JByrne appears on our screens like a little ray of sunshine. We clap, we cheer, we ovate. And yet again, by we I mean my wine and I. Yes, moscato again. Book Club is enough excitement for the evening without changing up my wine.
JByrne annouces the first book to be discussed, The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. It’s about the Titanic but offering a different perspective, that of a family in third class on the Titanic and those on the SS Californian which was the ship closest to the Titanic when it went under but did not assist in any way…
JByrne then introduces her first guest Rosie Waterland who rather timidly introduces her choice for the classic/favourite text, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. My jaw drops and nearly hits the ground on hearing that “memoir” being announced. I thought it was controversial when in episode 3 of this season BLaw chose a graphic novel, this leaves that choice for dead. I manage to pick up my jaw and mutter, “should be called A Million Little Lies.” But I’m sure I’ll get a chance to whinge about that when they discuss it so I’ll move on with my life… for now.
The second guest is Omar Musa. I am in heaven. He nearly killed regular panelist, Jason Steger, last time he was on by calling a book that Jason adored cliché. I love Jason, I could eat him up on a bit of toast with a drizzle of honey, and I don’t want him to really die, but I do so love to see him shocked.
Regulars Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex are there also. Which is always nice.
A dramatic recreation of The Midnight Watch is played… I don’t like it. I noticed they played one last week, I didn’t like that recreation either. I haven’t noticed them previously so maybe they’re usually more enjoyable or I should cut back on the wine… but then I’d have nobody to watch Book Club with. No, the wine must stay. Hopefully they jazz up next week’s a little by making the panelists act it out.
Marieke starts in on the book, she quite liked it. She got tricked into learning something new, not that the Titanic sunk, although Jason insists revealing this information is a spoiler, but other things. She liked it so much that she went on to research further into the Titanic once she finishedthe novel. That’s a pretty strong recommendation.
Next comes Rosie. She just about burst with excitement.
She’s apparently a Titanirac. I have never heard this term before so there is a very real chance that it is spelled incorrectly for reasons that have nothing to do with my dyslexia. Looks like Marieke isn’t the only one who has been tricked into learning today, I too have learned a new word. A Titanirac refers to a person that is obsessed with the Titanic… Twitter tells me it’s Titanorak and I’m an idiot.. Rosie mentions how the SS Californian being the closest ship is well known amongst Titanoraks but others don’t know it… I smugly look at my wine and tell it how I knew and I’m not a Titaniac. My wine smiles knowingly back at me and tells me that I’m both smart and sexy.
The discussion amongst the book clubbers has moved on whilst I chatted with my Moscato and Rosie is revealing that she wasn’t born when the Titanic was lifted in 1985 because she was born in 1986… I’m so fucking old. I take her book The Anti Cool Girl and hurl it at the bin sobbing. I rush over and pick it up and apologise too it profusely.
JByrne mentions that looking at the SS Californian is rather interesting because it has been previously exposed but never explained. It’s certainly a burning question that we want answered, “Why did the ship closest to the Titanic ignore it’s distress signals?” There is a possibility that countless lives could have been saved if the vessel had responded. And this book promises to explain that mystery. Marieke says The Midnight Watch breaks that promise and doesn’t explain it, and that really pissed her off.
Omar says it doesn’t explain it but he’s okay with that because the Captain of the SS Californian never explained it and you can’t put words in other people’s mouths. Jason says that it is ruddy well fiction and so you can put words in people’s mouths otherwise what’s the point. BUT, Jason says for him, he felt the question was answered, JByrne agrees. Rosie stares ponderously into the existential chasm that is the quandary of the Titanirac and says mournfully that the question was not answered but she didn’t expect there to be an answer because there never will be one.
The panel move on to say that the book was quite repetitive and could do with a good cut. Seriously authors, get with the program, how many timed do the panelists have to say they like short books? They then say that the female characters were written poorly… interesting. They spoke quite highly of the novel but felt the female characters were crapola and the text repetitive but last week spoke of the beautiful writing in Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident but gave it a bit of a lashing because they felt the male characters were portrayed too cruelly. The feminist in me arches an eyebrow, and not in a good way. The real me simply raises both eyebrows because I can neither wink nor raise one eyebrow at a time.
Onto By the Bed. Can’t wait to hear what Jason has by his bed. Something musky and sexy no doubt, he loves the sexy books. I’m waiting for the day he hold up the Karma Sutra but says he only read it for the beauty tips.
Rosie is reading Shrill by Lindy West.
Jason is reading Moonstone by Sjon.
Omar is reading The Blue Fox by the same author. Get out of town, Jason and Omar are now book club besties.
JByrne is reading The Sun, the Moon, and the Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen.
Marieke is reading Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor.
And it turns out that I was wrong. Omar is not reading The Blue Fox he’s reading something else. Maybe the wine does need to go. Omar is actually reading From Victims to Suspects: Muslim Women Since 911 by Shakira Hussein. Sorry for the confusion.
And now it’s onto the classic/favourite. Rosie boldly declares that she doesn’t even know if A Million Little Pieces is her fav but she just wanted to throw a book grenade in there.
It has the desired impact. JByrne annouces that she has “deep and poisonous feelings” towards James Frey over this “memoir.” Mainly because it’s not a bloody memoir at all. It was marketed and sold as a memoir and then outed 3 years later as lies, damn lies. The reason it was released as a memoir? Oh, the author couldn’t get it published as a novel so just decided to say it was a memoir and then a publisher did pick it up. Not exactly a noble reason but a self serving one. I am with JByrne on this, it makes my blood boil!
Jason and Omar say they’re okay with the lying and that memoirs aren’t really true… WTF. Omar didn’t want words put into the Captain’s mouth in historical FICTION but it’s now okay for non fiction. Dear God, Jason has even started pulling quotes out of his pocket to defend his stance that memoirs aren’t real. Yet he said the reason words could be put in the Captain’s mouth was because it was fiction, he’s already acknowledged there’s a difference between fiction and non fiction in this episode. Don’t you pair remember who you were 10 minutes ago???
Good work, Rosie, you’ve certainly got them all scrambling. Marieke comes out and tells it like it is, she would have picked it as a fake even if she hadn’t known. The writing is utterly adolescent. Some beautiful sentences of course but it’s overrun by the author trying to make himself out as not only the smartest guy ever but the biggest and toughest ever too. It screams of the unreliable narrator. The kind of fictitious work you do from an adolescent’s perspective where they see themselves as so right and so brave that it beggars belief. It doesn’t work for a genuine adult perspective that has supposedly gained wisdom and matured. It’s not exactly the perspective of adulthood but that of full hardy youth. Thank you Marieke for being the ever so crass voice of reason.
Omar and Jason again defend it by saying it doesn’t have to be true it just has to ring true. Rosie, who has actually written a memoir, points out that you write your truth from your perspective, you do not simply make things up. Jason wants to pull more quotes out of his pocket. Keep your hands where we can see them, Jason.
Omar talks about how James Frey went on Oprah and admitted he had lied and says he should be given props for that… Let’s just ignore that Frey only admits to one lie at a time as they’re exposed and denies them all in the lead up? The dude doesn’t just come out and confess. This man told people they didn’t need a 12 step program they just needed self belief, and based his credibility to give tips on how to over come addiction on his “memoir.” Which shows he had never overcome the sneaky, lying, cheating and deceiving aspect of his addictive personality and therefore was hardly in a place to instruct others. Omar mentions how inspirational James Frey still is and how he still gets letters from addicts saying how he inspires them… says who!!! Oh, that would be James Frey saying it, the dude proven to be unreliable.
JByrne likens James Frey to Belle Gibson. People say that’s unfair because she pretended she had cancer and never did whereas Frey did have a drug problem. And there is no question that he did, his life story is essentially – boy takes money from his parents to take drugs, boy takes money from his parents to go to rehab, boy takes money from his parents to write a novel that he then pretends is a memoir. Yet I still think JByrne’s comparison is fair. You and me Byrne, all the way. Frey says he spent years in gaol when he spent hours, he said his special friend died when a girl he never spoke to died. Belle Gibson said she had cancer when in reality she felt a bit sick and saw a naturopath. Seems pretty apt to me.
All the strong opinions come to an abrupt end when JByrne annouces that it is time for a quiz. She pulls out what appears to be a rubber chicken and a rubber pig for the buzzers. Jason’s eyes light up. Marieke inwardly sobs and mutters that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to her.
It’s to be Jason and Rosie Vs Marieke and Musa. Never has there been such an epic battle since Batman V Superman or Ironman V Captain America… oh, my bad, Jason and Rosie gave Marieke and Musa an absolute trouncing. Jason is given the rubber chicken as his prize, he is delighted. Marieke is still hoping the Hell Mouth will open and swallow her.
JByrne promises us sex, religion and politics next week. The title of the show is Books that Divide a Dinner Party. They must be discussing A Million Little Lies and Wuthering Heights again. They certainly argued over those.
I have to say that this truly was a most excellent episode. I’m not sure which episode has been my favourite this season but it is definitely between this one and the first one. Both were just so firey. Good work on your choice, Rosie. Book Club, you’ll have to get her on again. It’ll be tough to top this next week.
Catch up on last week’s recap here.
View previous episodes through ABC iView.