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Intrusions
by Ursula Hegi
Book Description:
Brilliantly stretching literary conventions, Ursula Hegi, author of the best-selling Stones from the River, creates a funny and original novel within a novel to explore the doubts, decisions, and "might-have-beens" that mark not only the writing process but life itself. As her "author" and her fictional heroine deal with their intrusions into each other's lives, Hegi reveals much about the choices women make, the ambiguities they face, and the often surprising ways reality and fiction merge.
 


Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (1 of 20), Read 24 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:04 AM I hope nobody minds my starting this discussion, but I am curious as to what others thought of the style of this book. It was so unique and I fluctuated as to how much I liked it. At times I loved hearing the conversations between author and characters, but at other times I would get a bit confused as to who was talking..author with hubby, or character with character, or character with author. But on the whole, I liked the book. Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (2 of 20), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Karen Slongwhite (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:18 AM I really liked it. My mother has written a couple of novels (none of them have been published) and I remember her talking about how real the characters felt to her. Even though I've never written a novel, or any fiction, actually, I frequently feel the same way about characters in books I've read. Sometimes they stay with me and I wonder what they are doing or I have conversations with them in my head. I thought this was a very unique book in showing the frustrations of writing. I am definitely planning to pass this book on to my mother (she's about to go to Africa for 2 weeks and needs a plane book). But, even if you aren't a writer, I think it is something you can identify with. Aren't we all torn in different directions? Don't we all sometimes drop threads here and there? Don't we all have moments when things keep getting thrown at us and we can't remember what we were doing before? Karen
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (3 of 20), Read 25 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 06:34 PM I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hegi can be so witty and funny, I wonder why it hasn't popped out in other books of hers I've read. It's a fun book, and I can sure relate to it. Ties right in with our Babysitting thread down in the Salon, doesn't it? And as someone who's done a little writing, I loved the insights into the writing process, how she lets us see that writing and living are all of a piece. That said, I don't think this is nearly the heavyweight that Stones from the River is. Ruth “We are born to cry, and when we have cried enough, we die." Akiro Kurosawa
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (4 of 20), Read 28 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 07:50 PM i think the writer used her characters as a therapy for settling some pretty hefty personal conflicts within herself, though..mostly how to be personally satisfied without neglecting the children and all the guilt that can bring. I know a lot of women who go through the guilt of discovering that children and family are not the end all and be all to personal satisfaction. Gawd, I feel guilty just writing that here. Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (5 of 20), Read 30 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 09:08 PM I found it interesting that Hegi kept stating that her plot was directed by the characters, rather than having characters directed by the plot. This seemed to parallel Megan's conflict between planning everything and just letting life flow/ David
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (6 of 20), Read 34 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 09:16 PM This brings up a question I have. Are we to presume the writer in the book is Hegi? Or is the writer a character, too? Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (7 of 20), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 09:46 PM Hmmmm. I never thought to question that the writer was anyone else but Hegi. Is someone else intruding? David, too often the naïve one
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (8 of 20), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 09:56 PM David, you're not naive..my mind works in mysterious ways, is all. I tend to think the writer is not necessarily Hegi. I suppose it wouldn't be too hard to research her background and see if she has two sons..etc. Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (9 of 20), Read 35 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Anne Wilfong (anne.wilfong@gte.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:15 PM I'll echo Beej's sentiments in the opening of this thread. At times the jumping around annoyed me, and often I had to backtrack to see just who was talking. But I have to admit I enjoyed this book. It's so different from anything I've ever read, and so different from Hegi's other works. Good for her for having the guts to show such completely different styles. All these intrusions, or extraneous conversations she had were real life stuff to me. How many times do we have imaginary conversations with people, and it drives us nuts? I got the impression Nick was driving Ursula crazy, yet she craved (and created) his intrusion. She had some pretty unique characters, and I found myself wanting to know about the sister-in-law with the eating problem; the old professor who wanted more sex scenes; the hair dresser's child whose name she couldn't decide on. This was a rich, rich book. Anne
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (10 of 20), Read 37 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:21 PM That Nick was a charmer, wasn't he? I got such a kick when she was at the grocery store and Nick showed up in the shopping cart. Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (11 of 20), Read 39 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Anne Wilfong (anne.wilfong@gte.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:26 PM With the frozen spinach, no less! Anne
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (12 of 20), Read 40 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:26 PM This is the fifth novel I've read by Hegi, and I liked every single one of them. The others, as Ruth points out, are deeper, more serious..but this one was a lot of fun to read. Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (13 of 20), Read 42 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:27 PM Anne, she sure was great with the details in this, wasn't she? Beej
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (14 of 20), Read 43 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2001 11:40 PM David, Hegi's approach to writing is not so unusual. Having done some writing myself, and being unable to plot my way out of a paper bag, the only thing I can do is create the characters and a situation, and then sit back and watch what they do. I've heard other writers say the same thing. And they do seem real after you've spent so much time with them. One of my regrets when I finished my novel was that I wouldn't get to spend time with Annie any more. Ruth “We are born to cry, and when we have cried enough, we die." Akiro Kurosawa
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (15 of 20), Read 29 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2001 07:29 AM Ruth: I wasn't thinking that Hegi's approach was unusual; in fact, I was thinking it an entirely valid approach not just to writing, but to life in general. It's certainly Nick's, who lets Megan do all the plotting and planning. David, who loved it when Nick said, "I don't know why I said that."
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (16 of 20), Read 13 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Jane Niemeier (jniemeie@hotmail.com) Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2001 09:01 PM I think that the author in the book was Hegi, because she used the name Ursula. I liked the book but all of the intrusions annoyed me a bit. I couldn't figure out why Megan left her family. What was so bad about her life? I do admit that I wanted to give Aunt Judy a swift kick in the derriere, but I liked Nick and the children. She was not even working. I think of my friends who balance three children, work, and a husband. Megan was also able to continue her education. I was thinking that Hegi made Megan leave, because that was what Hegi was longing to do. She kept talking about her need for solitude. Jane
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (17 of 20), Read 11 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2001 10:00 PM The intrusions didn't bother me. In fact, I loved them. Once in a while I got confused, but it soon sorted itself out. What did bother me was that after a while, clever as this device was, it started to sound MERELY clever. Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (18 of 20), Read 8 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 17, 2001 07:09 AM I think you have a point, Jane. Despite Hegi's constant denials of similarity (they did have different colored hair, after all), it seemed obvious that the narrator was projecting her desires problems into Megan's life. I think the key motivation dates back to chapter 6, where it's stated that Megan realized that her unhappiness was caused by nothing but her expectations. Megan is a plotter, who wants everything to be like she expected it to be. When things don't work out (for instance, Nick doesn't react as she expects), this becomes a conflict. Eventually, these conflicts build up to the point where she needs to take some time away to reflect and redefine what she really wants. David, who notes that the book was first published in 1981, and wonders if this sort of running away was a fad at that time
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (19 of 20), Read 9 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 17, 2001 11:36 AM Actually, David, if it was ever a fad, I'd say it was during the '70s, when it seemed to me that women were beginning to feel their oats, and everyone's marriages were falling apart. Or was it just me? Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (20 of 20), Read 10 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, May 17, 2001 11:37 AM This book reminds me in many ways of Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years. Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (21 of 29), Read 33 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, May 21, 2001 11:38 PM Hi Everyone, I just started and so far I like the back and forthness of it. She had me laughing a couple times in the first few pages. I don't know if she'll be able to pull it off as she goes along but so far so good. The only other thing I read by her was Stone From The River and this is certainly a switch. Bo
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (22 of 29), Read 13 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 07:24 AM I had only read Hegi's Stones From the River prior to this one and I'm happy to know that she has such an incredible sense of humor. That image of Nick in her grocery cart was my favorite as well. Mid-way through I got a little annoyed with the intrusions. However, I kind of sensed that she wanted that reaction...there were numerous comments directed toward a reader who was having that attitude. It's such a departure from traditional form that it seems almost designed to annoy at some level. However, by the end, I was so involved with the author in the process, that it had gone to a different level. It's not a form I would want to read again, but I liked it as a one-time experience. I had the same bit of impatience with Megan that you did, Jane. A couple of times, I thought that Hegi was missing something by not giving Megan any other passions. She seemed an outgrowth of the author's frustration in balancing her writing with her demands of home. However, Megan was not a writer and didn't have that other factor to balance. In the end, I decided that Megan was trying to balance her expectations with reality, just as difficult ultimately, I suppose. I thought it was interesting that the author killed off Megan's parents as part of her story. I had to remind myself once in a while that this was why she had the need to carefully plan out and anticipate her life, leaving no room for such future surprises. Barb
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (23 of 29), Read 13 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: Barbara Moors (bar647@aol.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 07:25 AM And, I wish she had spent more time with Dagmar. What a great character! Barb
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (24 of 29), Read 15 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 08:04 AM Barb, I'm glad you posted since I'm about 1/3 of the way in and was trying to decide if I was going to keep going. The intrusions were starting to annoy the heck out of me too. Ironically I started reading another book, Turning on the Girls, which does the same thing. Only it's MUCH more restrained--showing up in a sentence or two every other chapter. In other circumstances this might annoy me more but compared to Hegi it seems pretty tame. :) Bo
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (25 of 29), Read 12 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:51 AM The intrusions didn't bother me as a reader at all. (thought the book was funnier than heck, too.) My only reservation about it is that I think it's a bit TOO clever. Hegi has let the FORM of the book become a tad more important than its CONTENT, don't you think? Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (26 of 29), Read 7 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 01:39 PM Ruth, I would say that the form was the content; that the book was written in that manner to exemplify how the characters lived their lives. David
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (27 of 29), Read 5 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 02:28 PM Good point, David. And I agree. But still, I began to feel she overdid it. Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (28 of 29), Read 4 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 03:07 PM Ruth, I'm with you on this one. I read about half and skimmed the second half. At times I was confused as to what was intrusion and what was intended as story. But that's neither here nor there. The biggest thing is that the story didn't engage me. There were many very well written vignettes but nothing really tied them into a complete whole for me. Whenever I began to be engaged the intrusion stopped that. For me, that was the weakness of the 'form'. (I agree David, that the form was the content.) She had a very sparse writing style so that when she used words with any power as a kind of 'hook' to try to get a rise out of the audience, they stuck out. (Near the end when she talks about slabbing around etc.) What a contrast from Stones from The River! Bo
Topic: Intrusions: Ursula Hegi (29 of 29), Read 5 times Conf: READING LIST BOOKS From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 03:53 PM You misunderstood me, Bo. I enjoyed this book a lot, and read every word, right to the end. It was fun. I didn't find the intrusions confusing. I just think it's a flawed book, and had made its point long before it got to the end. Ruth “Ain't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine

 

Ursula Hegi

 

 
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