Friday, April 11, 2003

Bookclub by relay

The bookclub of intestinal fortitude (BCIF) rode again last night.

Well, almost.

After my apparently terrifying review, only one other member bothered reading Gould’s Book of Fish. So we languished without a book or a proper meeting. We met over beers to come up with a kick-start formula four weeks ago.

We decided the novel of “Fight Club” (on which the film was based) would be an easy one to get started on, a confidence builder, and if we didn’t like the book we could compare it with the film.

The meeting date was set, after negotiations, for last night. No one had read the book. Beth could not start early, the member who joined during the cocktail hour of madness could not start late.

Under such conditions many would give up. Not us. We had BCIF by relay. I drove to North Melbourne, into the midst of new member’s packing hell, where member three was already present – helping to stuff clothes and bric-a-bric in boxes. We drank white wine and ate fish and chips.

Member three and I then drove to Beth’s new Secret Life of Us-style pad in Richmond. Beth’s new place has a spectacular balcony view over the rooftops of inner Melbourne out towards the MCG and the city. It’s a great place to watch the light change. (Beth, we’re all waiting for the moods of Melbourne webcam.) Or to drag armchairs from the lounge room and flake about eating chocolate and pikelets and drinking beer.

It felt like a boarding school midnight feast from an Enid Blyton novel.

Other than the beer.

So, we talked books in general. What we’d liked recently, what we’d not, what we disagreed on (opinions varied on Tim Winton’s “Dirt Music”, which I’ve not yet read).

I talked about “Perdido Street Station” and how I found the ending disappointing, most of the characters metaphorically declaring their job done and riding off into the west, while one experiences a less-than-compelling revelation and trudges back into the heart of the city. Ho hum.

This lead to the big question of the night: what novels have really great endings?

We could only all really agree on A. S. Byatt’s “Possession” – which does end in a brilliant, complete and happy-yet-sad heart-rending manner.

(I also put in a pitch for Alan Moore’s graphic novel “Watchmen”, but explaining why it’s ending worked so well to two non graphic-novel readers was not, perhaps, the wisest use of everyone’s time. In the same genre I should have mentioned the conclusion to Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”.)

Anyway, what novels do you think have great endings?

(Oh yeah, we’re reading Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” next – don’t blow the ending for me, I think a Radio National panel discussion last year already has … )

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