Friday, March 04, 2011

book group

I’ve joined a book group (our first meeting is next Friday)!
I never thought I’d ever be brave enough to join one – not because I wouldn’t have anything to contribute, but because I feared I would never be able to read a book sufficiently quickly! Having said that, this consideration didn’t seem to stop certain members of Moira’s previous book group attending meetings (this is probably completely fallacious, but I seem to recall hearing that they’d sometimes failed to discuss “this month’s book” because X hadn’t finished it and the others didn’t want to give away the ending!).
Actually, this new group seems to be a revamped version of Moira’s old group – Gareth, Catherine, Mo and Lal are members – except that it now also includes blokes (Alan, Nigel and me for starters)!
Given my fears regarding finishing the set book in time, you can imagine my alarm when ‘What a Carve Up’, by Jonathan Coe, arrived in post (note: bought secondhand for 1p plus postage!) and I discovered it was 500 pages long! In the event, I actually finished it within a week (perhaps I’m no longer a member of the slow readers group?) – virtually three weeks before our inaugural meeting.
The book was published in the mid-1990s and is effectively a condemnation of Thatcher’s Britain. Whilst (as you might imagine) I found this easy to applaud and enjoy – it’s very funny at times - I was also irritated on occasions by its preposterous and, sometimes, predictably fantastic storyline. I ended up having very mixed feelings about the book. I enjoyed its humour, but found the bizarre linkages between many of the characters/situations and the far-fetched narrative just too much to take at times. Having said that, I thought it was a very clever book and it certainly reminded me of those sad Thatcher days and the sense of injustice and despair. At times, I felt I was reading a book written by David Nobbs or David Lodge or Sebastian Faulks (or, perversely, even Evelyn Waugh!).
I’ll probably get kicked off the group for expressing my initial thoughts in advance!
Photo: the image is from the "What a Carve Up" book cover.

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