A literary night out in London town..
the collective term for book groups? Chapter? No, that’s Hell’s Angels isn’t it. Glug? Suitable given how much alcohol seems
to be necessary any time a book is debated. Library? I’ll go with that given
the industry we’re in…
I identified a library of book groups out and about in the Queen Elizabeth Hall
on a rainy Sunday evening to hear the short listed authors of the Man Booker
prize read from their novels and answer questions posed by Radio 4’s Mark
last year, the evening didn’t promise the excitement of household names like
Will Self and Hilary Mantel. The six
included a young second novelist, Eleanor Catton writing the longest tome set
in New Zealand. (I hope my book group doesn’t chose this one
at 832 pages); a seasoned old timer Jim Crace with his 13th novel
set in an imagined Midland landscape; and a brief monologue in the voice of
The Virgin Mary by lapsed Catholic Colm Tolbin (a very book group friendly
length of 104 pages with a single voice and no subplots).
was an inspiring evening hearing authors reading from their own work and to
hear how and why they wrote. One spoke
of a voice coming to her, one was “surprised” by what he had written, one had worked
out the structure of the book according to mathematical principles before the
plot. All of the six are guaranteed good
sales (or library loans) and they were all careful to stress how much being
shortlisted meant to them regardless of whether they won the £50,000 prize.
was most drawn towards “A Tale for the Time Being” by American Ruth Ozeki which
starts with an enigmatic diary entry presumed to have been washed up from a 2011Tsunami
victim but which quickly spirals out in different dimensions and
directions. My enthusiasm was
immediately quashed by my fellow book groupies leading me to consider another
collective term – A disagreement of book groups.