It was such a true pleasure to be invited to represent the Indigenous Literacy Foundation at the launch of Storybank, a re-purposed heritage listed bank building, which has been transformed into an exciting museum in Maryborough, Queensland. What a fantastic project and a beautiful building that demand a visit if you find yourself up that way.
This month, Riverbend readers suspended reality and dived into Bridget Collins' Fantasy blockbuster The Binding, which won a huge thumbs up from an overwhelming majority of book clubbers this month - much to Chloe's delight. Though there were a few who couldn't bear it, and some who couldn't finish (Splotch's brutal death was a step too far), most readers really enjoyed the story, with a few citing it as their favourite book of the year.
There was a sense of déjà vu when the Classics clubs sat down to discuss John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath with many of our members having read it once or even twice before. Simultaneously lauded and reviled on publication, the vast majority of our readers agreed with the prizes and the best seller lists and loved the novel for its powerful prose, its political perspective, its relevance to modern life, its depth of characterization and its inspiring take on the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. However, for a small minority, the unrelenting arduousness of the Joad’s journey was too distressing to get past and mirrored their own experience of reading the book.
'When I started working on my new novel, I thought I was writing a book about books, but as it turns out I was writing a book about stories […] Stories and choices and change and also time and fate and video games. It took quite a while to get it all to fit in a single book, even down to the bees.'
Discussions about Sigrid Nunez's The Friend this week were as tangential as the book itself. Like it or loathe it, this book sparked so much lively conversation and made for a wonderful week with the Riverbend Readers.
Where the Crawdads Sing is the debut novel by Delia Owens, an American wildlife scientist. Set in the marsh lands off the North Carolina coast. It is both a coming of age story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama. It lands in Australia boosted by New York Times bestseller status, a frenzied foreign sales fight, and a movie in development by Reese Witherspoon.
Recently we had author Andrew Sean Greer pop into the shop to sign some books and have a chat. Andrew was breezing through as part of his Australian tour — while we gushed over his book Less we found him to be both humble and gracious.
We probably have to confess from the get go that 90% of staff here love Ian McEwan’s books. We would probably enjoy reading his shopping lists. However there is nothing as banal as a shopping list in this story. The characters fairly leap from the page - our rather hapless Charlie, the enigmatic Miranda and of course Adam - our haiku writing robot.
To a person, all of book club found No Friend But The Mountains to be a difficult read, but for varying reasons. Some were not fans of Boochani, and found him to be aggressive and embittered. Others were put off by the poetry and prose, and found reading this book a slog. Most, however, were simply left feeling hollowed out by the oppressive culture of 'Manus Prison', and man's inhumanity to man. Almost all book clubbers, regardless of their feelings about Boochani and/or his book, felt that politics aside, the conditions in Manus as described in No Friend But The Mountains were inhumane, and not at all how our government should be treating people.