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Nights and Days by Mihangel


Jeff Ellis

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To be honest, early on I liked it... mostly. In this case, meaning that I was also resisting, but that's mostly because as a teen, I thought that love completely trumped sex, and for me, that didn't work out very well at all. Even if in my case, whether I wanted to admit it or not, SEX was still something dirty. So in that respect, I suppose I was a bit Victorian.

`Course, I was also lying to myself, but...

But anyway, I thought the concluding chapters were absolutely glorious. If there were coincidences that seemed too good to be true, so what? Seems like everything by Charles Dickens was chock full of hard-to-believe coincidences, but it never bothered me in the least, because I was a romantic.

And it was nice feeling that way - a romantic - again. Glorious, in fact.

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I have read a lot of English school boy romance stories, but nothing like this...this is a step above the rest.

I have a fondness for cathedrals as architecture not as houses of worship so my interest was fed by the descriptive passages in this story. Mihangel's main character certainly seems to have more angst than most fifteen year olds, but over time that is explained quite well. I do agree with Camy, the boy's intellect and reflection through literary quotations did seem a little over the top, but I am sure this only makes the character unique.

As for coincidences, there are a handful to absorb, but they work well within the story. This is a masterful think-piece of writing, no fluff and dribble to absorb, just full on through the chapters until the story concludes. You know I had to like this story because of the history Mihangel included, although there was probably more about the God business than I needed. Hell, I didn't even suffer with the moments of insider British expression, it came off as English enough for me to understand.

Good story, well worth the time to read it all.

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Many thanks for your kind words. Yes indeed, as Camy says, I've written many stories and am beginning the gradual process of posting them all on AD. In the case of Nights and Days, which was written seven years ago with some fear and trepidation, two of your particular remarks call for comment.

First, Chris's feeling that there was too much of the God business. I quite often dip a tentative toe into this. With this story, as I say in the inroduction, I was challenged to plunge deeper. That was the main cause of my fear and trepidation, partly because it's an aspect which our tales hardly ever address, and partly because it's all too easy to tread on the corns of one sort of reader or another. But as an agnostic - not an atheist - I do from time to time find myself asking what - in my terms of reference - this God is that others talk about. Is it really just a label for my conscience? Or for my destiny? Or for pure chance? I don't know, but I do ponder. And Nights and Days, on one plane, is simply a pondering of that sort. I'm quite sure it could be a more satisfactory response to the challenge, but it was the best I could do.

And Camy feels the boys' intellect and their quotations are too advanced for the age of fifteen. This is a criticism that has been aimed at me more than once before, but I continue to defend my corner. I have to confess that all too often I feel frustrated at fifteen-year-olds habitually being depicted as mumbling dumbos. Writers such as us tend, willy nilly, to create characters who are some sort of reflection of ourselves at whatever the relevant age is. My characters, I'm sorry to say, reflect me. I could and I did talk in just the way that Justin/Robert/Gavin do. In fact one of my nicknames then was "Rentaquote". Nor was I unique because I had friends - not many, but a few - who replied in kind. Sure, we must have been obnoxious brats. But that's the way it was.

I still appreciate your kind words, though.

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I found the erudite academic discussions fascinating. Perhaps most boys aren't quite so glib, but then, this is fiction, meant to entertain, and some boys, certainly, do have a lofty ecclesiastical curiosity about life -- and after all, Justin was sequestered away in a vicarage and had few friends at school so his pursuits could well have turned to his studies, and he could have remembered what he read.

I have another reason to support this, too. In almost every story I've written, someone has complained my characters speak like Oxford dons. It's very nice to see my lads aren't the only ones!

C

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Merkin put succinctly what I had been thinking as I read my way down the thread.

For many years kids' thinking has revolved around Australian Soaps (sorry Des) and teenage romance. The state school systems worldwide have playgrounds full of kids for which the comment "I found the erudite academic discussions fascinating. Perhaps most boys aren't so glib" must be depressingly accurate.

But... It wasn't always so. In the best of the old British grammar school system boys were quite sophisticated thinkers by 15 and I suspect this is still true in the better private schools. So... coming from the schools they do... I find them believable, even if they are wonderfully different to the bulk of their TV watching peers.

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Magnificently written as always, and I look forward to more of the earlier stories finding their way to AD.

I should admit that I approached this one with some trepidation, knowing that Mihangel and I have rather different views on religion, and there was a point around halfway through the story when I found myself thinking about giving up on it. But thank God (or whoever) I didn't, because - as JJ says above - the resolution of this is absolutely wonderful, and the final chapter or so almost had me in tears. If you haven't read it yet, do.

I'm with Jeff on the dialogue and erudition of the three main characters: there was a time when a British education could produce well-read (not to mention well-taught) and inquisitive kids. Alas that this seems to be no longer the case...

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I think that religion here served more as a springboard for a more wide-ranging discussion between the two about art, culture and the varying aspects of spirituality and how they all relate to the human - and specifically their own - experience, rather than being expressions of religion per se; certainly there was nothing of religiosity about it. Neither held the conventional beliefs about gods or supreme beings.

As far as their erudition, I had no problem with bright English public schoolboys exhibiting same. Even Bertie Wooster peppered his speech with references to literature, poetry and the Bible, even if he couldn't dredge up the sources or at best, mangled them.

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Their speculations sounded much like some I had at that age when I was trying to figure everything out, before I learned one cannot do that. I think the struggles they were having trying to understand the world and their place in it are universal, that teenagers do wrestle with these topics. That most don't do it so articulately and thoughfully says something about who they are, and even more about who the author is.

C

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Paul's right that spirituality is probably a better word than religion, and I'm delighted to hear from Cole that he is/was on that same wavelength.

But David says "there was a time when a British education could produce well-read (not to mention well-taught) and inquisitive kids. Alas that this seems to be no longer the case..." Here I'd venture to disagree. They are still produced, though whether in such numbers as of old I can't say. A few years back I had a correspondence lasting several years with a lad from an independent school in Britain(good but not famous) who was 17 when he first responded to one of my tales. Wow! In terms of literary erudition he ran rings round me. And from what he said he was not unique in his school. So there's still hope on this side of the pond.

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This thread came back to me when I saw Rick's posting this morning...

http://forums.awesom...?showtopic=7207

If you haven't seen it do go have a look... what inspired youngsters can achieve when challenged is remarkable. I suspect that each of them could hold an erudite conversation... if only about music... but that's a conversation that can last a lifetime.

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I have read the first four chapters of Nights and Days and I have fallen in love with the story. It is amazing. I wish I could write this powerfully, this eloquently, this beautifully. And, like Justin, I am already in love with Gavin after only a train ride. Indeed, I am in love with all three. I will spend my entire Sunday reading the rest and savoring every moment, every word.

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Their speculations sounded much like some I had at that age when I was trying to figure everything out, before I learned one cannot do that. I think the struggles they were having trying to understand the world and their place in it are universal, that teenagers do wrestle with these topics. That most don't do it so articulately and thoughfully says something about who they are, and even more about who the author is.


I went to a Catholic school in grades K thru 5. We had lay teachers (no nuns), so when we had catechism it was taught by a priest. When I was in the 5th grade I got into a big argument with the priest when he told the class that God knows everything that you've ever done, everything that you are doing, and everything that you'll ever do in the future. I asked, "Does that mean he knows what I'm going to do before I do it?" He said, "Yes." I asked, "Then why do I have to try to be good if God already knows what I'm going to do, and I don't have any choice?" He said, "That's one of God's miracles" or something like that. I argued with him about it until he told me to sit down and be quiet because I was disrupting the class (a charge I heard regularly during the rest of my school days through high school).

Anyway, that's when I decided that religion didn't make sense, and told my folks that I wanted to go to the public intermediate school when I started 6th grade, and I didn't want to go to church any more starting immediately. They wanted to know why, I told them, and they told me it was my decision (at 10 years old). So I did what Cole says he learned one can't do. I love my parents! They gave me the right to make up my own mind as long as I'd thought things out, and what I wanted to was reasonable, and I've done so ever since. That's like Gavin in Mihangel's Nights and Days. I think I would have gone crazy living in a situation like Justin.

Colin :icon_geek:
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  • 1 year later...

Interesting, Colin. I was a late developer in every sense, but when I was trying for university entrance I certainly knew why I wanted to go: to find out what I thought about the world.

So I wanted to read philosophy. In those days it was not a subject available at school. And I had specialised in history and English and to read philosophy one needed to have latin and greek. The only way I could do some philosphy was to read PPE which included it and I managed to spend more than half my degree on philosophical topics. And I did and thought (and think) that I have thought everything out - at least the main important things. And I'd be glad to discuss it - but probably I shouldn't occupy Awesomedude with it.

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