Jennifer Byrne enters. The crowd goes wild. The queen is here and she’s back to using a glossy lipstick instead of matte like last week. Now her lips will shine just as much as her honeyed words.
She’s wearing white and as we’re Australians we don’t even know if it’s after Labor Day nor if it’s allowed. We’re just happy to see her and her regulars. We enjoyed last week’s show but how we missed Marieke and Jason.
JByrne introduces her guests. First there is Omar Musa, a DJ, a writer, a philosopher poet. Everybody claps enthusiastically. Secondly is Benjamin Law, non fiction writer and creator of the television show The Family Law. Everybody loves BLaw because he’s just so…
… What in the world am I seeing here? BLaw has no socks on. His ankles are completely nude. The emperor has got no clothes on.
JByrne is saying something but I cannot hear her over how loud BLaw’s ankles are. And oh no, oh no no no no no, what is going on with Jason’s ankle region? Is it likewise naked. I know Jason likes the sexy books full of sexy sexing but is he also a mad ankle lover too? BLaw appears to have a vulva in his pocket yet for some reason Jason’s possibly nude calves are what is surprising me the most.
Is he trying to out Ben BLaw or does he love BLaw so much that he wants to be ankle twinsies. Look at me Ben, we’ve got matching ankles we can be BFFs for life. Or maybe they’re just beige socks. I have so many questions. The socks JByrne, the socks, you need to address the sockless elephant in the room. I need to stop thinking about sockgate or I’ll miss the show. Let sleeping socks lie.
Jason introduces his choice, Mothering Sunday by the incredibly versatile Graham Swift. It has lots of sex and nudity so of course Jason loved it. This is not the first time he has championed a sexy book. It’s kind of his thing. He reads the opening line, “Once upon a time before all the boys were killed…” and the audience melts in their chairs. What an opening. So simple, so elegant, yet so evocative. It’s a Cinderella story all set in one day.
All the panelists agreed that they loved the shortness of it. Take note authors, some readers when faced with a 700 page tomb want to die. Not Fantasy readers, we call that a prologue. But readers are increasingly busy so the return of the Henry James style serial or novella is ideal for the modern life style. Get that story in with maximum impact and minimum words. Marieke refers to Mothering Sunday as a moist towlette of a book. Refreshing. She likes that term, she uses the descriptor refreshing frequently for books.
Musa is a slight dampener on this already moist book. He says, “It was alright.” Jason clutches for his metaphorical pearls and faints.
Musa found it a bit cliché. Jason returns from the dead and points out that the cliché is ruddy well deliberate because it’s meant to express the naivety of the main character and reflect the fairy tale concept. Somewhere in the world Doctor of Fairy Tales, Kate Forsyth, has fallen into a psychic coma. Jason returns to sniffing his salts.
Ben peps Jason up by indicating how much he loved the book. BLaw particularly liked the constant nudity, as did Jason, it’s his thing after all. BLaw oozes over the deliciousness of being nude in a library. Everyone agrees that does seem fun. I think they all need a nap. I don’t want people’s moist towlettes all over my precious books. I’ve got a few simple rules in my life, no nudity in a kitchen or in a library is one of them. Words to live by. You’ll thank me later.
Omar is undeterred in his quest to give Jason a heart attack and delivers a killing blow, “deft but forgettable.” He says he knows that it’s forgettable because he only read it two weeks ago and has already forgotten half of it. Jason somehow manages to survive. I’m relieved. Book Club would be far less sexy without him. Omar also found the book far too polite. Translation : completely white and British. So very, very, very, British.
BLaw enjoyed the politeness. He found it quite exotic because the concept was so foreign from his own up bringing. Watch The Family Law and you will definitely understand this.
In the end everyone agreed Mothering Sunday was well written, full of moistness, and beautifully short. They really liked the shortness. Like, really, really, liked it. Please write shorter books.
Onto what everyone is reading:
Omar is reading Beauty is a Word. Read it, it is amazing!
Ben is reading The Healing Party. I haven’t read it but if BLaw likes it then that’s good enough for me.
I’ve worked it out, yes Ben has naked ankles but Jason does not. He’s just wearing unfortunately coloured wooly socks. Glad I could sort that out for everyone.
JByrne is reading Julian Barnes’s latest masterpiece. If you haven’t read any Barnes before, might I suggest you start with A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters?
Jason is reading My Whole Life which has very little sex in it. We’re all shocked!
Marieke is reading Fates and Furies, she loves it so of course JByrne hates it and calls it over hyped domestic fiction.
Omar runs for cover, he’s not used to such brutality in the mild mannered hip hop scene and Marieke tries to tempt Jason onto her side saying that there’s sex in her book.
Onto a classic. BLaw has selected it. He’s been a naughty little minx and gone off book with a graphic novel, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It’s an unconventional choice in every sense of the word. It’s a graphic novel not just text, it’s queer, it’s got a funeral home, it draws on literary giants like Joyce and Fitzgerald with as much ease as pop culture. It’s an intriguing choice and an intriguing book. Everybody loves it… except Jason who merely likes it because graphic novels don’t allow you to use your imagination in the same way as just text and can’t help but say he’s glad that the references to classic literature were done visually otherwise people would have found it too difficult to understand. Oh the condescension, it burns.
JByrne says fare thee well by telling us that they’re looking at An Isolated Incident next week. I squee and jump up and down. Yes it’s past my bedtime but I am a huge Emily Maguire fan so am dancing about in my pjs. So happy. No pressure or anything but if any of the panelists say anything even remotely not glowing about this book next week, well…
Don’t make me angry, you won’t like me when I’m angry #bookclubABC.
View past episodes on ABC iView.