Book Club

The Victoria Park

The Victoria Park Book Club

So, my friend recently opened this beautiful pub called The Victoria Park, a new local Pub in the Heart of Bristol, set back from Victoria Park in Bedminster. Besides serving some amazing food and having a great selection of ales, the space would be perfect for a regular book club.

I have never been part of a book club or even attended one, but as far as I know, there isn’t an ‘official’ one in the Bedminster/Southville/Totterdown/Windmill Hill area, so hopefully this club can fill that gap.

The Victoria Park Book Club will follow traditional models: meet once a month, discuss books and pick the next title to be read. The club will cover all genres, discussions incorporating everything from idle chit chat to in-depth analysis with a very laid back attitude.

If you would like to join the book club, make suggestions or simply give me some feedback, then please get in touch. I will be learning as I go along so please remember that this is very much a work in progress. Help spread the word and come along. You don’t even have to read the book – just drop by to socialise, have some nice food and a drink!

You can contact me on twitter or email (librosmediocres [at] gmail [dot] com).

The Victoria Park pub is also on twitter and facebook.

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Currently reading

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

“The book tells the story of Ariel Manto, a PhD student who has been researching the 19th century writer Thomas Lumas. She finds an extremely rare copy of Lumas’ novel The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop. The book is rumoured to be cursed – everyone who has read it has died not long afterwards.”

Books we’ve read

Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton

“Set in late 1930s London, ‘Hangover Square’ is the dark and disquieting tale of George Harvey Bone, a drunk. With few prospects and mental problems, George spends most of his time discussing theoretical plans and political issues with his bunch of drinking acquaintances. Driven by loneliness and his increasingly-violent schizophrenic delusions and visions, he develops an obsession with the attractive but cruel Netta. She fuels the worrying situation by treating George with flirty, flippant cruelty, and often-public contempt. Her behaviour, combined with his increasingly erratic behaviour, drive “Hangover Square” to its spectacular and disturbingly aggressive climax.”

Deception by Philip Roth

“At the center of the book are conversations between a married American named Philip, living in London, and a married Englishwoman—trapped with a small child in a loveless upper-middle-class household. The lives of both characters are gradually revealed as they talk before and after making love.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

“Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood’s two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA’s seedy backstreets, Marlowe’s got his work cut out – and that’s before he stumbles over the first corpse …”

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingslover

Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia.”

Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn

“The novel’s perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family – the family featured in St. Aubyn’s praised trilogy, Some Hope – starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and compelling account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favour of his sons; to Mary, who’s consumed by her children and an overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother. All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once-illustrious family whose last vestige of wealth – an old house in the south of France – is about to be donated by Patrick’s mother to a New Age foundation.”

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

“Winner of the Pultizer Prize. A brilliantly entertaining novel about memory, time, art and how humans connect at every level.”

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

“When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire – to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.”

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.”

C by Tom McCarthy

C follows the short, intense life of Serge Carrefax, a man who – as his name suggests – surges into the electric modernity of the early twentieth century, transfixed by the technologies that will obliterate him.”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood & The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, a country formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. It was founded by a racist, male chauvinist, nativist, theocratic-organized military coup as an ideologically driven response to the pervasive ecological, physical and social degradation of the country.”

The Time Machine protagonist is an English scientist and gentleman inventor living in Richmond, Surrey, identified by a narrator simply as the Time Traveller. The narrator recounts the Traveller’s lecture to his weekly dinner guests that time is simply a fourth dimension, and his demonstration of a tabletop model machine for travelling through it. He reveals that he has built a machine capable of carrying a person, and returns at dinner the following week to recount a remarkable tale, becoming the new narrator.”

The Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith

“In The Diary of a Nobody the Grossmiths create an accurate if amusing record of the manners, customs and experiences of Londoners of the late Victorian era.”

The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho

“The Fifth Mountain, is set in the 9th century BC. Elijah is a young man struggling to maintain his sanity amidst a chaotic world of tyranny and war. Forced to flee his home, then choose between his newfound love and security and his overwhelming sense of duty, this is a moving and inspiring story about how we can transcend even the most terrible ordeals by keeping faith and love alive.”

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago

“A retelling of the Gospel following the life of Christ from his conception to his crucifixion. A naive Jesus is the son not of God, but of Joseph. In the desert it is not Satan, but God that Christ tussles with, an autocrat with whom he has an unbalanced and unsettled relationship.”

Rupture by Simon Lelic

“Set during a stultifying London heatwave, this is a disturbingly realistic, taut piece of writing.” – The Guardian

The Committments by Roddy Doyle

“A charming, truthful and immensely funny story which leaves you gasping for more.” -Sunday Times

Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee

“Waiting for the Barbarians is an allegory of oppressor and oppressed. Not just a man living through a crisis of conscience in an obscure place in remote times, the Magistrate is an analogue of all men living in complicity with regimes that ignore justice and decency.”

David Goldner by Irene Nemirovsky

“This is a writer of rare power, make no mistake.” – Evening Standard

The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

“An absurd and superbly comic story, this classic novel can also be read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution.” – Andrey Kurkov

Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Hunger is the crux of Hamsun’s claims to mastery. This is the classic novel of humiliation, even beyond Dostoevsky.” – The Observer

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3 Responses to Book Club

  1. Hi all, it’s been proposed that we use this page as a forum to discuss/suggest future books for the book club, so if anyone has any titles they would like to put forward, please do so…Laura has already suggested Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” which I would be quite keen on reading. Anyone else?

  2. I second the Murakami suggestion, definitely. Some others that could be worth considering include
    Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra
    http://www.vikramchandra.com/Default.aspx?tabid=135
    Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton Walsh
    George and Weedon Grossmith Diary of a Nobody

  3. the_murch says:

    I’ve already chosen two books so I’ll take a break for now, but here are a couple of suggestions/ideas for the future/to get the discussion going.

    “Life, A User’s Manual” by George Perec – a bit longer than we’ve done before (500 pages) and with a formidable reputation, but there would be a lot to discuss. From the blurb “…an entire microcosm brought to life in a Paris apartment block. Serge Valene, one of the inhabitants … has conceived the idea of a painting which will show in exact detail the inside of each apartment within the building, every person, every object…” It’s famous for its elaborate wordplay, hidden puzzles and stories-within-stories.

    “Shikasta” by Doris Lessing – another Nobel Prize winner. The first in a series of science fiction novels which she wrote in the 1980s. Not the most famous of her work, but was critically well received at the time. Blurb says: “it is at once a brief history of the world, a tract against human destructiveness, an ode to the natural beauties of this earth and a hymn to the music of the spheres.”

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