2003 - Arcadia
by Jim Crace (1992)
was a very hot evening and, aptly, we sat in Sarah's garden to discuss
this book about a countryside ideal.
Most of the men wore shorts. There was old-fashioned misty-yellow
lemonade set out on the wrought-iron table, and Neil, who is Sarah's
husband, already had a big glassful, but most people went straight
for the wine, as usual.
It was a small meeting even though Mark, unusually, had managed
Sarah introduced the book (which had been her choice), the story
of Victor, an old and lonely millionaire who decides to use his
millions before he dies to make his mark on the city which produced
him, and of the effects of his decision on others.
She said she liked the book chiefly for its descriptive prose and
its character of a morality tale or fairytale, and the way it created
a whole distinct, vivid and atmospheric world she could get lost
in, which is what she likes to do when reading a novel.
She liked too the exploration of a situation in which somebody tries
to put something back into the community from which he has benefited,
only to get it horribly wrong. She appreciated the town/country
theme: the fact that the messy market which Victor plans to improve
and elevate represents in the book a piece of countryside right
at the centre of the town, and the paradox that although Victor
thinks of himself as belonging to the country, having been brought
from there as a baby, he is thoroughly imbued with urban capitalist
ideology, and his plan to make the market into more of an Arcadian
idyll will only urbanise it. She was also very taken with the notion
in the book that the rigid forces of urbanisation can never entirely
obliterate the anarchic human spirit of places like the old market,
which will always crop up again elsewhere.
None of us disagreed with Sarah over any of this. We all liked the
thematic concerns of the book, Don in particular (and, he reported,
Jeanne, who hadn't come - conked out by the heat and finishing her
own 70,000-word novel). He said that he and Jeanne had once been
caught up in exactly this situation, trying to stop the destruction
of a vibrant old markeplace to make way for a giant Marks and Spencer,
and failing. He was quite thrilled by the mythic way the book tackled
it, a way that reminded him of Robinson Crusoe and Lord
of the Flies.
He and Jeanne were also bowled over by the powerful motif of fire
in the novel, which as Sarah had pointed out, was an archetypal
symbol and actual agent in the book of destruction leading to renewal.
although everybody else acknowledged the power of the mythic form
in general, and agreed that the description and the evocation of
atmosphere in this book were impressive, we had been left feeling
lukewarm about it.
Mark said that he found the book itself cold, and several of us
agreed, and we spent the discussion trying to work out why.
John was one of those who thought it cold, but he was keen to point
out that rather than an authorial mistake, this had been deliberate
and in fact interesting strategy, which he had encountered in others
of JIm Crace's books. He said that if Crace had wanted to tug our
heartstrings about Victor, he could have started with Victor's childhood,
but he had presumably made a conscious decision to begin at the
time when Victor had turned into an irritable and self-absorbed
said that this was the problem: the characters themselves were emotionally
didn't relate emotionally to each other.
Don said, Well, you don't expect psychological subtlety or realism
in a morality tale, but I pointed out that there is emotional
subtlety: the relationship between Victor's right-hand man Rook
and secretary Anna, for instance, is quite delicately anatomised.
There was general agreement that some of the characters - such as
the dynamic young aunt who helps looks after the child Victor and
the self-conscious architect employed for Victor's big plan - are
Mark said, Well, they all turn their backs on each other in the
Again, this didn't seem to anyone else a valid objection,
- as Trevor (who was away on holiday) would no doubt have said -
in a situation of rampant capitalism people do, and it's
one of the main points of the book.
I said that I thought the problem - and my big problem with the
book - was the narrative voice. The story is told in formal, indeed
old-fashioned diction, and with a somewhat neutral or disinterested
attitude to the characters and events. It is a voice which is largely
disembodied, on a first reading at any rate, since the identity
of the narrator is not immediately revealed, and after it is - he
is the 'Burgher', a columnist on a local newspaper - he quite deliberately
keeps in the background and has no apparent impulse or motive for
telling the tale. When, right at the end of the book, his involvement
is explained, it turns out to be no more than pragmatic and disinterested
(or even self-interested): he has been commissioned to write Victor's
life. These artistic choices, and the implication of refusal of
commitment in the narrator's pseudonymous status, as well as the
connotation of detached pragmatism in his byline, were no doubt
deliberate on the part of Crace, formal representations of his theme,
in which, as Don pointed out, the main character is no person but
the market itself. However, I found the effect of these narrational
stratagems defocusing and alienating.
Some people in the group objected that a detached and old-fashioned
narration was apt for a morality tale, but I countered that this
wasn't so much the universal voice of traditional tale-telling as
that of one particular fogey whom it was hard, in the reading, to
Something else that troubled me about the prose was its heavy insistent
iambic rhythm, which in fact is not stylistically in character for
a journalist narrator. John said Yes, at moments it reads like Rupert
Bear, it even makes unintentional rhymes. Others differed
and thought the rhythm apt for a fairytale. I said I didn't think
that any fairytale well told ever had such an insistent and booming
rhythm drowning out potential shifts of mood and meaning, and which,
when it's suddenly broken (as it often is in the book), makes the
prose seem suddenly very clumsy. Doug said that, on the contrary,
he found that very clever.
Don conceded that there was one part of the book he found fault
with: the section which relates Victor's childhood.
He had been powerfully struck by its central situation, Victor's
failure to be weaned from his mother's breast, in service to the
market forces of begging (which as Sarah had commented, led to his
emotional and social maladjustment in adulthood). It was close to
Don's heart because once, in Eastern Europe, Don had made the mistake
of suspiciously demanding to see inside the bundle which a woman
begging from him was touting as her 'baby' (in spite of Jeanne's
protestations, for god's sake to just give her some money) - only
to find, when the woman finally reluctantly gave in and let him
peep, that there really was a two-week-old baby inside. Even so,
he found the presentation of Victor's childhood sentimental.
said he had another problem with this section, a problem of veracity.
It is clear at the end of the book that Victor has given the Burgher-narrator
only patchy information about his childhood. Therefore much of the
intimate detail of this section must be merely the (somewhat indifferent)
Burgher's speculation, and so in retrospect lacks authority as an
insight into Victor's emotional journey.
Don also found it unconvincing that a man as emotionally and socially
naive as Victor could have achieved his transformation from beggar
to millionaire (although the rest of us had found this acceptable
All in all, the book left most of us as emotionally unengaged as
Victor himself and his detached journalist narrator. If this had
been an authorial intention, most of us felt it was a mistaken one,
as it left us uncommitted to the book and largely unaffected by
Maybe it was this, or maybe it was the fact that we were out in
the garden, but the discussion had kept breaking up anarchically
into simultaneous sub-discussions.
It was very clammy and clouding over, and the swifts which nest
in our attics were wheeling overhead and screaming madly. I suddenly
remembered a mistake I had found in the novel, and Sarah, a keen
birdwatcher, remembered that it had struck her forcibly too: a reference
to swifts sitting with swallows on wires at the end of summer, when
in fact swifts don't settle and leave for the south the first week
or so of August. This had made me suddenly doubt altogether the
authority of the authoritative-sounding narrative voice and the
erudite-seeming passages about plants and exotic vegetables I hadn't
We all mused on the fact that the swifts would soon be gone,
and then suddenly there were huge drops pinging on the wrought iron,
and we all dashed inside and talked about altogether different matters,
such as our holidays.
Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (2002)
five of us made it to this mid-holiday-season meeting in Doug’s
house to discuss this inventive book in which a young man with the
same name as the author visits the Ukraine to search for the woman,
Augustine, who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Only four of
us had read the book (Trevor had been away and had managed the first
chapter in the half-hour before the meeting). Only three of us had
made any head or tail of it and no one felt they had grasped the
Even so, everyone present loved it.
(Trevor reported that he’d met Mark who, on the contrary, hadn’t
taken to it, which may have explained his absence this time.)
All present loved the book’s command of language and most of us
were very taken with the inventive structure whereby chapters alternate
between two ‘novels’ being written after the search is over: the
hilarious pidgeon-English account of the search, written by Alex,
the young male Ukrainian translator who accompanied the ‘hero’ (as
he calls him), and the historical/mythical and poetic tale of the
Jewish grandfather’s shtetl, written by the ‘hero’, the character
Jonathan Safran Foer.
Alex’s ‘divisions’, as he calls them, (chapters), are accompanied
by his letters to Jonathan as they exchange sections of their novels
in progress, providing amusing, telling and ultimately moving comment
on the main theme: that of the slippery and vulnerable nature of
truth, memory and history.
Sarah particularly liked the shtetl story, precisely for its baroque
detail and ebullience and fairytale character. Although I too relished
its air of magic and irrepressibility, I said that I had worried
that in view of the foregone conclusion - the horrific Nazi extermination
of the shtetl - this story strand steered a little too close to
whimsy, and as a result risked playing into certain stereotypes.
Sarah strongly disagreed with this last. I had to agree that there’s
a consciousness of these dangers on the part of the author, since
the story is critiqued by Alex, sometimes negatively - in particular
he points out one of the story’s outrageous anachronisms. We decided
that the fabular nature of this story is perhaps intended as a statement
of the dubious distinction between fact and fiction (implied also
in the shared name of author and ‘hero’), the dubious nature of
factual history and the impotence of memory in the face of genocide,
and the healing power of myth as recompense.
Doug, though, didn’t like the shtetl sections quite so much, finding
them hard going with their cast of what seemed like hundreds. Everyone
loved the Alex sections, and agreed that they were laugh-out-loud
and, as the book approached its end, very moving. The main problem,
however, was that the fast speed with which we’d been carried along
by the pell-mell pace of the last part of the book had left us all
unsure of what precisely was meant to have happened, and feeling
that we had missed important connections we should have grasped.
We had all taken into consideration the fact that this too had been
intended by the author - a way of showing that when a history is
wiped out there is no way of completing the circle of meaning and
making the comforting resolutions we all long for both in reading
and in life, an idea which seems supported by the fact that the
book ends mid-sentence. However, we couldn’t be sure how far our
unsatisfying experience as readers had been intended.
One of us had noticed that the name of the woman whom Jonathan and
his guides do meet and at first think is the Augustine they are
seeking - List - is also the name of a woman from the colourful
sexual past of Jonathan’s grandfather’s, recounted in Jonathan’s
tale of the shtetl. The group was confounded by this: what were
we meant to conclude from this about List and her connections with
Jonathan’s grandfather? Or was this simply the character Jonathan’s
fictive mixing and matching? Yes, because Jonathan could hardly
be privy to his grandfather’s sexual history, not least because
his grandfather had been dead since even before Jonathan’s mother
was born. But then, why was the character Jonathan making this particular
connection - to make what point, what thematic meaning? After one
reading we simply couldn’t work it out, and the thing which confounded
the group most was that the connection, which seemed so significant
(if impenetrable) once we’d noticed it, had actually passed all
but one of the group by.
And what were we meant to conclude about the grandfather of Alex,
who, against all initial expectations, turns out to be central to
the story? Were there things we had missed about his role in it
all? We all thought there might be, but after one reading no one
could be sure.
As for John, who had read the book intermittently while beginning
a new job and making several trips, and therefore with less than
even half his attention: he’d been left at a total loss, and hadn’t
even worked out that the book was composed of two ‘novels’. Nevertheless,
the book had made a great impression on every one of us, and Sarah
said that she was going to read it again to sort out her confusions,
something which as a busy doctor she has never before done with
a book which didn’t yield itself up fully at one reading.
Then we talked more generally about Truth, and the fact that, as
this book conveys, there is never any absolute truth, each tale
only relative to the teller.
After this we got onto Hitler via the book again, and had an argument
about whether Hitler must have had some kind of charisma or was
simply at the head of a monumental political machine.
Then Sarah, who was on call, had to go home, and not long after,
Doug’s wife Helen came back from her board meeting and joined us,
and so we opened another bottle. Finally John and I and Trevor left,
John and I sitting on the wall between Doug’s house and ours and
swinging our legs over, and Trevor, still talking, swinging his
over too and ending up on our path to finish his point.
to add your comments
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002)
met at mine and John’s to discuss this seemingly improbable but
entirely convincing tale of a boy, Pi, shipwrecked in a lifeboat
with a tiger, told to the ‘author’ as a tale that could make one
believe in God.
Our unanimous verdict was that it was brilliant. Everyone of us
had found it stunning.
This was in spite of several of us not fancying it much at all beforehand
(because of its apparent improbability), and Don and Jeanne being
furious when it won the Booker over William Trevor. No one could
deny, however, once they had begun it, that it was utterly compelling.
We loved the breathtaking story, we loved the book’s humanity, we
loved what it was saying about the human condition, about tolerance,
and above all, about the redeeming power of fiction. We had total
admiration for the author’s mastery of narrative and language, and
his ability to hold us in a narrative spell.
We felt quite sorry for those who were missing out on appreciating
it: Mark, Sarah and Neil who were all away on holiday, and Madeleine,
who had read it long ago and had been trying for ages to get us
to do it, but in the end couldn’t make the meeting.
Don had one quibble: he felt that the book really only got going
when the ship sank. This was where he really got emotionally involved,
and in fact then forgot all about the earlier chapters accounting
for Pi’s life up to that point, which made him think they were perhaps
superfluous. The rest of us strongly disagreed that they were in
any way superfluous. For one thing, we said, Pi’s relationship with
his family, so vividly and humanely portrayed, coloured the post-shipwreck
section, giving a real texture to his loss. More importantly and
crucially, it is only through having followed his education in the
ways of animals as the son of a zookeeper, that we can find believable
the situation and events on the lifeboat.
Trevor, who arrived late in the discussion because we’d clashed
with his Spanish class, had what he called another small criticism.
Unlike the rest of us, he found that the biologically-strange but
theoretically biologically possible island which Pi encounters broke
the spell. No island like that could exist, he declared. We didn’t
find this a small criticism. We all rounded on him. How did he know
it couldn’t exist? Because, he said, if there was, we’d know about
it: there’s nothing unknown existing on the Pacific Ocean which
US military satellite surveillance wouldn’t have picked up by now.
We all cried: you can pick up a green blob on the ocean, but you
wouldn’t know about its precise physical characteristics without
stepping on it, as Pi did!
One thing was for sure: the rest of us wanted to believe in its
possibility, or at least in the possibility of the yet undiscovered.
Our message to anyone who hasn’t read this book yet is, do so: it
will make you believe in the power of fiction!
Click here to
add your comments
If This is a Man by Primo Levi (1947) (Abacus)
Trevor chose this, our first non-fiction book, Primo Levi’s account
of the two years he spent in Auschwitz from the ages of twenty-four
to twenty-six, until its ‘liberation’ in 1945.
It was a difficult book to discuss, we found, and I, for one, found
this a very strange meeting, very different from all our others.
Every single member was present, including two new ones, Martin
and Anne. Most felt that this was not a book which could be discussed
in literary terms, that matters of style, structure etc were quite
beside the point, since it had been written as an urgent message
Indeed, at the start of the Afterword included in our edition, Levi
states that it had been his intention to avoid any emotive techniques
which could open him up to accusations of bias, but set out to report
and analyse the facts as he witnessed and experienced them.
Don differed from this general view held by the group. It’s a short
book, in terms of pages, yet most of us had felt that it was a gruelling
and difficult read, and there was general agreement that this was
a result of the extreme bleakness of the situation recounted and
of the overall message. Don, however, said that he had found the
reason to be partly a certain lack of vividness which often prevented
him from seeing clearly the situation Levi was describing, and from
fully identifying with it. He had found himself comparing it unfavourably
to the novels of Solzhenitzyn about the camps of the Russian Gulag.
John endorsed this by noting that there were certain things which
were revealed towards the end of the book, and even only in the
sequel (included in our edition) about Levi’s return journey from
Auschwitz – such as the fact that there were women in the camp and
a vivid description of the way the prisoners were plagued by bedbugs
– which, had they appeared earlier, would have helped us appreciate
more fully the quality of the earlier experiences as we read them.
These were things I had thought beforehand and had intended to say,
but in the climate of the group’s discussion had felt I could not.
I realised with horror that what I was experiencing was the chill
wind of political correctness in its negative sense: the feeling
of a brake on intellectual and emotional honesty.
Don said, rightly, Well, we’ve got to be honest about these things,
our reactions to books, and everyone nodded (a real fear of dissent
seemed to be creeping into the room). Nevertheless, Jeanne pointed
out that in the Afterword Levi writes that the Nazi death camps,
designed specifically as centres of extermination, can’t be compared
to the camps of the Russian Gulag, which were prison camps set up
without such express intention. Everyone murmured assent, and the
assumption in the room appeared to be that therefore the writers
and their books could not be compared, and even Don apparently felt
unable to challenge this.
I plucked up courage and pointed out that the idea of writing about
anything purely objectively is a nonsense: that even scientific
papers are structured and shaped by choice of words and arrangement
Everyone chorused agreement, although I had thought I had been countering
the general assertion.
also said that it’s impossible for us to read Levi’s book in the
way it must have been read at the time it was first published, when
people didn’t know of the full horror he was revealing.
Everyone nodded again, but I have no idea whether they understood
my implication – that when a book is revealing something new and
shocking and true, then literary considerations are irrelevant,
but that now, in competition with all the fictional accounts which
have followed it, the book can have less impact – and I didn’t dare
John did say something similar: that he, for one, had not found
the book a gruelling read or shocking since the material was so
deeply familiar to him. The news of the death camps had emerged
into the world at a very formative time in his childhood and had
grimly coloured his mental landscape ever since.
This statement was received with what I felt to be an embarrassed
silence, as if the group had interpreted him as saying that he did
not find the events themselves morally shocking, or that
they felt that not to be shocked by this book was an obscenity.
Nobody said anything, however, and it did not seem possible to me
to unpick the matter.
The crowning moment for me came when Sarah said that not a single
one of us in the room could swear that we’d not shop a neighbour
to the Nazis if the alternative was being killed ourselves. Although
I thought she was right, that indeed none of us could honestly swear
to this, she said it with such conviction and passion that I felt
I couldn’t have said so if I hadn’t agreed.
John appeared to endorse her. He said that he had worked all his
life in local government where the only way to get on was to agree
with your superiors, whatever they said or did. Only afterwards
did he tell me that he had meant to go on to say that he had spent
his working life resisting this temptation, often to the detriment
of his career. But he had stopped, and hadn’t said this last. He
had broken his lifetime’s habit of speaking his mind because of
the sense that what he had to say was unacceptable in this context
and couldn’t be believed.
For once, no one raised their voice. For once, no one was sarcastic
or dismissive of anyone else’s opinion. I was not in the least comforted
by this. I felt that - ironically, in view of our subject - for
once some of us at least were in the grip of intellectual fear,
the fear of dissent: the very thing which can allow ideological
evils like Nazism to arise and thrive.
A Bend in the River by V S Naipaul (1979) (Picador)
all drove out along the dual carriageway to Madeleine’s to discuss
this novel of a young man of Indian descent who ventures from his
East-African home to take over a shop in a post-colonial town in
Central Africa, only to become becalmed and impotent there as rebellion
and political corruption splutter and unfold around him. (All of
us, that is, except Don and Jeanne who were tired and so couldn’t
face venturing so far on a wet Manchester night, and Martin who
was too busy with his work as a photographer, and Mark, even though
it was he who had chosen the book, because his baby was unwell.)
Madeleine was waiting with a torch outside her house to guide us
into the unfamiliar territory of her drive.
Only Trevor besides Mark liked the book. The rest of us felt that
we had embarked on it with enthusiasm only to be becalmed by frustration
and boredom. Although we found the subject-matter itself intensely
interesting, the book did not work for us as a novel, reading more
like reportage, and leaving us unengaged with the characters and
their plights. We had all (except Trevor) found it hard going to
read, and several of us had failed to make ourselves finish it in
time. Sarah and Anne said, to a chorus of agreement, that they had
found the characters thin. Madeleine pointed out why this was: throughout
the novel there was very little dramatisation of the interaction
between the characters – no dialogue or description, quite often
not even a sense of the place in which the interaction had occurred.
This meant we were never drawn into the characters’ reality, they
never seemed ‘real’ in the concrete and vivid way we expect of characters
in a novel, and the narrator’s unsupported comments about them appeared
unconvincing and lacking in authority. Don and Jeanne had conveyed
by phone that they found the book well-written in spite of its unengaging
quality, but Madeleine now said that, while the sentences might
indeed be well-wrought, as a novel, in view of the lack of
dramatisation, she found the book badly written, and some
of us agreed.
I said that I thought the really big problem was the narrative voice,
and John agreed, pointing out that although the book takes the form
of the first-person account of the shopkeeper protagonist, the voice
was not convincing, appearing rather to be that of the author. I
added that even the speeches of the other characters suffered from
this fault, undifferentiated in voice from the narrative, often
three or four pages long and sometimes adopting a somewhat formal
or stylised story-telling mode.
Then Trevor talked for some time about why he liked the book, which
was that he felt it was politically spot-on, a point with which
none of us disagreed.
After which, with some relief, we abandoned the subject of the book
and planned our Christmas meal out.
here to add your comments
God Little by DBC Pierre (Fabers)
This meeting was almost a fight, and indeed one of Sarah’s Christmas-tree
decorations got smashed.
had chosen and introduced this novel narrated by a Texan teenager
whose friend commits a Columbine School-type gun massacre, and who
ends up himself on Death Row.
She began by apologising for choosing what had turned out, in her
opinion, to be a truly dreadful book.
I immediately put in that I found it absolutely brilliant.
Don reminded me not to interrupt, and Madeleine went on. She said
that she had found the Texan teen-speak, saturated with expletives,
both impenetrable and alienating, and that she had been quite unable
to engage with the book. Thoroughly alienated herself and at a loss,
she had found some reviews which she read out to us. Mainly American,
they slammed the book as offensive American-bashing and full of
ugly American stereotypes, with an uncouth and unsympathetic narrator
- at least one of them suggesting that it had won this year's Booker
simply because it endorsed the anti-American prejudices of effete
I said that I found these reviews offensive.
Jeanne and I strongly stated that the narrator Vernon is anything
but unsympathetic. His plight is that he is, on the contrary, a
sensitive and intelligent teenager in a world in which ‘you are
supposed to be a psychopath’, ‘feeling waves’, as he puts it, for
everyone, even the policewoman leading him to the cells.
Since the book is a satire or black comedy, a certain amount of
stereotyping would be acceptable, but it is in fact subtler than
that, displaying a subtle consciousness that a morally bankrupt
society does indeed press people into stereotypical behaviour. Vernon
notes this stereotypical behaviour – the characters’ obsession with
consumerism and junk food and reality-TV culture - but also senses
people’s ‘emptiness’ and fears and complexities of character beneath
The psychopathy of which Vernon is accused in the novel is in fact
that of the society accusing him, a small town steeped in gun culture
and corruption and nurturing a paedophile ring which turns out to
be crucial to the plot.
The great irony of the novel and its plot is that Vernon can’t absolve
himself of the school murders by using his own alibi because he’s
staunchly empathising with his mother and protecting her from falling
under suspicion for another crime.
I said that it was only towards the end of the book that this last,
and the amazing significance of the garden wishing bench, began
to dawn on me. I had then read the book a second time and had then
seen all the clues and significances I had missed the first time
I noted that the reviews Madeleine read out appeared to have missed
this central element of the plot altogether, and that it was no
wonder therefore that they thought the book simple and offensive.
Nearly everyone in the group agreed that they had found the book
difficult to engage with at the start, or to grasp at one reading,
and I suggested that there was perhaps therefore a fault of pacing
with the book.
Neil however said that he didn’t see why a book should be obliged
to yield itself up entirely on a first reading, and that the subtlest
books never do.
Madeleine objected that if an author can’t be bothered to engage
her the first time round then she can’t be bothered to read what
he/she has written.
John said, but you could tell from the first sentence ‘It’s hot
as hell in Martirio, but the papers on the porch are icy with the
news’ that this is a moral book about morality and judgement and
retribution (the references to hell, to heat and cold) and that
someone (Vernon) is going to get martyred, and from the symbolic
name that it’s going to be a satire and should be taken as one.
Trevor agreed and said that as far as he was concerned this book
was a class act.
Everyone was extremely animated. People shouted. Somehow one of
the baubles off the Christmas tree, a green one, ended up spinning
across the floor.
Only Don agreed with Madeleine. He’d read five pages and shut the
book. Like Madeleine he’d found the language bankrupt, with its
preponderance of expletives. We all cried that it was an authentic
narrative voice expressing (in part) the moral bankruptcy of the
society being satirised. He retorted that it most certainly wasn’t
authentic: it hadn’t been written by an American and you could tell.
In any case, Don and Madeleine said, it wasn’t enough just to be
authentic, that didn’t make for literature.
I said, how could you call the language of a book bankrupt and non-literary
when it included the sentence ‘Mom’s whispers sparkle moonlight
as they fall to the ground by the wishing bench’?
Madeleine replied that that was ridiculously out of character and
inauthentic, and I accused her of wanting it both ways, at which
point someone shifted their foot and the green bauble got smashed.
really enjoyed your comments about Vernon God Little. I also had
to read the book a second time.
Other than yours, I have been unable to find any other references
to the wishing bench on the web. Weird how no one else has commented
upon it. We know that his mother bought the bench at the time his
father disappeared and that when Vernon was on death row, his mother
told him that the bench was sinking. I have been curious as to whether
his father was buried under the bench or whether a wishing bench
is actually a bench incorporating a box (but can't find this on
the web either!)
I was also surprised at how negatively most US reviewers viewed
Anyhow, thanks! - Jennifer Jones.
here to add your comments
List of all books discussed (alphabetically