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.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alice Munro

These stories set in Canada and linked by the town of Carstairs and Doud's piano factory were skilfully written and gave a picture of the development of a one-time frontier town, bringing it up to the late twentieth century. I took a while to become interested in the characters, but was reading them while rather busy with other matters and perhaps did not quite do them justice. Having said that, I still feel that they lacked sufficient interest for me as stand alone stories as that is what I thought them to be. Was I mistaken? The last one had more edge and was rather disturbing, quite unlike the others, bringing out the dark sides of the characters. Why did she decide to end like this? Was it a comment on modern society? I am not sure as each era had its problems. A book of quality but not really to my taste.

Friday, June 04, 2010

John Donne

Have just - finally! - finished a book about the poet. Am not about to suggest anyone else reads it but wanted to record the things which struck me most. The quotes are:

"His mind would dart off on errands of its own" (reminds me of John).

Getting something into a commendatory poem was like: "getting a jet engine into a house. The wonder is that Donne tried at all, not that, once inside, it blew the poem apart."

"Donne's poems will not stay still, or stay shut."

"Donne, who was able to feel in two minds about almost anything..."

I was interested to realise that while it was a slog to read it, and the above is all I have wanted to retain of the whole book, I do feel I gained more of an understanding of them and him and his times than if I'd just been given the cherry-picked bits. A nice reassurance in these days of instant gratification - the slow road (reading) really can be the best one!

Next books

Hi. Just to confirm what we're doing next... "Open secrets" by Alice Munro, for anyone who fancies short stories. Sue H and Valerie are borrowing our copies of "The World's Wife" by Carol Ann Duffy to have a look at the poems. If someone sees one in there which they fancy, tell us which one it is and we can congregate on that one, like Sue did with "Little Red Cap". But both options are very optional. Anyone got a novel they think we might like to try? Do email me to suggest it.

Whilst writing, came across this quote on a past book of ours which struck me:

"A Month in the Country is like nothing else in post-war British fiction. It has no model, and has influenced no-one: it just occurs, wistful yet full of life, the strangest, and most memorable, novel to appear in my lifetime". Byron Rogers.