going to callously tear from my heart.

42. BigBen - September 18, 2007

hey. im new here. but wow... this is gonna be awesome. nice to meet u all.

43. Dave in Texas - September 18, 2007

In a way it seems to be a retelling of the Dreyfus Incident – a Jewish WWI French Captain who got railroaded too. Anti-Semitism was peaking there, but his trial resulted in a backlash and groundswell of support for Jews when theysaw just how badly the evidence had been trumped up

44. Mrs. Michael - September 18, 2007

Welcome, BigBen!

We’re glad to have you.

It’s a rowdy bunch, but good folk.

45. skinbad - September 18, 2007

This is something the book readers would probably be interested in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beilis_trial

46. Sobek - September 18, 2007

Woo hoo, I was right!

47. kevlarchick - September 19, 2007

Do not gloat Sobek. One of the lessons of The Fixer is humility.

As if a lawyer would get that.

48. composmentis - September 19, 2007

Dear Mr. Cornhole,

I’m surprised you didn’t ask for my SSN and birthdate.

Go fuck a goat. Fuck your mother. But I repeat myself.

CM

49. daveintexas - September 19, 2007

Sorry to leave you hanging there cm, but I marked that asshole as spam.

It does kill a little of the funnay in your reply, and I regret that. If it takes any of the sting away, I laughed like a retard.

50. composmentis - September 19, 2007

That’s okay. People will just think I was speaking to Sobek.

51. Retired Geezer - September 19, 2007

Sobek = Mr. Cornhole?

Who knew?

52. Retired Geezer - September 21, 2007

To me are urgently necessary money. As it is possible to earn fast money?

Heck Yeah!

1. Are you a Self Starter?
2. Are you a RetroSexual or do you know any?
3. Do you like mud?
4. Have you ever played the Clarinet?
5. Do you like long walks on the beach?

If you answered ‘yes’ to 2 or more of those questions, we have an opening for you in the exciting field of <a href=”http://Sprinkler Doctoring.

53. Retired Geezer - September 21, 2007

crap

54. skinbad - September 21, 2007

R.G., Do you also require the help?

55. Retired Geezer - September 21, 2007

I require the brain.

On the minus side, Michael ain’t gonna help me cause I slipped in a Clarinet reference.

On the plus side, DinT might help me for the same reason.

56. Sobek - September 21, 2007

Compos, that hurts, dude. Seriously though, now that you mention it, what is your social security number?

57. Pupster - September 21, 2007

^Oh, I know this one…CM’s SSN is all #2’s: 222-22-2222.

58. daveintexas - September 21, 2007

Okay, finally finished the rapid ending, from the moment the first lawyer came to see him to explain what the hell was going on.

Who invented my life indeed?

What were the biggest surprises for me?

Kogin’s turn toward kindness at the end. Did Yakov’s suffering finally get to him, or was it that now that he saw the man had a smidgen of hope, and it put some fire in him, and he began to see Yakov as a man again instead of an animal?

Yakov seemed to understand fairly quickly in spite of the complete lack of information until this point that he was being used. I even think it began to dawn upon him he was being used by both sides, but practically speaking was willing to be used by the side that wanted him freed.

The symbolism of the Cossack wounded by the bomb, and the impotent czar Nicholas II, that’s just Russia dying, isn’t it? Am I just being dumb here? And the impending violence I suppose.

I didn’t cry when I read they called out his name, but I wanted to, for you KC.

Good read, thanks for recommending it.

59. daveintexas - September 25, 2007

anybody else finish it?

60. forumpoltava - September 25, 2007

Всем кому не безразлично развитие интернета в Украине и в Полтаве в частности, приглашаем посетить наш форум.
http://forumpoltava.com/
http://forumpoltava.net/

61. Pupster - September 25, 2007

I finished two nights ago. I know enough to recognize some of symbolism the author used, but most of it flew by me. I get a hint of deeper meaning but get too distracted by the next unread paragraph to digest and analyze for discussion.

*Early Chapter Spoiler Alert*

I’ve been thinking about the horse. With Shmuel at the reins, he got what he needed from the horse, but had to show love for the old nag. Shmuel flattered the horse to get him to pull the wagon, called him ‘beauty’. He had a whip but never used it.

“It’s there as a warning. If he dawdles I remind him it’s there. He seems to like to hear me talk about it.”

Yakov used the whip almost immediately, cursed the horse for not moving, and never really got what he wanted, a quick trip to a new life.

“I’m a bitter man, you bastard horse. Come to your senses or you’ll suffer.”

He finally trades the horse for passage aboard the ferry across the Dnieper River.

“The nag, tethered to a paling, watched from the moonlit shore. Like and old jew he looks, thought the fixer. The horse whinnied, and when that proved useless, farted loudly.”

Heh. The fart jokes always get me. What do you guys think the horse represented?

62. Sobek - September 26, 2007

“What do you guys think the horse represented?”

A warning.

63. daveintexas - September 26, 2007

Definitely a warning.

64. Retired Geezer - September 26, 2007

Do unto others?

Job’s friends?

Instant Karma?

You guys are probably right… it was a warning.

65. Pupster - September 26, 2007

I thought the horse was a metaphor for Yakov’s ‘old’ life in the Shtetl, his faith and his marriage. The horse was fine for Shmuel, who treated it with kindness and respect, but Yakov was dissatisfied, he used the whip instead of love, and ultimately left it behind to die.

Or it was just a stubborn, flatulent old horse.

I really did enjoy the book, KC and Lipstick, thanks.

66. Cathy (f.k.a. Mrs. Michael) - September 26, 2007

I finished the book several days ago. Great read. Thanks, Ladies, for recommending it. I would never have read it alone, outside this book-club-venue-of-sorts.

#58 – Dave I think you are on to something about the Cossack on his horse. I saw this foreshadowing of the end of the era. Does the Cossack represent Russia? Appearing young, proud, strong, virile. But against assault and revolution, left without support of the power of the people (dead horse), without a leg to stand on, weak, dying maybe.

#61 Pupster — I think you are on to something about Shmuel’s horse, and now I am wondering if there is a connection between the Cossack’s horse and Shmuel’s horse.

Do both horses represent “the people” or politics?
Near the end it was said that There is no such thing as an unpolitical man, especially a Jew. . …just noodling…

67. Cathy (f.k.a. Mrs. Michael) - September 26, 2007

Or it was just a stubborn, flatulent old horse.

Pupster — I’ve think there’s more to the horse than this. I think you are on to something. Yakov treated the horse so differently than Shmuel. There is something to be learned from it.

Hebrew poetry employs the art of parallelism — maybe these horse parallels are intentional.

68. Sobek - September 26, 2007

So who has the pick for October?

69. Retired Geezer - September 26, 2007

It’s me and Russ. I bullied convinced him to go with a quick, exciting read. You all will like it, even the IB wimmins.

Well, Mrs. Geezer liked it and she don’t read no books much.

70. Pupster - September 26, 2007

Is it a ‘happy’ book? I could use a happy ending.

Wait, that came out wrong.

No, wait one more, actually it didn’t.

71. Retired Geezer - September 26, 2007

I could use a happy ending.

Better than that, it’s a Satisfying ending.

72. Cathy - September 26, 2007

RG – When will we know the October selection?

73. Retired Geezer - September 27, 2007

I guess I shouldn’t keep it a mystery, so people can get the book.

Point of Impact – Stephen Hunter

# ISBN-10: 0099453452
# ISBN-13: 978-0099453451

He is one of those authors who consistently writes excellent books.

More later.

74. Michael's Review of The Fixer - September 29, 2007

OK, I finally finished this book. At least I made it by the end of the month.

My overall review: B-

The book was alternately absorbing and tedious. I didn’t mind the tedious parts, because I *got* that I had to immerse myself in the suffering of Yakov in order to *get* the point of the book.

So, I got to the end of book, and the point of this absorbing story was tired leftist screed. It started when the lawyer Ostrovsky showed up at the prison to give Yakov a primer on pre-revolutionary Russian history and current politics. Russia was sick, it had a systemic need to oppress minorities, especially the Jews, but it was trying to liberalize through socialism, etc. All pretty shallow.

It ended with Yakov’s imagined conversation with Tsar Nicholas in the iron prison carriage, ending with Yakov’s fantasized assassination of Nicholas. The end of the book was merely an apologia for the Russian Revolution, and the ultimate fate of Nicholas.

In the process, we got a very superficial treatment of Russian history, and of the complex character of Nicholas at a very difficult time in Russian history, about which I have read elsewhere. There was an absurd emphasis on his hemophiliac son, and nowhere near an adequate appreciation of the dynamic of the Romanov dynasty that squelched his liberal impulses.

I liked the way the book ended, with no hint as to the fate of Yakov. It struck me as fitting that Malamud did not tell us, because Yakov’s fate was beside the point.

I would have assumed that he died in Siberia, and was gratified to learn from Skinbad in #45 above that Yakov was based on a real historical character who become a cause celebre in Europe.

Bottom line: This book won a Pulitzer Prize because of its socialist politics. It was well written, but not that well.

75. frwshdfaty - October 3, 2007

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Heute ist “ACG Logistics” einer der weltumfassenden Fuhrer in der Guterverkehrssphare. Au?erdem verwirklicht der Unternehmen seit 2003 die Grosshandelslieferungen der elektronischen Ausrustung und arbeitet mit 50 bekannten weltumfassenden Produzenten zusammen.

Dank den Bemuhungen des Personals “ACG Logistics”, hat der Warenumsatz die Summe im Wert von 8 Milliarden Euro in dem Jahre 2005 gebildet.

Unsere Gesellschaft sucht nach den Manager fur die Arbeit mit den Kunden.

Die Hauptforderungen zum Kandidaten:

das Alter ab 18 Jahren,
die Arbeitsfertigkeit mit den Programmen Microsoft Office und Outlook Express
Internet
der Kandidat soll ehrlich und verantwortlich sein.

Seinerseits “ACG Logistics” gewahrt:

das stabile monatliche Gehalt von 1000 Euro kostenlose Ausbildung/Weiterbildung
monatliche Pramie bis zu 100 %, je nach den Ergebnissen der Arbeit
die Uberlassung der sozialen Programmen, um den Lebensniveau der Mitarbeiter zu erhohen

Die Hauptpflichten, die der Manager erfullen soll:

die Annahme und die Bearbeitung der Paketen
Verkauf dieser auf den Online-Handelsplatzen wie Ebay usw.
Operationen mit den Geldmitteln

[b]Schicken Sie bitte Ihre Bewerbung an info@acglogistics.biz[/b]

76. monsterchupacabra - October 4, 2007

Hello Everyone!

I’m Mike. I just signed up and wanted to introduce myself.

77. Cathy - October 4, 2007

Hi Mike.
Welcome.
Have you read the Fixer?

Do you know any German? (See #75)

78. oOgerryOo - December 15, 2007

Hi,
I’m Gerry.

Just saying hi – I’m new.

79. Знаменка - April 14, 2008

Great book!

80. Retired Geezer - February 1, 2012

… WP… is that you?

81. Retired Geezer - February 1, 2012

^ pamella andeson

That right there is a dead giveaway.

[Note From The Desk of The Assistant Site Administrator]
You may think my friend Geezer is talking to his imaginary friends (again) but he was actually speculating as to the identity of the author of the deleted comment immediately preceding this one.

82. daveintexas - February 1, 2012

hmmmm

83. Michael - February 1, 2012

Aw c’mon, that was better than average spam. It mentioned “rough sex scene salma hayek.” I didn’t click the link for fear of a virus, but still, rough sex with Salma is an intriguing idea.

84. uxuviniu - March 15, 2012

Рассылка рекламных сообщений на 165000 форумов 50$.Продвижение корпоративного сайта
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