For Weekly Geeks #16 Maree from Just Add Books partnered up with me and I interviewed her about her reading of Space by James Michener.
Joanne - What was your reason for reading this book, how did you come to hear of this book?
Maree - I have a personal challenge this year _ to read one classic novel a month. Space was supposed to be Hawaii by Michener, but I couldn't find it. It was also supposed to be the book for July, but I got a bit behind; so I cut out August's book _ The Picture of Dorian Grey _ and read Space instead. I'm back on track now, I think. :)
Joanne - According to this books description, it is the fictionalized history of the United States space program, from 1944 – 1984. How accurate do you believe this story was? Did Michener stay true to the historic happenings or alter the happenings to fit his plot?
Maree - I think it was pretty accurate. I don't know a heck of a lot about the space program but this seemed well-researched and the characterizations gave the massive space program a very human face.
Joanne - As the book covered such a huge span of time, roughly 30 years, would you say more attention was paid to description and plot structure or to character development?
Maree - There was actually quite a good balance between both plot development and character development, as the book is very character-driven.
Joanne - This book is centred around the US space program and space exploration, along with many historical events – would this book be readable for anyone? Or would a knowledge of NASA and/or American History help the reader to understand certain parts better?
Maree - I don't know a heck of a lot about NASA, or American History, but I found Space to be a fascinating read, and it made me want to learn more. I think Space has very broad appeal.
Joanne - Was there any particular character you were connected to, or enjoyed more than others? Was there a character you found yourself really hating? Why?
Maree - I really liked the character of Penny Pope, a driven, hard-working woman who seemed to have the balance of her life right. I couldn't stand Stabismus _ a conman basically, using whatever was popular to fleece vulnerable people _ and doing it legally.
Joanne - In the late 80's CBS aired Space - A Mini-Series, based on Michener's novel, which won three Emmy awards. Have you seen this, and if so how does it compare to the novel? If you haven't watched it, do you think you would be interested in seeing how the novel works as a mini-series?
Maree - Oooh, there's a mini-series? No, I haven't seen it. I'd love to, though.
Joanne - Have you read any other books by James Michener? Did you enjoy them and what would you recommend? If this is your first Michener read, do you think you will search out this others by this author? Why or why not?
Maree - I've read The Source by Michener, which I love. It's on my list of all-time favourite books. I will read others by Michener, but not for a while _ he writes looong books!
Joanne - At nearly 1000 pages, this is a very weighty read, how did you find yourself feeling while reading? Was it a page-turner or did you find it dragging in places.
Maree - Mostly it was a page-turner, with so much going on and so many characters, it could be hard to put down. It did drag on occasion, just by virtue of being so long, I think. So I'd go and read something else for a bit before returning to the fray.
Joanne - Once you turned the last page and closed this novel, what were your initial thoughts? Were you satisfied with your reading? Was everything concluded in a way that left you content? Or did you think it needed something more?
Maree - At first, relief, because it was so long! And it gave me some food for thought (or musing) about space, and the space program. It's kind of an ongoing tale, but it felt like the book finished in the right place.
Joanne - Did you learn anything new from reading this book? If so, what would you say is the most important knowledge you gained?
Maree - Um ... I guess, if anything, I learned how difficult the space race can be, looking from the inside out. And how difficult a space mission truly is.
Joanne - Would you recommend this novel or not? Explain your reasons and convince readers why/why not using 3 sentences or less.
Maree - I would definitely recommend it. Michener is an excellent storyteller and seems to have a real gift for telling very human stories against some massive backgrounds. Literally, in this case, with space being the biggest of all.
Joanne - Last question – list 5 words to describe this novel or your feelings about it?
Maree - Massive, fascinating, long, sad, human.
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