Thursday, February 24, 2011

February—Room

This month, we met and discussed Emma Donaghue's Room. On said night, my cellular telephone was acting mighty strangely—actually it completely crashed that night after I left book club, and then rose from the dead the next morning (thankfully!). I generally use the Memo Pad App to take notes, and this meeting was no exception. Unfortunately, I lost the note that I took. Stupid technology, making life "easier" and whatnot! So, needless to say, most of this post is from memory, and so I invite you all to add to the discussion in the comments section.

Emma Donaghue's Room was a huge surprise. After reading and discussing The Sealed Letter by Donaghue, I expected another trite novel featuring retched characters. Not so. 5-year old Jack acts as narrator throughout the book, and his insightful, innocent story-telling style makes the book readable and immensely enjoyable—despite the fact the subject matter is that of our most gruesome nightmares.

27-year old Ma, and her 5-year old son, Jack, have been being held captive in a room for over seven years by Old Nick. In a fine example of cleaver narration and story telling, we learn how, from day-to-day, Ma incorporates survival strategies with everyday tasks and raising Jack. For example, games such as screaming, and chores such as turning on and off Light are actually survival tactics, but Jack views them merely as part of his normal, everyday life.

The most heartbreaking aspect of this novel is understanding that Jack has never known anything except Room. So, when he and Ma escape, it is almost unfathomable that Jack misses Room—but of course he does! It is so strange to put yourself in Jack's shoes, and try to understand desperately wanting to return.

And just never mind what poor Ma went through! She is an admirable and very strong character and mother. Her ability to do with Jack what she did, given her very limited resources, is nothing short of

The Third Tuesday Book Club was immensely impressed with the strength of Donaghue's narrative—specifically during the episode of Jack's escape from Room. We were sweating bullets! Hearts were pounding, and stomachs were turning! What powerful, intense story-telling! A far, far cry from The Sealed Letter, I must say. I also absolutely loved how Jack referred to items as proper nouns, such as Room, Bed, and Light.

I apologize again for the brevity of this post, and the lack of details. I will ensure that my phone is in working order next meeting!

Admin:

Our next meeting is on March 22nd at 7:30 in the usual location. We will be reading discussing Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry.

In April, we will be meeting on the 19 at 7:30 in the usual place. We will be reading and discussing Sue's pick: The In-between World of Vikram Lall by MG Vassanji.

Vanessa has selected her book for May: We are going to meet on the 17th at 7:30 in the usual location, and we will be reading and discussing Shilpi Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter.

See you all March! Oh, and may I note, that the February post was actually posted in February?

Be excellent to each other.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

January—The Bishop's Man by Lyndon McIntyre

In January, we met and discussed Lyndon McIntyre's The Bishop's Man. This read provided a bleak and dreary look at the priesthood in the Catholic Church during the early nineties in the Canadian Maritimes.

This book does not tie-up nicely at the end—but in life, what does?

The characters in this book were many, and in true Maritime fashion, they all seemed to have similar—if not same—names. This made following the story a bit confusing at times. That, and the fact the book jumps around in time frequently, and without pattern. The jumps in time seemed to primarily serve as a platform to tell the story of Father MacAskill's time in Honduras, were he met the love of his life, Jacinta. Of course, the problem here is that priests are celibate, and so his love of—and with?—Jacinta was forbidden, and life was lost because of it. It seems to be McIntyre's fashion to only allude to goings-ons, and not come right out and say. He certainly alludes to an awful lot of misconduct between priests and young boys and girls, and he alludes to a love affair between MacAskill and Jacinta, but he never actually says. I guess he leaves it to the readers. The only misconduct the he confirms is that between Danny Mac and his incestuous relative. McIntyre's attempt a "twist" ending by introducing the cousin last-minute is transparent at best.

Overall, the Third Tuesday Book Club did not overly enjoy this book. I personally only recommend it if you like total speculation, and if you like to be bored to tears from start to finish.

Admin:

We are meeting this Tuesday, February 15 at the usual place at 7:30pm at the usual place. We will be discussing Emma Donaghue's Room.

Our next book is Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry. That meeting will be on Tuesday, March 15 at 7:30pm at the usual place.

Sue and Vanessa should both be ready to pick books, please.

Last, please note that the list has been revised again. It is as follows:

March 2011: Darline

April 2011: Sue

May 2011: Vanessa

June 2011: Paddy

July 2011: Trish

August 2011: Ashley

September 2011: Christine

October 2011: Lynn

November 2011: Jeanette

January 2012: Jenn

Alrighty—I do believe that is all for now. See everyone this Tuesday!

Be excellent to each other.