Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two more meeings

Things have fallen a bit behind here, I hope I'll add something to this, but we've discussed:
  • Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright - discussed in September
  • Sadie Jones - The Outcast - October meeting
  • And we're in the midst of Ann Marie MacDonald's The Way the Crow Flies

Meeting Schedule (for BATS)

Bit of a change around both of dates and places, so here's the latest state of things:
  • November - 4th at Chris G's (Jacqui choosing the book)
  • December - 8th at Chris CK's (Chris CK choosing the book)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Irene Nemirovsky

The exhibition devoted to Nemirovsky is now up on the web and well worth a visit.
Also springing from another comment here - the Knutsford Literature festival is in full swing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm not afraid!

(Io non ho paura) July's book was Niccolo Ammaniti's novel about a young boy discovering unwelcome truth. I've seen the film twice - maybe a few more times than that, as I've also seen it on dvd. I was therefore gratefuly for the opportunity of reading the book - in English! Beautifully written but a deeply disturbing book. Good review here (apart from the unprintable characters!) - though it does give a little too much away! Another review at Valentina's room:
I was afraid of ghosts and my grandfather told me the same thing as Michele’s father once. He lived with Mafia all his life. He knew that men could be a lot more dangerous than monsters or ghosts.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Suite Française - (BATS June)

Having missed most of June's meeting, where we discussed Pesthouse (Jim Crace), I found that I was away altogether for the July meeting where the discussion was on Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française - the book I chose!
I read it before the 'proper' month, as I was going to be away, so it seems a long time ago now. It seemed to be mostly enjoyed - by others - telling the story of the fall of France in 1940 and the flight from Paris, the second half of the book deals with the consequences of occupation. A breathtaking novel - as it seems to stand back from the events - and yet it was written in 1941-2 and its composition terminated by Némirovsky's arrest, transportation to a concentration camp and death. The (incomplete) novel was only published in 2004. The Guardian review is here:
In the fictional world of Suite Française, everything is in flux. Some are stunned, while others already jockey for position in the new order. A few prepare themselves to resist. But nothing is abstract; everything is made present, whether it's the cherries on the pillow, the privileged little dinner that Corte secures for himself and which is then snatched away by a hungry man, or the sound of music drifting over a lake at evening while young German soldiers celebrate. Perhaps Némirovsky's most extraordinary achievement is the humanity of these individual Germans, and the sense of tragedy when their celebration dissolves at the news that Germany has invaded the Soviet Union. Their dreams of peace vanish; fantasies of a bargain between conquerors and conquered cannot survive.

Strongly recommended!

The Pesthouse (BATS May)

This was the first of our new sequence of book group choices made (and bought) by the members. Sylvia chose Jim Crace's The Pesthouse - a powerful novel of the aftermath of an apocalypse. According to an interview with Crace in Writing Magazine (pdf's on his website), it was inspired both by the Scilly Isles where there is a pesthouse and his love/hate relationship with America:
‘I have always loved beingin America; I have always loved its generosity and hospitality. But in the last ten years I have found that my hatred was stronger than my love for it. I wanted to address that. So, take the issue of a destroyed community, place it in America and give it a medieval future. All of those issues are in the book.’

Wonderfully written, imaginative though I'm not sure I was always convinced by the narrative - but maybe I was shutting out the fantasy?
A Guardian review is here and here is a rather more positive one from the Spectator.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

March 2008

This has been sitting around for a bit, better let it go!
Italo Calvini. Adam One Afternoon - this was my BATS book of (ooh) a few months ago, collection of short stories very much rooted in the Italian countryside and the world of nature, an environment that had just been fought over. There's some good looking stuff on Calvino here
Anthony Doerr The Shell Collector - from Italy to Africa. Again read a few months ago now. Nature is still very much in the forefront - like Calvino. Another set of short stories - recommended particularly the first.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A progress report

(and about time too!)
The book group has gone for purchasing our own books with the hope that in time we can combine with other local book groups with some sort of rotation of stock. So at the moment one member each month buys around a dozen identical books (ideally, though not essentially, using a waterstones 3 for 2 offer) which we read and then the buyer retains them hoping that other local groups might want to use our copy and we could organise a swap.
Syvia bought this month's book and I'm inthe process of organising the book for June.
If you're East Cheshire based and this sounds good to you - comment on this posting or drop me an email!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Latest reads

And the most recent collection-
  • John Banville the Sea a meditation on loss
  • Emma Donoghue Touchy Subjects - a wonderful collection of short stories
  • Carol Shields Duet - a repackaging of two earlier books - Small Ceremonies and The Box Garden

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Catching up...

Must be quite a few months of reading here
We've had
and more recently...

  • Philippe Besson En l'absence des hommes

  • BATS January - Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Jessica Duchen Rite of Spring

  • James Baldwin Go tell it on the mountain

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus

  • Umberto Eco - Foucault's Pendulum

  • Salley Vickers - The Other Side of you - comment on her work here

better post now otherwise it won't get done!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Books and music

Some thoughts generated by something on the radio this morning about the closure rate of British libraries.
I grew up in the 1960's and after moving to Macclesfield learnt an awful lot about music from the piano music and scores that the library then had. If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't have discovered - so early or easily - enthousiams for Scriabin, Prokofiev, Ireland. I'd never have learnt to read orchestral scores fluently or understand piano reductions of operatic scores - my love and understanding of Wagner was greatly helped by being able to play the reductions.
Now when I go into the local library I could weep, a section of scores all bunged together no order, no arrangement according to type - and as far as I can tell only very popular stuff - it is so difficult to work out whether there is anything which might interest I can never be bothered.
What have we lost for the next generation?