Please help contribute to the Reddit categorization project here

    thesoundandthefury

    + friends - friends
    8,927 link karma
    251,619 comment karma
    send message redditor for

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I think that line came from inside of me, although there are always external forces that shape your understanding of something.

    I'm sorry you have to live with such intense fear, and as you point out, it's not a choice--obviously if you could choose, you wouldn't choose to be strangled by dread and anxiety. I think there are a lot of complicate reasons we often frame mental illness as a choice or a character flaw or a personal failing, but it isn't any of those things. I hope you will believe that there is hope, and that your problems can get better, and that you pursue treatment even when it is frustrating--but I'd feel the same way if you were living with any other chronic illness, be it diabetes or colitis.

    For me, the terror comes from not having a sense of autonomy over the self that is called mine. If you don't have the choice, that means you are more a passenger in your self than the driver of it, and that destabilizes the whole notion of me as a proper singular noun. And that is REALLY scary.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    It's pretty different, but partly BECAUSE of tfios, if that makes sense.

    1. The release was different because almost no one read TAtWD before it came out. (Even a week before it came out, only 30 or 40 people had read TAtWD. TFiOS was also embargoed, but not nearly to the same degree.) That made the release pretty terrifying, because I didn't really have any reviews or anything.

    2. The reception of TAtWD has been really, really positive--much better than I could've hoped for. It's actually made more best-of-the-year lists than TFiOS did, and the reviews have been mostly very positive. On the other hand, the average goodreads rating is lower than TFiOS's was in its first year (although not THAT much lower). But some of that is definitely about expectations, since TAtWD had several thousand goodreads ratings before anyone had read it.

    3. TAtWD is selling much better than TFiOS did in its first year. But I think the reason it is selling better is partly because of TFiOS, so it's hard to separate out those experiences.

    The biggest change, though, is that it does not feel so life-changing. The success of The Fault in Our Stars was an amazing gift and in many ways very fun, but it was also at times overwhelming. Suddenly, strangers were knocking on my door asking for my autograph. People were taking pictures of me playing with my kid in my front yard. Stuff I wrote on reddit was being quoted in Entertainment Weekly.

    It was very disorienting to have all of that happen all at once. Now I feel much better equipped to handle that stuff, and also I've taken a lot of steps to regain at least some control over the parts of my life that I want to remain private. So this time around has been easier in that sense--at least so far!

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I did not think of ending the book where you suggest it might've ended, but I quite like that as ending!

    I think there were a couple things I wanted to explore after that section--the biggest was finding a way to show that Aza goes on, and that she gets sick and well and sick and well but goes on and has a good and fulfilling life. I wanted to show this because so often in stories like this one you only see the character get sick and then get better.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I like your reading of this a lot, but if I'm being honest about authorial intent, I picked Tender Is the Night because that's the book you pull to open the secret bookshelf in my house.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 3 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I don't just mean romantic love. I fretted about that a lot because in context, it can read like Aza is talking only about romantic love, and I tried to separate it out enough that it wouldn't read like that, but I'm not sure I succeeded.

    But I do really believe that love is how you become a person--the love adults show you when you are young, and the love you share with peers and siblings, helps you understand yourself (and others) as creatures with souls. (I wish I had a better term than soul, but I don't.)

    I think there is a deep interplay between love as a socially learned human emotion and understanding other people as beings worthy of love, and that's what I was trying to get at.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I suppose there is a connection, although I hadn't thought about it in those terms before. In both cases, the hope is baked in to the fact that the narrator is still there, and that they are taking control of their story by telling it.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    It seemed like an unusual but defendable ship to me--the kind a smart but intentionally provocative fanfic writer would use. But I also wanted it to be a ship where Daisy was acknowledging the personhood of a character whose personhood would be debated by at least parts of the Internet, because Daisy herself is a person who has experienced what it's like not to be treated like a person by the social order because of who you are.

    I hope that Daisy being super-opinionated about Star Wars doesn't come across as offputting or as me making fun of her. I think Daisy is right about the ways that Star Wars is used in contemporary U.S. culture as a shared mythical language to talk about everything from personhood to war.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 1 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I was just playing in my head with names that were close to Aza.

    The other thing about Ayala, though, is that it switches a z for a y, which is very similar to the switch between Daisy and Davis's names (they are anagrams of each other except v is swapped with y). That was appealing to about some kind of Aya name, but Aya sounded wrong, whereas Ayala sounds to me like a name that could be in Star Wars.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 7 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    There's always a chance, but I like to leave characters in a place where I am okay with saying goodbye to them. For Hazel, this meant saying "I do" to Gus. For Margo and Q, it meant imagining each other more complexly. For Aza, it meant that you know she goes on. So I feel okay about saying goodbye to Aza.

    But then again no one ever says goodbye unless they want to see you again.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Thanks for your question, and for the kind words about the book. I'm glad it resonated with you, but sorry you have to live with intrusive thoughts.

    As for the detailed descriptions of Aza's thoughts: I wanted to try to find some way to give direct expression to how it feels to experience these spiraling thoughts--how terrifying and upsetting it can be, and how profoundly destabilizing it is for one's sense of self. Thoughts are abstract and they are internal and they resist direct description, but I wanted to see if I could find some kind of language for them that wasn't just metaphor. I wanted to see if I could make them real in the way that a table or a chair is real. And so that's why I focused on making them as detailed as possible. It's really nice to hear that you feel like it gave you a way to describe your experience to others, because one of the things I find so difficult about pain is that it's difficult to explain it with language, which can make it isolating, because it's hard to share.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Yeah, the second printing is rolling out now, and it will have quotes about TAtWD from critics. But for the first printing, we didn't have any such quotes, because almost no one had read the book. (Even a few days before publication, only around 30 or 40 people had read the book.)

    Why? Mostly because Penguin was very (very very) worried about leaks. I was also worried about leaks, because I wanted everyone to be able to read the book together and for readers to avoid spoilers. So I was in favor of keeping it locked down.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I never felt that guilty, because I knew she was a fictional character. And I never wanted her to have a break from it because I didn't feel like that would be true to her experience, if that makes sense. It was more trying to write about her as if she was real, rather than wanting something for her as if she were real.

    That said, I did feel a lot of compassion for Aza. I felt sorry for her in a way I hadn't been able to feel sorry for myself.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I think that is a totally justified reading. I don't think there's anything in the text to discourage that reading.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 8 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    As mrscreepyhead suggests, I think the way to read Ulysses is with a copy of Ulysses Annotated alongside. It's not like reading a normal novel; for me, it's much more like reading a sacred text or something. The allusions are so dense that you just can't take that much away from it unless you pause every page or so to get a sense from the book of annotations of what's going on non-literally. (Also, it helps you understand the plot, which I find difficult to follow in many spots.)

    Thanks for the kind words about Tatwd. My greatest hope was that it would help people feel unalone. Your comment means so much to me.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 3 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Harold is intended to be a metaphor for Aza's dad. And I think losing the car (and the phone) is a way of losing her father again.

    As for sanity/sanitizer: The connection here was also intentional, but I didn't think of it as drinking sanitizer making her sane. I thought of it as, like, she is using this thing (a sane-i-tizer) to make her feel okay, to manage the dread and terror and pain of her illness, but it is not actually working. Really, it's only making things worse (both literally, in the sense that it is not good for the health of your microbiome or the rest of you to drink hand sanitizer, and figuratively, in the sense that it is indicative of how serious her illness has become).

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 3 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    These are great questions.

    1. HP-wise, I was so anti-epilogue for so long that I feel a bit embarrassed to acknowledge that I've become somewhat pro-epilogue in recent years. The advantage to the epilogue I didn't see at the time is that it prevents anyone from writing sequels to HP (like, even after Rowling dies), and it also establishes that Harry is okay. There is a joy in seeing this boy who has gone through so much become an adult who hasn't been bothered by that scar in years.

    There were a lot of reasons I wanted to use a time-jump in TAtWD--first, because I wanted Aza to start to get better in the latter part of the book but I also wanted to make it clear that it sometimes isn't so simple as I Was Sick And Then I Got Better. I wanted to make it clear that for Aza this is a chronic, probably lifelong health problem--but that she still has a meaningful and fulfilling life in adulthood. Secondly, I wanted to make it clear that she goes on, and that she is able to think of her self as a singular noun. And also, I wanted to take her friendship with Daisy into adulthood, to make it clear that the sustaining, life-long love in the novel was between the two of them.

    1. I chose Amherst mostly because my publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel went there, but I was aware in my head of that other midwesterner who traveled east for school there, and I was aware of that midwesterner being the great contemporary u.s. chronicler of anxiety.

    2. This is an interesting question, but I feel like answering it would be commenting on matters outside the text of the story.

    3a. I do not drink Sprite these days.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 11 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Yes, people really get better. Aza improves (some) toward the end of the book, probably partly because she is taking a medication that works for her at a dose that works for her, but also partly because she begins to think differently about self and thought in ways that allow her to imagine herself separate from her intrusive thoughts.

    In the time jump at the end of the novel, we learn that Aza doesn't ONLY get better--she also gets sick again. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't get better, or that she is stuck being sick. It only means that some (not all!) mental illness is chronic. But just because you live with chronic mental illness does NOT mean that you will have a bad or unfulfilling or miserable life.

    For instance, I have ongoing, chronic mental health problems, and I also have a good and fulfilling life. My average day today is much better than my average day 10 or 15 or 20 years ago because of treatment--and I think my experience is much more the rule than the exception.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Interesting question. One of the only things we find out about Aza's dad is what kind of art he liked--the kinds of pictures he liked taking, and the kind of music he listened to. (In previous drafts, you found out some of the books he liked, but I think I might've cut that. Not sure, though.)

    But I think you've nailed my intentions about the music--in both cases, they're infinite loops. That Missy Elliott tape plays forever, and nothing but it can play--which is meant to reflect Aza's thought spirals but also the role her Dad plays in her life. He's part of her past, and he can't change just like the tape can't change, but he's also part of her present, and she can't eject those memories even if she wants to.

    Harold in general is meant to be a metaphor for her dad, as is the tape. As for why Missy Elliot, it's true that her songs tend to use looping/spiraling samples in interesting ways, but I also just think she is a genius.

    (I feel less certain about my intent with the blues song and the lawnmower. Maybe just because that's what I listen to, and her father is kinda a metaphor for The Author.)

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 3 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    The inside references aren't particularly intentional; it's just that I'm making videos while writing, so my concerns or interests are in many cases similar. So you see all these places where I was puzzling through something that eventually made its way into the book. I often wonder whether this contributes to the reading experience or detracts from it--probably both. But in any case, yes, there are definitely similar experiences to be had in my books going back to Paper Towns. (Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines were both written and published before I started making YouTube videos, when I had a much less public life.)

    And I am 100% in favor of dog-earing a book if you want to do so. (I dog-ear my books.) It's your book!

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 5 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    Very interesting question. And I like the phrase "'post-lapse' sense of shame" a lot.

    One of the challenges for me in the story was trying to depict Aza's feelings of shame without making it seem like mental illness is something that is shameful. So I wanted there to be enough distance between Aza and the reader that they could understand what she was feeling, but not see her illness as shameful or as a character weakness. But the main way I tried to create that distance was by trying to minimize the distance between the reader and Aza.

    I felt like if I could get the reader way inside Aza's head, you might be able to glimpse not just what her psychic pain is LIKE, but also glimpse what it IS.

    And I felt like if I could do that, at least in a few moments, it would also serve to give people a sense of the shame one feels but because you aren't ACTUALLY her, you're able to be compassionate toward her in ways that we all struggle to be compassionate toward ourselves. So the idea was that you could feel her shame while simultaneously feeling that there was in fact nothing shameful about her mental illness. My hope was that you don't feel disgusted by her; you feel compassionate toward her.

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 4 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    As I rewrote the book, Aza became further away from me, not closer--so in that sense, it was actually easier than the initial draft. I realized I had to create space between her and me in order for the book to make sense to readers, and also to protect myself from the kind of attention readers bring.

    So in a lot of cases, revision took the form of me asking not, "How do I feel about this?" but instead "How does Aza feel about this?" And I think that shift was very useful for the novel, but it was also important for me, because it kept my life separate from the book. (...not entirely, of course, but enough for me to feel comfortable publishing it.)

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 3 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    I use Microsoft Word. It's probably not the best software for writing a novel, but it's the only way I know how to do it. (I remember in college, a couple of my professors still used typewriters to write their books, and I thought that was absolutely bonkers, but now I kind of get it.)

    [–] Hi Again, and Answering Some of Your Questions about Turtles All the Way Down thesoundandthefury 2 points ago in tatwdspoilers

    The gratitude goes both ways, believe me, so: Thank you.

    I did not expect for the book to be received so positively. I figured that it would be compared negatively to The Fault in Our Stars, because that book was so successful and because this one is so much more interior. I also worried that people would not really get/enjoy that the ostensible plot of the story keeps getting interrupted by Aza's brain problem in a way that makes the mystery part of it kind of unsatisfying.

    But I've been incredibly lucky (and I really do think it's luck) that so many people DID get what I was trying to do, and enjoyed the book for what it is, and also that it hasn't been compared negatively to TFIOS much. I worked really hard to depict the terror of intrusive thoughts as well as I could, but I had no idea whether I'd succeeded. That's up to readers, and I'm very grateful you feel like I did okay.