Saturday, October 30, 2010

Madame Bovary, as interpreted differently

Side by side comparisons of Madame Bovary passages.

Chapter VIII: via Maude Marmur

"On the dark wood panels were large gilded frames with names written in black letters on their lower borders...Those that followed could barely be made out because the light from the lamps, directed on the green cloth of the billiard table, left the rest of the room in shadow. It turned the hanging canvases brown and highlighted only the cracks in the varnish; and from all the large gilt-edged black squares only some lighter part of the painting would emerge here and there--a pale forehead, two eyes staring at you, wigs unfurling over the powdered shoulders, red suits or perhaps the buckle of a garter at the top of a fleshy calf."

Chapter VIII, Via Geoffrey Wall

"On those dark-panelled walls, great gilded frames each displayed a black-lettered inscription...The rest of the sequence was scarcely visible, because the lamplight, directed down on to the green baize of the billiard-table, sent shadows floating about the room. Burnishing the canvases, the light scattered indelicate patterns, along the cracks in the varnish; and from each of those great dark rectangles edged with gold there appeared, here and there, a lighter section of painting, a pale brow, a pair of eyes gazing out at you, perukes curling over the powered-speckled shoulders of sculpt coats, or a garter-buckle above a shapely calf."

Chapter VIII: via Lydia Davis

"Along the dark woodwork of the wainscoting, large gilded frames bore, along their lower edges, names written in black letters...Then one could barely make out those that came after, because the light from the lamps directed down onto the green cloth of the billiards table,left the room floating in shadow. Burnishing the horizontal canvases, it broke over them in fine crests, following the cracks in the varnish; and from all those great black squares bordered in gold there would emerge, here and there, some lighter part of the paint, a pale forehead, a pair of eyes looking at you, wigs uncoiling over the powdery shoulders of red coats, or the buckle of a garter high up on a plump calf."

_______________________

Page 102, Marmur

"Emma, who had taken his arm, was leaning gently on this shoulder, looking at the solar disk gleaming whitely through the mist. Then she turned around. Charles was there, his cap pulled down over his eyebrows and his two thick lips quivering, which gave a rather stupid look to to his face; even his back, his placid back, was irritating to see, and she found the flatness of his personality written all over his coat."

Location 2250-Wall

"Emma, after giving him her arm, was leaning just against his shoulder, and she gazed at the disc of the sun radiating far and wide, through the haze, tits pale splendor; but she turned her head: there was charles. He had his cap pulled down to his eyebrows, and his thick lips were trembling, adding a touch of stupidity to his face; even his back, his tranquil back, was irritating to behold, and in the very look of his coat she found all the banality of the man."

Page 88, Davis

"Emma, who had given him her arm, was leaning lightly against his shoulder, and she was watching the far-off disk of the sun suffusing the mist with its dazzling pallor; but then she turned her head: there was Charles. He had his cap pulled down over his eyebrows, and his thick lips were quivering, which gave a stupid look to his face; even his back, his placid back, was irritating to look at, and she found displayed there, on his coat, all the man's dullness."

_____________________________________

Page 108, Marmur

"Emma grew thin, her cheeks paled, her face lengthened. With her black hair, large eyes, straight nose, birdlike walk, and her continued silence, she appeared now to be moving through life hardly touching it and to be wearing on her forehead the vague mark of some sublime predestination. She was so sad and so calm, at the same time so sweet and so reserved, that one felt a glacial charm when near her, as one shivers in churches under the scent of flowers blended with the cold of the marble tiles. Even the others felt the power of her personality."

Location 2359 - Wall

"Emma grew thinner, her cheeks turned pale, her face looked longer. With her black hair, her large eyes, her straight nose, her gliding step, always silent now, did it not seem as if she passed through life almost without touching it, bearing on her brow the pale mark of a sublime destiny? SHe was so sad and sol calm, so gentle and yet so shy, that by her side you felt under the spell of a frosty charm, just as you shiver in church at the scent of flowers mingling with the fell of the cold marble. Even other people were not safe from this seduction."

Page 93, Davis

"Emma grew thinner, her cheeks paler, her face longer. With her black bands of hair, her large eyes, her straight nose, her birdlike step, always remaining silent now, did she not seem to pass through life scarcely touching it and to bear on her forehead the faint imprint of some sublime predestination? She was so sad and so calm, at once so gentle and so reserved, that in her presence one felt captivated by an icy charm, the way one shivers in a church amid the fragrance of flowers mingling with the cold of the marble. Nor did others escape this seduction."

_
Page 108, Marmur

"But within she was full of envy, rage, and hatred. That dress with the straight folds hid a heart in turmoil, and those modest lips did not speak of her torment. She was in love with Leon and she longed for solitude in order to dream about him undisturbed. Even the sight of him troubled the voluptuousness of her meditation."

Location 2370 Wall

"But she was filled with lust, with rage, with hatred. That elegantly pleated dress concealed a heart in turmoil, and those lips so chaste told nothing of her torment. She was in love with Leon, and she sought solitude, the better to take her pleasure, undistracted, in images of him. The actual sight of him upset these voluptuous meditations."

Page 94, Davis

"But she was filled with desires, with rage, with hatred. That dress with its straight folds concealed a heart in turmoil, and those reticent lips said nothing about its torment. She was in love with Leon, and she wanted to be alone so as to delight more comfortably in his image. The sight of him in person disturbed the sensual pleasure of this meditation."

____________________________________________________

Page 111, Marmur

"It was the beginning of April, when the primroses are in bloom; a warm wind blows over the flower beds, and the gardens, like women, seem to be dressing for the summer holidays."

Location 2411, Wall

"It was early April, when the primroses are in flower; a warm breeze rolls over the newly turned flower-beds, and the gardens, just like women, seem to be making ready for the great days of summer."

Page 96, Davis

"It was the beginning of April, when the primroses are in bloom; a warm wind tumbles over the newly spaded flower beds, and the gardens, like women, seem to be grooming themselves for the festivities of summer."

*Location refers to the Kindle notation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Patty and authority in Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM

Spoilers exist in this document.

Putting aside all the people who hate Jonathan Franzen for having been born, for getting another book contract, for being anticipated and welcomed by many reviewers, for having lots of fans, for being forgiven by Oprah, for writing novels with sometimes unlikable characters (unlikable by being wrong, judgmental, alive on the page, imperfect, not behaving as the reader might like, just as people in our own real lives are wont to do), Freedom, having been described as being about "how we live," has that element, certainly, but also lives and breathes its own air.

It's not a documentary, after all, but is a family story, and its characters should not be held as archetypes, but must be taken at face value as they act within their story. As readers, we're shown glimpses of the Berglund saga by four distinct characters: Walter, Patty, Joey, and Richard. It cannot be over-emphasized that these distinct characters are not us, and we must not make the mistake of projecting them onto ourselves nor ourselves onto them.They do not stand for "all" men and women in contemporary America.

Point of view, the deliberate choices Franzen has made to construct this novel, are central to its meaning. Patty's portion of the novel is her own written narrative, while Walter's, Richard's, and Joey's stories are more conventional, told by a third person limited omniscient narrator. Each of the men's stories are shaped by
their relationships with women who threaten their own relationship with Patty. Each character's fate is tied to Patty. She is at the center.

Patty's story is told through her "autobiography," which seems to be written with Walter as her intended audience. Her whole confessional, then, written under the auspices of therapy (and where within the novel the person "therapist' is entirely expunged from the story), a state of mind where Patty is searching for the reasons and motivations for her life's choices. She naturally starts at the crux of self-identification, adolescence, and the events (the date rape, the parental neglect) that her parents insist she repress. Consequently, the adult, the depressed, the in-counseling Patty creates a narrative that paints her impulsive marriage to Walter, with all the missteps along the way and beyond, as an inevitable course of events. She writes this story from third person omniscience, establishing herself as a character or actor within her own story. Readers are not privy to anything but Patty's construction and editing, especially not the conversations with her therapist that sparked the need for the autobiography.In a way, this choice of POV gives her text an added authority with in the novel.

She is the writer here, but third-person narration obfuscates her authorship. This tactic shows Patty's internal conflicts as well as her ability to manipulate the novel's central characters; because she knows Walter so well, she knows her story will be convincing, and she turns out to have correctly judged the outcome. Otherwise, why would Walter be so reluctant to read the second volume? He is well aware of the sway of Patty's voice, and he holds out as an act of rebellion and self-preservation. Franzen deliberately crafts Patty's sections to perform a function within the greater text.

Moving here from there

I have a website where these old posts used to be housed. But that site has turned into a portfolio and services portal, not a good place to house my thoughts about the books I'm reading. So here we are.

2010: January to June Favorite Reads

The best books I’ve read between January and June of 2010:

Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury. First time I’ve read this an adult. It’s not quite cohesive as a novel, but wallops a double-dose of nostalgia: Bradbury’s for his childhood, and mine, for reconnecting with an old beloved book.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. Love this simple, rich story of a young woman’s maturation-through-immigration. Caution: there is one section that will make you cry buckets of salty, sad tears. I knew when I was in the middle of this tender novel that I wished it were three times as long. It's quiet and understated and elegant, this story of a young Irish woman who comes to America and finds her own strength and self. Reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and an immersible world unto itself.

Underworld by Don DeLillo. Epic monster of a story that seems to presuppose the horrors of the 2000s by looking at the less-but-still horrific 1950s through the 1990s.*

True Grit by Charles Portis. My sister told me to read this years ago and, very typical to our family tradition, I bought it and then resisted, telling myself that I just didn't want to read a Western. Well, let me tell you that this is a quick, wonderful read, full of wiley characters and intrigue and snowy rides and lovable horses. Most of all, its narrator, Mattie, is a smart spitfire fourteen-year-old with courage and an almost pathological determination for justice mixed with vengeance in reaction to the senseless murder of her father. Read it!

When I Came West by Laurie Wagner Buyer. Memoir about a shy and naive woman who drops out of college to live with a Vietnam vet in Montana. He’s paranoid, controlling, and completely self-reliant. She’s eager to learn and finds her own capacity for surviving the harsh environment, inside the house and out.

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, stories by Robin Black. Each story in this collection has its own loss, its own secret heart. They do exactly what short stories should, distill a moment in time in the life of a character, present a situation in its crisis or its quiet contemplation. My favorite story turned out to be the one I thought I wouldn't like, about a woman who's had a stroke, who must contend with the choices of her forty-year-old daughter. While I was reading many of these Black stories, I wondered how she got into my head and knew what I've been thinking about all my life.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower. The invented worlds of these Wells Tower stories are worlds I recognize from my childhood--the colors and language of anger and reaching out before jerking back, the bewildering lines of sex and alcohol and aimlessness too. Tower is a master of detail, all vital and snapping, shaping this universe that could easily be the underside of your daily routine. It was easy to sink into each story, to taste the bittersweet tang of missed opportunity and regretful behavior.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro is gifted and has complete control of his narratives. This dystopian novel about the ethics of cloning is a psychological and emotional minefield. Part psychodrama, part meditation on the pull of childhood, part cautionary tale about the potential perils of progressive biology, this story of children growing up together in a home, all pointed toward a shared and certain future, is grim and full of rich emotional tugs. Would be excellent discussion material for a book group. It’s going to be a movie. It won’t make as much sense as a movie. Just read it.

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. This is one of the weirdest novels I’ve read in years, with lots of twists, gorgeous narrative, and outlandish behavior on behalf of its arrogant, selfish narrator, Charles Arrowby. I couldn’t put it down. Written in 1978. An exhaustive exploration of the inside of obsession and jealousy, along with the lengths we might go to fulfill a perceived desire, acting only on impulse and caprice. Compared with many modern, hip and/or cynical novels, The Sea, the Sea is rich, intricate, and packed with both plot and ideas, unafraid to venture into the psyche to seek love and enlightenment. It doesn't matter whether or not you "like" the main character, Charles Arrowby. If you surrender to his telling, if you allow yourself to steep inside this novel's surges and strangeness and mystery, you will have opened yourself to a work of art.

Fun fact: It was not reviewed in the New Yorker, even though several of her earlier novels were, with varying degrees of insults.

Stay tuned for July-December, 2010 coming shortly.

How I Confront the Novel

I purposely avoid book reviews before picking up a title. Sure, I'll maybe skim the first paragraph and the last sentence of a review of a book I'm interested in to get a general feel of the reviewer's assessment--if there's a scathing cautionary conclusion ("Do not venture into this wasteland of dreck...") I might think twice . But I do not want to know much about the subject or the plot going into my private experience of reading a novel.

My knowledge of a book will start and end with a past experience with the author's other works, or the 'must-read' lists that are the bread & butter of internet newspapers and magazines and blogs, and/or, finally, the tweets of enthusiasts, who might be made up of the book's publisher and friendly publicists. (It's a gorgeous little world, twitterville.) So after the mini-hype but with none of the details, I enter the discrete textual world that an author has crafted seemingly out of thin air.

I give authors a lot of leeway when I am reading and thinking about their books. After having been involved in publishing small novels and poetry collections and memoirs for a brief but verdant period of the terrible 2000s, I know first hand how much work goes into a novel, from conception to completion. It's a hard, hard row for everyone. Think it, write it, convince someone it's worth publishing, then go through the struggle of editing, layout, cover design, marketing, and finally the publisher gets an email from a reader saying she didn't appreciate the cursing in the author's story and wants her money back.

From all angles, the publication of a book is a labor of love and dedication to a niche endeavor. That's why it's difficult for me to dislike a book. And yet, I often am disappointed despite wanting to give it every advantage and benefit of doubt. That must be the price of a reader's greed.

A Gate at the Stairs: imperfection

(There must be spoilers...read this at your own peril of knowing too much about a novel you haven't yet read)

Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs is not completely satisfying. In particular, Gate's point of view and its narrator's voice create a discord that's impossible to ignore.

Tassie, the novel's narrator, is telling a story about a year in her life that begins in late 2001, where she is in college and is seeking a part time job in her college town. Obviously, the date is the setpoint from which we must infer a whole country destabilized by terrorism.

But Tassie tells this story from an undefined future. We are given no sense about how much time has passed. Is it far enough removed from the events for her to have accrued wisdom, and if so, where is evidence of this wisdom the text? Is she years ahead of us here in 2009? Is the world worse off in terms of war, famine, and climate?

The narrator doesn't, or won't, tell us.

The worst breech of point of view uncertainty comes when Tassie's employer reveals her big secret, over--frustratingly and unbelievably--a period of several days. The woman, Sarah, sits down with Tassie, pouring wine, and starts her confession.

However, the story slips into third person (presumably told by Tassie, but we don't know this for sure) and we're given many details that couldn't possibly have been given by Sarah to Tassie in her confession session. The passage relates much more than Tassie could have known, and this wrecks the point of view arrangement we have had up to this point.

For example, "She [Sarah] had grown up in a family where men were always cruel to other men--in what seemed a conventional way. She had never know what a woman's role should be in these masculine rites, which were all a kind of refinement of malice" (Kindle location 4122-29).

Whose insight is this? It must be Sarah's, but Sarah never speaks more deeply to Tassie (or at least in Tassie's summation of the many conversations) than a tidbit of info, an order, or a joke meant to lighten the mood. Tassie could not have known with any certainty about Sarah's ruminations about gender roles and how they play into the greater tragedy of her story.

Or take this, "Speed was John's solution...At this, Gabriel, seeing his parents speed by, took a tentative darting step out onto the freeway but then withdrew" (Kindle location 4129-36). Sarah could have supposed that her son took these actions, but she was in a speeding car and could not have seen both a tentative darting step and withdrawl. If this is what Tassie guessed what happened, we need to be told. The passage goes on and on, being drawn with colors Tassie couldn't have seen, and in language we never hear from Sarah's speech.

If the internal logic of the narrative allows for such big leaps of supposition, it must be consistent throughout. I couldn't accept the drama on face value because this whole Sarah/Gabriel interlude is a leap from the novel's conventions. It thwarts its own form.

Apart from Moore's POV problems, the novel also suffers from its emotional manipulations and plot points that seem completely inauthentic.

[Major spoilers right here:] Where some of these events (climbing into a coffin, undetected from the church to the graveyard; not being able to distinguish between a Portuguese man from a middle-eastern terrorist; running around for a whole summer in a bird costume; having parents who were responsible for the death of their son assume new identities and be able to pass the background check of an adoption agency; the unlikelihood of an unread email and the weight of the hammer with which the event pounds the reader into emo submission) might be suitable in a short story because its events and mood and impact are necessarily compacted. But in a novel that hasn't been set up as surreal or hyper-real until it's convenient to further the plot-- the events ring false and out of touch with the rest of the novel.

Perhaps 2001 is still too recent to effectively allow us to understand how its events fit into our present. By the time we've had enough time, this novel will have been forgotten.

Best of the Decade

#1 Austerlitz by WG Sebald
A haunting, mysterious, and visceral novel about the psychological aftermath of the Holocaust. Sebald uses photography, maps, blueprints and other print media as counterpoint to the jumble of memory and observation of the novel's protagonist. This book will influence the way you see, the way you think about your own past, and the collective, which connects and holds us together even as external pressures try to pull us apart. Who are we, in the shadow of the unspeakable? Sebald's narrator searches, and we follow with trepidation and wonder.

#2 Any Human Heart by William Boyd
When you start out, you'll think you might not like this book. The main character is arrogant and, well, young. Brash. But keep going through this fictionalized journal that tracks seventy years of a man's life, including his heartbreaks and strongest loves, as he inches toward the end of his life, and ultimately, to its meaning. Other reviewers bash it for its "Forest Gumpness," yet to me it's not all that unbelievable that an upperclass intelligence officer might have contact with influential persons during one of the world's most tempestuous and active periods in history. I've read several William Boyd titles now and he has repeatedly shown his ability to invent worlds I like inhabiting. Any Human Heart a good winter read, fully sad, sweet, and satisfying.

#3 The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
I like everything about this nonfiction narrative. Rory Stewart chronicles his foot march through Afghanistan right after the first fall of the Taliban. I knew close to nothing about the history and culture of this region, but Stewart's clear and often wry prose both entertains and instructs. I like books where people are willing to be unconventional and stubborn. Excellent book group choice, if you're looking for social relevance.

#4 Saturday by Ian McEwan
One of my favorite books. The whole of a man's life and all his major relationships and all his hopes and fears, as well as the hopes and fears of the the post-9/11 Western world are captured in a twenty-four hour period. Neurology is the core of this novel, how the brain can call forth memory and sensation in times of crisis, and how it can fail as easily from disease, age, and injury. How precious the ability to think, how incredibly precious our ability to love.

#5 Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
A gorgeous novel that explores themes of innocence and abandonment as an older man in decline remembers his adolescence and the fate of his brothers and parents. This one will stick.

#6 The Lazarus Project by Alexandar Hemon
This novel beautifully entwines the barbarism of early 20th century Chicago with the barbarism of Bosnian ethnic cleansing. The narrative is gorgeous and harrowing, calling into question the notion of national identity, homeland, and the clash of cultures. Perception, in this work, is everything, yet makes clear that what we experience is only part of the whole story.

#7 Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
To write too much about this unnerving novel would be to give away all its rhythm and pacing. But generally, this book is about the nature of self and what that might mean in a world where you can easily slip from one persona to another in both the physical and virtual worlds. It has an undercurrent of decay and loss. Beautiful prose, packed with ideas.

#8 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Compelling novel filled with mystery, psychosis, hysteria, and delusion. Owes an enormous debt to Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. And it's sufficiently scary, too.

#9 Wolf Point by Edward Falco
Beautifully written meditation on crimes of passion and the meaning and implications of erotic art. Published by one of my favorite presses, Unbridled Books.

#10 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Fresh and alive, this novel unfolds the stories of one troubled family besieged by the brutality of politics and the stain of a perceived curse. Diaz has an ear for the musical qualities of oral tales, and isn't afraid to embrace the influences of American culture into the Dominican transplants he introduces. How many times do you see a Harold Lauder reference in world lit? This harsh and unsparing generational story is funny and at the same time unbearably sad.

Honorable mention: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen; Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris; Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell; Black Swan Green by David Mitchell; The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem; Unless by Carol Shields; The Human Stain by Philip Roth; Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; The Road by Cormac McCarthy; Runaway: Stories by Alice Munro; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx; The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness by Karen Armstrong; The Magician's Book: A Skeptics Adventures in Narnia by Lisa Miller; Trespass by Valerie Martin.

My favorite books of 2009

Love it or hate it, the list is the perfect starting point for a conversation. As reliable as Christmas itself--fraught with anxiety and yet still packing a walloping dose of hope?-- around this time of year, every web site you can imagine serves up the year-end list. As Umberto Eco says, "We like lists because we don't want to die." In that spirit...

Best Books of 2009

New York Times (This one, at 100 items, is almost as good as browsing at a real live bookstore. Note I said almost.)
100 Notable Books

Of course, the Times would be remiss if they didn't choose their very favorites. For fiction,their top five:

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert

Of these five, I've read only the Moore, and I didn't like it nearly as much as some people. Did you read it? What did you think?

Publisher's Weekly (This list stirred up the most controversy, as it included no women in its top ten. The internets were abuzz with anger.)

Their fiction picks are: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon; Big Machine by Victor Lavalle; In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin; Jeff in Venice, Death in Varansai by Geoff Dyer; and the graphic novel, Stiches by David Small. I read Await Your Reply,

To write too much about this unnerving novel would be to give away all its rhythm and pacing. But generally, this book is about the nature of self and what that might mean in a world where you can easily slip from one persona to another in both the physical and virtual worlds. It has an undercurrent of decay and loss. Beautiful prose, packed with ideas.

Christian Science Monitor
picks Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

I like it when non-reviewers get to recommend books, and at NPR, they surveyed indie booksellers. This isn't a "best" list, but a "suggested" one instead. Await Your Reply makes this list.

Guardian (if you love books, you should be reading this site daily. RSS anyone?) The Guardian has a different take. They ask notable authors to suggest best books of the year. Here, Peter Carey recommends Kamila Shamsie, Ishiguro suggests Bolano, etc. This list has the most personality of all the lists. In addition to this feature, they are also summing up every year of the 2000s with sweet recaps written by various authors.

Atlantic's list includes nonfiction, with the authors in alphabetical order.

Contemporary Lit chooses The Blue Notebook by James Levine

LA Times has a good list.

Chicago Tribune picks Zoe Heller's The Believers as #1, Lark and Termite as #2, and Homer & Langley by EL Doctorow as 3.

Denver Post writer chooses Valerie Martin's The Confessions of Edward Day as the best novel that was largely ignored by the MSM. I read Martin's Trespass and found her to be a smart, nuanced writer.

My list. I didn't read many 2009 titles, but you can be sure that I found a lot of titles to put on my to-read list for future enjoyment. My favorites are: Await Your Reply, Last Night in Montreal, Olive Kitteridge, The Financial Lives of the Poets, and The Little Stranger.
Salon: Laura Miller's list. Includes, yes, Await Your Reply. I'll let you click the link to see the rest.

Best of the Decade Lists

The Millions (link to their decade wrap-up, but put them on your RSS for daily reading. They really love books. They chose The Corrections as their best book of the decade, garnering predictable bitching in the comments section. Though their comments are a walk in the park compared to the mean jabs of Salon's.)

Dirty Realistic (thoughtful book commentary. This is his best of the decade list. The winner? Austerlitz by WG Sebald. That was my pick, too.)
Paste Magazine (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is their top pick)
Times Online (uk) (They choose The Road by Cormac McCarthy as #1)
UK Telegraph The Telegraph chooses Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)