My advice to bookclubbers this month was for them to bring a sleeping bag, thermos of hot tea, and possibly inform next of kin – with over 700 pages of book to talk about it was likely to be a long discussion.
September’s meeting was peopled by a group of stalwarts. The First Man Philip was joined by The Second Man Richard. Joined by Bad Kelly, Gemma, Courtney, Sarah O’B, Sophia and Julia, we made a jolly crew in the dining room of Bellini. (fun fact: there’s a little room behind the downstairs dining room and a light which turns on and off depending on where it’s positioned on a table)
Anyway. This month’s book was enforced on the group and, by and large, I think the group didn’t mind too much. We had 5 finishers, 2 non-finishers (but will finish, promise), and 1 non-finisher (and not going to bother).
The reaction to the book was a spectrum of emotions – woah; first book I’ve ever cried at; I had to put it down at points because it just got too much; lack of narrative control was annoying; anger that I spent so much time reading it; broken.
Much was discussed about Yanagihara’s narrative style (or lack thereof). Why was the whole thing written in pronouns? Which he was who? Did the atemporal style work? Although the author tried to write without cultural references work there were too many mistakes which was jarring. The group felt that Yanagihara wasn’t really in control of her technique and the whole book could have used a good editor.
Jude was (obviously) one of the main topics of conversation. It wasn’t entirely clear why he was so loved by the group. It was clear that, conversely to what you may think given his background, Jude was always the one with the power in the friendship group. If something happened that he didn’t like, or agree with, he was the one who left, or who hurt himself, or who starved himself.
The relationship between Wilhelm and Jude led to a wider discussion as to the attributes of relationships. What do you need for a relationship to be successful? Intimacy? Passion? Commitment? Should you wait to find someone who fulfils all of these attributes or can you compromise?
As my friend Meat Loaf says… two out of three ain’t bad!
It was at this point that my hand got tired and my food was getting cold so I stopped taking notes. Sorry!
No quote to end this week. It was all a bit too traumatic.