Friday, November 6, 2009

A Cultured Evening In My Otherwise Uncultured Life

Back in September I wrote a post about the book we were just about to read for Book Club. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.

If your so inclined you can find that post HERE (which also features a fabulous banana bread recipe!)

Anywhoo, I thought I would first explain about our little Book Club. AKA Wine Club, Therapy Session, Desert Club etc. Most of our partners do not believe we actually read books and that it is just an excuse to have a catch up.

Our Book Club started a couple of years back on the way home from a girls night out. We were talking books and one of us mentioned a book we wanted to read. We all have similar tastes and would usually swap books. We all agreed we wanted to read said book and so started our own Book Club. We also agreed it would be a great way to have a regular catch up as with our ever growing families this was becoming harder and harder.

There were 5 of us to begin with (AB, Me, V, ES & J) and 4 of us had known each other 20 odd years. ES ended up moving to Albany - 5 hours drive away, had to opt out and J decided she couldn't get through her stack of books let alone a book club book so then there were 3. We recruited another friend of ours ET (her initials, not the alien!) and so now we are 4.

We have read some brilliant books, and some doozies. We have tried to be over intellectual (Anna Karenina) and struggled and then too low brow for discussion (This Charming Man by Marian Keyes). We each take turns picking books and we haven't always agreed which is fantastic considering we have similar tastes. I have to note too that my fellow Book Clubbers were very understanding while I was pregnant and couldn't read as it made me nauseous. Thank goodness for ipods and audio books!

Just as a side bar, the audio book (Breath by Tim Winton) experience for me was fantastic but it did give me a completely different perspective on the book to everyone else in Book Club. Many thought it was quite a slow book but I think because I was hearing it with accents and inflections it seemed to flow really well. Just thought I would mention it.

I also credit our little Book Club to opening the doors to the Twilight series and many books I would other wise have not read or been exposed to.

So our latest book, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (a West Australian author - Yay!) was picked by ET. ET was going to pick his first novel called Rhubarb but noted that Craig Silvey was going to talk about Jasper Jones at the University of Western Australia as part of the Perth International Writers Festival so we jumped at the opportunity to go see him. So last night was our Book Club Excursion.

I love to go hear writers talk about their novels. It gives a different perspective of the characters, what made the author choose certain elements of the book and where their inspiration comes from. And Craig Silvey did not disappoint.

He talked about how he came to write the book. The pressure of writing a second book when the first was so critically acclaimed. How he actually shelved his second book and started Jasper Jones. He read from the book which I so adore from and author and answered questions from the audience. I asked him a question regarding one of the characters and why he made them have the personality they did. He answered with a joke and then clearly described his reasoning. It didn't change my opinion of the character, but did give me a new respect for the character. Another question from the audience was whether Craig had held 'real' jobs. Of which he had, and told us how he had been writing for 10 years but had only just got paid. He was asked his influences which were Mark Twain and Haper Lee and that is why he wrote Jasper Jones as a bow to Southern Gothic novels. I was most disappointed when an audience member questioned him on the grammar in the book and whether something was dialogue or not. I didn't really find it appropriate and it was almost like she was picking a fight and it really wasn't relevant questioning for the evening. Call his editor?

The evening went all too quickly and before we knew it we were being ushered out for Craig to sign books. I would have loved to have sat and discussed the book with him he really was a great speaker and so passionate about his work (what author isn't?).

We all went for coffee and cake afterwards but since I was the only one to finish the book we decided to meet in a week to discuss it properly. I really did love the book. There are not many books I would read again but this one I definitely would. It maybe that one of my favourite books is To Kill A Mocking Bird and I am predicting that Jasper Jones will also be a classic book read and discussed by many in years to come. So if you are looking for your next Book Club book, this just might be the one! Fantastic well rounded characters and lots to discuss.

So, I would love to hear if you are in a Book Club and what type it is - good friends or organised by a library or other group. What have been some great books you have read that you would not have other wise read? What are ones that you think should be avoided? What is your favourite book or author? Basically comment about your love of books - I would love to read you bookish thoughts!

Jasper Jones: "Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart."


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