Archive for March, 2009

Literary Overload

Beautiful norway.. and not a cultural activity in sight!

Beautiful norway.. and not a cultural activity in sight!

Hope everyone is looking forward to next week and the latest chapter of book club. I can’t wait to get started on Out Stealing Horses; the funny thing is I didn’t think it was making much of an impression on me as I was actually reading it but now I can’t stop thinking about it. I also keep trying to discuss it with people who haven’t read it (ie. Dave) and have now explained the entire plot to him thereby rendering it (he says) completely unreadable. Oops. I also have a yen to go to Norway (the open country, the trees, the rain storms…). So finally having a good chat about the book will be very welcome.


Really, this is all just a symptom of the severe case of cultural overload I am suffering. I’m reviewing books, films, theatre, even lunchtimes are jammed full of flipping culture (I went to the first rather fabulous Listen at Lunch at Northern Stage- actors read short stories- unexpectedly brilliant). My brain needs a sleep. So if I start talking about the wrong book on Wednesday you know what is up. See you April 1st (Not an April Fool!).

An Unexpected Peace

my possible future

my possible future

I have a new cat. After a few years of gentle (and, in recent months, not-so-gentle) persuasion, Dave finally caved in and so we spent  one rather bizarre Wednesday afternoon driving out into the middle of God-knows-where to play “grab a kitten”. Apparently kittens are extremely hard to come by at this time of year (??) and therefore every Wednesday (on the publication of the new Ad Trader mag) the whole region takes part in a mad feline version of supermarket sweep- “roll up roll up kittens for sale, when they’re gone they’re gone” that kind of thing. Nevertheless we acquitted ourselves well and came away with the prize- a timid, rather bony, black and white mog.


 That was three weeks ago. Now, I am slightly ashamed to admit, the Great Gatsby (better fed and much more naughty) has changed my life. Coinciding beautifully with the recent career change and my ongoing status as abandoned rock n roll wife, home is now the place I spend most of my day (as opposed to the place where I leave my dirty laundry). I was feeling pretty twitchy about this but now my days are deliciously consumed by books, cats and plentiful tea. In short, I have become a member of the Bloomsbury group a hundred years too late. Now that’s what I call retro.


This new peace has chimed well with the new book, Out Stealing Horses. I really wasn’t sure that it was going to be for me but I just don’t think it suits being crammed into a 20 minute Metro journey;  having been able to give the words a bit of space to breathe, I am surprised at how moving and even gripping I found it. Sometimes it seems there’s nothing going on but when you look closer it’s all actually all there. It’s a strange kind of magic when a book can do that. So, stick with it if you’ve started and you think it’s going nowhere- then even if you hate it you can really tell me why. See you next week.

From Norway to Nigeria

happylady1Well, another month and another rather wonderful book club meeting! Is it just me or do they just get better and better, what with me and Kelly shocking you all with our strange affection for Sam Marsdyke (there’s a side to me you didn’t see coming..) and welcoming another lovely new member to the fold. Quite a marmite-type reaction to God’s Own Country (isn’t it endlessly interesting what different people make of the same book?) but I think we all agreed that it will be interesting to see what Ross Raisin comes up with next and that is surely a good thing all round.


And I think the next book is a bit of a gear change, though I confess to have only finished the first few chapters and so am unable to pass any judgements just yet. I’ve put up some examples of what other people thought on the “Book” page though, so have a glance if you want an idea of what’s in store.

I suspect that it’s not really my usual thing but it’s always nice to step outside the literary comfort zone every once in a while.


Oh and just a quick reminder for all the new fans of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that New Writing North’s Festival of African Writing is taking place on the 13th and 14th March. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication, festival highlights include Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, hotly-tipped novelist Brian Chikwava (by the Guardian, no less), the disgustingly talented Helen Oyeyemi (who’s brilliant novel The Icarus Girl was written at only 19!) and Somali exile and winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature Nuruddin Farah. Expect sneaky peaks of new work and learned discussion. I’ll be there if anyone fancies popping along- click on Northern Writers Centre link (right) for details.

About the group

Sunderland Book Group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Holmeside Coffee in Sunderland.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit

March 2009
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