Oct-Nov Book Group Report

Nine of us met at the new Ask? Italian in Abingdon last night for our monthly meeting. We had 2 books to discuss as October’s was cancelled. A nice place to eat, although slightly pricey for what you get, Ask? was not the ideal venue for a discussion as the high ceiling with gallery (it’s a converted Methodist chapel) made it rather echoey and one end of our long table couldn’t hear the other. At least there wasn’t loud music to hamper conversation further. Here are some thoughts on the books we discussd. Our October book was…

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow.

This is a quirky novel about packs of werewolves in LA, combining themes of gang warfare with a murder story and a touching central romance. So far so much like The Sopranos with lycanthropes.

But this novel’s central quirk is that it is written in prose poem format. It was this that made me suggest the book as one which you’d either embrace or be irritated the hell by. That strategy worked: One member didn’t like it, seeing the poem format as a sneaky way of making a short novel into a longer book. The rest of us found that once you got into reading it, the format could largely be ignored, but occasionally allowed some nice poetic touches and turns of phrase. We liked the gradual reveal of the author’s vision of becoming a werewolf, and the transformation from human to dog. On balance, a hit with our group.

Then onto our November book –

1984 by George Orwell

Most of us had read it many years ago, and enjoyed revisiting it, finding it still relevant although dated and turgid in parts. We talked about communism, lack of movement between classes, the surveillance society, and double-speak creeping in, but all believed that we couldn’t let someone as doubleplusungood as Big Brother be in charge ever! I’m now looking forward to watching the film which I’ve picked up cheap since I wrote my review of the book last month.

What are we reading next? Blindness by Jose Saramago.

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Source: Own copies. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Penguin paperback.
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, Vintage paperback.

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