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  1. The Dream (novel) - Wikipedia
  2. by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. The Dream Peddler

And yet a complete and highly readable English translation has been available in Penguin Classics for nearly 30 years. In its native land, The Story of the Stone, as the book is also known — Stone for short — enjoys a unique status, comparable to the plays of Shakespeare. Apart from its literary merits, Chinese readers recommend it as the best starting point for any understanding of Chinese psychology, culture and society.

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So why is this masterpiece so neglected in the West? Does it just reflect a general decline of interest in literature? Or is there something particular about the Chinese case? For the Chinese, however, The Story of the Stone is a talisman. I once tested this theory, with the Public Security Bureau — and it worked. The book was left unfinished by the author Cao Xueqin at his death in and was eventually published in , with an added conclusion attributed to Gao E. But despite this, and despite its daunting length twice as long as War and Peace and its huge dramatis personae well over main characters , it is still widely read throughout the Chinese-speaking world.

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The Dream (novel) - Wikipedia

Mention of it triggers an instant gleam of recognition, and opens up new possibilities of communication. China censors anniversary of high-speed rail crash. Ai Weiwei loses China tax case. Fears of Chinese media crackdown ahead of leadership transition. Were there any moments in the story that surprised you as you came to them? I started my book with only a few characters and a vague idea of how it would end.

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As I went along I added more characters, and their desires really drove my plot. I was continually surprised by the people I invented and their choices. Most of the fun for me comes from finding out more and more about them as I get deeper into the book. For example, I had no idea when I began that Jackson was gay. As I painted him the kind of man I thought an inexperienced young woman might like—confident, funny, popular—I noticed his flirting was over the top. Outrageous, really, considering its frequency and scope. His sexuality came to me in a flash of realization.

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was the perfect explanation for his behavior—he was trying too hard. This realization served a second purpose, as well, because I did know from the outset that many of the townspeople would have to turn against Robert to drive him out.


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It simply grew out of her own feelings, her longing for romance, love, and adventure. I was taking a walk one day, thinking about my characters, and the question popped into my head: what if Cora became pregnant? You are a mother of two children yourself. How did your own experience with motherhood inform the writing of the mothers and mothers-to-be in the book—Evie, Rose, June, Cora?

As soon as I had my son, I could imagine no worse fate than to lose him, and writing this book allowed me to explore that without actually experiencing it. In some ways I modeled him after my own children, but I gave him more independence because of his era and situation. So that was fun, to explore the ways that motherhood looks different for these different characters: June being warm, affectionate, and overbearing, for instance, while Rose is far more lenient and absent-minded, though just as loving in her own way.

I honestly have no experience of either, so there, too, all I could do was imagine. Robert is a mysterious character who deliberately keeps his own background opaque for much of the novel. Was it difficult to write a story in which one of the central characters has so many secrets? I think I might have been too inexperienced or unselfconscious about that to find it difficult.

I was pretty much learning about things like characterization, story structure, and pacing as I went along. I think that over many years of reading, I developed an instinct for the kind of details that help bring a character to life for a reader, and the trick with Robert was to give enough superficial details for the reader to have a strong sense of him, while still holding back the substance of who he is. In some ways Robert was different for me than the other characters because I did know his backstory very soon after I began writing.

I was no more than a few chapters in when I jumped ahead to write the scene where Robert describes to Evie how he burned down his home. I wrote it in one sitting, one of those rare times when a scene feels like it arrives fully formed, and all I have to do is transcribe it.

I hardly made any changes to that dialogue, either, when it came time to edit. So that conversation was like a touchstone for writing the rest of the book. I understood why Robert had chosen to live a solitary, nomadic life, and I allowed that to inform everything he does.

My goal was for the reader to either find him suspicious because of this, or, like Evie, to trust him without really knowing why. I also think it helped to have such a large cast of supporting characters. By letting the reader deep into the hearts of the other characters, I could spend far more time exploring how Robert impacts their lives than the other way around.

What was your favorite part of writing this book? What was the most difficult part? I also truly loved writing the dream sequences. There was something about the immediacy of them, the freedom of exploration they allowed, that was really compelling to write. They were also an incredibly useful tool for exploring the subconscious minds of the characters. The most difficult scene was actually the one I thought would be easiest.

After torturing my characters for so long, I was anxious to get to it, and because it was momentous and important, I somehow thought the words would flow. What a surprise I got! I agonized over every detail, revisiting it so many times I lost count. Maybe this was because the scene bears such a heavy burden—I had to get it right. Do you have many dreams yourself? Have you ever had a dream that was particularly meaningful or inspirational? How have your own experiences with dreams informed the dreams of your characters?

I do have a couple of recurring stress dreams.


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Pretty typical stuff. Many years ago, I had a nightmare about my son dying.

The Dream Peddler

He was still a baby, barely crawling, but I dreamed he somehow climbed out of an open window on the second story of our new house and fell to his death. In the dream, I looked out of the window and saw him on the ground below. I was soaked in tears. What message or feeling do you most hope readers take away from The Dream Peddler? As far as feeling goes, I hope people take away a sense that their lives are full of magic. I set this book early in the twentieth century because it was a time when American farming was in its heyday, and when traveling peddlers selling mysterious potions and snake oil were fairly common.

But it also happens to be right on the cusp of Freud and Jung and the advent of psychoanalysis, when dreaming would suddenly be demystified once and for all. No more divine inspiration, no more magic. Then he saw a tree with white fruit. This sweet fruit made those who ate it happy. Lehi ate the fruit, and it filled him with joy. He wanted his family to taste the fruit because he knew it would make them happy too. Lehi saw a river flowing near the tree. At the head of the river he saw Sariah, Sam, and Nephi.

Lehi called to his wife and sons to come and taste the fruit. Sariah, Sam, and Nephi went and tasted the fruit, but Laman and Lemuel would not.