Sydenham Book Group - January

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Location: New Beckenham

Sydenham Book Group - January

Post by mikej »

Sorry four of you were unable to attend tonight. Liz, Stuart and I were there to discuss Milkman by Anna Burns. Thanks to Sue for sending her review which was

I probably wouldn't have read it if it hadn't been chosen for the group as it had so many negative reviews. I enjoyed it and wanted to finish it. Once I got into the writing it was a good read and often very funny. The narrator highlighted a number of issues about how awful, and often arbitrary , life was like in Belfast in the 70s (we assume that is where and when it is). Although the characters didn't have names they were all identifiable as real people. The Wee Sisters reading material was also interesting! I also liked the description of the flying saucers sweets but that could be an age thing! Her thoughts and worries were also recognisable as were her efforts to rise above everything that was going on. So , yes, I enjoyed it and am pleased that I have read it .

There were mixed feelings - I largely concurred with Sue's views, though I admit I struggled with the first chapter, but on Sunday I sat down and read most of the rest and found - like Stuart - who left it even later to read - that reading it in one main session worked best. I liked the portrait of life in such a skewed society that Ms Burns gave, how even just walking along while reading a book was enough to make you stand out to the IRA and the police - the last thing you should do in such a situation.

Stuart had found that the lack of many breaks in the narrative (stream of consciousness?) made it hard to restart reading after a break - where had you reached? was seriously difficult. Liz had found it rather unappealing and had reached just over half way in the book. She mentioned the weird refusal to use actual names (maybe-boyfriend - we never discovered his name, like all the characters).

I gave it a thumbs up, so did Sue (obv.) but Stuart didn't like it.

We discussed various nominations for March's book, and eventually decided on
White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
This is a short story - so don't panic!
It is under 100 pages and scores 4.03 out of 5 from 40,000 reviews. So we should enjoy it!

Reminder that our choice for February is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, we'll be meeting to discuss this on February 26 which is a Wednesday from 7.30 ish in the Golden Lion.
New members are welcome - just come along having read the book and we'd be delighted to see you. We always meet on the last Wednesday of the month.

Best wishes and happy reading,

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