Normal People, the critically acclaimed, prize-winning second novel by 28-year-old Irish writer Sally Rooney, has been crowned Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, or Nibbies, on Monday evening. Woohoo!! And Pageturners discussed this on 8 May.
The next book for
discussion is our classic read Main Street by
Sinclair Lewis to be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 12 June. Don’t
forget to RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132.
Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of America capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterisations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, “[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade … it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.”
“Main Street, published late in 1920, was my first novel to rouse the embattled peasantry and, as I have already hinted, it had really a success of scandal. One of the most treasured American myths had been that all American villages were peculiarly noble and happy, and here an American attacked that myth. Scandalous. Some hundreds of thousands read the book with the same masochistic pleasure that one has in sucking an aching tooth.”
Who would’ve thought a little book about two young people meeting at high school and continuing a relationship through university would generate so much lively discussion and passion? That’s what happened at Pageturners.
An article in The Guardian dubbed author Sally Rooney a “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”, in reference to her latest novel Normal People, was just one point of discussion.
Comments included “I like it, it was short, it was over a 3.5 year timeframe, it forced the reader to focus, there was lots of dialogue, they were little vignettes, some were minutes later – some months later, you had to get into the rhythm of it, without quotation marks you had to work out who was speaking, I loved it, it captures millennials just right, I was frustrated, they didn’t talk about things, there were misunderstandings because of this, I just wanted them to really talk to each other, the beginning was very tragic, they were drawn to each other, she felt she was unworthy, her family was wealthy but dysfunctional, there’s a lot in it, she detached, Rooney’s a young author, it is well written, I continued because there must be some reason for writing it, it didn’t make me feel good, it was repetitive, it showed mental and physical abuse, some of the characters weren’t developed enough, she allowed men to mistreat her, shows that everyone is a mystery, you don’t really know what the other person is thinking, makes you think what is normal? it’s about power, class, emotional and physical abuse, depression, independence, self-worth, identity, belonging, mind games, submission, it was annoying and frustrating, I couldn’t finish it, beautiful writing, she’s so clever, it is just so relatable.”
Star ratings out of 5 ranged from 0.5 to 5 – so a wide range of views and feelings about Normal People.
The next book for discussion is our classic read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis to be held at Orange City Library on Wednesday 12 June, Don’t forget to RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132.
Pageturners are discussing Normal People by Sally Rooney on Wednesday 8th May at 5.30pm at Orange City Library.
2018 Costa Novel Award winner and longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize: Normal People is the feverishly anticipated second novel from the young author of 2017’s most acclaimed debut Conversations with Friends.
From the publisher: Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.
This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.
Don’t forget to RSVP online via Eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. Your RSVP helps with seating and catering arrangements and is much appreciated.
The majority of Pageturners enjoyed Scrublands by Chris Hammer but a few questioned some of the characters, the storyline and overall believability. But for most of them it was a rolling fast-paced story that kept you reading, wanting to know what was going to happen next and how it was going to be resolved. The funny thing was once we got going everyone talked about it as if all the events and characters were real!
general discussion about the media, life in small towns, landscape, the range
of criminal events – shooting, car crash, fire, kidnap, assault; the character
names, the diverse range of people in the small town, and character motivations.
And there was also great discussion about the number of issues covered in the book – here are a few – murder, mass shooting, drugs, sex, pedophilia, domestic violence, single mothers, nakedness, affairs, ASIO, fake newsroom, false identity, soldiers, orphanages and more.
And discussion about the range of characters – backpackers, bikies, spies, priests, police, journalists, bookshop owner, publican, motel owner, con-man etc that could be found in a small town.
Comments included: “it would make a great TV mini-series, the characters were believable, the story was at full-speed, it was a blender/smoothie book with everything mixed up together, red-herrings everywhere, setting was oppressive, we got our money’s worth, he was obsessed by his hands, journalist bits realistic, loved how it all unfolded, cliffhangers abounded, it was Cedar Valley on steroids, I wanted to know what happened, insightful, the towns were believable, there were no indigenous people and only one ethnic person who spoke ‘Australian’, many characters, too many characters with huge backstories, it was a big bucket of clichés, it was a deadly hostile environment, I enjoyed the rolling story, there was some dry humour, the ending was tied up in a nice bow, very visual, I hope he writes another one.”
Star ratings out of five ranged from 2 through to the majority of 3s, 3.5s and 4.
It is interesting to note in the Better Reading interview Chris says he was lectured by the late Miles Franklin Literary Award winning crime writer Peter Temple. Some inspiration there perhaps?
The next read will be a change of pace with Normal People by award-winning Irish author Sally Rooney. The meeting will be held on Wednesday 8th May at Orange City Library at 5.30pm. Don’t forget to RSVP online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. This helps with catering and seating. Thank you. See you then.
Our April read is Scrublands by Chris Hammer to be discussed at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10th April from 5.30pm – 7pm. Please RSVP online via eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132 – thank you.
Set in an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners being shot dead himself.
A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.
About the author:
Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than
thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics
and international affairs. For many years, he was a roving correspondent for
SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more
than thirty countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief
political correspondent for The Bulletin, currrent affairs correspondent for
SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.
His first book, The River,
published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the
Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark
House National Cultural Award. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from
Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from
the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr
Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.
‘A luminous look at a city at a time of change, a time when the
building of the Sydney Opera House was a reach for greatness.’ The
New York Times
‘Olsson transcribes Sydney into an exquisite visual palette, forcing the reader to pay attention to her stunning language. A complex and provocative novel of ideas.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Olsson’s subtle and nuanced tale displays how deeply the past – or at least one’s perception of it – informs life in the present.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘A beautifully crafted novel about a fascinating time in our history. There is a luminous precision in every sentence.’ Heather Rose, award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love
Pageturners described it as “gentle, atmospheric, a little bit slow, beautiful language, light, time of change, a lot happening, Vietnam draft, controversy, the building of the Opera House, Utzon drama, focus on the artist, a little frustrating, didn’t get to know the characters, loved the landlady, liked the bits about Scandinavia, liked the narrative about interviewing the author, and lots of criticisms of Australians.”
revolved around conscription, Pearl the journalist and protestor, her
relationships, her brothers, her father,
Axel and his artwork and his father, nuclear weapons, Vietnam war, Anzac Day
and Swedish neutrality.
Ratings out of five went as follows: 4, 4, 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 2, 3, 2,3, 3.5, 4. So a broad range of views on the book..
The next read is the bestselling novel Scrublands by Chris Hammer. The discussion will be held on Wednesday 10th April at 5.30pm. Please RSVP online through Eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132. See you then.