Wednesday, 4 September 2013

last week at book group

This is such a busy time of year for us. Schools went back three weeks ago and now, after slow start, all the clubs are running once more, too. My own "clubs" are also back on schedule, I am so glad to meet up with friends I haven't seen for weeks. We have been away for most of the summer holidays and my social life has been rather reduced. Last week saw the beginning of knit night and book group. I really love both. More about knit night another time.

This week at book group we were chatting about "Crow Road" by Iain Banks, a Scottish author. We chose the book because Iain Banks recently passed away and we felt it was appropriate to celebrate his life and work by reading one of his books. It is also nice to read a native author every now and then. I have been a longstanding fan of Iain Banks and have read all his fiction books but the latest one (I think). He has a dry sense of humour, dark sometimes and is great at bringing his characters to life. I have yet to start reading his science fiction books, which are published under the name Iain M Banks.

 This is how the story begins: "It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach" . The narrator is Prentice McHoan, a final year student whose uncle Rory disappeared 8 years before the story begins. Prentice becomes obsessed with papers that Rory had left behind at the time of his disappearance. He is trying to solve the mystery of Rory's disappearance. Throughout the book, Prentice tries to make sense of his world, and - in a way - he is growing up as the story develops. I am not very good at summarising stories I just realise.... Anyway, living in Glasgow, there is a great deal of familiarity with the locations, and in way with the characters. The characters are carefully described and one gets to know even the "minor" ones well. The story is set in the late eighties or early nineties, a time when I was about Prentice' age and I do remember (vaguely, it has been a long time) similar struggles experienced during this oh so scary transition from teenager to young woman.
The story is a bit fragmented, moving between different periods and parts of the story. I listened to the audio version (narrated by Peter Kenny), and had to go back to the beginning after a few chapters because I was lost. Most of us (in the book group) had read the book in the past, around the time of publication maybe and most did like it better then as the story was just right for this particular period of time. Most of us preferred reading about Prentice' coming of age and did not think the mystery of Rory's disappearance added much to the story. I liked it all but I am an uncritical reader in general and simply enjoy a good story. Anyway, if you haven't read the book, it is certainly worth a try.

Are you in a book group? What do you enjoy reading?

I don't read often these days, I am just too exhausted most of the time to hold a book. I am a great fan of audio books and use this medium to keep up with new (and old) books instead, whilst doing chores at the same time. Having said that, I popped into our local bookshop on Saturday with Annie, whilst waiting for James and Alistair to finish football. I bought these books:


I really like Murakami (my book group disagrees) and I read Sacks in the past ("the man who mistook his wife for a hat"). I am a scientist in my work life and I think this is why the last book tickled my interest. I do hope that I'll get a chance to read more than the blurb soon!

Have a lovely Wednesday!

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