In tonight’s episode of ABC’s The Book Club JByrne has discarded regular panelist Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex like old school wedding confetti and replaced them with the bubbly Geoff Cousins, Amelia Lester, Zoe Norton Lodge, and Christos Tsiolkas. The theme of this evenings episode is Books that Divide a Dinner Party.
Perhaps the regular panelists have been put aside because JByrne doesn’t want to fight with them yet again or because they’ve staged a rebellion over reading 3 novels a week. I feel you, I didn’t always love reading between 2 and 4 novels a week when I did my English degree.
Before the guests give away their choices I’d like to predict what they will say. Kerri Sackville recently wrote an article on psychics and I’d like to see if I have the gift.
Geoff Cousins… hmmm, what will the businessman, advertiser extraordinaire, turned novelist and environmentalist find controversial at one of his dinner parties? Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Advertising, propaganda, that’s kind of similar, right?
Amelia Lester the Havard graduate and editor of Good Weekend would obviously choose Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s got lots of big words in it, not necessarily used correctly but they’re in there. I’m sure it’s wildly popular with the Havard alumni.
Zoe Norton Lodge is published by the fabulous small Australian press- Giramondo, a regular on The Checkout and a friend of The Chaser, so will no doubt go hard or go home. She’ll crack out the big guns, The Bible / The Quran / The Sutras / The Vedas / The Tulmud. It is going to blow our mind and leave our jaws dropped for the next six weeks.
Now Christos Tsiolkas is a very talented writer who has a habbit of writing novels that get turned into movies. Most recently The Slap got made into a mini series in both Australia and the US. It was pretty controversial around to smack or not smack not just your own child but another person’s. So in order to really put another firecracker up the buttocks of parents I think he’ll go with Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall.
Does JByrne get a choice? If so, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I don’t really know why, just the vibe of the thing.
Oh and of course the usual disclaimer, I’m dyslexic so grammar nazis should run while the still can.
Okay, first cab off the rank is Zoe. Dear Zoe has gone with Road to Ruin by Niki Savva. I feel so stupid. Of course she’d go political with the up coming election. The Bible, what the fuck was I thinking. Ugh, I hate myself. It’s a great choice because the book is about Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin and it’s just so salacious and weird that you want it to be true but you know parts of it must be made up. It has Credlin feeding Abbott and snuggling up on his shoulder at Part dinners, and all sorts of crazy shit. It’s so gross and entertaining but also sadly hard to believe.
Zoe describes it as juicy. She talks about how Niki breaks all the journalistic codes of conduct but she bloody loved it. Geoff mentions he’s worked in politics and the events aren’t like anything he ever experienced. Christos states it reads like a work of fiction but Abbott’s character motivation is never revealed which is problematic for a story. Amelia points out how Credlin has been put under more scrutiny than any other chief of staff. JByrne says no journalist has been able to get any proof of an affair. And Savva has very cleverly made everyone think that Abbott and Credlin are having an affair without explicitly stating it.
Christos has gone with Submission by Michael Hourllebecq. Nothing like my prediction at all but it certainly is controversial. Even more timely with Brexit going through. It centers around Muslim people winning the election in France in 2022.
Amelia thought she’d hate it because she thought it wouldn’t be her cup of tea. But she did like it because it isn’t so much a book about Islam as a book about how the West need to step up. Geoff likes how materialism is the enemy. Zoe wasn’t a fan of the older academic being paired with a young hottie with no panties but the rest she liked. JByrne and Zoe agree that the trope of the older male academic with the young hottie is tired. Geoff likes the mention of food throughout. JByrne thinks that’s satyr, I think that’s classic French literature. Regardless, panelists are not divided as promised and all liked it. False advertising!
Geoff has gone with The Tree of Man by Patrick White. A novel that tries to give the sense of grand mystique and history to Australia that Europe has so I’m going to pretend I’m close with my prediction and say it is advertisery / propagandary.
Geoff and Christos talk about how great the book is and how much they agree with each other. Where’s the controversy! For God’s sake Christos, give him the slap. We all want to see the slap. Zoe likes it too. Not even complaints about hotties and panties. Geoff randomly starts ragging on Jane Austen? Zoe says Austen is like porn, sexy for women… Geoff finds that crass and has a little dig at Zoe. You back off Geoff, Zoe is the only one bringing pizazz to this panel. You talk about porn all you like Zoe. This is supposed to be controversial. Austen is porn seems pretty controversial to me. Thank you!
Amelia is lucky last and she has chosen Lean In by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg… which is kind of exactly like Fifty Shades if you think about it… Alright, I accept I got it wrong. I can see why it would be controversial. White women from affluent backgrounds with husbands would relate to Lean In. However, even Sandberg has come out since the tragic death of her husband and said leaning in isn’t quite so easy for single mothers. Imagine how hard it would be for women from disadvantaged backgrounds. I imagine I’m going to hear the term “white privilege” in any discussion about Lean in.
JByrne suggests lean in means behave more like men. Amelia denies Sandberg would agree with that. Zoe points out how Sandberg’s husband uprooted a whole company in order to accommodate their family and help with childcare… which caused a whole shit load of problems for other family forced to move. Amelia liked it as a memoir but not as a manifesto of how others should live. Christos would like to have learned more about her family of origin and her guilt. He felt there was a better to story to tell. JByrne says she likes that Sandberg promotes trying to make good money. Women should be allowed to want to make a shit load of cash.
Great choices by the panelists. I’m clearly not psychic but it was a fun episode. Not as controversial as last week or episode 1, but still good. More Zoe PLEASE!
And ohmygodohmygodohmygod my two favourite panelists are on next week, Virginia Gay and Michael Williams.
And I’ve got tickets to the screening. I think I’m going to pass out…
Catch up on last week’s recap here.
Catch up on viewing previous episodes on ABC iView.