Upcoming November Discussions

Join us for the Pageturners daytime discussion about this new book – The Magician by Colm Toibin – at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10 November at 12.30pm – 1.30pm.

When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, which had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family.

Colm Tóibín’s epic novel The Magician is the story of a man of intense contradictions. Although Thomas Mann becomes famous and admired, his inner life is hesitant, fearful and secretive. His blindness to impending disaster in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever and fascinating wife, Katia, while his own secret desires appear threaded through his writing. He and Katia deal with exile bravely, doing everything possible to keep the family safe, yet they also suffer the terrible ravages of suicide among Thomas’s siblings, and their own children.

In The Magician, Colm Tóibín captures the profound personal conflict of a very public life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century.

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, has won the Costa Novel Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.

Please book your place or call us on 6393 8132. Please note the current COVID-19 NSW Public Health Orders apply.

The Pageturners Evening Group will talk about Corporal Hitler’s Pistol by Thomas Keneally on Wednesday 10 November at 5.30pm – 7pm.

How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

Corporal Hitler’s Pistol speaks to the never-ending war that began with ‘the war to end all wars’. Rural communities have always been a melting pot and many are happy to accept a diverse bunch … as long as they don’t overstep. Set in a town he knows very well, in this novel Tom Keneally tells a compelling story of the interactions and relationships between black and white Australians in early twentieth-century Australia.

Please book your place online or call us on 6393 8132. Please note the current NSW Public Health Orders will apply. And this event will be going ahead as we have the minimum number of required bookings – thank you.

One thought on “Upcoming November Discussions

  1. Paul Anderson November 9, 2021 / 1:01 pm

    The Magician by Colm Tóibín

    So, if Virginia Woolf wanted a room of one’s own, then Thomas Mann had the room, every morning was sacrosanct, and he was not to be disturbed. Two things struck me reading this doorstopper. Mann had a privileged writer’s life and Tóibín has done a masterful job in fictionalising it without alienating (potential) readers of Mann from his biographical subject. There are over thirty sources impressively listed in the acknowledgements and I have added Buddenbrooks to my TBR list. Tóibín is skilful at contextualising Mann’s novels: Gustav Mahler’s influence on Death in Venice for example. You get a convincing sense or representation of Mann: repressed and not only sexually, politically too. The magician seems an unlikely moniker. Mann’s diction is oddly plain, his dialogue atonal: ‘I am a writer and I don’t want to work in an office.’ (40). Boredom is threatened in such a long read – and maybe Mann could be boring in real life? – but consistently averted by good writing and engaging history. Tóibín gets to the man in a strong ending to the novel. ‘He [Mann] was on display, he thought, as he had been for most of his life, more as an ambassador for himself than as a person.’ (426).


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