Tag Archives: toni Jordan

Toni Jordan on Character and Dialogue at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre

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Toni Jordan is actually more radiant in person

Once upon a time there was a writer locked in a tower. She did not grow her hair long, she did not dream of a knight so bold to rescue her. Instead she sat and thought about characters and dialogue and how she would like to declare war on adverbs. She didn’t want it to be a short and relatively peaceful war. No, she wanted all adverbs to be captured and interrogated and then inevitably executed. Maybe 2% of them would live, but the rest would die. And so one day, when she had escaped her tower, she came unto the Callan Park Centre of Writerly Deeds, and there she did enlist the help of peasant writers to join her in her war. The writer’s name was Toni Jordan, and this is the story of the day she taught a Character and Dialogue class at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.

 

Toni Jordan strode through the doors of the Judith Wright room, drew her mighty whiteboard marker and declared, “Today we wage war, who is with me!”

 

A gentlemen opposite me adjusted his glasses and gulped. I dusted the biscuit crumbs off my woolly vest and stood up.

 

‘Ummm, okay…. Will we be back in time for morning tea?’

 

There was a murmur of agreement around the room. Morning tea was important.

 

‘What is food when our minds be starving?’ Toni stabbed her marker higher into the air.

 

‘What about lunch?’ a lady in the far corner managed to pop down a hot cuppa to say. ‘There’ll be lunch right.’

 

‘We’ll definitely need lunch,’ the woman sitting next to me managed to say around a mouthful of sugar snap peas. ‘I get super cranky if I don’t eat.’

 

‘Yeah, same.’ I nod knowingly at the green bean machine to my side. ‘I love a good literary war as much as the next person but could we perhaps declare it after lunch?’

 

Toni Jordan seemed to deflate on the spot, her marker sank to her side.

 

‘Why’s it always so fucking hard here?’ She’s not even looking at us, she’s staring at the ground as if hoping it will answer her. And truth be told it’s probably more sensible than the rest of us. ‘In Melbourne we have literary wars and cocktails more often then I change my underpants.’ An older gentleman at the back of the room begins to snigger a little. ‘WHICH IS A LOT! I change them very often, thank you very much. My underwear aren’t the problem. It’s not me, it’s you. You’re all so bloody interested in biscuits.’

 

‘Would you like one?’ I say.

 

Toni shrugs, I take it to mean yes, and pull out one of the seven packets I have brought. Our great lecturer sits down at her desk and begins to mournfully chew her way through a Belgian chocolate virtuoso.

 

‘Alright, let’s just do a workshop.’

 

And so began one of the best workshops of my life. Okay, part of the above may have been made up, but Toni Jordan did come to the New South Wales Writers’ Centre, she did teach us about character and dialogue, and she does hate adverbs. She really does.

 

I know at this point I am supposed to give you all the hot tips that she gave us, but quite frankly, I don’t want to because I just don’t think I would do the course justice. This was the best dialogue course I have ever done and for you to really get the benefit of it, you really should attend a workshop with Toni Jordan, or get a mentorship with her.

I’ll list a few things, but my mind is still going a mile a minute trying to process everything. It really was an extraordinary course. I think it was because we had the opportunity to do several writing tasks on the same thing, character, but focusing on different strategies each time. I guess that’s why you really had to be there. I’ll slap down a few general pointers for you, but, as I have said eleventy billion times, you really need to do a course with Toni Jordan yourself.

 

Tips

  • Multiple protagonists makes your job harder and don’t often make the story better
  • A weakness in your writing is not an excuse to shove in more protagonists
  • Readers can relate to characters without them having to be the protagonist (Ron, Hermione)
  • Your protagonist should either be skilled, in jeopardy, elicit sympathy, or be likeable
  • Avoid having your character being still and alone where possible
  • Always have subtext
  • Every character matters
  • Inconsistencies in character can help bring them to life
  • Dialogue is to reveal character
  • Dialogue for each character needs to be so distinct that you can pick it without dialogue tags
  • Believability is more important than accuracy
  • BAN ADVERBS! (But #notalladverbs, you can keep some)

 

I’m writing historical fantasy at the moment, what are you working on right now?

Toni Jordan is the only author in Australia known to have a dedicated fan page to her socks on Pinterest.

Toni Jordan’s website can be found here.

Toni Jordan twitter account can be found here.

Toni Jordan Facebook page can be found here.

 

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre  here.

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre on Facebook here

Find the New South Wales Writers’ Centre on Twitter here.

 

 

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Toni Jordan: #Robinpedia

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Image taken from Toni Jordan's official website.

Toni Jordan is an Australian author, writer-mentor, and guest panelist on The Book Club ABC hosted by Jennifer Byrne. She is well known for her enthusiasm for books, love of socks and willingness to engage up and coming authors.

Toni Jordan has published four books:

Addition (2008), published through Text Publishing. Long listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2009. Short listed for the Barbara Jefferis Award in 2009. Best Debut Fiction for the Indie Awards 2008. Shortlisted Best Newcomer for the Australian Book Industry Award 2008. Best Themed Fiction for UK Medical Journalists Association 2008.

Fall Girl (2010), published through Text Publishing.

Nine Days (2012), published through Text Publishing. Best Fiction for the Indie Awards 2012, shortlisted Best General Fiction for Australian Independent Bookseller Award 2013.

Our Tiny Useless Hearts (2016), published by Text Publishing.

Toni Jordan has also written for The Guardian, Courier Mail, and The Age.

Toni Jordan is the only author in Australia known to have a dedicated fan page to her socks on Pinterest.

Toni Jordan’s website can be found here.

Toni Jordan twitter account can be found here.

Toni Jordan Facebook page can be found here.

I will continue to edit this page as I find more information. Please feel free to comment with more information that can be included.

Find out more about Robinpedia here.

The Book Club ABC, Season 10, 5 Top 5s: #bookclubABC

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Well it’s happened. The Book Club ABC’s 10th season has come to an end. It was glorious! I for one have never felt so exhilarated by a season. So let’s reminisce about some of the best things we experienced this season with my 5 of 5, before I can bring myself to write the final recap of the season. I need time to grieve.

The Five Best Episodes:

1. Episode 7 Gaudy Biatches. The biatches were flying thick and fast and Toni Jordan and Virginia Gay became bffs. Michael Williams had the flu so was extra bitter. Heaven.

2. Episode 1 Wuthering Loins. Teenage JByrne came out to play as she lusted after Heathcliff but Marieke was having none of her shit.

3. Episode 11 An Extra 13 Stories of Hatred. Gorgi Coghlan possibly needed therapy after being forced through the classic text.

4. Episode 12 The Sexy Plague. Ace and JByrne reckon plot doesn’t matter, mood matters… a mood so sexy you’d risk the plague to get a packet of frangers.

5. Episode 5 A Titanorak By Any Other Name. Rosie Waterland lost her shit because she loves the Titanic so much.

6… yeah, I broke my own rules. I’m a rebel. Episode 9 The Naked Elephant Returns. Marieke wants to join a whaling ship and BLaw’s ankles are completely naked.

The Five Best Moments:

1. In episode 7 Marieke Hardy called the characters in Gaudy Night a bunch of “disparaging biatches” and Virginia Gay in turn said maybe Marieke was the disparaging biatch. If you play it in slow motion you can see when Toni Jordan’s heart literally breaks as Marieke savages her favourite book.

2. JByrne referenced BLaws ankles in episode 9 and how wild they had driven the viewers. She listens to us!!!

3. In the very first episode of the season JByrne screamed, “but can you imagine having sex with him?” in regards to Wuthering Heights‘ Heathcliff. Marieke threw up in her mouth a little because she hated the book, apart from the vaguely amusing dog attacks. Meanwhile an erotic montage of all the actors who have played Heathcliff over the years, appeared above Virginia’s head to the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s famous track.

4. Toni Jordan’s socks. Oh those heavenly socks. Toni Jordan had listened to what the people wanted, more ankle related coverage, and wore glorious library card socks in episode 11. She truly is the people’s panelist. I have even started a pinterest board dedicated to her ankles.

5. Virginia Gay broke protocol in episode 7 and squealed “me to,” when Toni Jordan did the initial introduction to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. She was then locked under JByrne’s stairs and forced to wear muted footwear for daring to talk out of order, until the final episode. Worth it.

6. Gorgi Coghlan said that Wake in Fright gave her an anxiety attack and she cursed JByrne for her ever having to read it. I love that a panelist was so affected by a book that they cursed JByrne’s holy name. You NEED to get her back on. Marieke said a book inducing an anxiety attack was high praise for the writing.

The Five Best Books:

1. The North Water by Ian McGuire. It made Marieke want to join a ship and stab someone.

2. LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It was so good that Virginia Gay literally kissed the book. No tongue or anything. And such a gorgeous premise.

3. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Not only did it challenge concepts of gender and humanity in the novel but it also carried on into the panelists’ real lives. It made them question how they thought about others and their own subconscious bias.

4. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. Hilarious tale about an out of place academic lecturing in history who ends up getting drunk and making a speech.  It’s fun, it’s witty, it’s just too good.

5. “Arseholes at Night” by Kent Haruf. That’s what I heard when JByrne said the title. Apparently it’s actually Our Souls at Night. This book made Marieke cry.

6. An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire. It made the male panelists go all #notallmen. Which means you know it must be quite challenging to patriarchal thinking and therefore a valuable read. We need to value the experiences of the “other.”

The Five Best Guests:

1. Virginia Gay. Actress extraordinaire and passionate book lover. She wasn’t afraid to say when she loved a book. Her looks of utter horror when fellow panelists didn’t share her passion were priceless.

2. Michael Williams. Director of The Wheeler Centre. His snarky comments and insights into the book industry, and not just the books, were delicious.

3. Toni Jordan. Novelist of goodness. In her first appearance of the season she was so sweet and loving. Marieke then crushed her soul. A new Toni returned, one that had built a whole new level of hatred and laughed at the cruelty inflicted on protagonists. Her character development was sublime. Someone should write a novel about it.

4. C S Pacat. Fantasy author of the people and for the people. Brilliantly articulate.  Able to back up all her insights with reference to classic literature. She was like a modern day, gangster, Shakespeare.

5. Margaret Pomeranz. She’s the queen. End of story.

6. BLaws ankles. Oh myyyyyyyyy.

The Five Best Future Guests:

This is the bit where I get to go into the realm of fantasy and pretend I’m a producer.

1. Walter Mason. Author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. Writing teacher. Inspirational guru of fabulosity. I would go watch this man clean his toenails because he would somehow make it interesting.

2. I’m going to cheat. I’d like to see a father daughter combo. John and Kitty Flanagan. Yeah, I bet some of you were surprised that comedian Kitty wasn’t in my top 5 guests, I’ve cheated by putting her in here so I could get an extra extra one in that category. It was hard. I wanted to choose every guest. John Flanagan is the author of the extraordinarily popular Ranger’s Apprentice series for those wanting to know.

3. Laura Jean McKay. An author who says muses aren’t dead because they never existed. She would no doubt say something controversial and funny.

4. Speaking of funny, Steven Oliver. I can just imagine him responding to Jason’s analysis with, “What’s this then, Slut?” It needs to happen!

5. Kaz Cooke. She knows what The Book Club ABC is all about, pyjamas and wine. She’d sit there in some glorious fluffy slippers, sipping away at a chardonnay and tell it like it is.

6. Robin Elizabeth. In fact, fuck those other fucks. Me, me, me! Nobody knows more about reading on the toilet than me. Plus, you put up a clip of me asking you a question about Sally Morgan’s My Place last year. It was under my “real” name, Robin Riedstra. You said it was a good question, JByrne.

“JENNIFER BYRNE: Actually, just like to drop in here. There’s a video comment which goes to that. Her name is Robin Riedstra and this is what she said.

ROBIN RIEDSTRA: Hi, I’m Robin. When I first read Sally Morgan’s My Place I found it really accessible and it made me want to read more and more texts in that genre. But other people have criticised it as being too accessible and so that once people had read that they felt they knew the Indigenous story and didn’t need to read any more. What are your thoughts on the matter?

JENNIFER BYRNE: I thought that was a really good question, actually. I mean, because you read it and… It’s got these three stories within the story of the mother and the grandmother and the grandmother’s brother, all of whom talk about how they were stolen from the family. And you read that and you feel that you’re across this idea.”

See, I can be insightful, I just know I can do it again. You and me JByrne, all the way. Forget those other clowns. Pick me.

Well, until the Christmas Special, I bid The Book Club ABC adieu. The rest of you can find me lurking around here on my blog. I’ll be doing Robinpedia entries for Australian authors who don’t  have Wikipedia entries yet. A fact I plan to remedy once I learn how to do the appropriate coding to create new pages with the correct layout and referencing. I’ve already experimented by adding a little to Virginia Gay and BLaw’s Wikipedia entries.

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See, I know real stuff too. I added the Calamity Jane stuff, not just “ape shit.”

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And do keep an eye out for the release of my book Confessions of a Mad Mooer which recaps my time in the psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression. I’ll blog about it closer to the release in December.

Don’t you, forget about me.

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And yes. I’ll put out the recap of the season final soon… just let me finish crying first…. here it is.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 11 #bookclubABC

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I’m feeling a little emotional heading into this episode. It’s the second last one of the season and I’m not ready to move on with my life. Plus The Book Club ABC Facebook and twitter accounts keep referring to next week as the FINAL. They’re not saying season final. What does that mean? After ten years are they calling it quits? I haven’t even created a generic drinking game yet. It’s too soon. Don’t turn your back on me now. But I shall shove my feelings of desperation and paranoia down into my rainbow toe-socked toes and give you the recap that you deserve. The recap I deserve. The recap that Jason Steger deseves, darn it.

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Also, usual warning, I’m dyslexic so things will get messy.

The episode begins. JByrne is of course glowing and the stage is looking unusually full… They’ve got three guests again. Yes! If you’ll recall, during episode 7 of this season they had three guests and it was the best episode ever, in the history of Book Club, in the history of television, in the history of EVERS!!! Do check it out if you haven’t yet had the pleasure. And OMG OMG OMG, have they brought back that same winning team from episode 7? Michael Williams, check. Toni Jordan, check. The divine goddess that is Virginia Gay, cheeeee… WTF? They’ve pulled a swift one on me. That’s not my Virginia! It’s Gorgi Coghlan. Sure she’s tall and she’s wearing fabulous shoes but you can’t fool me… they have a different hair colour. I’m not sure how I feel about this. My husband thinks she’s super sexy but that doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person. We shall wait to see how she goes… but I have my side eye at the ready.

First off, JByrne does the house keeping-
She tells us that this evenings new novel, The Course of Love by Alain De Botton, poses one of life’s hardest questions, “How do you make love last.” It’s hyperbolic but I’ll allow it.
For the classic Jason has chosen Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook. Jason tends to like things British and full of sex. This is an Australian text, as such we can assume it has double the sex.
New releases are mentioned. Of most excitement to this mother of three is that Andy Griffiths has added another 13 stories to his tree house. Bring on #LoveOzKidLit.
JByrne then hands over to Michael for news on the festival front. Michael says you can’t throw a rock without hitting a writers’ festival at the moment so there’s no excuse not to go to one. JByrne asks Michael if he’s going to any. He is coy with his answer. He’s possibly concerned that if he reveals his exact movements some semi-crazed, frizzy-haired, ginger, hack, will launch herself at him screaming, “I love you.” I hear that happened to him once…

Now let’s get down to business, the business of love. And you know it’s business time because I’ve got my business socks on. #sockwatch JByrne calls The Course of Love a sequel twenty years in the making. And then the dramatic recreation is played. Thankfully no whale murder this week but I’m pretty sure I found Waldo, so that’s nice.

The question, is De Botton (you know what my phone wants to auto correct this to) brilliant or a pop philosopher stating the bleeding obvious, is posed. Marieke says brilliant. She loved it. And says that love and relationships are worth examining and that she loves to discuss this kind of stuff all the time. Marieke says that reading The Course of Love is like having dinner at her place. This is a softer side to Marieke that I wasn’t expecting.  I like it. Byrne says that dinner with Marieke is much better than reading that flipping book. I suspect she’s not a fan of De Botton.

Jason calls it banal, obvious and only occasionally insightful. Michael says not to forget smug.

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Sheebers, JByrne, Jason, and Michael all refusing to get on the love train with Marieke. I’d almost feel sorry for her being outnumbered but tender hearted Toni is here and she loves love. In fact episode 7 was all about her love of love.

My bad, Toni says she “loathed” The Course of Love to “a whole new level.” Looks like Andy Griffiths isn’t the only one adding levels to his tree house, Toni added one just of pure, unadulterated, hatred. Marieke suggests that perhaps Toni hated the book because she hates love. Oh, how the tables have turned. It’s like they’ve reversed characters from episode 7.

Toni wants to know what’s loves got to do, got to do, got to do with it? She didn’t like it because stories should be magical and take you on a journey and De Botton took her nowhere of magic. Come on De Botton, why won’t you take Toni to funky town? JByrne doesn’t like this sentiment at all. She hated the book but is all like, *calm your farm, Toni, what gives you the right to say what a story must be?* And then Toni is all like *me, I give me that right. That book was non fiction and you know it, Byrne.* Fight, fight, fight! Jason leaps in and backs Toni up saying it didn’t work as a novel. It’s JByrne, Jason, Michael, and Toni against Marieke, AND JByrne against Toni. It’s a madhouse.

Gorgi steps forward, metaphorically only because she is literally sitting, and says that she found The Course of Love soul expanding. SOUL EXPANDING.  Now that’s a recommendation. She then says that it is the modern version of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus and it’s wise. There’s something wrong with that statement, I’m not sure how I feel about Men are from Mars and wise being used so closely together but I don’t have time to examine my thoughts around this because there is action happening all over the place.

Gorgi says the book recommends that instead of asking how people met we should be asking them how they stayed together. Oh my god, that’s so profound, I really want to read this book. Gorgi says that the book is about damage and how we as people are damaged and how do we cope with our damage and other people’s damage. That does seem worthy of exploration and beautiful. Let’s be honest, aren’t we all just damaged people getting about trying not to hurt others or ourselves further and constantly snagging our broken bits against others unintentionally? Or is that just me who feels utterly broken? I want to read this book. Please don’t tell Toni Jordan, because I want her to think I’m totes-mega-cool.

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Michael is having none of this profoundity and says the characters were generic  and more like case studies and he wanted more from fiction. And doesn’t he deserve more? Where are the believable characters, Botton? Give Michael Williams all of his dimensions! Jason also found it more like a case study and found the italicised annotations super annoying. He felt they were too overtly, look at me I’m so clever.

Jason then says he hates to bring up sex, which is news to everyone because we all thought that was his thing. If he’s not bringing the sex to book club then who the heck is? But apparently the oral sex scene on the plane didn’t work for him.

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My mind is racing as to exactly why he knows it’s so objectionable, and exactly how he gained his expertise in mile high encounters of the sexy kind, so much so that I miss what is said next. I apologise. The next thing I hear is that Gorgi loved it and gave it to countless friends. Toni did not give it to friends. she felt like she was going to get exam questions at the end. Ewww.

JByrne says although she hated the book she did love the bit on sulking. Everyone agrees that the sulking bit was good. Marieke, proving that she is nothing if not gracious, says that she thinks the criticisms being made were fair but she loved it anyway and couldn’t wait to discuss it with her boyfriend over dinner. A high pitched squeal can be heard followed by the screeching of tires.

Jason asks at what stage in a relationship should one read this book. Michael says give it to couples contemplating their first trip to IKEA together. I for one salute our IKEA overlords and welcome any free products they were previously considering sending Michael. I’ve got a five year old and two year old twins so I can never have enough storage.

Now it’s time to focus on the most important part of The Book Club ABC, #sockwatch. JByrne hasn’t been able to keep her eyes off Toni’s ankle region. She is wearing glorious yellow library card socks. Toni says she did it for the #sockwatch people. She likes us, she really likes us. Michael sits quietly undetected by JByrne, but I see all, he is wearing white and blue stripped socks with a festive red heel. n

JByrne moves onto By the Bed where the panelists reveal what’s on their bedside table and I fantasise about Jason’s bedroom.

Michael is reading Ben Pobjie’s Error Australis. It’s the history of Australia written in TV recap form. How meta of me to recap about Australia’s most prominent recapper. I might just disappear up the existential chasm that is this metaphysical quandary right after I type this sentence… Nope, still here.
Gorgi is reading The Last Painting of Sara DeVos which was discussed on a previous episode.
Toni is reading Fine by Michelle Wright who is her student and says it is at least 500% more profound than De Botton. And transported her to magic town plenty. Plenty!

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Onto the classic. JByrne says it’s an alcoholic, SEXUAL, nightmare and then asks, “Why’d you pick it Jace?” I like that, Jace, it’s sexy. I think I’ll use Jace the Ace from now on rather than Jason Stegersaurussex.

Ace claims he liked Wake in Fright because it picked up the difference between small towns and the city beautifully and that it was short, NOT because of the sexing. Michael supports Ace, and says that he loves that it’s about the typical Australian theme of belonging. that Wake in Fright examines the divisions in life. City/Country, money/no money, education/ no education. Marieke loved the sense of place and the imagery.

Gorgi hated it. She found it torturous to read. I think she might actually hate JByrne a little for making her read it. Don’t break up the sisterhood, Gorgi, blame Ace instead. She says that she had a mild panic attack during the kangaroo hunt.

Toni offers Gorgi some comfort and says she hated it the first time she read it but this time she found it funny. Michael agrees that it was funny. The pair giggle like naughty school kids. Toni loved the awful things that happened to the main character because he deserved it. Marieke says he brought about his own downfall and that she loved everything that Gorgi hated about it and considers causing an anxiety attack high praise.

Ace starts talking about Robyn in the cotton dress. Does he mean Robyn or Robin. I shall pretend he’s sending a secret message to me. Wear more clothes from Cotton On, got it loud and clear!

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And now they’re showing pictures of people’s book clubs. Alcohol is the clear winner in book clubs.

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And it’s over. One more episode to go. I’m not crying, I’ve just got a weeping angel stuck in my eye. But hey, next week we are graced with the iconic Margaret Pomeranz and our favourite Book Clubber VIRGINIA GAY! So there is some good news… sobs quietly in corner…. also, not to be childish… but when JByrne said they are doing Our Souls at Night it sounded like “Arseholes at Night.” There, I said it, everybody was thinking it, but I said it and I don’t regret it.

Read my last recap here.

View previous episodes on iView here.

ABC Book Club Season 10 Episode 7 #bookclubABC

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JByrnes appears on the Book Club stage, we all applaud as usual, except this time I don’t mean me and my vino, I am actually watching it LIVE with the real people in the real air. JByrne is sleeveless. It’s -2° outside and she’s sleeveless. I totally get why, someone has been working out and their delts are looking glorious but I’m going to have to put on a beanie if I can sit through such flagrant arm exposure in this weather.

JByrne’s tells us that the guests are Toni Jordan, Michael Williams and Virginia Gay, along with regulars Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex. Turns out my phone has Stegersaurussex as predictive over Steger. It either knows me too well or it has a crush on Jason Steger. JByrne says that the new release to be discussed is LaRose by Louise Erdrich and it poses the question, “How do you make ammends, would breaking your own heart help heal others?” Sounds uplifting… But first, she will allow Toni to speak and introduce the classic.

Toni says she’s chosen Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. It’s a cosy-inkspilling-attemptedmurder-mystery. She’s a bit nervous because she loves it and doesn’t want to hear anything bad about it because she thinks it’s the greatest love story of all time. Rosie cheeked with glowing skin, she looks like a teenager discussing her first boyfriend. Gorgeous! Toni needn’t fear too much because Virginia is so overcome with emotion she squeals, “Me to.” They are now BFFs.

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JByrne frowns at Virginia and cracks her whip, Virginia cowers suitably in fear. She has angered the overlord JByrne. JByrne permitted one person an exemption to speak. ONE! If Virginia goes missing… well, I’m just saying we might have our suspect.

JByrne regroups and begins the discussion of LaRose. It opens with a neighbour accidentally killing the 5 year old son of his neighbour and as is Native American custom he endevours to give his own son, LaRose, in return. It’s heartbreak from the get go. I have a five yearold girl and two year old twin boys so even the thought of being on either side of this has me in tears. You’d have to be a cold-hearted monster not to find this premise tragic.

Jason talks about the novel in terms of Shakespearean tragedy mixed with Native American custom. Virginia loves the book so much she literally kisses it. I like to think it kissed her back, she is just that divine. Toni mentions how the author uses magic realism in the novel to really make the cultural aspects come alive. And that this magic works seamlessly because it is so central to the belief systems depicted.

JByrne talks about Shakespeare again to back up the sheer scope of the tragedy… Michael says he was underwhelmed by the opening. He was a bit meh about the initial tragedy. If you want to impress the director of The Wheeler Centre you need to do more than kill a 5 year old in the first couple of pages. I love him so much, he’s just so blunt. He clearly has the man-flu and is feeling a little grumpy… Oh no. He’s right next to my dear Virginia, spray it with Glen 20 before it’s too late!

Marieke, who usually likes to be the voice of dissent can see that Man-flu Michael has that angle covered, so says how on board she is with the book. She even uses a metaphor about riding a plane in order to show her on boardedness.

Man-flu Michael points out this is Louise Erdrich’s 15th book and that she is quite excellent but seems to never get listed. He suspects it’s because she writes about marginalised cultures. He’s tired, he’s sick, and he is willing to dish the dirt.

JByrne says the book was amazing but she had to keep putting it down because it was just too rich. Now I want chocolate cake. Toni agrees. About the book, maybe about wanting cake too, but she doesn’t say anything about that.

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Man-flu Michael says he liked the modern storyline so much that he sometimes resented the history stuff because he wanted to get back to the story.

Holy snapping dog poop, Man-flu Michael just randomly confesses he didn’t read the poems in Possession: A Romance. Virginia passes out. Toni clasps at her breaking heart. Someone needs to get Michael a lemsip. He’s delirious… yet I’m so in love with him and his snark. He’s seriously tempting me away from Stegersaurussex today.

Marieke thinks all the different voices are perfectly achieved. Virginia wants to read the other 14 books and JByrne wants to change cultures. She loves that they can apologise and make ammends whereas the Western world is so letigious that you couldn’t without risking financial ruin. Jason suggests that it’s also because young white kids are total whingers. They’d refuse to trade themselves and who would want them. He’s got a point.

People start talking about a character called Father Travis and how sexy he is. He appears in more of Louise Erdrich’s novels. Steam levels are rising. JByrne quickly starts talking about water in order to cool things down. She asks why there are so many water books and covers of late. Man-flu Michael says it’s because publishers are actually looking to capitalise on the last big thing rather than finding the next big thing. He is on fire tonight. More Michael! Jen says why are there so many death books, Michael responds with that it’s because the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. Oh, Man-flu Michael is even better than regular Michael. Who knew it could be possible? I have totally forgotten that Jason.

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Onto the classic. Toni calls Gaudy Night her happy place. Virginia agrees that it is the greatest love story known to humankind. They’re obviously way too excited so Man-flu Michael will have to say something. I can pretty much hear Jaws music. Oh no, my bad, Marieke is back to her contrary form. She tells Toni and Virginia that their silly little book bored the pants off of her. The pants! She is literally pantless. I’m concerned that she is now in some sort of pants deficit where she can’t wear pants for another month. Marieke felt there wasn’t enough action, people went “ape shit over spilt ink,” and the love interest was a sex pest. There you go. Wimsey was just an “eloquent sex pest.”

Man-flu Michael sensing that he is being out snarked moves to strike. He calls Wimsey the most boring of all golden age detective. Virginia is so mad she can’t even speak.

Jason takes the middle ground, he said it was witty but needed a good edit. He always wants to give books a good chop. Pay attention authors, Jason wants less of you! The Latin also bothered him because he had to look it up because he couldn’t remember Latin as well as he would like too. Jason, keeping it real for the people at home.

Marieke says the women were all “biatches.” Virginia defends it by likening it to the feminist classic A Room of One’s Own. JByrne also liked the feminist aspect. Marieke points out that the lead character, Harriet Vane, gets MARRIED!!! And calls Harriet a “disparaging biatch.” Virginia says that maybe Marieke is the “biatch.” Marieke nearly dies laughing but manages to recover enough to say that all she wanted was “feminist Cluedo, without the sex pest,” and that’s not what she got.

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Jason says he didn’t like Gaudy Night because he liked some other novel. Probably by Agatha Christie. JByrne points out that people can like more than one thing. This is like a revelation to Jason and his brain explodes. He begins talking to Virginia in Latin. She is charmed. And he’s won me back over from Man-flu Michael. I can’t believe I ever doubted you, Stegersaurussex. Let’s never fight again. Michael tries to get in on the gig but is simply quoting spells from Harry Potter. Let him take a nap! Michael, you have failed this romance.

Marieke thoughtfully adds that Gaudy Night could have used a good lesbian sex scene or two. I must read this book!

Onto Virginia pitching a book. It’s a cook book but not a cook book and it’s full of stuff… I’m confused. Hold me. I have no idea what is happening right now.

Next week will see Man-flu Michael return along with Rosie Waterland to discuss Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford.

Can I just say…. BEST EPISODE EVER! That was fantastic. The drama, the passion. Death of a child through to sexy Cluedo, this episode had it all. Get these three guests on again. I am in heaven. HEAVEN. Book Club is happiness.

Catch up on last week’s recap here.

Watch on iView here.