Monday, 31 December 2012

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris

Only one of the bookclub members had heard of this author prior to reading this book. From the views voiced during the meeting i have to say i don't think anyone will be picking up another of his books. We were all really disappointed at the complete lack of laugh out loud moments we were promised from the book jacket reviews. Having said that we did have a few laughs when we were discussing the funnier moments during the meeting. Maybe the way that Sedaris writes just isn't funny enough, even though the things he's writing about actually are pretty funny.

We had a discussion about whether we felt the book was self-mocking or whether Sedaris actually does feel he's much better than everyone else. While looking at this we tried to think about how different nationalities would feel about the book. We came to the conclusion that as Europeans we find it a bit snide, however, Americans may find it quite offensive.

We enjoyed that short story aspect to the book, but felt that there are some much better examples, for example Mrs Bridges. The little snapshots of Sedaris' life were easy to pick up and put down because they really didn't flow on from one another. This could be seen as a positive if you only had a little time to read, and also a negative as nothing really seemed to connect.

There was one element which we found really interesting, that of the performance artist who has his assistant shoot him in the arm. The only reason for this was that this also appeared in the Family Fang book we read earlier in the year. Apparently this did actually happen,

Overall we gave this book 4 out of 10.

Me Talk Pretty One Day - Questions

I hope you're all enjoying the book so far. Don't forget that we're meeting to discuss this book on Thursday 13th December. This means you only have 2 weeks to finish the book, or at least make a good crack at it. Here are some questions to think about:

- Are there sections of the book you feel are snide or mean-spirited? Perhaps his criticism of Americans who visit Europe dressed "as if you've come to mow its lawns." Or perhaps the piece about his stint as a writing teacher. Is petulance a part of Sedaris's schtick...his charm?

- David Sedaris is a descendant of Woody Allen's brand of humor—personal idiosyncrasies or neuroses raised to an art form. What does Sedaris reveal about himself, his insecurities, angst, secret hostilities, and do you find those parts funny or somewhat touching, even sad? Actually, do you like Sedaris as he reveals himself in his book?

- In one chapter Sedaris details the way our beloved holidays are celebrated…quite differently…elsewhere. Were you aware of any of these variations on our traditions? Do you see our holidays in a different light now that you’ve read this?

- Were you aware the rights to a film version of four of the stories in Me Talk pretty One Day had been sold to Columbia Pictures and had a completed script when David asked director Wayne Wang to quit? What would you have envisioned for a film version? Which actor would make a good David?

See you all on the 13th! Don't forget to let me know if you want to bring something to the potluck.

Questions from LitLovers

Sarah's Key - Tatiana De Rosnay

All the bookclub members at the meeting had finished the book, and they all said that the book was very thought provoking and incredibly sad.

We all felt a little bit let down by the links within the book, we felt that there should have been more of alink between Julia and Sarah. Overall we found it hard to see why she was so determined to discover more about Sarah and the house. Perhaps it would have been more understandable if it had been a member of the French family trying to discover the history of their house rather than a slightly random American woman.

Most of the bookclub felt that the first part of the book was far more enjoyable while we were watching both Julia and Sarah. Once the historical element of Sarah's story had finished the book lost a little of its interest. This was probably because we found the story of Sarah's key to be more engaging than the story of Julia and her search for answers. We also felt that some of things that Sarah did towards the end of the book weren't exactly things we would expect her to do.

We also discussed the other characters in the book especially comparing the 10 year old Sarah with Julia's young daughter Zoe. We wondered whether the War had made Sarah into the resilient child she was, would Zoe be just as tough in those circumstances. Luckily she will probably never have to discover this for herself.

Overall we felt that the book was essentially a narrative about Julia and her life with a few incidentals about Sarah. It's basically all about Julia and how she feels about things, even her talking about the War was all very one sided. She didn't talk about how the Frnech police felt, or even tried to discover any of them as survivors to balance out the story she was discovering about Sarah.

We found it interesting that this story was based on a true story about the French involvement with the invading forces during the second World War. It was something we hadn't thought of previously and something that many of the bookclub would like to read more about.

It was also interesting to find out that this book although written in English feels like a translation, the reason for this being that the author normally writes in French. We didn't discover this until quite a way through the book, but it does makes sense when i mention that some of the bookclub members found the writing to be a little clunky.

Overall we gave this book 6.5 out of 10.

Sarah's Key - Questions

Here are some questions for you to look at over the next few days until bookclub on the 22nd November:

- Were you surprised by what you learned about Sarah’s history? Take a moment to discuss your individual expectations in reading Sarah’s Key. You may wish to ask the group for a show of hands. Who was satisfied by the end of the book? Who still wants to know—or read—more?

- What did you know about France’s role in World War II—and the Vél d’Hiv round-up in particular—before reading Sarah’s Key? How did this book teach you about, or change your impression of, this important chapter in French history?

- The rue de Saintonge apartment is a key element to this stoyr, bringing past and present together through a secret tragedy. Discuss how you would feel living in such a place. Do you think walls remember?

Hope you're all enjoying this months book.

Questions from LitLovers