I’ve managed to make it to another live recording of the show, so it’s not just me and my wine, but me and the peoples this week. AND just quietly, sitting in the row in front of me is author C S Pacat. I turn to the person next to me and say, “Is that C S Capat.” My neighbour looks at me like I’m an alien and I realize that I have mispronounced the name. It’s like some sort of weird thing that happens in my brain every dang time I try to say Pacat.
JByrne appears before us. I have no time to correct myself and ask again because JByrne is here and fabulous. She is excited. She tells us that she has a book about 19th Century whaling that is “100% guaranteed to knock your socks off.” That’s a 100% guarantee people, you can’t really get better than that. And 19th Century whaling? What doesn’t scream excitement about that? Who doesn’t love a little Moby Dick?
Michael Robotham, AKA Robo-Tham, is allowed to introduce the classic being covered. He is obviously feeling a little nervous because he simply says the title, The Other Hand. He has to be coaxed for more details. You can sense the dread in his soul that his beloved classic will be savaged. But by whom? Will it be Marieke or Jason this week? Or JByrne herself? When she goes bad she goes all out. She makes dark-side Xena look like Rainbow Brite.
JByrne then moves on to note that Benjamin Law, AKA BLaw, is also on the panel and that he has bare ankles.
OMG! I am completely losing my shit. She know that his ankles have become an obsession with book clubbers. JByrne has listened to our comments, she is here for us. I crane my neck to get a look at Stegersaurussex’s ankle region. He is wearing bright yellow sock. Oh, this is heaven. We’re on sock watch people. #sockwatch.
Oh, it’s dramatic recreation time. This is where they’ll show us clips that they think are representative of The North Water by Ian McGuire. I’d consider grabbing a cup of tea if I were home. It’s not my favourite part, nothing interesting ever happens… What in blueberry fuck am I seeing? There’s a whale being cut apart. I’m going to be sick. I’m dying. Somebody pass me my salts. The horror, the horror. This recreation is way more full on than usual. I was expecting some whales jumping about, instead I got blood and blubber. I need a bath.
Stegersaurussex says he loved The North Water. I’m still heaving and he’s talking about the novel. He says, “I loved it from the first paragraph.” The writing was electric, the characters were awful and it was fantastic. Noted, more awful people and electrical goods in all of my future writing.
Marieke says it was absolutely disgusting and she loved it. Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to disagree with Steggersaurussex? Marieke says that it made her want to join a ship and then stab someone. That’s a lot of feelings right there. She says it was so deliciously bloody and disgusting that she felt like she needed a shower afterwards.
Robo-Tham raises her one shower and says he needed many showers during it. That it made The Revenant look like it was written by Beatrix Potter. I’m so intrigued by this book right now yet terrified. Can I handle something that makes The Revenant look like cuddly bunnies?
BLaw says, imagine if Ridley Scott’s Alien was set on a 19th Century whaling ship. I’m scared, hold me. I don’t even know if I can watch this episode about it let alone read it. But it sound so utterly brilliant that I want to be brave enough to try.
Robo-Tham only has one criticism of it, he wanted a goodie and the book is utterly lacking in the good, it just has the bad and the ugly. The lead character, Drax, is described so vividly as evil that the panelists actually start using his name as a descriptor. If someone is becoming very Drax, I gather it’s really not a good thing. To be described as being Drax is like being called the pinnacle of evil brutality. That’s such high praise for the book. That the panelists have engaged with it so much that they’re coopting words from it and giving them added meaning.
Stegersaurussex says he loves how McGuire describes odours. Everyone groans and clutches their noses. They’re having real, physical reactions to this novel. It must be excellent. He talks about the “roaring stench.” A simple, yet powerful description.
BLaw is utterly impressed with The North Water because it set up a world that he didn’t think he’d be interested in and sucked him right in with the evocative language and brutal characters. JByrne agrees, she says it’s like a historical fiction but far more visceral than anything that has gone before. Robo_Tham says that there isn’t enough fake blood in Hollywood to make this into a film. I can hear executives in Hollywood screaming CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
Well, in a rare Book Club moment, it’s unanimous, everybody loves The North Water. It’s clearly a winner. Buy it if you dare.
Now it’s time for a little By the Bed, where the panelists talk about what they’re reading and we all imagine what Steggersaurussex’s bedroom looks like. Or is that just me?
JByrne is reading Katherine Carlyle.
Steger is reading Moments in Time.
Blaw is reading The Sympathiser
Marieke is reading My Name Is
Robo-Tham is ordered by JByrne not to talk about the book he is reading until later. He looks confused but obeys. He saw what happened to Virgina Gay when she spoke out of turn. She hasn’t been allowed back for weeks. WEEKS! Rumour has it that she’s going to have to wear a muted shoe colour when she comes back as punishment… I just made that rumour up then.
Now a fun section on how important covers are. BLaw being the expert answers the question, with very. Robo-Tham says yellow is big at the moment. We must start a show us your #yellowshelfie thingy. I shall take a picture of Jason’s socks for my next cover, it shall be a smash. Marieke says that she avoids anything with champers and heels on the cover. Marieke, you simply must download my free ebook, I think you’ll love it. We can discuss it over lunch.
… No? A little too pink? Whatever.
JByrne decides to test the panelists on their knowledge by holding up book covers and asking what the genre is. Jason is the first cab off the ranks, he accidentally says arse instead of ice in his answer so Ben is still laughing when it comes to his turn. Because accidentally saying anything bottom related is always funny. ALWAYS! Forget #sockwatch, we’re on #arsewatch now. Robo-Tham gets women’s fiction and answers correctly. Marieke gets a very obvious fantasy cover and asks if it’s for teenage boys who want to get erections. Coincidentally it’s a cover from the Rangers Apprentice series, which is written by Kitty Flanagan’s dad, and she’s rumoured to be on next episode. I did not make that one up.
Robo-Tham introduces his classic The Other Hand by Chris Cleave again. He’s saying he likes it, but after the passion oozing out of everyone for The North Waters it just feels flat in comparison. Ben says some nice things, but again they’re falling flat. It’s as if a void has been left by The North Water. My guess is that it must be a perfectly good book, but no The North Water.
Marieke, doesn’t like it. She says it’s Chick Lit dressed up as something important. I just know she’d love my ebook. But even though she’s saying that she doesn’t like it, it isn’t with as much vim and vigor as books that she’s previously hated. There is definitely a passion vacuum. I think everyone just needs a nap after thinking about blood and puss and stabbing each other in the face. Marieke even says that one of the characters may as well be Balky from Perfect Strangers. It’s meant to be a stinging insult but who doesn’t love Balky?
Robo-Tham is allowed to finally reveal his bedside reading, it’s another Chris Cleave book.
We then cut to the audience member who read a really long book that JByrne gave him weeks ago and we’ve all forgotten about… he liked it. But I’m too busy losing it because you can see C S Pacat in the shot in front of him. That’s a writer celebrity siting!
And we’re done.
Next week is about books that transport you. It is featuring my favourite comedian Kitty Flanagan, Noel Pearson, John Birmingham, and C S PACAT. SPECULATIVE FICTION AUTHOR C S PACAT. I am so excited. Spec fic authors are rarely allowed to interact with other authors. So that’s why she’s here. She’s casing the joint.
For last week’s recap go here.
View previous episodes on iView here.