Sunday 27 January 2013

Last post for January...

As this chilly month comes to an end, I’ve got my hot cup of chai tea to warm my hands as I consider what to write about for this post.  I’ve got just 20 pages left of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I don’t want to write about it until my book club meets next week, so I’m sort of stuck for material.

Well, I am considering attending a series of book discussions that are part of a program called “Laurier Reads” (I’m a Wilfrid Laurier University alumni).  I just received an email invitation last week to these discussions, where the attendees will be discussing Fauna by Alissa York, who will be the writer-in-residence at WLU in March.  I haven’t read the book, and have had a difficult time finding a copy.  I’ve tried the libraries and all the used bookstores in the area, with no luck.  So the dilemma is:  do I attend the discussion on Monday without having any knowledge of the book?  The discussions are scheduled on three consecutive Mondays, so the chances that I will have had the opportunity to get hold of the book before the last meeting is done is slim, but it may be interesting to attend just to meet other readers and to hear the discussions, which will be lead by an English professor from WLU.  The topics for these discussions are:  “Place and Memory”, “Animals”, and “Nourishment and Narrative”.  I may attend at least one discussion just to get an idea of how this discussion is structured.  I suspect that it will be very different from either of my other group discussions, possibly more like an English class, with a  “lecture” on theme first, then opening it up to the group for input.  I’m definitely interested in reading the book.  Too bad it’s only available as a new book, which I’m not really prepared to buy.  Several of the used bookstores had copies of another title by her, Effigy, which I may purchase and read, although I also know nothing about that novel.

I didn’t continue with the Ted Dekker novel last week, but started instead The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam, the Giller-prize winning novelist, writer and surgeon (some people have all the talent!).  It was really well-written and very interesting, but it was going to take me too long to finish, so I read the Lawrence book instead.  The Headmaster’s Wager tells the story of Percival Chen, the headmaster of a reputable English school in Saigon during the time of the Vietnam War.  When his son gets in trouble with the authorities, Chen realizes that he has reached the limits of his ability to bribe influential figures, and sends his son away.  He then meets a woman with whom he has a child, and finally finds happiness, but this happiness is precarious, and he must ultimately face the tragedies he has chosen not to see.  I’ve not read anything else by this author, and actually knew nothing about this book, but as I was at the library one day returning some books, this one was also being returned by another patron, and it wasn’t on hold for anyone, so I took it out.  It’s extremely well-written, the language is lush, and the descriptions are detailed.  I’m excited to get back to that novel, which I set aside so reluctantly early last week, after reading not quite one quarter of it.

I also just got a stack of novels from the library that I had requested.  The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (class culture in modern-day India, seen through the eyes of two very different women), Intolerable:  A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee (non-fiction title exploring an Arab family’s experiences during six decades of Middle Eastern politics) and The Deception of Livvy Higgs by Donna Morrissey (the struggle of a woman in Halifax to come to terms with the deceptions that lay hidden in her past) have all come in at the same time, and I must choose between them.  The Morrissey novel and the non-fiction title by Al-Solaylee are “required reading” for me, as is The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, which I have in my personal collection and which I am also anxious to read.  How will I ever decide?!  We’ve also just booked a trip to Cuba, so I placed on hold from the library the title Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, the only title I could think of off-hand that is set in Cuba.  I haven’t read any of Greene’s espionage novels in quite some time, so this title should be a treat.

I’m all out of writing ideas at this point, but I look forward to writing a long, detailed post about Lady Chatterley’s Lover and our book discussion next week.

Bye for now!

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