Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reading and meeting

Pom Pom noted recently that reading and meeting are what I like to do. So true! 'Tis not surprising then that books for Book Club are mostly what I'm always catching up on, especially given that I'm not always exactly early or best organised! Birds without Wings was our read for months ago. I was reading it on Kindle, so it was consigned to the waiting for boys or waiting with parents school run and hospital appointment times.  Until I realised that it was obviously as much a tome as Captain Corelli and gave it undivided attention.

It doesn't, I think, have the compelling attraction of Corelli, but I do love very much the stories told from so many perspectives. I love the richness of de Bernieres' tales, the intertwining of distressing, and shamefully, forgotten periods in time with the eternal preoccupations of women, and men, and us all. It is increasingly poignant. He builds up to the sadness, the loss, the brutality so beautifully that you fully anticipate the atrocities of war-torn Turkey, without losing sight of the delicate twists of fate that may somehow land you whole on a new shore.

On the Kindle front, incidentally, my second Kindle has died a death of the screen, in exactly the same way as the first one. This seems to be a recurrent Kindle fault, at least with the dinosaur ones. It posed a dilemma: not wanting another such Kindle, not wanting to lose all those Kindle books. Ang has been my guardian angel- and more of that anon.
The title of Birds without Wings is as linked to poetry as Lucy Caldwell's All the Beggars Riding. I will confess, even with the pages of Beggars still slightly imprinted on my fingers, that both references are temptingly forgettable. I am afraid that I am hoping for much the same outcome with the protagonists of this one.

Belfast has now, in May, the concept of One City, One Book, and challenges its citadins to read the one book in the one city and discuss it in book groups, book readings across the town. Unlike last year's wonderful book, Beggars has a tenuous link to Belfast. And exploits perhaps two of its troubled atrocities for the mere purposes of plot. These two families could have been set in any two places at all, but Lucy is from Belfast after all. (I didn't teach her, because she was leaving the Prestigious Establishment as I was leaving, but I did teach her youngest sister...)

I didn't like the halting, apologetic style of the narration in the first part. I wasn't wholly convinced that the premise of a burdened daughter who seeks redemption in unravelling her mother's story excused the excessive degree of disjointed soul-searching. There were many interesting passages on writing and telling though, and certainly the chapter where Lara finally comes to Belfast as an adult I did love.
Dissatisfaction has, however, abounded in more than my reading. Tonight we finished this version of The Seven Voyages of Sinbad. I was pleased with the suns' quick grasp of the formula, and more pleased with their disapproval of Sinbad! Rich man becomes bored at rich home, sets sail to increase riches, ship wrecked, sole survivor, often watching other companions die grisly deaths, sits astride a convenient plank. escapes own grisly adventure, ends up in palace of another rich man who takes him in and promotes him, and marries him off twice, makes lots of money after losing everything, returns home and gives Sinbad the Porter another ten (or is it one hundred?) gold dinars.  We were not amused.
Last year Book Club read Cold Comfort Farm. I had never read it before. I have now lost count of how many times I have read it since. I read it often and regularly! I know it's about trauma in the wood-shed, and milking shed, and that it was a parody of which Gibbons grew tired, but I cherish it. I dare to say that it has been one of those books that will have shaped my thinking. When all threatens to engulf and worry and o'erthrow, I'll put on something green, think about washing curtains, brew some good tea, and then go for a brisk walk.

Reading and meeting, tea-drinking and fresh air. I know what's good for me!


Pom Pom said...

Me, too! I have not read Cold Comfort Farm, but I am going to buy it right now.
I love to sit in the cozy house and read the day away. I love to read aloud, too.
Words are treasures.
YOU are a treasure.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Mags, I'm happy to come here and see what you've been reading. Other than devotional stuff, I'm reading an old British mystery and that's the last few seconds before crashing into sleep.