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 Phantom by Susan Kay

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PostSubject: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 22, 2008 3:53 pm

This book is my favorite. I know most of you will know what i'm talking about so i won't waste my time telling about the story line.

what did you think of this book?

I loved it!!! I want to see a film of it...

young Erik drunken I love you
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 22, 2008 8:38 pm

I've read the book. Many people like it because it's really the only book written which delt with Erik's life before the opera house. However, if we look for a well written, easy to understand story, this is not the book.

Writing in the first person POV is difficult enough, but each chapter featured a different character's POV presenting more confusion than not. For example, Darius, the Persian's servant. What's the deal with him making a deal with the devil? How does this matter?

Certainly Erik's life proved a horrid, difficult one, but so many things disturbed me, such as:

1. Javert wanting the young boy Erik for his pleasure.

2. Erik mercy killing Nadir's terminally ill son.

3. Erik allowing the harem girl to die. Yes, she screamed her head off, but I'm sure if he had kept him face covered and spoke gently to her, she would have stopped screaming. Then he could have allowed her to stay the night, in a plutonic way, and not get her killed.

4. Erik's drug addiction.

5. The opera house account differed from Leroux's original. The personalities of Erik and Christine are not the same.

6. Lastly, once again another story where Raoul has to raise Erik's and Christine's son. This ending occured in Progeny and in The Phantom of Manhatten.

With all due respect to the author, Susan Kay and to those who enjoyed the book, these are the reasons which disappointed me about the novel. In essence, I did not like the story for all of the above reasons.

Forgive me if I've offended anyone.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Fri May 23, 2008 7:19 am

hmm...Darius? i thought Darius had a deal with the devil in Phantom of Manhattan. that was why he wanted Erik dead at the end?

I see your point but i still love the book.

In Phantom of Manhattan Erik ended up raising the son after Christine died, right?
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Fri May 23, 2008 12:49 pm

You're right. Darius was Phantom of Manhatten. Sorry about that.

But you see the other points. She could have come up with a different ending than that.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Fri May 23, 2008 3:59 pm

I've only actually read 2 of the "sequel" book all the way through. I
started 2 others and couldn't get through the first chapter of them.
Kay's Phantom was the first I read.

Overall, the story was
interesting. I didn't care for Kay's take on Erik's early life (I'm
sorry, it's been years since I read it, so I'm too foggy on the details
to give examples of what I disliked so very much), but I could
understand that she was trying to explain why Erik was the Erik we
knew. Her vision and mine certainly aren't the same, but I can't fault
her for not reading my mind, especially so long before I got around to
reading Leroux's novel.

What I truly couldn't stand, though,
about Kay's Phantom was that she changed at least some of the events
from Leroux's novel. I'm a purist when it comes to Phantom, I'll admit
it here, now, and proudly, and changing the events of the time Leroux
wrote about simply struck me as Wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Fri May 23, 2008 5:17 pm

I see what you are saying. but i find it interesting to read other peoples versions of the story. even if it has an alternate ending.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Fri May 23, 2008 8:49 pm

I agree with Empty. That bothered me when Kay changed the opera house events. It so went against the original. If she had to create all the other disturbing things in Erik's past, at least leave that part alone.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Sat May 24, 2008 12:34 am

All of you have very valid points. However, I must say that I enjoyed and appreciated Susan Kay's Phantom. To me, while she did change some things and alter several of the original details, Susan Kay added a fuller, richer depth to Erik's character than Gaston Leroux did. I appreciate the book simply for that. I liked the fact that Kay portrayed Erik's darker, and yes, more sadistic side. (Ooo, I'm evil! Twisted Evil ) Reading so many Phantom phanfics, I get a little tired of the romanticized version of Erik. Though I personally like a more well-rounded and sympathetic Erik, Kay did make him believable. (At least, I thought so)

Overall, I would say that if you are an avid Phantom of the Opera phan, then certainly add this book to your collection. On the whole, I enjoyed it.

Laura
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Sun May 25, 2008 8:26 pm

Certainly I see your point as well. I realize this is the only fic which deals with Erik's life before the Opera House.

Maybe it's just the way she wrote it that disturbed me. I have the book in my collection. In fact, my Phantom collection is growing. Whoo hoo!

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Tue May 27, 2008 9:38 am

Hello everyone! I wandered over her after Mav's post about the forum. I'm always interested in hearing people's thoughts about various POTO versions.

As for this one, Kay will long live as a favorite for the pleasure she brought me as a 14 year old kid in the first throes of Phantom obsession. She gave me an alternate to ALW, a cast of characters with background and depth. Yes, I loved Leroux, but Kay burned. For various reasons--mostly, because I cannot bear to lose my love for it--I will not read it again. I understand its weaknesses and I wish to preserve the experience I had as a younger person because it was terrifically important to me.

That said, I never found the change in POV confusing at all. In fact, I love that it gave us the opportunity to get to know Nadir and others characters. If you recall, Leroux changes POV, he changes tense, he's all over the place. That, in itself, isn't a problem for me.

Neither is the drug thing, or the alterations from the original. In my mind, Kay set out to make the events/characters from Leroux plausible. To do so, she had to shift some things around. She gave Erik an addiction which affected his personality and, I thought, was a valid response to the horrors of his life (not a GOOD response, but a comprehensible one). Leroux wove fact and fiction, for sure, but his research wasn't always spot on. It didn't have to be; he was writing fiction. But for Kay, trying to figure out how to reconcile the dates given and what was going on in Persia at the time and everything else, I think she made valid choices.

That isn't to say I agree with all of them. But in the end, she's not rewriting Leroux. She's writing her own book. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that she wrote this long before Becky Meadows' books. Wasn't it 1988-9? Something like that. I don't think the Erik!baby thing was a trope at the time. After all, fanfiction had a very limited distribution before the internet.

Anyway, all that said, I hope I haven't alienated anyone. Like I mentioned, I understand the objections and I have some of them. But Kay did something that hadn't been done before, and in my opinion she did it well. I'll always love this book for the pain/pleasure it brought me as a kid.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Tue May 27, 2008 10:48 am

my daroga you gave us a beautiful reason for loving this book. Well said and completely understandable.

However, Leroux actually wrote like the journalist he had started out as. He really did not change POV's. He described the Persian's account as being written by his own hand. I take this not as the author's change of POV, but adding a genuine, first hand account to attest to the validity of the story.

Kay gives no reason for the change of POV. I suppose I'm a purist, for this I beg your pardon. Unfortunately, I still didn't enjoy the book. Too much hype I suppose.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 12:15 pm

I don't feel Kay need a "reason" to change p.o.v., except to say she wanted to offer firsthand experiences of various characters. That said, it's totally a preference, like first person vs. third, or present vs. past tense. I agree that there should be a reason for any of those choices, I just don't believe that reason has to be concrete. Though I can relate to not enjoying that decision, entirely. I'm not arguing with your experience of the book at all.

Leroux does change tense unexpectedly at times, from past to present, which is odd and distracting for me. (Not all translations preserve that technique.) And I guess I didn't find Kay's pov shift much different from Leroux's to the Persian, though Leroux does give a concrete explanation for it.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 2:48 pm

I really would like to find a copy of the original Phantom by Leroux in French. I'd like to read how he actually wrote it. I've read two different translations, both in English, but one geared more toward American English.

How do you explain the ending of Kay's book? This was not like the original. She doesn't explain it, she just dives in and takes creative license. The events did not occur as we know them. Surely you can't have enjoyed that!

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 2:50 pm

PhantomnessFay wrote:

How do you explain the ending of Kay's book? This was not like the original. She doesn't explain it, she just dives in and takes creative license. The events did not occur as we know them. Surely you can't have enjoyed that!

Actually I enjoyed that. I think it was just her interpretation of his story. This is not the only book that changed Leroux's version.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 2:58 pm

Wow. The site just ate my whole post.

Um. I was saying that like Nichol, I'm okay with that being Kay's interpretation. Even if it altered things significantly, everyone makes their work their own. I like almost all of the POTO adaptations for different reasons. Yeah, I'd like to read fic/watch movies based on Leroux, but I like what other people bring to it too. In my opinion, the ALW show changes Leroux just as much if not more than Kay, and in my personal canon Kay ranks higher--that's just preference.

That said, I'm not sure Kay directly contradicts Leroux. Leroux doesn't say Christine went back--but someone brought back the gold ring. He doesn't say she had a kid, either, but he doesn't say she didn't. All we see is Erik letting them go--Erik going to the Persian's--Leroux/Narrator finding the body. Seems to me there's a lot of room left in there for other stuff to happen. Which isn't to say Leroux would agree that things went down as Kay said, but I don't have a problem with her interpreting it that way.

That said, the ending is a little cheap in that it tries to give everyone the best of both worlds, or something. When I was younger I really loved it as a bittersweet ending!
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 5:14 pm

You express this so eloquently. This is exactly what I mean by hype. I heard so many wonderful reviews, like yours, and then I read it.

Okay, I've bashed it enough. You're right, there were spots which could have been what Kay said happened, but I felt like the everybody was out of character. Certainly Kay made it her own, but I think it could have been better.

Hands in the air, backing up slowly. Don't punch me. alien alien alien The whole mystery and genius of Erik I did not see. She didn't show him creating automatas or automatons, no show of ventriloquism, magic or any of his skills except achitecture and the use of the Punjab lasso.

Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Wed May 28, 2008 5:29 pm

Oh gosh, I would never resort to violence!

I tried to express, initially, that I totally understand peoples' objections. I mean, I have them, too. If I read it now, I'd probably say a lot of the same things. I'd miss all that stuff you mentioned, the automatons and all that. Then I got into a discussion which, for me, wasn't so much about reviewing it as pointing out its plausible points in the face of "making it one's own."

Obviously, not everyone's going to agree and Kay splits some parts of the fandom almost as bad as the 2004 film. My view is entirely the emotional longing for my 14-year-old emoself's engulfment in it. Intellectually, you are not wrong at all, and I'd never want to come across as if I think anyone's opinion is invalid. It's all in the experience; some of this discussion, though, about some of the particulars is interesting because it highlights questions of adaptation and faitfulness.

I wish there were automata. I wonder, though, if she left all that stuff out because it's all impossible and she wanted a plausible background. I mean, that's possible. I go back and forth, in my own writing, about whether to use the stuff Leroux writes about I find patently unbelievable. You know?
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 9:44 am

That's completely understandable, but for me it's not impossible. Automatons could have been created by anyone with the knowlege and skills. After all they are wind-up toys.

Why couldn't he have created illusions to fool and scare the managers, cast and crew? How is this unbelievable? He enjoyed pranks. We just see others ways of playing those pranks.

I apprears to me Kay only wanted to make Erik an insane drugg addict which proved completely out of character for him.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 9:52 am

True. Choices were made (though Leroux only mentions the automatons as an aside for the Turkish pasha or whatever) and we don't have to agree with them. More invention might have made things more interesting; I guess Kay was more interested in telling the "Erik as crazed lover" story than the "Erik as trickster" story; I know I have trouble when I write fic, trying to reconcile the sides of his personality exhibited in Leroux. I always have to cut something out, because I personally cannot create a character who makes sense to me and who is as contradictory as Leroux's Erik is without some sort of outside weirdness. Drugs or insanity would work. Leroux's Erik is not sane, and maybe Kay used drugs to bring out the insanity while not making Erik totally too crazy for love. That's another choice one can agree with or not; I kind of like it, because it makes sense to me, but other people's versions of Erik might not be the sort of man to turn to drugs as escape. My love for Sherlock Holmes blossomed around the same time as Phantom, so I was well used to the tall thin genius with a penchant for chemical oblivion. People didn't think the same way about drugs back then, even if most people knew they were harmful.

What I found unbelievable was the ventriloquism--I don't think anyone can "throw" their voice so you would think it was on the other side of the room, though I guess illusion and redirection can do a lot. Come to think of it, Kay does use that in the gypsy section, with the flower. And full-size naturally-moving automatons seem fantastic to me, as well, but I might be naive. But you're right, Kay's Erik doesn't focus a lot on the pranks once he's at the Opera. It's much more about him and Christine, and it leaves a lot out. When I was little, I liked that because I was all *swoon! romantic!* and silly. Now, I'd like something more well-rounded. Once they get to the Opera, Kay's book is all about the thwarted romance, and maybe it loses something in that focus.
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 2:29 pm

This is why I've written my own Phan fic which is different from that. I've started posting it here only. I've tried to touch on all the aspects of Erik all others leave out.

Most look upon him as a romantic figure, mainly because of Gerry playing the Phantom. The true Erik was much more that a man needing and wanting love.

I will start a new thread to discuss this further. Follow me to WHO WAS ERIK?

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 2:39 pm

I'll have to check out your fanfic, then. And the new thread!
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 5:09 pm

Forgive me for blasting Kay's work. It did have some redeeming moments, such as the grief Erik showed when he discovered his mother had died.

The fact that Kay showed so many evils affecting his life to make him the creature we all know and love, was her way of seeing things. She would have to fill in the holes of things left out by Leroux.

For me, she took the mystery out of the Phantom and the real feelings of Christine. There could have been a deeper more psychological explanation of Erik's actions and reactions to all he endured. This seemed superficial as well. Then I didn't read this as a dewey-eyed teen. Again, I beg the pardon of any I may have offened. alien alien alien Please don't shoot!

Perhaps the same could be said for even Christine and Raoul.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 5:13 pm

I'm not sure but i don't think you've offended anyone and i think everyone should know that the point of the boards here is to express your oppinions. They shouldn't be offended by them because they themselves have them even if they differ from yours..

with that said i want to applaud you and my daroga! this is exactly what i love seeing in forums but many forums lack conversations like this.

on subject: I think that everyone here has valid points (though i only skimmed parts of it...forgive me.)
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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Thu May 29, 2008 8:48 pm

Thank you Nichol. I just didn't want those who loved the book to get upset when I give all my negative thoughts.

Actually, I was glad when the book went into reprint. I had tried to buy it before that, after all the hype I'd heard, and I couldn't find the book locally without paying an arm and a leg since they called it a rare, out of print book.

At last, I know what everybody is talking about.

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PostSubject: Re: Phantom by Susan Kay   Sat May 31, 2008 1:48 pm

I LOVE Kay's book; I think her portrayl of Erik was great, especially his sence of humor! I read parts of the book when I'm sad (wich unfortunatly is alot), and it ALWAYS cheers me up. you can tell that book is loved! Laughing
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