As part of a now recurring theme, a proportion of book club last night was spent talking about the fact that I’m slightly too well organised. Just you wait, one day I won’t make a list – then we’ll see what kind of mayhem will ensue.
It was a delight to welcome four new members to book club last night, and to see returning members (Gemma came back! The two Kellys were there again! Jess came despite not finishing the book!)
Anyway, welcome to Sally, Sarah, Bela and Peter. I hope you enjoyed your first experience of the supremely organised Lausanne book club!
So last month’s book, The Dinner by Herman Koch.
What did we think?
When asked, there was a resounding thumbs down from the majority of bookclubbers, with only three brave souls enjoying the novel. There were a number of reasons mooted as to why the book wasn’t liked but it seemed to be mostly the author (or, I suppose, the translator). We discussed whether the book would be better if it were written by someone else with no conclusive answer.
We felt that the characters were not defined enough and, on the whole, thoroughly unlikable. Some people felt that the descriptions of the food were more developed than the characters.
It was suggested that Paul’s illness ruined and took attention away from the main question we felt the author was trying to ask – namely how far would you go to protect your child? His inferiority complex and relationship with Serge, as well as his strange relationship with his wife did nothing to endear him to the reader. Did she control every part of his life – from what information he knew, to whether he took his medication or not? Did he care?
Claire was irresponsible, lacking in moral fibre and completely domineering. Was her complicity in the murder a result of her guilt at having had Michel? How far did her disdain for Faso lead to her decision for the boys to “deal with him”? Why did she disfigure Serge as opposed to simply injuring him? Although she was positioned as being sane in comparison to Paul – she was possibly even more disturbed.
It was a good discussion (with many points raised that I didn’t note down, annoyingly) and the conversation ended with a discussion on mental health, crime, punishment, and guilt.
A number of great suggestions for next month’s book (all of which are now up on the infamous spreadsheet!) but finally we decided that…
July’s book is The Circle by Dave Eggers.
Fast, thrilling, compulsively addictive – The Circle is Dave Eggers’s timely novel about our obsession with the internet.
When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public …
‘Tremendous. Inventive, big hearted and very funny. Prepare to be addicted’ Daily Mail
‘Prescient, important and enjoyable . . . a deft modern synthesis of Swiftian wit with Orwellian prognostication’ Guardian
‘A gripping and highly unsettling read’ Sunday Times
Dave Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco. He is the author of seven previous books, including A Hologram for the King(finalist for the National Book Award 2012), Zeitoun (winner of the American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize) and What is the What, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and won France’s Prix Médicis.
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