Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A few of us recently took ourselves along to Brisbane Square Library in the city to here Peter Fitzsimons talk. It was excellent and all free (including generous amounts of food!).
On Fri 7th Dec there's another that might be of interest - Dr Carl, an amusing character who's expertise is science and health. Take a look at the link below, and see you there perhaps?
Hope you're enjoying the months reading - Catcher In The Rye is a real wowser I reckon. Amazes me that this was written in 1945 or thereabouts.
Hope to catch you all on Thursday 6th at The Burrow. You can rsvp for it now right here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet Josh Donellan at First Thursday Book Club...

J.M. DONELLAN is an author, musician, slam poet, teacher, traveller, voice actor and event manager.
He was almost devoured by a tiger in the jungles of Malaysia, nearly died of a lung collapse in the Nepalese Himalayas, fended off a pack of rabid dogs with a guitar in the mountains of India and was sexually harassed by a half-naked man whilst standing next to Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris.
Josh will be appearing at our Book Club Meet on November 1st. Numbers limited so RSVP now!

His debut novel A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India was the winner of the 2009 IP Picks best fiction award and lots of magazines say it’s very good, so it must be true. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies throughout 2011 and 2012.

For some weird reason, he also scripted and voiced the internationally popular Pocket Hipster iphone application, even though he still uses a phone with actual buttons. He was a finalist in the 2008 Youth Week Writers’ competition but lost first place to a woman who wrote a poem about her ovaries.

His children’s fantasy novel Zeb and the Great Ruckus has been recently released and his next novel for adults, Adonis Comma Coma, has just been signed to Pantera Press. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

In praise of Dubliners

book cover image.
I enjoyed Dubliners.

Despite the beautifully descriptive narrative it took a while and some rare research before I could say that. And it made me realise that a little bit of background as well as an understanding of the state of mind of the author (James Joyce) at the time of writing really does grease the mind-wheels and get it all flowing in favour of the piece.

Sue, a member who’s new to our ‘terrestrial’ meetings (my god - terrestrial, we really have arrived in the future!) made me aware of this.  She described how she was overtaken by a desire to read JK Rowling’s new book, A Casual Vacancy, but only after she’d watched the authors’ recent interview and discovered the real-life story behind the narrative.

So, now that I appreciate that this was Joyce’s final work before he left Ireland in disgust and for good I understand better the negativity, the melancholy, the cynical parody, the dead-pan description that asks you to agree with him that Ireland was right on track on its hell-bound trajectory.

Clearly Joyce was wrong, as thank God are most melancholic doom-mongers.

Creatives are emotional people, it stands to reason; they’re one and the same it seems to me, so let’s make allowances and just listen, at least for a while. Well, that’s what I reckon.

And once again this month serendipity had her way; hidden in our second book; Girl Interrupted, we found similarities to Dubliners in voice and structure, and we were able enjoy the discovery of these.
So despite the fact that some of us we weren’t singing and dancing praises for these two books, the evening flowed with lively conversation and laughter and the warmth that radiates when friendships grow. 
This is what makes a book club; what makes it a joy to be a part of. The reading material may not suit our mood or our preferences but the people and the friendships that develop between those of similar interests make it very worthwhile.

Thanks to Sue (our newest attendee), Kylie, Gavin, Mandy, Janine, Erin and Joe for making it happen.

For those absent you missed a great evening but you’ve the opportunity to catch up on 1st November when we meet again at a NEW venue; The Burrow in West End (very close to our usual hangout in fact). Be there at 6.30 (but RSVP first).

Reading for October for the November meeting:
Where I’m Calling From  Raymond Carver
The Secret History  Donna Tartt

Remember you can access the complete reading listby clicking on the menu tabs at the top of the page.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Thorsten's Germany photos and link to free Lewis Carroll eBook...

Bookshop from the front
Bookshop from the rear
Library in a 400 year old castle which was at one time home to an Austrian Arch Duke
Through the Looking Glass free eBook Download

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Batavia - Peter Fitzsimons
I did NOT enjoy reading this book. Still, it had me up til 2am like a slave one night trying to find out how, when and where Jeronimus get’s his come-uppance! And he does.
Well, what a sorry saga! Even allowing for the brutality that was so commonplace in the 17th Century, and for the tendency events have for expanding in the imagination as they age, the evil described was difficult to grasp. I found myself visualising a trip to those islands and wondering whether there’d be evidence, in some form, of the bloodshed and depravity - surely you can’t wipe away such evil in the space of a few hundred years? I mused. Joe tells me, during his career with the Navy he visited the area.
Makes me shiver.
Yet the narrative was disappointing for me, its style inconsistent and jerky. When I was absorbed I found myself suddenly thrown with unsettling regularity by some inappropriate irony or sarcasm from the author. The bloodshed was certainly gruesome, but in the end repetitive. To document each and every murder (and there were many) seemed not only unnecessary but almost indulgent! So I skipped ahead, wanting to discover how J and the others get caught and are punished, although there was little satisfaction in that when it did finally happen I’m relieved for the sake of my own humanity, to say.
Yet the events of the story are ‘true’ (if there is such a thing) and very real for me and I was certainly confronted by the darker side of the human condition. But the author Peter Fitzsimons is caught, in my view, in the narrow vacuum between report and story and wavers there, brushing against the edges of each and robbing the story of its potential to flow. Still, I don’t regret reading it, for its insight into how life was and how fragile is a society whose fabric is made of fear, desperation and greed.
I read something recently in a New Age journal about a ‘consciousness’ emerging in humanity which emanates from the ‘higher self’, and I began to feel that, yes, despite relentless war, starvation and tragedy, we have evolved, because beside it I see plenty of examples of compassion, generosity and pure love.
But maybe that’s just the naivety of someone insulated from reality by the limited bounds of daily life?

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Makes a Successful Book Club Meet-up?

Well, I'm not sure about the full answer to that, but I do know it doesn't require hoards of people, cos I had a spiffing time last night with Naomi, Deborah and Joe.

The Life of Pi gained the tick of approval, and made me wish I'd been able to get hold of the book in time to read it (to my shame I was the only one who hadn't!). My punishment was of course an inability to understand what the hell they were talking about, since the allegorical message of the story is somewhat buried, it seems.

I was left instead with 'My Sister Sif', which the others had read too, I might add. A great read for teenage girls I'm sure, but sadly I'm rather past that stage of life. I'll definitely pass it on to my 14 year-old though.

Discussion was not limited to the books of the month either - Naomi made several suggesions for future reading that got our reading-buds tingling:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lax - an non-fiction about a woman who, unknown to her, donated cells to science resulting in the heLa cells (correct me if I'm wrong Naomi) that have formed the basis for the mapping of DNA and other bewilderingly complex scientific stuff. We've all benefited apparently, but her family went without. And then her relative (niece I think?) wrote the book. Footnote: she was a black American.

Delta of Venus - of the erotica genre, written on the 1940's by Anais Nin. I'll admit to having steered us in this direction by mentioning DH Lawrence because I'm reading Sons and Lovers. Neither of these writers are guilty or writing anything close to pornography. Quote 'Nin puts such great detail into the psychology behind sexuality, such as jealousy and pride, it paints a picture of human's sexual nature. Her feminine sensibilities allow her to explore risque sex in a way that feels almost clean enough to discuss over dinner...'. you can download the eBook for free. I have.

We also discussed past reading as well as the current reading list which David helped me formulate, and which you can find here.

So I'm off to the library site to get my books (i plan to be a well-behaved organiser this month). Hope to catch up with you all next month - Thurday 3rd May, 6.30, Three Monkey's.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Something Weird, and Bad...

Something weird (and bad) has been happening recently - somehow my time doesn't appear to behave the way it usually does (I pray this is temporary). I feel as if I'm rushing about trying to stop up the holes of a sieve as my time pours away. Anyone recognise this feeling?

That's how I missed the last meeting - a clash of things that I needed to do.

Still, I'd like to share my thoughts on the books for the month:
The Man Who Loved Children - I could not read this! I hated that mother and cringed at every cruel remark and evil deed against her children. She really touched a nerve for me. Consequently I only got through about 30 pages.
I Capture the Castle - Sorry, but I have to give a double negative this month - I really had no idea where this story was heading and so just could not sustain it.
At least this month's reading looks  more promising!

I think David was right we need take a look at our reading list and discuss some changes at the next meeting. I've already got some ideas I'd like to put forward and I think we should compile a re-vitalised list. Anyone got any thoughts on that? David?

Want to know what I, (like a good, dis-obedient Book Club Organiser) read this month?
Anna Karenina.
And I'm still reading it. It's long, but so what? I've an idea where it's going, and I want to go with it.
Anyone else read it and got any comments to make? (don't tell me the ending please).

Ok, so get your name down for next month and let's make it a cracking, fun and informative evening for all. See you there!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

February Meet Up

Richard Dawkins and his non-fiction book 'The God Delusion' so grabbed our attention on Thursday evening, that our second read, The Men Who Stare at Goats, barely got a look in (ironically).

Proof in itself of the power of religion. In fact it was clear to me that my attempt at an analysis of the text, in written form no less, was superfluous to requirements and probably inadequate (and I'm not complaining here). So, my attempt at introducing more structure to our meetings was a flop! Hey ho, that's the way it goes.

But we had a great evening, with three new members - Mark, Glenys and Katalin making a substantial contribution alongside Joe, David and Janine (Janine's appearance was a lovely surprise since we thought she was in the NT!). What a pooling of knowledge and insight there was.

David, who, relative to me at least, is a walking encyclopaedia, had me fascinated whilst he patiently explained the details of History, Biology, and Geography that gave background to the book. Details I missed when I was apparently too busy daydreaming in the classroom 35 years ago.

It seems that we're a relatively small informal group, who enjoy the unpredictable flow of conversation that emerges in the cosy environment of The Three Monkey's and that this is what sets us apart from other book clubs. I like it that way. I just hope that our members do too. Am I right, or am I wrong?

Anyway, this month, for our meeting on 1st March the reading is:

The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith

Sorry David - I know you're not impressed. David recommended the following (click the links):

The Existential Jesus
Reflections of Consciousness in The Bicameral Mind!

and, not a book but interesting:

I found both of these were available at the library.