Snapshot April 2015

UnknownThe first day of a new month and it’s time to take a quick snapshot of what I’m reading, listening to and watching.


I’ve been desperately trying to finish Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five in time for the book club discussion tonight. But despite a valiant effort during a three hour stint in the hairdresser’s on Saturday, I didn’t make the end. This is a novel whose name I’ve known for years and years but never had a clue what it was about. If you’d pressed me I would have said it was science fiction. How wrong can one get. It’s a powerful satirical novel about the impact of war on an innocent individual caught up in its snare. I’ve also started Life of Pi by Yann Martel as part of my Booker Prize challenge. This is one I’ve not been looking forward to because it features animals and I seem to have an aversion to those kinds of books (with the exception of course of Black Beauty). So far Martel is keeping my interest – maybe because I haven’t got to the bits with the animals in it yet.


I’ve just started The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore. She’s someone I’ve had my eye on for a while but never got around to reading. This is set in post world war 2 Britain where a young doctor’s wife feels increasingly isolated and lonely as she tries to adjust to the realities of married life in Yorkshire. One night she finds a discarded RAF great coat; sleeping under it to keep warm she begins to dream and to remember her childhood. The book is billed as her first ghost story. No sign of any ghosts yet, just a lot of good period detail about food rationing.


I am no superwoman it is clear. Despite good intentions when I signed up for a Coursera module on Australian literature I have fallen way way behind.  I even bought a few books to read along the way (Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan, The Short History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey and Voss by Patrick White) but they all lie unopened. The early video lectures on differing perceptions that writers have had of the continent were interesting but then we went into some disconnected lectures on native literature. Interesting individually but I couldn’t see what point was being made other than that we should not forget that literature is not the prevue of the white settler. If I hadn’t been also taking a course on family history at the same time I would have made better progress. Memo to oneself: do one thing at a time.


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on April 1, 2015, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I haven’t done Coursera again. I’ve looked at a few — but nothing has hooked me. Life of Pi has been one of my favorite books — read intro carefully. I taught it once — and that may have changed it for me — gotten me more intensely into it.

  2. I dropped my Coursera course pretty quick when they expected a book a week plus posts and what not. It just wasn’t going to happen when I was as busy as I was. I also had no idea Slaughterhouse Five was a satirical novel and not science fiction.

  3. I have the tendency of devising highly ambitious plans which, of course, have the same destiny – they meet their death after a week or so.. I entered several courses but I am falling very much behind..
    I read about Black Beauty in Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love; along with Owd Bob and The Story of a Red Deer.. I am very interested to see what are they all about!

    • I know this feeling too well Anna. You never read Black Beauty? Its such a classic children’s book from my young days but maybe not as well known outside the UK

  4. sylviemarieheroux

    Doing the MOOC on Australian Lit too, falling being but not worried, I will eventually go through all the videos, but I don’t care much for the assigned work. I do find it quite fascinating. But I also work with Australians day in, day out, so knowing more about the culture has become a priority.

    • I do to see the point of some of those exercises either. Good point about downloading g the videos. I started downloading g the scripts but it would take forever to reformat.

  5. sylviemarieheroux

    Re: Life of Pi, don’t give up because of the animals, be prepared to be surprised.

  6. You know when I read Slaughterhouse Five a number of years ago I too, thought it was supposed to be science fiction. So you are not alone in the misconception! I really liked Life of Pi. Have you seen the movie? They did a good job at keeping close to the book.

    • We had a great discussion on Vonnegut tonight – it seems a book that warrants re-reading.

    • I think it has elements of sci fi Stefanie since it does deal with time travel and the fourth dimension but its not the whole book. No I haven’t seen the film though I heard the special effects were superb

  7. I haven’t heard of that Flanagan – embarrassingly, I have to admit to having not heard of him at all until he won the Booker (for once, a popular choice.)

  8. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on The Greatcoat. So far, I’ve read two of Dunmore’s books; I liked one and loved the other. I also have Gould’s Book of Fish waiting for me, but I think that one might have to wait a little longer.

  9. Oh, I hope you will end up liking Life of Pi. I loved it. Let us know what you think, when you finish!

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