Monday, March 26, 2007

Book Clubs

Weird things. I think that there aren't any near where I live, and horribly stereotypist that I am, I might assume that if there were, I should be forced to suffer M******t D********'s Plough the strangled threads and that kind of thing. They say that you can't judge a book by the cover it shows, but a drawing of a delicate young lovely in red lipstick, rollers and landgirl style overalls standing by a tractor puffing a lovely white plume into a china blue sky full of seagulls isn't likely to make me pick it up.

I joined a bookshop community online. I shall call it Backside Books. Hurrah I thought, as it described itself as a 'bookshop of the future'. Though I am past the radical age, of course I still like to read fiction (and non fiction) which challenges me, makes me think, alters my opinions, stuns me into more research. Having a glimpse at the reading list for their 'radical fiction' reading group, makes me sigh though, especially (though not exclusively) the euro fiction section. Camus and Kafka... come on, Backside Books. Kafka may have been radical in the late 19th and early 20thC, but where is the stuff that challenges todays generation (and anyway, he doesnt work in translation, the verb placement is fucked in english)? What about the new modern classics in Europe? Where are the Slavenka Drakulics, the C. A. Brkics, where even, are the Kunderas? And if you want to hammer away at the old stuff, why such obvious books? Why not, instead of Kafka's Trial, Ivo Andric's Bridge on the Drina (nobel prize for literature,"for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country."?
The list is described as being full of 'leftwing, progressive and revolutionary fiction'.


And yes I know these books are still relevant (ish), but so is Shakespeare in that way, but there is a huge GUSH of work coming out of formely repressed nations, the classics of the future are knocking at our door, yet Backside Books are still plugging away at Kafka. Hardly radical.

More so, it seems, is Richard and Judy's list. The poetically beautiful yet sharp as a tack The Girls from Lori Lansen, the shockingly intense Half of a Yellow Sun from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (an instant uni list of a book if ever I saw one and far better (imo) than the Ralph Ellison offered at Backside Books) and the fantastically bizarre This book will change your life from A. M. Holmes.

It's madness. Three years intensive study for my literature degree, leaves me sitting in front of a channel 4 teatime programme, waiting to find a decent read.

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