‘Two of the group found Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains fascinating on all sorts of levels – as a study in good versus evil, a very clever historical novel, with beautifully drawn characters and moral dilemmas to explore. Others found it frustrating and difficult to finish even though the book is quite short. An interesting and very marked divergence of view.
The discussion was once again very lively and wide ranging. All are very at ease in each other’s company now and everyone contributes enthusiastically and listens attentively. This was particularly pleasing since there had been a break of a few months and seeing everyone come back enthusiastically supporting the group again was excellent news.’
A group for new readers finds pleasure and achievement every session
‘We continued with Michael Morpurgo’s Shadow, picking up where we’d left off several weeks ago.
T managed to recap on the story very well. He’d remembered a lot and read well. A began well but was shaky on his punctuation and started to read like a robot, without pauses. We stopped for a chat about punctuation, putting examples on the flip chart. ‘Half a breath for a comma, and whole breath for a full stop.’
His reading was transformed, and he was touchingly excited that it made so much more sense.’
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
‘The group launched straight in with comments about the language. Most found it frustrating to work out what was being said (several had missed the glossary at the end of the story) but after discussion better understood why Burgess had used a teenage lingo. The classical music intrigued them and they felt the power of Beethoven’s 9th could match someone’s mood after committing violence. Not everyone had read the book but most had seen the film which helped them participate in the discussion. There was a lot of discussion around whether films ever matched the power of a book. I described the context of the book published in 1962 about drugs and violence and asked the men what they thought would or could shock us now? They said child molestation was one thing and some items on the news, eg the burning alive of a Jordanian by ISIS. They also acknowledged that we have become desensitised but that injustices, government cover-ups etc did upset us and they quoted whistle blowers like Edward Snowden as people who are important.
To end the session I had brought a poem about autumn, ‘Summer for an instant’ by George Orwell. This prompted one member to recite ‘Silver’ by Walter de la Mare and they all listened. This was quite a magical moment!’