Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Friday, October 14, 2005

peacocks and mobile phones

Throughout the animal kingdom it is almost always the female that chooses the male – hence male birds are more colourful, male lions have manes, male wrens build several nests for female to choose between, peacocks display and so on. (Aside: longtime favourite joke which I only remember because it was a Punch cartoon and therefore visual: Peacock with fully displayed tail feathers to mousy peahen “what do you mean, ‘no’”?). But this certainly isn’t the case in all human societies, even if the women arrange the matchmaking or marriage. I’m thoroughly enjoying Valerie’s Cairo Trilogy, 1313 pp, where the heroine Amina had no choice but to marry at 13 as her parents dictated. Her only choice is how she deals with this. Brilliant though it is, it is also very hard to stomach. I seem to have drifted off the point and you may no longer be reading, but I was surprised Emily, that with your distrust of ‘typing’ of women except in Shipping News, you nonetheless seem happy with the concept of types of men?

Emily told me I should share another hare with you: that in many (most?) novels, sooner or later, the plot hinges on people not being able to contact each other. I’ve just reread Daphne du Maurier’s House on the Strand (someone try it please, I’d like to discuss) and it is certainly true there. The point is, with the ubiquitousness of mobile phones this will no longer be feasible for novels set in twentyfirst century. So we might watch out for that, and also, do you think that over time it will make novels feel very dated (unless they are ‘historical’ ). Indeed will your children even be able to understand the concept of phonelessness?