It’s bright but windy outside right now, but it’s been raining off and on all afternoon. Still, we can’t complain, as we’ve had pretty sweet weather up to now, and it really, it’s mid-October already so I think these are fairly normal conditions.
I met with my Volunteer book club yesterday to discuss Ali Smith’s Autumn, and I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that most people did not enjoy it (one member said she hated it, but since I recommended it, she decided that it must be good so she read it a second time and enjoyed it much more!). Only one member, who is new to our group, said she quite liked it, that she thought Smith wrote very fluidly, that it was not always easy to read and understand, but that at times it was very funny. One member said it was “tricky”, referring to the way the narrative jumped around in time. She was listening to it, so that would have made it even more difficult to follow than the print edition, since you can’t just flip back a few pages to help figure out what’s going on. Still, we all found the relationships fascinating, particularly between Elisabeth and Daniel and Elisabeth and her mother. We discussed real-life historical figures, artist Pauline Boty and model/activist Christine Keeler. After the discussion, people were expressing interest in the other three books in this “Seasons” quartet, and everyone agreed that they thought differently about the book after discussing it than they did after their own initial reading. This is the true power of a book club.
I also finished reading the debut novel by BC writer Michelle Min Sterling, Camp Zero, a post-apocalyptic eco-thriller novel that speaks directly to our times. In 2049, wildfires rage, the land is scorched, sea levels are rising, and the earth is nearly uninhabitable, but for the wealthy and elite, delicacies can be found and accommodations built in the Floating City, just off the New England coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Rose, one of the “hostesses” at the Floating City, dreams of securing a better life for her mother, who lost everything in the Hurricane that devastated the coastal region and who now lives in accommodations for displaced persons. When an opportunity arises, she agrees immediately, and is sent up north to Canada, where the weather, unlike the scorched conditions in the US, is cold and fresh and the population is sparse. She is brought to Camp Zero, where she lives with five other "Blooms" whose sole job is to work as hostesses, serving the needs of the men at the excavation site where a new community is supposed to be built, a utopian society and a new beginning. But all is not what it seems at this camp, and when you throw into the mix White Alice, the climate research station “manned” by an all-female crew several hours north of the camp, you end up with a mystery, an environmental cry for help and a survival story with a feminist twist, all rolled into one. This was a really great read, one I recommended to a number of people before finishing it. I found the ending to be a bit flat, rather rushed, and not entirely satisfactory, but that doesn’t detract from the richness and power of the rest of the novel, one that warns of the environmental devastation waiting just around the corner unless we drastically change our ways. It also reminded this reader why we should never send “most men” out to colonize Mars - you’ll have to read it to find out what that means! Anyway, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading post-apocalyptic novels or eco-thrillers.
That’s all for today. Have a great week, and make sure to find time to read!
Bye for now…