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Posts Tagged ‘Kyleglass Book Worms’

Fear, Grief and Unexpected Hope

22/11/2010 2 comments

This Irish Citizen found hope from an unexpected source in a week when four children died violently in rooms at their homes and the IMF and ECB arrived in Ireland.  My source of hope came from Emma Donoghue’s novel  Room. In a 12-ft square room where a sky-light gives the only glimpse of the outside world, a young woman nurtures her child and preserves her own sanity through the power of language, storytelling and imagination.

I could not have believed that I would turn to such a book in a week when we were shocked and numbed by public and private tragedy. How could a novel that evoked the horror of a family’s incarceration by Joseph Fritzl  bring hope? But it did just that for me in a memorable and multi-layered read.

Five year old Jack finds richness and wonder in the confined room that he shares with Ma – he knows no other world. It is a place where he has  ‘thousands of things’ to do  like following a spider’s movements, watching a new leaf emerge from a potted plant and listening to Ma‘s advice: ‘It’s called mind over matter. If we don’t mind it doesn’t matter.’

This trailer for Room catches some of its magic, I think.

This is my book of the year.

Maybe you found hope this week gone in story?

Best Book Club Reads: a half-dozen selection

20/09/2010 1 comment

To pick our Best Book Club Reads out of fifty books and five years of reading from an opinionated group can be daunting. We stuck to the task, made lists, noted votes, talked, changed our minds, remembered a great read that we’d omitted, voted again and came to our decision, exhausted and only slightly happy because of the great, great reads that we had to leave out. So here it is then, the Kyleglass Book Worms’ list of Best Book Club Reads:

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. Clean, elegant writing from a German law professor; deals with the Holocaust for subsequent German generations and immediately reminded me of Uwe Timm’s moving memoir, In My Brother’s Shadow. As for the narrator’s motivation in writing the book,  ‘Maybe I did write the story to be free of it.’

The Sea by John Banville. He won the Man Booker Prize in 2005 with it and The Sea is one of Banville’s most accessible books. Max Morden, mourning the death of his wife, returns to the seaside scene of his childhood summers and the sea becomes memory, its surges ‘another of the great world’s shrugs of indifference’.

Englby by Sebastian Faulks. Mike Engleby, a fresher at Cambridge in the 1970s, is an odd, unpleasant, possibly evil, but engaging and funny character who uses his diary to chart his unravelling life. Story turns into a black mystery.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. An off-beat read by an ex-librarian and bookseller who died months before publication of a book that she finished off with the help of her niece Ann Barrows. A quirky epistolary novel about the war years in Guernsey under Nazi occupation and imbued with a powerful love of books and reading.

Everyman by Philip Roth. A slim read about a Jewish-American confronting old age and death with Roth’s usual strong autobiographical influences. The page-long, one sentence description of a boy riding the ocean waves and running home ‘remembering the mightiness of that immense sea boiling in his own two ears’ is mesmerizing.

A Fine Balance by Rohinson Mistry. A sweeping story of contemporary India from Independence in 1947 to the Emergency of 1977 with a character cast of innocents and outcasts who show the power of the human spirit in adversity.

Hours of shared reading and great chat, not all of it about books. Looking forward to the next fifty reads. (See Joe Duffy and Fiona Looney top reads shared at Ennis Book Festival here.)

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