Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Spoiler Odyssey (Well, Sort of)

I am not a big fan of spoilers. At least book spoilers. I am much more easy going about spoilers when it comes to television or movies. Except for certain shows, that is. Please don't spoil Lost for me. When it comes to books, however, I would rather find out for myself. So, no spoilers please. Since spoilers mean different things to different people, I want to be clear about my definition. When you give away a major plot point or twist in a novel, you are spoiling it for me. When you tell me the outcome before I read the book, you are a spoil sport. I do not consider a synopsis a spoiler. In fact, I will not read a book without having some idea what it is about. How else will I know I want to read it? But this is not a story about spoilers. Not really anyway. Well, maybe just a little.

The only time I am okay with hearing or reading a book spoiler is when I ask for it. And in this instance, I truly wanted to know what the outcome would be. I put forth the question to two of my online reading groups:
I was wondering if anyone here has read Homer's Odyssey and would be willing to e-mail me and spoil the ending?
I went on to explain that I was considering reading it, but that there are certain types of animal-focused books I would rather not read, particularly if the animal dies in the end. It's silly really. I'm an emotional reader as it is and cry all the time over books, but with memoirs in which the animal dies in the end, it's too much. I'd rather avoid it even for the sake of missing a funny or inspirational story. It just hits too close to home, I guess.

I waited in anticipation all morning for a response.

The first response: There's a cat in it?

And then the second: So many people die in the Odyssey but I don't remember any cats.

After about the fourth comment, it finally struck me: Homer's Odyssey. Homer wrote The Odyssey. How could I be so dumb as to not see it right away? I was not asking about The Odyssey by Homer but rather Gwen Cooper's Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat. How was anyone else supposed to know that?

I never did get an answer to my question, at least not from anyone in my online reading groups. Which brings me to my other mistake. I did not realize the book has not been released yet. On the plus side, with a little help from Google, I found a You-Tube video that gave me my answer. Well, enough of an answer to decide whether or not I will be reading the book.

We won't even go into how I keep picturing Gwen Cooper from Torchwood with a cat named Homer.

© Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty 2009. All rights reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Hilarious. I loved the quote "so many people die but I dont remember any cats".

    I am with you though I hate sad endings with animals no matter how insperational the story. Marley and me had me crying and the movie had me a sobbing mess (some how I thought I would be ok because I knew how it ended doh). I've started weeding out the sad ending ones as well.

    Other then with books I am not really fussed either way with a spoiler. I like to know the "how" they got there as sometimes spoilers do not reveal everything.

    Good post, a nice way to end my day.

  2. That is so funny!

    I'm not keen on weepy animal books - too upsetting.

    And as for Gwen Cooper, well I've been watching the new Torchwood this week - it's on every night - she looks like Cat Woman! I can't bear to think what would happen to cats if the aliens got hold of them, or if the cats transformed into aliens - too scary.

  3. I really hate spoilers, but I think if I had a sensitive issue like that I would probably be okay with it in that instance - especially if it's going to keep me from reading the book anyway. I actually don't think I've read any weepy animal books because I think they'd upset me too much!

  4. I intentionally avoid the books and movies where the animal dies too. Case in point, I will never read nor see Marley and Me. I lost my Lab five years ago, I still get upset when I think about it, and don't need to reopen old wounds.

    But you have started me thinking. I try really hard not to put spoilers in my summaries. If I do because I must (like for the Outlander series, which you just can't avoid), I put out a warning. I am still a little paranoid that I'm spoiling without realizing it. Please tell me if I do this!

  5. Gwen Cooper here (Gwen Cooper the author, not Torchwood Gwen Cooper!). I generally don't enter into these conversations, as I feel that people should be able to talk about a book online without feeling like the author is "eavesdropping." But as I completely share your feelings about sad animal stories (my parents made me watch "Old Yeller" as a child and I remain traumatized to this day!), I thought I'd chime in.

    Since my publisher recently shot a video with Homer and me and posted it all over the Internet, I don't think I'm issuing any major spoilers by assuring you that Homer is alive and well and sitting on my left knee as I write this.

    In defense of other writers of animal stories, I'll say that it can be difficult to know how and where to end a straight-ahead story about a pet's life if not with the end of the life itself. I was fortunate in that I was able to find a very natural and (I think!) narratively satisfying point at which to conclude Homer's and my story. But not every non-fiction writer is blessed with the true-life material that I had.

    Hope this helps, and hope you enjoy the book!

  6. By the way, were you one of the bloggers to whom my publisher sent an advance copy of "Homer's Odyssey"? It certainly seems like you should have been...

    If for some reason you weren't included on that list, please let me know and I'll have the situation rectified immediately.


  7. Ha, that was a good confusion :)

    I hate spoilers too. I get very irritated when people are so keen on telling you what happened. My elder sis does it just to make me angry. Once in college there was this movie we all wanted to see, a thriller, where the mistery is, 'Who is the killer'. When we friends were leaving from college to go to the theatre someone told us who the killer was. I mean, hello? Mean people.

    Anyway, great you got the answer. I don't mind if the animals in the book die, of course I feel sad and all but I can still read it. I'm not cruel, promise :)

  8. It took me a minute to figure out which bok you were talking about as well. I just saw Homer and immediately thought the Odyssey and I have the other book as well. I had the same apprehensions about reading the book, but I think it's okay.

  9. Oh, I don't think you're silly at all! I'm a big cry baby myself. I can't help but let the tears go when someone is hurt or killed or treated unjustly, etc. But when it comes to animals, it's a whole 'nother level...somehow that just goes right for the jugular. And yes, I do like human animals--well, most of them anyway ;) --as much as other animals. And I know humans can be just as "innocent" as other animals. Yet still, there is just something about seeing an animal hurt that just rips the heart out.

    So, will you be reading it?

  10. I was thinking of The Odyssey also and was trying to figure out why you would ask that! LOL! I'm totally, totally with you on this though. My reading motto is "Do what you want to the girl, but leave the dog alone." :-) In fact, I had to cheat in the book I just finished (The Great Stink by Clare Clark), because I had to know if the dog has a happy ending or I wasn't sure I could finish it despite the fact that it's a really good book. For the record, all is well for the dog. Yay!

    I, too, am curious if you'll be reading the book you asked about. Inquiring minds of animal lovers need to know! :-)


  11. I don't like spoilers either - that's why I keep my synopsis short and sweet. I have Homer's Odyssey but haven't read it, so I can't provide a spoiler for you.

  12. I was laughing so hard when you explained!! Before that, I was trying to remember an animal in The Odyssey. :D

    I hate when animals die too; I just read Wesley the Owl, and the author says she hates it when books about animals end in their death but she has to talk about Wesley's. So definitely avoid that one.

  13. lol! That is hilarious :D Especially the "I can't remember any cats" bit. There IS a dog in The Odyssey, though, and he plays an important role :P

    I completely understand not wanting to read certain types of animal stories. Nothing gets to me like bad stuff happening to animals.

  14. I try not to post spoilers in my reviews and I think for the most part I am successful. This gets harder and harder for series books though. For example (I am making up an entire series here!)- Let's say there is a question of does the boyfriend die in book 1, and I just finished up book 3 where the boyfriend is again in a dangerous position and it's the major plot of the book. How do I review book 3 without saying he is alive, which would totally spoil book 1? It is likely I read book 1 five years ago and don't even remember that I would be spoiling it for someone. It gets tricky.

    I am also a big fan of "someone spoil the ending of book X to me in email!"

  15. Caspette - I cannot read Marley and Me for that very reason. I read a book two or three years ago that was in a similar vein--good book, mind you--but because the dog passed away in the end, I was a mess for days after; That was when I realized that maybe reading those types of books might not be the best idea for my emotional well being. I wish it were different because I know I'm missing out by not being able to read a book like Marley and Me.

    Margaret - I was only slightly embarrassed at first. Now I think it's very amusing. :-)

    I can't wait to see the new Torchwood. Gwen is one of my favorite characters and now that you've said she looks like Cat Woman, I hope I don't have to wait too long.

    Meghan - Yes, in most cases book spoilers are big on my no-no list. Thinking on it, this type of book is the only time I've ever really sought out that little spoiler for.

    Sandy - I haven't read Marley and Me either. Maybe someday I might be able to, but not right now.

    I haven't come across anything I would count as a spoiler in your reviews. And I think with most of the other blogs I follow, it hasn't been an issue for me. Except once. Someone announced in the first paragraph of a review that one of the main characters died by the end. Luckily I had read the book. It was a classic and the reviewer took it for granted that everyone already knew how it would end. I hadn't a clue until I read the book.

    I sometimes worry that I am giving too much away. I try not to go beyond what you might find on the back of the book or on the inside cover (although sometimes I think those give too much away). There are people who think any kind of synposis at all is a spoiler, though.

  16. Why is it that people feel the need to spoil things in the first place. A friend of my casually mentioned what I would take to be a huge spoiler about the new Star Trek movie, which I haven't seen. Since her inconsiderate comment, I haven't really thought about seeing it...

    Anyway, the Homer confusion is too funny. Gotta admit, I thought about the original story too. As for animal stories, I love them and death is a natural part of life... but I hate it when they die and make me cry. I hate crying in general.


  17. This is hilarious. I was reading the first part of your post thinking to myself - what animal in The Odyssey is she so concerned about??

    I hate spoilers in book reviews and blog posts. I try to give a synopsis that doesn't spoil plot points.

    What I really hate are the occasional book cover blurbs that give away key plot points - gah!!

  18. Gwen - Thank you so much for stopping by! I am very grateful to your publisher for posting the video. Homer is a beautiful cat and so resourceful!

    I am glad you commented about the animal stories, the ones in which the animals pass away in the end. I definitely think books like that are worthwhile and hope no one gets the impression I think otherwise. They are wonderful tributes to the animals in our lives. Not to mention death and grieving are a part of life, and, I think, are experiences that should and need to be written about and shared.

    I really wish that I was stronger emotionally to handle books that talk about the end of life for a beloved pet. And maybe someday I will be. I feel like one of those mother's who cannot read a book about a child being sick and dying or being kidnapped (books I don't have the same issue with).

    In answer to your question, no,I don't have an advanced copy of Homer's Odyssey. That is so kind of you to offer!

    I appreciate you breaking your rule and entering the discussion. :-) I look forward to reading your book.

  19. You know, my first thought when I clicked on through was of THE ODYSSEY. I didn't connect your post with the animal book until really far down!

  20. Violet - I can't believe it didn't dawn on me right away. LOL

    I remember hearing about people purposefully going around and spoiling the end of the 6th Harry Potter book as readers were in line waiting for their own copies. I realize that sometimes a spoiler may slip out innocently or that the person really doesn't mean any harm in giving something away. It doesn't necessarily make me happy, but I can understand how that might happen. When it's done maliciously though, I'm not so forgiving.

    And I don't think you are cruel at all. :-) I know exactly what you mean.

    Nicole - I learned my lesson, that's for sure. :-)

    Debi - Yes! That's exactly what happens to me.

    As to whether I'll be reading the book, it's looking very likely. :-)

    Lezlie - Haha! I know what you mean. :-) And thanks for the heas up about The Great Stink!

  21. I hate spoilers with a passion. I recently read a review of The Hunger Games that gave away a major plot point (without any warning) and I'm still angry about that (I haven't read the book yet). Unfortunately, I find that synopses often contain what I consider spoilers, which means I often skim reviews, especially if I'm not familiar with the reviewer's style.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to rant. What I actually wanted to say is how funny! I like the "I can't remember any cats" bit too! And I'm with you on being an emotional reader and having trouble dealing with stories that end with a pet's death (especially now that my pets are elderly). I'm glad to hear Homer is still alive and well!

  22. Kathy - I admit that I can ramble sometimes even with a synopsis, but I like to think the details I'm revealing are set up rather than spoiler. I haven't had anyone complain, so I hope that's how others see it too.

    I hope you enjoy the book!

    Eva - I'm still laughing over it. I can't believe I didn't see it right away. LOL

    You bring up a good point. Fiction is a bit different for me than nonfiction when it comes to issues of pets dying. It still bothers me, of course, but not to the degree that it does when it is a nonfiction book about a pet. So, one I can read while the other, I prefer not to.

    Nymeth - I remember the dog from The Odyssey! :-)

    I'm going to go give my dog and cats big hugs when I get home today.

    Lisa - Oh, yes! Series books can be very hard to review. I like it when I can read a few close enough together that I can review them at the same time. That doesn't happen often though.

    Nonfiction can also be a challenge to summarize without spoiling sometimes. Especially if the outcome is a well known historical event.

  23. CJ - Oh no! I would hate that. And sometimes we really do lose interest in reading or seeing something that we feel has been spoiled for us.

    It is a good movie though and I hope you'll watch it. Hopefully it won't be too ruined for you. I heard spoilers about a television finale back in April that I later watched. The "shock" moment was completely lost to me and it took some of the shine out of not knowing.

    Suzi - I am glad others think this is as funny as I do.:-) My husband made me post about it.

    Spoilers can really put a damper on enjoyment of a book, can't they? I know what you mean about book cover blurbs sometimes giving away too much. I read a book last year in which that was a real issue for me. I don't normally steer people away from reading those, but I did with that book.

    Memory - I confused a lot of people, I think. :-)

    Avis - The very definition of spoiler varies for so many of us. It's too bad there isn't a hard and fast rule about it to make it easier. At least you know to skim. You just have to hope your eye doesn't catch on something you would rather not know. That would be bad.

    Mine aren't quite in the elderly category yet, but two of them are getting there--and way too fast. It's not something I like to think about even though I know I will have to eventually.

  24. I'm pretty ambivalent about spoilers, really. I still like to read (or watch) and see how whatever happened, happened (there's a Lost reference for you, Wendy :-)!). But, like you, I do want a decent synopsis so I can decide whether the content of the book interests me.

    Just after HP#6 came out, we saw someone at the mall wearing a T-shirt referencing what happened to one of the characters. My then-boyfriend (now husband) hadn't read it yet, and he was ticked. He actually went up to the guy and scolded him for spoiling the book. (The movie's out next week, and the book's been out for almost four years - and I'm STILL trying to avoid spoilers!)

  25. That is too funny! It just goes to show you how one small detail can change things so much.

    I agree with you on two points... if there are spoilers, I feel like there is no reason to read/watch. I get very disappointed. Also, I hate reading about animals that die. I can be reading the most graphic book in the world, and not flinch when people are being killed, but the moment an animal/child is hurt, I get extremely upset.

  26. Your comment about nonfic (that it can be a challenge to summarize without spoiling, especially if the outcome is a well-known historical event) made me think of one of the last reviews I wrote for a novel based on an actual person's life. It felt weird to mention the end of the book (that Mansfield dies) because it felt like a spoiler, except that I presumed that most people reading the book would have some idea of who Mansfield is, so her death isn't exactly a spoiler! Still it felt like I was doing something wrong by mentioning it at the beginning of my review!

    And yup, I know my definition of spoiler is a lot broader than many people's -- in my estimation, many book blurbs contain spoilers. I've put spoiler warnings in a couple of my reviews and had people comment that what I warned might be a spoiler wasn't in fact one.

  27. You've made me laugh so hard! Yeah, I would have assumed you were wondering about the old classic. And the "cat" response would have had me quite baffled :o)

  28. I agree with Kristie about "one small detail"! In library land we have an example of why reference librarians need to make sure they get those details before helping. It goes something like this: A student approaches the ref librarian and says she needs books about "whales" for a class project. So the librarian shows her encyclopedia articles about "whales," the section of the library with books about "whales," etc. The student finally tells the librarian that the project is for her geography class and she needs books about the place in Great Britain -- Wales. Yup, one small detail :o)

  29. I saw Return of the Jedi on opening day with several friends, back in the 1980's. We got in for the second show after 8 hours in line. Leaving the theatre we were talking about it and walking past many, many people in line for the next show.

    We had heard a rumor that a main character was going to die which I thought meant either Han Solo, Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia. They are the main characters after all.

    So I said to my friend, "I thought one of the main characters was supposed to die....Oh yeah....Yoda dies!"

    Many people in line were less than happy with me. What can I say. I was young and maybe a little stupid.

  30. I'll have the book sent over to you ASAP! Could you let me know where I can find your mailing address?

    You can also shoot a message to my publicist Lisa Klein, lisakleinpr at gmail dot com, if you'd prefer to get me your mailing address that way.

    Thanks! :-)


  31. Haha... Oh that's a good story Wendy. Regarding spoilers, I don't like them. The only times I'm sort of ok with spoilers is when it comes to classic stories - they've been around forever so it's hard to keep things a secret. But I particularly hate spoilers when it comes to mystery stories!

  32. That is hilarious!!! I cannot handle animals dying in books, movies or real life. I'm a mess and it's not pretty. I try to avoid it if I can. Glad I'm not the only one!

  33. That is so funny! And I hate spoilers for books which is why I frequently have the dilemma of whether I should read the book before or after the movie.

  34. I have the book on my ARC-alanche pile, and I'm dying to get to it. My middle daughter's name is Gwen and she loves cats, so she wants me to read it to her (she's special needs and reads at about a 2nd-3rd grade level).

    Like you, I wouldn't have thought about people thinking of Homer's The Odyssey, but now that you mention it, if I didn't have the book myself, I would've thought the same thing as the person who said so many died they hadn't noticed any cats.

    And, oh yeah.... GWEN COOPER is also in Torchwood, I hadn't put that one together... of course, I've only watched the first disc of the first season of the show, so... you know.

  35. That was too cute!! I have this ARC but haven't gotten to it yet!!

  36. Yep, I hate spoilers too (especially if they're thriller/mystery novels!) Urgh! Spoils all the fun for me in solving the cases, haha.

    And that's funny about the Homer's Odyssey. I'd get confused too. :P

  37. I learned something new today and that is there's another book apart from the classic Homer's Odyssey. LOL!

  38. Florinda - I think it depends on the type of book it is, for me, whether knowing the major plot points will turn me totally off a book for me. I often will still read the book for the reasons you mention, but there are also times when I don't see the point. And while the spoilers may not make me avoid a book altogether, they can take some of the fun out of sorting things out for myself. And in that way, it's very disappointing.

    It definitely gets harder to avoid spoilers with the more popular books like Harry Potter as time goes by, especially if you're surrounded by people who have read the books. I imagine that's partly where the blogger who spoiled the classic in her review was coming from.

    Kristie - So very true! Just one small detail can completely change the meaning of something.

    I'm right there with you. You and I both read a a lot of crime fiction, in which people do killed killed and are sometimes tortured. That doesn't mean we enjoy it at all, of course, but we seem to be more tolerant of it in books than we are of animals and children being hurt.

    Avis - Nonfiction reviews seem to have a different set of rules than fiction ones. I think in your instance, stating upfront that Mansfield dies is not really a spoiler since it's a known fact, although I imagine there is someone out there who might disagree. :-)

    Now that I know the answer to my question regarding Homer in Gwen Cooper's book, I don't really see it as being a spoiler at all. I find that to be an interesting little shift in my thinking.

    Terri - What a great story! And so true. Those little details really do matter, don't they?

    C.B. - Oh, no! Poor C.B.! That's one of those instances where I might have been miffed at your slip, but I would have instantly forgiven you because you made an innocent comment. I'm not even sure I'd go so far as to call it a mistake, considering you were talking to your friends in what was a relatively private conversation. The fact that people overheard you was just bad luck on their part.

    Gwen - Thank you! I went ahead and sent an e-mail to your publicist with my address. I truly appreciate you giving me this opportunity.

  39. Iliana - Mystery spoilers are among the worst. While it isn't too uncommon for me to figure out the whodunit in a mystery pretty quickly, I'd still rather not know ahead of time by way of spoiler.

    Stacy - You are definitely not alone!

    Amy - Very good point! I think that's why I prefer to read the book first whenever possible. I don't mind movie spoilers so much, but I really don't like having a book spoiled for me.

    Alisha - Oo! I can't wait to hear what you and your daughter think of Homer's Odyssey. I was telling a couple of people at work today about the book and have sparked their interest. And a friend of mine is going through a very difficult time right now and needs something uplifting--she prefers nonfiction so I may just buy her a copy once the book comes out. I haven't even read the book yet, and I'm making a list of people I know who might want to read it!

    What do you think of Torchwood so far? Do you watch Dr. Who too?

    Staci - I look forward to reading your thoughts on it, Staci!

    Melody - Exactly! I like to solve the crimes myself, thank you very much. :-)

    Alice - Now you have a new book you have to read too!

  40. That is so funny, especially the Gwen Cooper from Torchwood comment -- good stuff and great post!

  41. Alisha--It would be my great pleasure to send you and your daughter a copy of the finished book when they're available, as well as a copy of the audio book.

    What's not to love about another Gwen who loves cats??? :-)

    If you end up seeing this comment, feel free to shoot your address to my publicist at lisakleinpr at gmail dot com.

    Many thanks to all the commenters--and especially to Ms. Literary Feline. This has turned out to be such a fun blog to participate in!


  42. Wendy: Torchwood is a bit different than I had expected, but fun. I kinda sorta useta watch the old Dr. Whos, but that was sooo long ago, I really don't remember it that much. Maggie, my youngest, was watching it with me until the sex alien thing. Suddenly Mom remembered it was past her bedtime! LOL...

    Gwen: That is absolutely sweet of you! She will be so excited to know that the actual author of the book is sending her something :-)

    I actually got a little teary when I read your comment ;-)

  43. Wendy - anyone who tells you a spoiler about Lost is lying. The writers don't know where it's going. ;)

    That's so funny about Homer's Odyssey mix up! And I'm relieved to hear that Homer is alive and well and I can read it with relish when it comes out.

    I've picked up an author's current book to check up on the dog in the story (and discovered a people spoiler I didn't see coming - but luckily I LOVE spoilers.)

    I won't even watch or read a book/movie if I think someone is going to die & I can't find out who/when until I do.

  44. :) Well, I'm glad to know that I didn't miss the cat in Homer's version! I've begun a dog book now that had me crying in the first few pages, but is really good. Will I finish? I want to do, but sad animal books drain me...maybe I should just consider it catharsis and as such, a good thing.

  45. Jess - Thanks!

    Gwen - What a wonderful offer! As you've already seen, Alisha and her daughter were thrilled with your offer. That is so kind of you.

    I am glad you were able to join in on the discussion! I can't wait to read your book.

    Alisha - If you get the chance, you might want to check out the new Dr. Who show. It's safer for the young ones and it's actually quite good.

    Carrie K - Haha! I believe you regarding Lost, but since I sometimes watch it on the weekend after its aired, it is possible to end up having it spoiled for me. Not that it would ever stop me from watching and enjoying it . . .

    I am relieved to hear that Homer is alive and well too. I'm looking forward to reading the book now.

    Jenclair - I really confused a lot of people, I think. :-) Hopefully your book will end up getting happier as you go.


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