This is a somewhat belated report on the books read by the Marylebone Library Reading Group in May and June. It’s been delayed because I went on holiday to Romania & Bulgaria in search of places mentioned in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’…. more of which later!
In May we discussed Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
On the whole the book was enjoyed by most, although some felt that they were happy that each story was short, as a full book of each may have proved to much to undertake! Some felt that unlike other books we have read, one couldn’t identify with the characters very well, although Hemingway’s characters were quite well depicted. The style of his writing was seen as somewhat simple, but there was a lot more underlying which the reader had to extract.
Some of the group felt his writing appeared dated to similar writer’s of the time – Beckett and Carver were mentioned. Perhaps it is more to do with attitudes that have changed? His men are mostly quite horrible, coming across as insensitive and boorish, whilst the women largely receive the readers sympathy – did Hemingway see women as needy, which might be why the men were as they were?
In June we read and discussed The Red House by Mark Haddon.
A tale of several related people in a domestic situation, and how their various relationships interact – or not. The general feeling was that this was an interesting read, but not as good a read as his previous book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – a hard act to follow.
Haddon’s tale left some of us feeling that the characters were all rather shallow, despite the various ‘leads’ within the story, which were not developed further. Benjy, the youngest child in the story was the favourite character, probably because he came in and out of the story with definite actions and conversations, and without any undeveloped loose ends. There was some disagreement about whether the book was ‘too hard’ or ‘too easy’ to read. Haddon’s short descriptive writing in parts of the story was effective, as was his use throughout of both past and present tenses. It will be interesting to see the subject matter of his next book.
Marylebone Library will be moving at some point in August, so keep an eye on the News & events page of the Westminster website for location details for future meetings.