Good Reading : March 2004
(grreadinggroup) call it a poem. Printing helps me though. JAN: The other thing that made a difference reading it out loud was that it slows you down.When you speed read, you pick up things differently. DENISE: I think it’s an automatic thing and you ignore adjectives and you are looking for the ‘doing’ words and the information words (nouns).You go so quickly, just looking for those words. JOAN: You couldn’t do that with this book could you? ALL: No! FIONA: I didn’t like the format, because it didn’t create any real presence. I couldn’t achieve a visualisation of anyone, hence I didn’t like what I read. JENNY: I thought she was quite gutsy, if you think about the time that she wrote it. It’s an incredibly gutsy thing to have writ - ten. And to have exposed yourself so much. And she got arrested for it. I was reading that her mother bought all of the books in Ottawa and burnt them, then lobbied for it to be banned in Canada. And she was successful in getting it banned. ALL: Really! JENNY: I don’t think she cared about what happened to it after she had written it. I think she needed to get it out and it was really like this, not taking a breath, just blah… IRENE: But in the book, she seemed to me to be almost suicidal. DENISE: It’s a fairly good demonstration of that hypothesis that love is madness. It’s a psychotic episode that you go through and she was clearly psychotic. FI: I don’t think anyone needs to go through that! IRENE: She was certainly that – she was certainly psychotic. DENISE: We probably use that word love to cover a lot of emo- tions but the extremity of that has been called a form of madness and in reading [the book]… IRENE: There is certainly a form of madness through [the book]. JOAN: It was obsession. JAN: And an absolute form of selfishness as well. FIONA: Yes – self indulgent.That was the thing that irritated me most about the book. JAN: I think that for all that I disliked the book initially, it’s a book that I will come back to. I find it interesting and I think reading it fast is the problem. I think we’re all used to reading fast – and you read for information. It’s a book I’d like to have on the shelf for a few years. JENNY: I was more taken with the title. I really liked the title. JOAN: The title was wonderful. But I thought prior to reading the book, that the title would be more like a metaphor. DENISE: It’s out of a psalm. JENNY: “By the rivers of Babylon, I sat down and wept and cried for the Zion”. It’s the Hebrews and they’re crying for their homeland, it’s a thing they can’t attain. She used so many biblical metaphors. JAN: The thing is that it’s ten years on that she’s writing and she’s… JOAN: Re-writing history? JAN: Absolutely rewriting history. It would be interesting if she had kept a diary of that time and to compare the diary to the book. JENNY: I have to say I’m intrigued by her life. And want to know more of her story on a biographical level rather than this.* JOAN: Me too, yes. IRENE: I wonder how much of it really came from the heart, and how much of it was actually contrived. JOAN: I’d like to know what her motive was for writing the book.Was it to work it through, or to make a bit of money, or to become famous, or was it revenge on him? JAN: But she was already famous wasn’t she? JENNY: No, not really. IRENE: So the book doesn’t cover the whole relationship period does it? DENISE: No only a couple of years. If that. It seems to me to only cover that period when they came to the States and then left the first time which is just the early stage of the relationship. I assumed it was a period of less than a year. JAN: I found when I was reading it that I would totally get lost and not know whether I had read it or not. I didn’t have a book- mark this time. IRENE: Getting used to the language was the problem. DENISE: And the shock of what it was and getting into what she was doing. And the use of metaphors seemed a little forced – there was the biblical, then the seasonal, then the agrarian. IRENE: There was one quote that I thought was beautiful. “I am shot with wounds which have eyes that see the world all sorrow. I am indeed immortally pierced with feelings of love”. DENISE: There are some lovely bits. And clever. – Ah, there’s the food! Well I think we’ve about done this one to death. Let’s eat! Share your opinions and thoughts with our readers by becoming our Reading Group of the Month. Register now to go into the draw. If you are successful, we’ll provide each member of your group with a free copy of a specially selected title and publish an edited version of your discussion. To enter, simply fill out the attached card and mail to: Good Reading, GPO Box 3835, Sydney NSW 2001, or register your group online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Would you like to be our Reading Group of the Month? Next month’s book group will be discussing The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Irene, Joan, Jenny and Denise. Jan and Fi were away when this photo was taken. 13 (GoodReading) *The group and other interested readers may wish to seek out By Heart: Elizabeth Smart A Life by Rosemary Sullivan andThe Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker by Robert Fraser .