Category Archives: the book club abc

Book Club ABC Season 11, Episode 6: #BookclubABC

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Buckle up mofos we’re in for an existential ride. Gone are the traditional author and journalist guests, we’ve got a director and an artist. It’s probably going to get weird. I saw this recorded so prepare for some extra tidbits that didn’t make the cut.
JByrne introduces guest noted feminist director Jane Allen. JAllen has chosen the classic text, but before she may speaketh its name we must listen to Simon and Garfunkel, I like Simon and Garfunkel but this is not my fav. It is the theme song for Watership Down. JAllen is then allowed to say that she has chosen Watership Down as the classic.
 

JByrne moves on to introduce artist Ben Quilty. He has won lots of awards for artery so he’s kind of a big deal. She says that Quilty is their fav…. WTF! What about Michael Williams? What about Toni Jordan? WHAT ABOUT VIRGINIA GAY? What is happening? I just don’t even know how to think or feel anymore. Yes I do, unjustifiably bitter. Look at him sitting in his Led Zeppelin T, like he’s so cool. Pffft.

 

Time to talk about new releases. Anna Spargo Ryan’s The Gulf has been released into the wild, its cover is delicious. Inga Simpson also has a new book out. Hooray. It’s called UNDERSTORY: a life with trees. You need to check out these two titles. They have the two of the most beautiful covers that these eyeballs have ever seen. This has JByrne thinking about trees. She says they’re having ‘a moment.’ There was The Hidden Life of Trees and like heaps of other stuff for realz. She asks Ace why there are so many books about trees at the moment. As the Literature overlord of Fairfax he knows all about literary buso and will surely know what the G O is. He says it’s because books are like metaphysical cannibals having trees destroyed to make them and then writing about the corpses that brought them to life. That’s dark. Could someone please give Ace a cuddle? I volunteer as tribute. He then suggests it’s a fascinating topic and people want to know how they communicate. Marieke quite rightly points out that anybody who has read the Enchanted Woods knows, they say wishawishawisha.

 

And now it’s time to move onto the modern text, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It details the attempted genocide of the Osage Indian nation. The reason they were hated enough to be wiped out, they got rich because the land they lived on contained oil. It looks at the FBI investigation into the murders and uncovers that the horrors were far worse than were depicted at the time. JByrne says that the book has been touted to answer, who was killing the Osage? She suggests a better question would be, who wasn’t? Quilty says it was pretty full on.

 

JByrne laments that this really wasn’t that long ago. People had cars and telephones, this isn’t ancient history. She wants to know why this story hasn’t been told before. Why didn’t people care enough earlier? Ace suggests that because they are such a marginalised group that they weren’t heard, they couldn’t speak out. He says that this was a brilliant piece of investigative journalism and that now the story is out and people will care. JByrne goes to read a quote about just how powerful this book is, fades off as she is overcome with emotion…. Or she remembers that she is not wearing her glasses.

 

JAllen says it was a compelling story but not a great narrative because the scope was too broad for the structure the book used. There were times when there was just too much research dumped without getting a sense of the emotions. She also wanted to know more about the Osage and how they felt and reacted. Marieke has her back, she says that it was a dry telling of an emotional story. Jane puts her director’s hat on and says it would make a brilliant TV series. She would restructure the bajeebers out of it. She’d start with the ending, where it had a narrow focus and a strong emotional core and work her way back. I love someone bringing their different area of expertise and perspective to reading the book. How refreshing. Marieke would watch that show, because the book was a bit like the Excel spreadsheet telling of the story. Woah, back up there. Who doesn’t love a bit of data entry?

 

Quilty says that the distance was necessary because the author was not part of the Osage community. He cannot speak for them, he can simply report. He points out that all those horrific details are there and that it is the reader’s responsibility to bring the emotion to it. Just like when you’re viewing art, you need to bring your own heart into viewing it. I’m liking hearing his artist viewpoint on reading a book. But more than that…. His voice. There is something quite magnificent about his voice. He sounds like Eric Bana. 

 

JByrne raises the horrific point that there were white men marrying Osage women, having children with them, and killing off the rest of their family so that they could get control of the money. They were so driven by money that they would marry someone just to murder their families and it wasn’t just one man, it was several. And now everybody is talking. They’re arguing. I can’t understand what is being said. Somebody hold me. Sure we all agree that is horrific?

 

Time to pull out the big guns. Cultural appropriation. JByrne lays down the gauntlet and asks if people had issues with David Grann writing about the Osage nation. Everyone is cool beans about it. They say he obviously spoke with them, there’s even comments from representatives in the book, and he was very respectful about it. He more reported on these horrific events then tried to speak for the Osage. JAllen points out that this extensive piece of investigative journalism will bring a flood of interest and allow Osage writers to come forward and tell their story from their perspective. She for one is now craving a story from their perspective and hopefully this new interest will make publishers see this as financially viable and these stories will get picked up.

 

And now it’s time for By the Bed

 

JAllen says she’s a space nerd and reading Packing for Mars.

 

Ace is reading Collected Stories of George Stalter. Okay, I made up the name I didn’t quite catch it.  JAMES SALTER! The author is James Salter.

 

Quilter is reading Cooper’s Creek…. He sounds so much like Eric Bana. I’m just closing my eyes and imagining that Eric Bana is telling me about what is by his bed. Oh my goodness. What is happening? My nickers have literally caught fire. 

 

Marieke says she’s a death nerd and is reading Sex & Death.

 

JByrne is reading When Breath Becomes Air.

 

It’s time for the classic that much loved children’s novel, Watership Down. JAllen is charged with introducing it as she chose it. She tells us that characters die. She goes on to say that Charlotte dies in Charlotte’s Web, Bambi’s mother dies, characters die all the time, and that’s life. She said she chose it because she had such fond memories of it as a child. She does note that it is a bit problematic in that all the characters with agency are male, it was a bit racist, but that passed her by as a child. On her recent rereading it was glaringly obvious. She notes that this is a symptom of the patriarchy that female children are trained to just accept that everyone having adventures are male and women are off making cakes and having babies. And that is the standard that we are supposed to accept. She says this book and its nod to totalitarianism is still relevant because of Trump.

 

Time for Ace to tell us how he really feels about Watership Down. He says he was bored shirtless, I mean shitless. He was not the target audience. He really didn’t enjoy it at all until the depot baddies arrived. As a consolation he offers that he quite liked the way nature was written about and gives JAllen an apology carrot. That is not some crazy euphemism, he gives her a literal carrot. And he brings enough for the whole class. Awwwwwww.

 

Marieke says she was first introduced to Watership Down by the Goodies paradox, she quite liked that, and she liked this too. She says she’s a friend to the animals and liked the talking rabbits. Apparently talking rabbits are okay, but last week she could have done without the talking dog in Jean Harley was Here. JByrne loses it. She just starts laughing. She says she thought that these self-important rabbits having deep conversations were ridiculous. They’re rabbits, they don’t have deep and meaningfuls. Marieke disagrees.

 

Quilt felt that the book was indeed a bit berserk but he still liked it. He is a bit disturbed that Richard Adams wrote the book for his two daughters and the lady rabbits are pretty much kidnapped to become breeding slaves, but suggests we put that aside for the moment. LET’S NOT PUT THAT ASIDE!

 

JByrne just wanted to get those rabbits and put them in a pie. Ace wanted them with gnocchi, I feel like they aren’t vegetarians.

 

Marieke did find reading this book slightly scarring reading it so close to The Handmaid’s Tale. Given that both have breeding slaves, and reading about them not just being glossed over in The Handmaid’s Tale, brought a whole new level of emotion to Watership Down. English teacher’s there’s a perfect pairing for you. No more dystopian and dystopian, do dystopian and children’s.

 

Quilty says that it is a beautiful story for children… except for there are no speaking females. Hmmmm, maybe we should interrogate that?

 

JByrne asserts that the book is ridiculous and that the only good talking animal books are talking horse books. All other animals speaking are just silly, obvi.

 

Holy crapola! Get hold of your drinks!! There’s a quiz!!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL. You know what The Book Club ABC Drinking Game compels you to do (responsibly and only if you’re over 18 and have no medical issues and aren’t operating a vehicle or heavy machinery etc).

 

Spoiler alert, Marieke’s team does not win. Make sure you watch it on iView or iTunes so that you can experience the full glory of Marieke being forced to be part of a quiz. Words, even my own, simply cannot do it justice.

 

And that’s a wrap. Next week is a star studded panel with Marieke and Ace being boned in favour of all Sydney Writers’ Festival (why yes I am a volunteer, how can I help?) guests. They will be discussing books that changed their life. In the meantime, listen to Ben Quilty’s magical voice on YouTube and think of Eric Banner. I know I will be.

 

Catch up on last week’s recap here.

 

Grab the drinking game here.

 

Watch past episodes on here.

 

Buy my shit here.

Just quietly, why not step out into sunny Sydney tomorrow and partake in The Sydney Writers’ Festival.  At Science House there are fantastic workshops being run by CS Pacat and Kerrie Davis, Niki Savva is speaking at the Roslyn Packet Theatre, Anne Enright will be at the City Recital Hall and Anita Heiss will be kicking off literacy with Justine Clarke on the Curiosity Stage, plus so many more great events throughout the day and rest of the week. Hope to see you all there.

ABC Book Club Season 11, Episode 4: #bookclubABC 

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Image shamelessly stolen from @thebookclubABC

​It’s here, it’s really here. Atwood day. I saw this live so there will be secret extras that hit the editing room floor. Ooooo exclusive. The Book Clubbers are discussing The Handmaid’s Tale. Yes I am wetting myself with excitement. Even the great Atwood herself knows that I am wetting myself with excitement. Heck, she retweeted me talking about my leaky bladder of excitement. 

So let’s just say I’m stoked. I can tell even JByrne is excited about this. She’s supercharged herself with horse power, wearing a horse print blazer. Giddy up. Of course there is guest CS Pacat who is always dressed as if ready to go for a quick trot and Zoe Norton Lodge, who is a unicorn. The most magical of horse creatures. Unless there are any centaurs or pegasus reading this, then you guys are, fuck the unicorns. And Ace is clearly a stallion. Neeeiiiggghhh. This horsey team, accessorised with Marieke the kitten, are all geared up and ready to canter into action. We could be forgiven for assuming that the modern text being discussed tonight is about horses. It is not. It is Lincoln in the Bardo, which is a heady mix of….

THERE’S A TISSUE ON THE GROUND. A TISSUE!!!!! Stop looking at it. No, I can’t look away. Must look away and concentrate BUT THERE’S AN EFFING TISSUE ON THE GROUND. Is it multiplying and then unmultiplying? Continuity!

Forget the tissue. They’re discussing how Lincoln in the Bardo is George Saunders’ first full length novel and that he is considered to be the master of the short story form. Apparently people are super psyched that he’s put together a novel. Important people are excited.
But first JByrne has to tell us what is going on in the literary landscape at the moment. She says that the latest Harry Hole thriller is out, I can’t get down exactly what she’s saying, but trust me the words aren’t important. What is important is that she sounds like Jimmy Fallon’s imitation of Barry Gibb and it is GLORIOUS. 

It has been fifty years since Picnic at Hanging Rock was published. We must obviously all go on a picnic together. Marieke mentions a haunting tale of a young Marieke, roaming the areas where the iconic Picnic at Hanging Rock was filmed, she got her knee stuck in the rock there. That’s it, shut that place down. It tried to eat Marieke. It’s haunted. Case closed. Foxtel is apparently putting out a new version of it. I hope it is not as cursed.

Time for the dramatic recreation of Lincoln in the Bardo. Is that a banjo I hear? An off key banjo? Oh, it’s just an off key guitar. My least favourite kind of guitar. Rhythm, lead, base, whatever, just let it be in key. It outlines that the inspiration for the novel was that when William Lincoln died his father, honest Abe, used to visit his grave and hold his dead body. This historical event combined with the Tibetan concept of the bardo, a place where spirits linger, became this novel.

JBryne warns the viewers that Lincoln in the Bardo is complicated. What? 166 voices is complicated all of a sudden. Who doesn’t like a casual stroll through 166 points of view? Who???? One of my friends described it as book that would be best received by wankers who didn’t get it but wanted to pretend they were smart and did. Let’s see if the panellists are kinder than my friend.

Ace says he loved it. It has a cast of thousands and you are in limbo, what’s not to love. It is explained that there were three main voices:

1) Horny old man that you’re introduced to on the first page

2) A guy who committed suicide and regretted it (they always regret it in literature)

3) A priest who scared himself to death

They’re a lively bunch despite being dead. JByrne says that this book had her streaming with tears. The idea of a grieving father sneaking off to his child’s grave to cradle his little body is heart wrenching. Marieke liked this voxpop style account of people who knew William Lincoln in life and in the afterlife.

JByrne admits that she was confused at around page 25, that she had to go and have a little moment, and then she came back to it, and loved it. Ace says that trusting the author is crucial to enjoying this novel. He says if you have faith that the mist will clear and the truth will be revealed. Amen.

CS says that she did not relax during this novel. She had to keep ducking onto Google to fact check it and see who was real and who was fictional. I leap up and kiss the television and whisper, ‘Me too.’ 

She said that it clashed with her personality type and that she couldn’t relax. She also points out that people trying to mythologise American history isn’t her favourite thing in the world. That there’s enough “America is the greatest nation on the planet” stuff out there without it having to be made into the stuff of legends.

Marieke points out that it was pretty bold to choose a real person and a real death rather than explore grief in an entirely fictional setting. CS says she read an interview with Saunders about Lincoln and grief that she found fascinating. She’d highly recommend that anyone read it. She did not so much love him stretching out this exploration into a full length novel.

JBryne goes to say something about how she liked the extension but Marieke has had enough of this conversation being devoid of ghost penis and says it is time to talk about it. She says there was too much ghost penis, too often, and she would have liked the book even more with less ghost penis. She said that the novel was a bit busy in some places so she couldn’t quite picture it all but the ghost penis was right there and very noted.
Zoe liked the business. Says she liked it better than the actual plot. The hunter surrounded by all the animals he’d killed was her favourite.

The panellists touch on some of the problematic areas, like Lincoln signing the declaration of independence because he got possessed by a slave but overall they loved it.

They play a segment from the audio book. We’re all meant to be blown away. I can tell by the very moved look the panellists are affecting. Every famous American actor alive is in it. Everyone wants a piece of Saunders. His publishing house is clearly throwing everything at this. If it wasn’t a success with this kind of push we’d all be stunned. Marieke points out with all this backing it is the literary equivalent of Ellen’s selfie at the Oscars. Apt.

Time for a bit of By the Bed.

CS is reading Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. (I love her brain so shall be reading it)

Ace is reading The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams new and old collected short stories.

JByrne is reading Golden Hill. (Currently reading it, will review shortly, it’ll either pop up on this blog or with the boss ladeez over on Newtown Review of Books)

Marieke is reading Insomniac City by Bill Hayes. He’ll be at The Sydney Writers’ Festival, and why yes I am a volunteer. How can I help?

Zoe is reading Butcher’s Crossing.

Now it’s the moment that we’ve all been waiting for; HANDMAID TIME!!!!!!! Its central character is a breeding slave in the future who once had a loving home and family. It is essentially the story of exactly where we’re headed with misogynists such as Donald “grab them by the pussy” Trump reigning supreme. Atwood kept saying this wasn’t sci-fi, it’s sci-fact people! I am popping aside my lightly sparkling moscatto and picking up a cup of men’s tears for the rest of this episode.

CS says that she has read this book at three different stages of her life. First as a teen. It was a revelation and the discussion around totalitarianism in the book was amazlips. She then read it in her twenties (wait, is she out of her twenties?) and thought it was 80’s white woman feminism and it was time to come further in the world. She read it again for this and was like OMFG this is amazlips, this is the shit right now. 

Ace said he found it frighteningly relevant. He says that it was measured, fierce and not at all hysterical, and that it made him feel uncomfortable as a man. Good. Might explain why he dropped the h word. Marieke suggests that, as a man, Mike Pence gets naked and rubs himself on this book at night. She agrees that it was a cool, calm, clinical fury. The anger was so contained and focused and Marieke loved it.

The magical unicorn Zoe gallops in. Isn’t she sweet and lovely? She says that she found the stakes too low in the book. WTF! Women are kept as baby making slaves and routinely raped and the stakes aren’t high enough. Unicorn life must be pretty rough. She says it was all a bit samsies and kept moving at the same trajectory and she’d like to see more danger…. Because they weren’t already at maximum danger? Cold, Zoe, cold. She says she liked 1984 better. My mind is being blown by this and not in a good way.

CS says that the unfolding horror kept her turning the pages. Zoe is a bit meh. She enjoyed that men could be literally torn apart, but she wanted a bit more of that. 

What the fuck happens in the unicorn world? Clearly savage. Ace and JByrne say they both found it terrifying. JByrne also points out that 1984 is a bit irrelevant now, it’s completed its cycle and purpose, whereas this is still so current. The other panellists argue that 1984 is still relevant. JByrne talks about communism and how 1984 was a fearful response to that. Met with more arguments. I want her so desperately to say, it’s called nineteen eighty fuck four. It’s literally past that date. She doesn’t. She’s a better person that I. She does however give the other panellists a big case of WHATEVER and says The Handmaid’s Tale is better than 1984. Agreed! I hi5 my television screen, and pin a vag badge on to JByrne’s image.
Zoe, somehow sensing that JByrne has been awarded a vag badge, and CS has been given a screen pash tries to lift her game. She acknowledges that having to lie down across your mistress’s lap whilst her husband rapes you in order to impregnate you is bad. She says it’s not a good sex sandwich to be in. It’s one of the worst tasting sandwiches ever. Nobody wants to be part of that sandwich. If that’s the only sandwich on offer, she wants no part of it. Subway withdraws any offers of sponsorship to both Zoe and Atwood. 

JByrne starts reading a quote from the book spoken by a misogynistic wanker. Steam is coming out of her ears. She’s mad. She’s sick of smug men looking down on women and making condescending remarks, and they’re still doing it in the bloody future. Holy bajeebers! She’s throwing the book. She’s thrown the book! This is not a drill. There has been a book throwing. She’s so angry that she has thrown that book. Smash the patriarchy. Throw some shit. You go! You rage against the machine. The future is female. This is so fucking brilliant I am crying tears of feminist joy. Damn the man.

And that’s a wrap people! Not the sandwich kind of wrap, the finishing up kind. No more sandwich talk. We don’t want any more gross sex sandwiches. I’m excited. You’re excited. Let’s all just sit here in sheer ecstasy for a moment. And I’ll see you all next week. Cannot wait for next week.

Read last week’s recap here.

Catch up on episodes on iView here.

Find the drinking game here.

Buy my shit here.

Find The Handmaid’s Tale television series on SBS on Demand from July.

As an aside, I think I also need to mention that there has been another attack on the arts this week. Fairfax is laying off a quarter of their staff. A quarter. They want to remove all specialised literature and arts staff. Apparently they think that there is just no specialised skill needed there and just any opinion piece writer can do a high quality job. NOPE! Snide, nasty, general reviews are on their way out. People got a laugh for a while but those reviews were far more about the reviewer than they were about any book. Now people have had their laugh and they actually want to get back to getting decent and thoughtful information rather than just personal opinion. You’re well behind the ball Fairfax. Pay your workers and get the quality content up. That’s what people will pay to read, not the click bait same shit as everywhere else. WHY WOULD WE PAY FOR SOMETHING WE CAN GET FOR FREE EVERYWHERE ELSE??? MAKE QUALITY AND INTEGRITY BE YOUR POINT OF DIFFERENCE! 

And while I’m at it, don’t think we haven’t noticed that the ABC has  cut The Book Club ABC back to eight episodes. Don’t think we haven’t also noticed that the ABC previously cut a whole heap of their science department. This is how people like Trump win. This is how The Handmaid’s Tale gets actualised. Dumb down our media, get rid of people wanting to critique and replace them with people just wanting to prove that they’re terribly clever and get famous. We need to demand integrity. More shows on the arts, more shows on science. More critique. More integrity. More fact checking. More Jason Steger. Less cheap attempts at appearing relevant. Actually be relevant. Deep breath. Rant over.

ABC Book Club Season 11, Episode 3: #bookclubABC 

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House keeping matters before we waft away into the sensuous feast that is The Book Club ABC.

  1. JByrne = Jennifer Byrne
  2. Ace = Jason Steger formerly Stegersaurussex
  3. Marieke Hardy = an utter delight
  4. I’m dyslexic, there will be errors. No rewards given for spotting them, I’d go broke.
  5. I’m neither sponsored nor paid for this, I do it for love. But if you want to bribe me I like wine, notebooks, and money. Money is my favourite.

The credits play. Books are dancing across the scene in a colour coordinated disregard for segregation via genre and or alphabetisation. I’ll allow it. JByrne appears. She’s clearly pissed off the wardrobe department, they’ve tried to mask her radiance with beige and muted toned. It hasn’t worked. The make-up department have her back and have lovingly added an extra layer of gloss to her lips to combat this clear case of sabotage.

Marieke is there, clearly on excellent terms with the wardrobe department. She looks like a model for Kitten D’Amour. Next to her sits Michael Williams, director of The Wheeler Centre, the main man, the big dude, the guy who can make or break an author with a snap of his fingers, so I better keep things above board and completely respectful. He really could do with an extra button undone on that shirt. What is going on with his ankle region? Am I just seeing what I want to see? Is he wearing smarties on his socks. #sockwatch Doesn’t he look delicious? I just want to nibble on those ankles. Nom, nom, nom…. In a most respectful and revered fashion, obvi.

Opposite, sits John Safran. If you don’t know who he is, have you been living under a rock? And ooolala, what is Ace wearing tonight? An electric blue jumper to match his electric personal magnetism. Perfection.

https://youtu.be/dgfR3AKCAQI

Time to get down to business. There’s books to be discussed. Paula Hawkins has released her second novel, does it live up to the hype of The Girl on the Train… well Michael indicates that The Girl on the Train didn’t live up to its own hype so why would the second one? Saucer of milk for Michael’s table. JByrne says it had 11 different narrators and so she found it a bit difficult to follow. She suggests she might not be clever enough for it. Jason says he didn’t find it difficult at all. Oh reeeaaaallllyyyy.

Tonight’s classic is chosen by Ace and is therefore sexy and British, just like him. Has he had a haircut? There’s something extra about him this evening. It could just be that jumper, but it might also be the hair. We’ll get to the book later on when they do. As for the new book….

JByrne is practically bursting out of her skin with excitement that she has managed to lure the esteemed John Safran onto the show.  She says she did it by choosing his favourite author’s new book, Moonglow. Safran kinda shrugs nonchalantly and says, yeah he likes Michael Chabon, in a deadpan voice. I snort some Gossip Moscato out of my nose trying to suppress a giggle. JByrne looks a tad heartbroken at his lackluster response. Marieke suggests that his appearance on the show does coincide with his own book coming out yesterday and that maybe, just maybe, JByrne’s ability to lure him wasn’t that miraculous. Cynic.

The dramatic recreation is played. Holy crap, I love the music they’re using for it. Gold star for music choice.

John takes things away by saying that he likes the book and it was better than Chabon’s last one. It’s said so deadpan that JByrne has to check that he’s saying that it is even better than the book he previously told her was his favourite book of all time. He nods his agreement that this is the case. John indicates that there could have been a smidge less sex in there.

Marieke thanks John for addressing the ‘grandpa’s penis in the room’ as she felt that this book had more grandfather penis in it than she had ever encountered before in her life in a book. John agrees that he would possibly have enjoyed the book even more if there was less grandpa penis. Jason indicates he is totally fine with the quanity of grandpa penis. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out if there is too nuch or just the right amount of grandpa penis.

JByrne breaks free of the grandpa’s penis and talks about how Moonglow is a book set right at the darkest point in history. It’s about the attempted eradication of the Jewish population.

Michael said that he could have marked every single page for examples of beautiful writing. He reads a quote about the smell of a postage stamp. Apparently Michael really loves postage stamps.

Marieke said she enjoyed it until it became too complex and obviously not true. This bothered her because she felt tricked. She liked the book but just felt lied to and overwhelmed with grandpa penis.

Jason says that the trick is to read it all as fiction. And why does it matter if it’s true or not? Marieke points out that it matters to her and Oprah! She asks why does he sometimes refer to it as a memoir if it’s not? JByrne says, ‘Because it’s fun.’ Marieke lets JByrne know that lies aren’t fun and maybe she should think about her priorities in life.

They start talking about a skinless horse. It’s apparently important. It’s where fact or fiction is decided. I have a history minor and must confess I don’t really know anything about some symbolic skinless horse. I don’t know what’s happening. Hold me. Has Nuckelavee made an appearance? Let’s move on.

It’s time for By the Bed. Woot.

Michael is reading All My Friends Are Superheroes.

Marieke is reading Anything is Possible.

JByrne is reading Death of a She Devil.

John is reading Pop 1280

Ace is reading Reunion

And now it’s time for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It is noted that Ace brought it as a by the bed in 2013. He says it’s a Cinderella story about a nightclub singer with three blokes on the go and a pervy old lady watching on. He says it’s like a glass of champagne that never goes flat. This is coincidentally exactly how I feel about Ace.

Marieke says it’s farce, it’s frolicksome and a whole bunch more f words. It made her laugh out loud. It was hot and sexy and she loved it. She said it was also a very kind book. It didn’t use mean humour.

Michael suggests that it’s kind with a hint of racism. JByrne says not only racist but sexist. She challenges the other panelists as to why it can be considered kind and funny given that it’s deeply antisemitic. John says it’s okay because it’s old.

Michael says the book is just like Jason. Racey, English, and very silly. So if you like Ace, give it a read. I shall be pressing it to my eyeballs shortly.

JByrne finishes the discussion by staring into Ace’s eyes and murmuring, ‘Are you happy, Sweetheart.’ She then plays a montage of Jason and his love of books with British biddies. 

What a time to be alive. A show where panelists love both a book about the horrors inflicted upon Jewish people in the 1940s AND a book that was published in 1938 that is antisemitic. In totally unrelated news, who likes playing connect the dots? 

Next week they’re discussing Lincoln in the Bardo and The Handmaid’s Tale. See you next week.


Read last week’s episode recap here.

Read Michael Williams’ Robinpedia entry here.

Watch past episodes of The Book Club ABC on iView here.

Read about the positives I’ve found in being a dyslexic writer here.

Find the film version of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day here.

 

ABC Book Club Season 11 Episode 2: #bookclubABC 

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The panelists are here JByrne is of course fabulous, Marieke is radiant, and Ace… well… his ankles are hidden. I can’t see his socks at all.

JByrne introduces the guest panelists. C.S. Pacat is back as is Omar Musa. Omar in turn introduces this evenings classic, 
The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter. He describes it as EROTIC. The word rolls off his tongue and reverberates round the panel. Ace is probably passed out in excitement overload that the word has been cracked out so early in the piece.

Time to discuss what’s new in the world of literature. Tracey Spicer has a new book and apparently so does F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not a bad effort given he died in 1940. Perhaps his ghost dictated it to a clairvoyant. Nope, they’ve gotten some of his unpublished works and popped them into a beautifully bound, blue book. It’s a bit Go Set A Watchman. We don’t know if it has been rewritten and edited to the author’s standard and if it’s what they’d want.

Now time for the novel of the moment….

…… dramatic pause…..

………… still more drama…..

Exit West. They describe it as a love story with a brutal backdrop…. The dramatic recreation looks like a doco on the Middle East. It’s weird, last week they said it was a Thriller then put up a romantic clip, this week they said it was a love story and put up a doco. What are you doing to me? I need everyone to be on the same page with the description. Now I’m confused and feel vulnerable and alone. Alone except for my Aldi Moscato. 

Marieke is the first one to speak. She says that she loved it. It was bang up to the elephant. Okay, she said it was perfect, but I’ve got a lot of phrases from 1906 floating around in my head so you must all suffer through my sheer delight in the phrases. I just pray that ejaculations, vaginas, and penises come up frequently this season, because I’ve got a lot of terms I’ve leanerd for those. A lot! Back to Marieke, she says that Exit West is quite simply perfect. It is deeply romantic but also pragmatic.

Omar reveals that he is friends with the author but it will not prevent him from saying what needs to be said. He says that Mohsin Hamid is a genius and one of the finest writers ever to exist. Omar says that Exit West is indeed a very fine novel but isn’t as good as his others. How good must his other novels be if Marieke describes this one as perfection? Be right back, going to find an all night bookstore and buy every Mohsin Hamid book in sight….

What did I miss?

Ace says he loved it. Marieke and Ace are on the same page, boring. They start talking about the literary device common in Spec Fic of the portal. Most of the panelists simply say they like it. CS breaks it down for us. The door in some ways is like Grendel from Beowulf. It represents all our fears and worst qualities. 

So at first the idea of someone coming into your home, your neighbourhood, in the dead of night is frightening. It’s very othering of those coming through. Of course from the other perspective it is a doorway of hope and freedom. So what is the epitome of fear for some is the only hope for others.  

Everyone nods understandingly. I think CS has blown everyone’s freaking minds. They sit silent, still, alone in their contemplations. Danger! We need movement and action or this episode will surely die in the arse. Get these people six lines of coffee STAT! Somebody throw Toni Jordan onto the stage.

Omar starts reflecting on why the author didn’t name the country. The panelists are clearly all now having an existential crisis and questioning the meaning of their lives. JByrne says it was a fable and naming a place would have bogged it down in historic fact. 

Ace questions why the author uses such short senteces and then ones that go for pages and pages. Marieke worries that only people who care will read this book and its transformative powers will be lost. CS and her profound statements are evidently the Book Club equivalent of smoking a joint. They’re all going to start wondering what their fingers really mean. Words like parables and myth are being thrown around.

Alright, time for Beside the Bed. Hopefully that shakes these crazy kids out of staring at their daddles.

Ace is reading a Vincent Van Gogh biography of 900 pages. He emphasises this fact so that we know that not only is he a mega good reader but he can count heaps high too. I missed the title, soz. I think it was Simply Van Gogh

C.S. is reading all about swords and fencing. She particularly enjoyed Richard Cohen’s By the Sword. C.S. and Ace apparently both fenced at school but different styles. Fight, fight, fight. There shall be blood on the books tonight… nope, they’re just moving on.

Omar is reading  Jane by Maggie Nelson.

Marieke is reading Benediction by Kent Haruf.

JByrne is reading Spec Fic! She’s reading Ted Chiang. C.S. has brought the Byrnes over to our team. Hooray. JByrne, call me. We’ll get together with some divine Sydney based spec fic authors such as Alison Croggon, Margo Lanagan and Thoraiya Dyer and can discuss some Australian spec fic such as Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck and Marianne de Pierres’ Peacemaker…. And then we can convert you, like some sort of cult. It’ll be fun. We’ll drink strong liquor and eat stew.

And now they’re up to the classic. The Monkey’s Mask. A264 thriller in poetic form about a lesbian private investigator. You don’t hear about that every day. Sure, we’ve all read some really long poems, Gilgamesh and the Aneid spring immediately to mind, but this is a tad different. The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter states that you’re about to do something you’ve never done before, read a 264 page poem….

Omar says that he loves this book so much because it a a noir, lesbian, thriller, in verse, that totally takes the piss out of poetry, and he’d never read something like that before. He says this helped inform him about truly great poetry and that it was part of his education and inspiration to become a poet himself. 

C.S. said she liked it because Porter had reclaimed plot for poetry. Plot had moved out of epic poetry into novels, and then from novels into movies. That poems had become about themese and books about characters… I can see that glazed look coming over the other panelists’ eyes. Come on people, this is a breakfast chat for Spec Fic writers. 

Stop having your minds blown and add some spark to the discussion.  The topic is interesting, the books great, the guests delightful but things are playing a little flat. I’m praying for a wardrobe malfunction. Where’s Virginia Gay when you need her? 

Ace says that it was sexy and he loved it. He comes up with some vaguely literary reason as to why he liked it. He’s probably just sitting there thinking, “I’d like to say something fancy to back up my liking of this sexy book.” Damn it Ace, just embrace your sexyness.  Be the sexy man we all know you are. Just beat your chest and yell, “I’m a sexy man and I like sexy books. This book is super sexy and I bloody well loved it for it.”

Evidently all the panelists love the book. JByrne is even calling the author Dot. So there’s definitely a closeness and love all round. Yet Marieke remains silent. She’s so animated that her sudden stillness is intriguing. 

C.S. says that she loved this book because it expanded her ideas of what could be done with queer fiction. JByrne says the poetic form makes it seem like a verbal tadpole because it just whizzes along. 

Finally the great Marieke breaks her silence. She says that poetry isn’t her thing, and that poets are a bit like vegans, they can be annoying. Omar subtly dashes away a tear that has formed in his poetic eye. BUT… she bloody loved this 264 page poem and she totally got it. She says that the book is a beautiful live story about a women who is completely… she pauses, she suggests she’s possibly isn’t allowed to use this term on TV. I picture a frantic producer rushing across the studio to hit the giant red button of power cutting doom. I pass out in excitement. What did I miss? Did Marieke get to drop the c-bomb? 

In short, it was about a woman who was totally besotted with an evocative woman who had done a very bad thing and was in denial. She’s refusing to believe that this woman she is so struck by could do anything wrong. Marieke says that this book isn’t so much about mystery as it is about denial. 

Omar says that he has come to a realisation that most of Australia’s finest writers are gay. That something about being an outsider has given a greater perception when looking in.

The episode then moves by a performance poetry piece by Omar Musa. A perfect end.

And that’s a wrap. Next week JByrne says Ace is bringing us crazy, British biddies.

Catch-up on last weeks recap here.

Watch past episodes here.

Find the drinking game here.

ABC Book Club, the Drinking Game: #bookclubABC 

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If there’s one thing that readers love it’s pyjamas… but if there’s two, it’s drinking. So what better way to honour The Book Club ABC than with the time honoured tradition of a drinking game.

Sip

  • When terms such as trends, hot, and popular are used.
  • When they use a dramatic recreation.
  • When Jason tries to give an intellectual reason for liking a sexy book.
  • When the terms frothy, fizzy, fresh, fountain, or frog are used.
  • When Marieke gets angry at Jennifer.
  • When Jason wears exciting socks.
  • When you feel a little parched.

Drink

  • When Marieke makes reference to a dog.
  • When Jennifer makes reference to a horse.
  • When Jason implies another panelist doesn’t understand a text.
  • When they discuss a book that you have read.
  • When Jennifer mispronounces a name or title.
  • When a title that has been discussed in a previous episode is brought up.
  • When you passionately disagree with something a panelist says.

Chug

  • When they mention a book your friend wrote.
  • When all panelists hate a book.
  • When a panelist walks off the set.
  • When a guest panelist loses it and starts raving.
  • When Jennifer and Marieke team up against Jason.
  • When Jason finds a book too sexy.
  • When Jennifer pulls a quiz on Marieke, it’s a solidarity chug because Marieke hates those quizes.

Catch-up on the Season 11 Episode 1 recap here.

Watch past episodes here.

Buy my shit here. Please. I beg you.

ABC Book Club, Season 11, Episode 1: #bookclubABC

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Image stolen from Marieke Hardy’s twitter account.

It’s back. Life can resume again as Book Club is here. JByrne is of course sleeveless because she hasn’t been working those delts to keep them hidden by sleeves. Marieke is flawless. And Ace, oh my, sleeves rolled up to show off those exquisite forearms and he’s wearing stripey blue and yellow socks. Or is it green and yellow? #sockwatch The exact colour is an enigma just like Ace.

Before we get into the actual show let me take care of a few housekeeping issues:

1) I’m dyslexic, there will be spellos, grammos, typos, and just plain wrongos.

2) JByrne = Jennifer Byrne

Ace = Jason Stegersaurussex

Marieke = jamiest bit of jam.

3) I am unsponsored but if anyone wants to bribe me I love wine and notebooks… and money. Money is my favourite. 

Now onto the show. Joining the heavenly regular panelists are Michael ‘the dagger’ Robotham (known as Robo-Tham from previous episodes) and Clementine Ford. I am wet your pants excited about the Fordinator being on. I hope there is plenty of talk of about uteruses.

The panelists get down to business and discuss books that have been released during their hiatus. Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s 
See what I have Done
 gets a shout out. I’m excited because I’m reading that at the moment. 

And of course they pay tribute to the brilliant Heather Rose who has taken out the Stella Prize this year with The Museum of Modern Love. Rose remembers vividly once getting a royalty cheque that was for less than the envelope would have cost. Thankfully she is getting the recognition she deserves now and more royalties. Big congrats to an outstanding Australian woman writer.

Onto the bones of the show. JByrne says that they’re looking at Sydney author, Kathryn Heyman’s, newest offering, Storm and Grace. JByrne says that it has been touted as the literary thriller of the year. That’s a big call seeing how it’s only April, but then again, she’s an author capable of making a big call. Let’s see if the panelists agree.

They do the dramatic recreation thingo. It looks like a romance movie or teenage coming of age movie. One where the lead female’s ultimate coming of age involves getting boinked. I’m not getting the thriller vibe from this footage. I might be getting slightly hard in the bra region but definitely not suspenseful.

Robo-Tham liked it. He found the book claustrophobic and uncomfortable. That’s exactly the feeling he wanted to get. He respects the level of research that she must have done to get the sensation of deep sea diving just right. Heyman’s research included free diving and deep sea diving. She definitely went all out.

Ace says it’s not a thriller because there is little suspense over the major crime. But he quite liked it. He says it’s a book about an “unusual” relationship and a very odd man. Marieke corrects him and says, “abusive relationship.” Preach. Let’s stop using euphemisms for family violence. They’re not “robust relationships.” They’re abusive. They’re criminal. Let’s not sweep it under the metaphorical rug with niceties.

JByrne was sucked in by the sexyness. Oh myyyyy. It’s a repeat of episode one of season ten where JByrne yearned for Heathcliff’s inky eyes. JByrne we need to talk. Let’s do coffee and Aunty Robin will tell you all about love and life. You’re not simply getting warm in the underpants region over literary bad boys, you’re getting excited for literary wife beaters. 

The knife comes out, Marieke says it’s a year 9 romance and the names of the characters, particularly Storm, are lame. She slams it as badly written and badly structured. So harsh. I think my mouth will never shut again because it is hanging open in shock. Brutal. All I can say is, brutal.

Marieke goes on to explain that her savagery comes from a place of crossness not because she’s a disparaging biatch. She lets us know that she ia quite nice and doesn’t actually enjoy saying awful things about books but she’s cross. She’s super cross because domestic violence is such an important issue and it needs to be explored but she thinks this did it badly. Maybe she wanted something more like Zoe Morrison’s Music and Freedom? I don’t know, but she is not happy. Not happy at all.

She says that Storm is a sleazy creep from the start so why did Grace ever fall for him? She says the seduction and Grace’s vulnerabilities needed to be clearer so that people understood why women get involved with these guys. For Marieke it was a creep from the start becomes a killer and that’s no surprise and wasn’t thriller worthy. 

JByrne is just about crying at this point. Why doesn’t Marieke understand that Storm is sexy? JByrne is all about the sexy. She’s possibly going to overtake Ace in the sexy loving stakes. 

The Fordinator speaks. She wanted the desire to be clearer. She felt that it wasn’t clear why Grace would fall for creepy, controlling Storm. JByrne is looking at her in despair. I can tell she’s thinking, “but he’s fucking hot!” But the Fordinator quite liked the Greek Chorus as a literary technique. JByrne says the Greek Chorus is why it is a literary thriller because Thrillers generally don’t have literary techniques.

I throw my glass of Brown Brothers Moscato at the television. It doesn’t make it. I simply makes a mess of my carpet. I love you JByrne, you are the sun and the moon, but you are wrong, oh so very wrong. Plenty of Thrillers use literary devices. Plenty! I could go on and and give a detailed list (OH, HOW DO I WANT TO GO ON AND GIVE A DETAILED DISSERTATION ON THIS) but I’m supposed to be writing a recap right now, but just know, I’m quietly seething… and sucking at my carpet.

Robo-Tham bravely steps up and explains to Marieke and Clementine the attraction women feel for Storm. He likens it to Trump. People voted for Trump because he talks big. They got sucked in by his confidence and big talk. You know how us ladies love big talk, orange skin, and extreme comb-overs. Amirightoramiright? Ooooo Trumpy, you so sexy. No. 

The Fordinator asks why do all the women have the same attraction. It’s almost as if she thinks us sheilas are diverse. Pfffft. Come on CFord, you know us ladeez are only after one thing.

Now onto discussing what the literary trends for 2017 will be:

  • Progressing from titled with GIRL in the title to WOMEN… Fuck. My book coming out the year is Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women. I’m falling into a stereotype before it’s even set. Shit!
  • Australian Domestic Noir, will be big. Phew. I’m not a complete stereotype. My November release is set in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. So it’s Australian, and it’s dark, but it’s not exactly domestic. 
  • Angry lady books will be big… Shit. 
  • Spec Fic with a literary bent will be in. SHITSHITSHITSHIT! Another glass of wine goes at the TV, hits the floor again.  Henrietta Dodgson’s Asylum for Damaged Women is Historical Fantasy. I basically take fairy tale princesses and lock them up in Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in 1906. I’m a great big future trends whore instead of a maverick self publisher. I’m not a special snowflake.

    JByrne picks up Michael Sala’s newest book as an example of a book to look out for. I’m cheering at the TV. I used to teach with him. Go buy his book. Yay. Go Michael, go.

    The Fordinator admits that it’s a good time to be a feminist writer. Maintain the rage, sister, bring out Fight Like a Woman.

    Robo-Tham wants less celebrities writing, long pause, children’s books. What was the long pause? I read into everything he does because he’s a Crime writer. Is the pause because you mean not just children’s books but all books, or is it because you want to emphasise Children’s Books but they can run wild on adult? Tell me Robo-Tham, tell me!!! It probably means nothing and he just had to breathe.

    Which leads us to By the Bed. The segment where the panelists say what books are by the bed and I waft into a fantasy world of lying next to Ace’s bed.

    Robo-Tham is reading Rebus novels.

    Marieke throws a curve ball. She hasn’t been reading in bed but reading drunk in the bathtub. New fantasies are emerging. She’s been loving The Last Picture Show.

    JByrne has been reading Storyland.

    Ace has been reading 
    Crimson Lake by Candice Fox Small excited wee for Sydney crime writer Candice Fox. I adore her. More Candice, more L.A. Larkin, more Tania Chandler, more Emma Viskic, more Cass Moriarty, MORE SISTERS IN CRIME. 

    The Fordinator is reading 
    Circle of Friends. She says it’s like a hug. Awwww.

    And now for 
    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D Vance. Will Marieke go full savage on this one as well?

    JByrne does the intro, it’s a memoir but was billed as the inside story of Trump’s people. However the author said its purpose was to start a conversation not to be the ultimate explanation and lesson.

    Robo-Tham loved it. He kept nudging his wife in bed to read her quotes. She told him she had a headache. We’ve all been there.

    Ace said it reminded him of Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. A man who pulled himself up from poverty and an awful life to achieve greatness. And how they both nearly didn’t make it out of their horrific circumstances alive. 

    Marieke charges into this love fest and calls it a flat telling of an interesting story. She is having none of anyone’s shit today. She said it skimmed through interesting stuff that should have been fleshed out. Ace said he loved the skimming. They stare at each other across JByrne. Horns locked. I await JByrne saying something about sexyness. It does not happen.

    The Fordinator starts to say how she felt that the author was an intelligent guy and that the author should have moved passed the “America is the greatest country” rhetoric and actually given the idea some critical thought. He as a white man could pull himself out of despair. It was hard but would it not be even harder for others that aren’t CIS white men?

    Robo-Tham leaps into the thick of things. He talks more about the problems faced by America and white people in poverty and how beautifully J.D. Vance covered it by showing the good and the bad.

    Fordinator is back and asks why is it suddenly now that people care about poverty. Why is it that black and Hispanic people being in poverty is looked away from in disgust but now that it’s a white problem people are fascinated? Marieke and the Fordinator state that the author fails to recognise his own privilege as a white man. And again raise the issue that he never critiques the trite “America is the greatest country” without thinking about if it actually is or not.

    Robo-Tham tells Ford she wanted the author to “attack” his own country where as he could accept that Vance was still backing his own country. Did she want it critiqued or attacked? There’s a difference.

    In the end, the two white male panelists loved Hillbilly Elegy, and one out of the three white female panelists likewise loved it. Yep, that’s enough to get it voted in.

    JByrne concludes by letting us know that Omar and CS are back next week. Hooray, we loved them last year. They’re discussing Exit West and The Monkey’s Mask. And we are treated to a clip of Roald Dahl saying WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS!!! Because like dreams, you’ll forget them.

    Watch this episode on iView here.

    Read last year’s season highlights here.

    Buy my shit here.

    Book Club ABC Season 10 Summer Special: #bookclubABC 

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    It’s here. It’s really here. We’ve emerged from the wilderness and Book Club with JByrne is before us again. I’m so happy I could …

    ….

    WTF. They’ve got a desk. They’ve got a news panel style desk. Oh no, no, no, no, no! How can I perform #sockwatch now? ABC, I implore you, get a clear cutout on the bottom. We need to see Jason’s woolly socks. What if BLaw is on? How will we see those magnificent ankles? Is that why you’ve introduced the desk? It was bloody Ben wasn’t it? Benjamin Law and his sexy nude ankles requiring a nudity warning. Deep breaths. Just listen to JByrne’s mellifluous voice and forget the ankles.

    [Do remember I’m dyslexic so there will be typos, spellos, grammos, and just plain wrongos]
    JByne tells us that they’re doing a 5 of the Best special. Each of the panelists gets to choose the best book to discuss that they read this year PLUS they’ll reveal the top 5 books as voted by the Book Club viewers.
    The guests are introduced. Be still my beating brain, it is the beauteous Michael Williams, anonymous Italian novelist, dead British actor, and most importantly, my muse. C.S. Pacat is also on. I am so excited. She was brilliant last time she was on. And of course regular panelists, Magic Marieke and Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex, complete the panel. You complete me, I whisper to my television.

    But before we can listen to these Gods of Australian literature we’re hearing from the gatekeepers, booksellers, on “what sold its socks off.” Too soon, JByrne. Too soon. We’re only just getting used to the end of #sockwatch. Have some sensitivity with your language choice, please.

    Book sellers tell us that debut, female, authors are the hot trend this year. So glad having a vagingo is hot right now. Hannah Kent is apparently part of this trend because she’s put out her second novel this year. I’ll just let that sink in and move on. Lianne Moriarty is also hot right now. Girl on a Train is still hot. Girls are hot. Who runs the world? Girls! Something I didn’t catch the name of was also hot. The description left me wondering if the bookseller knew the difference between high and low fantasy. I was already questioning someone putting out their second novel being considered a debut author…. But the general consensus is in, girls and escapism are so hot right now.
    And now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. What books will the panelists be discussing?

    My Muse Michael is the first cab off the rank. He’s chosen The Sellout by Paul Beatty. A controversial book from the controversy loving director of the Wheeler Centre / anonymous Italian woman / dead British actor. He’s going to say something naughty and we all await with anticipation. My glass of moscato is positively beside itself and my semi-soft blue-cheese is hanging on his every word.

    He opens by saying it isn’t an easy or comfortable read. There’s slavery. There’s racism. There’s a whole heap of big issues and humour is used to convey them. The humour makes it “spikey” but Michael says he believes Beatty “doesn’t care if you like it or not.” Those spikes are part of the point…. What have I become? I’ve come up with a Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex level pun.

    Interestingly this book is the first American book to win the Man Booker Prize. It’s surprising because not only is the style a tad jarring but the book is not just American but overtly and unashamedly American.

    Marieke says that The Sellout was a “book of ideas in search of a narrative.” What a poetic phrase. I’m stealing it. She says that it had so many big and interesting ideas that it seemed to overwhelm any attempt to wrestle it into a narrative.

    Michael says that it echoes Catch 22 but isn’t as well actualised. But he chose The Sellout, shouldn’t he utterly adore it? He says that it has a great setting but character arcs are weak.

    Jason puts it simply, “the parts are greater than the sum.” This is why Jason and Marieke are the regulars, throwing out sentences of gold.

    C.S. is finally permitted to speak. My wine, my cheese, and I cheer. She says that the experience was like being on social media. It was very contemporary and you were being hit with lots of ideas and snippets. She appreciated the fresh approach and the perspective given. I love her so much. She’s so smart and articulate. Hearts are literally coming out of my eyes right now.

    JByrne says that the message was that “it was ever thus.” Boom! That’s why she’s on the big bucks, people. Four words and she has utterly nailed it.

    Michael concludes that he admired The Sellout more than he liked it and urges people to read it.

    Next up is C.S. Pacat and she has brought The Cursed Child by a little known author called J. K. Rowling. There’s the customary dramatic recreation that I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t love. You’ve got zombie thespian Michael Williams on, get him to perform them! Sweet merciful cheeses, did Gollum emerge from Middle Earth just to say “Harry Potter” in that recreation. That was terrifying. What next, clowns? I need a hug.

    C.S. says she chose it because J. K. Rowling is a genius at world building and she really missed the world and wanted to visit again. She acknowledges that she doesn’t like “zombie franchises” but wanted to read this. For people unfamiliar with what a zombie franchise is, it’s those long series of books which have totally lost their way and continue on an on and at book 10 you’re questioning what the fucking point is anymore and screaming, “why won’t you die” at characters that you once loved. Spec fic and crime fic fans know what I’m talking about.

    C.S. liked that it was about a bad father. Segue to Michael. That’s a bit rough. Michael was also keen to step back into Harry’s world but he’s not as eager to go back in after hanging out with the Cursed Child.

    Marieke was not super jazzed about it. She’s not a Potterhead and says she felt like she was at a party where everyone knew each other except her and she was just lingering by the dips table all night. Somebody give this woman a raise immediately. She is throwing out soundbites all over the place. She tops it off with, “Who the fuck is Hagrid?”

    Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex talks about how he read the Harry Potter books to his children. My ovaries are tingling. He then jumps to the heart of the matter and says that it works very well for theatre script, which it is, but to make it more accessible to novel readers, which Harry Potter fans are, more details needed to be added.

    Jace, JByrne, and Michael start chatting excitedly about the Potterverse, you can see Marieke travel back to that dips table in her mind. I can’t help but wonder if C.S. has been muted. She brought the book. Where are her words?

    A producer must have noticed this also, C.S. is permitted to speak again. She notes that it was interesting to go into a plot driven series through a character  driven script. She’s slayed it again. You know what, she doesn’t need to speak as much because she bloody kills it every time she opens her mouth. More love hearts come out of my eyeballs.

    Marieke wasn’t impressed with the logic flaw in the manuscript in regards to time travel and multiple realities. Michael quotes Terry Pratchett at her in response. I am always happy for a Terry Pratchett reference.

    And now it is time for Jace the Ace Stegersaurussex’s choice. Music and Freedom by Zoe Morrison. Ace loved the use of music. JByrne also liked the music and said it was one of the two pillars of the novel. The other pillar was domestoc violence.

    Marieke liked the book but was not a fan of the structure. Whereas both Michael and Jason liked a bit of muddling of the structure because it mimicked the loss of control.

    Marieke goes out on her own, she didn’t love the music but found the story of domestic violence incredibly effective.

    Michael reasserts the importance of music because it represents control. Ace and C.S. (who has finally been allowed her voice again) says that music actually represents freedom, but is of course important.

    In the end the whole panel agree, they would recommend the book to friends because not only is it important but it was artfully written.

    Okay, the panel are now recommending books.

    Michael recomends The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    Marieke recommends The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese

    JByrne recommends Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

    Ace recommends The Return by Hishmash Matar

    C.S. recommemds Swing Time by Zadie Smith

    JByrnes now gets the spotlight. She goes a little bit rock’n’roll with Jimmy Barnes’s memoir. She loves Barnesy, she loved the book. She even got Barnsey himself to do the voice over for the dramatic recreation…. I’m still backing Michael performing this as being better. Just sayin.

    Spoiler alert, right up front they reveal the end, it ends with Jimmy Barnes leaving his family in a van with the band. It does not end with his current life. That’ll come in like volume 3 apparently. Fingers crossed Cold Chisel makes it into volume 2.

    Marieke was expecting a rock’n’roll memoir but got Angela’s Ashes. She says it was very important but staggeringly difficult to read. It was about immigration and displacement. It was about child abuse and resilience.

    Acec was skeptical at first but was won over. He notes that there were some bad puns but in the end he became a Barnsey fan. Michael was okay with the bad puns because he felt that the humour was a coping mechanism.

    C.S. liked the gaps. Such hideous abuse was depicted yet there were still stories that clearly went untold. It meant that Barnsey endured even worse child abuse than depicted.

    Michael acknowledges that the known future of the writer is an important driving force. Even though the book doesn’t get to Barnsey making it huge, the reader knows that he did. The contrast of the staggering success with the horrific abuse is important even though it goes unsaid.

    Looks like another unanimous reccomendation.

    Marieke is being a total rebel and chooses an older novel, Terms of Endearment. She claims that she has replaced JByrne with a new literary life coach, Aurora Greenway. What the actual eff! Replacing perfection with that selfish, narcissistic, meanie??? I don’t even know how to feel anymore. I started this season saying that Marieke was right about Wuthering Heights and JByrne was so terribly wrong, and here I am at the end saying Marieke is wrong and JByrne so very right. It’s like I’ve come full circle but finally remembered to put my underpants on the right way. I just can’t even.

    Marieke imagines flipping off everyone who doesn’t agree with her love of Aurora. I think JByrne and Marieke may come to blows. I’m scared and excited all at the same time. Ace is trying to be diplomatic. I can tell he is also scared.

    C.S. doesn’t vibe on the book. Marieke declares that she doesn’t care with such emotion cracking in her voice that you know she does in fact care and her heart is being ripped out of her chest. C.S. soldiers on, she doesn’t like books with characters that are so awful that you’re supposed to feel smuggly superior to them. She wants to be in the world not looking down on it. That’s so beautiful, more love hearts. Marieke externalises her flipping off of everyone.

    Michael talks about the structure of the book echoing how little space the daughter is given. Aurora is so all consuming that very little is left for her daughter

    Michael says that the men in Terms of Endearment range from dissapointing to criminal. Marieke likes this because it’s just like real life.

    And my kids are up yet again so I’ll have to finish this recap later. Will “edit” in the end shortly. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! It has been an interesting night. Random fireworks, yelling drunken neighbours, increasingly grumpy trio of children. Not that I blame my neighbours, I’m excited for Book Club too. If I had fireworks I’d be letting them off too.

    The top 5 books as voted by the viewers were:

    1. Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girl
    2. The Dry by Jane Harper
    3. Man in the Corner by Nathan Besser
    4. The Good People by Hannah Kent
    5. Insults About Age Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

    And now there’s a quiz.

    Marieke is so excited…. she is not at all excited. The M Team vs Ace and C.S. Who will win, who will be victorious, who shall sob and who shall cheer? In short, the M Team won. C.S. somehow missed a quote from Tolkein. I have no idea how because I screamed the answer psychically at her. TOLKEIN. IT’S IN THAT LETTER GANDALF WROTE THEN BILBO SAYS IT. IT’S A REOCCURRING MOTIF. IT’S ACTUALLY IN REVERSE IN MERCHANT OF VENICE. I AM OF NO HELP ON ANY OTHER QUESTION!

    And now they’re wrapping up for the year with Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen performing. They assure us they’ll be back next year in the weekly format.

    But don’t forget to vote for the Book Club ABC in the Logies.

    Catch up on episodes in iView.

    Michael Williams will be my next #Robinpedia entry. Keep an eye out on Thursday.