Good Reading : October 2010
book club books of the month This month your book club might like to travel back in time to the Roman Empire or you might choose a sea change instead. NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorján Text $27.95 Johanna Adorján embarks on a mission to find out as much as she can about her grandparents who, on 13 October 1991, took their own lives. Having obtained a copy of Final Exit (a book banned in many countries because of its specific and detailed instructions about methods of suicide) they took to their beds, drank vials of poison and lay down together holding hands as their eyes closed for the last time.This dramatic and methodically planned 'exit' fuels Adorján's curiosity and she sets about gathering infor mation from across the globe. Interviewing friends, family and acquaintances, Adorján succeeds in piecing together the lives of two quite secretive individuals who spoke very little about their lives and, in particular, their experiences as Jews in the Holocaust. Questions for discussion 1. Consider the issue of the reliability of memory.With this in mind, to what extent can the story hope to recreate a reliable image of Vera and Pista? Does the possibility of uncertainty detract from the story? Why/why not? 2. This book shifts in chronology, beginning many years after the suicide, and travelling forward and backward in both time and place. It uses supposition, research, memory, interview and imagination to construct the nar rative.To what extent does the structure add to or detract from the tale? To what extent does the construction make this a more or less convincing story? 3. What might be the reason for Pista's sustained silence about his past? In spite of this silence, why might Pista be willing to discuss his suffering in the Korean War but not his suffering in Mathausen? 4. 'What price love?' Does love have a price? Should it? Can you understand Vera and Pista's choice? How would you act in the same circumstances? 5. If a biography is a record of one's life (as defined by the Macquarie Dictionary) could this book be classed as such, despite its large sections of imaginative supposition? Must biography always be linked to verifiable evidence? Justify your view. For more questions and discussion ideas for your book club for both The Death Instinct and An Exclusive Love go to www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au and click on ‘book clubs’ on the bookmark on the left of the screen. Peter Lehmann’s ‘Layers’ Nothing beats meeting up with a group of friends and discussing a good book over a glass of wine. This month, why not try a bottle of Peter Lehmann’s ‘Layers’ series? ‘Layers’ is crafted to illustrate Peter Lehmann’s belief that the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts. Blended from diverse vineyards and grape varieties, these flavoursome wines perfectly complement the many textures of modern cuisine. Intriguingly complex, simply beautiful. WINE OF THE MONTH Write and tell us about what your book club is reading, how your meetings are structured or any events your club has organised for your chance to win a dozen bottles of the ‘Layers’ series. Write to ‘Layers Promotion’, GPO Box 3835 Sydney NSW 2001, or enter online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au. You must be over 18 to enter this competition. WIN a mixed dozen of Peter Lehmann wines FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld Headline $32.99 It's 2.01pm on 16 September 1920. A quarter ton of explosives is detonated on New York's Wall Street, the deadliest attack in the United States's 150 year history. Stratham Younger, recently returned from the battlefields of Europe, witnesses the explosion alongside Captain James Littlemore of the NYPD and Colette Rousseaux, a brilliant and beautiful young disciple of Marie Curie. Littlemore's investigation will lead him into conflict with the FBI, and to the centre of a dangerous web of corruption that links Wall Street and Washington. Meanwhile Stratham and Colette embark on a perilous journey that will take them to Vienna, where Sigmund Freud will shed light on his theory of the human desire for destruction, even self-destruction, which he ter ms 'the death instinct'. Questions for discussion 1. The Death Instinct opens with a dramatic, real event -- the ter rorist bombing that shook Wall Street on 16 September 1920 -- that goes on to shape the rest of the novel. How does the author sustain the high level of tension and drama over the course of his story? 2. The author's note at the end of the novel makes it clear that this book draws heavily on historical fact. How did this factual dimension to the novel add to your enjoyment of the story? 3. The central male characters, Stratham Younger and Jimmy Littlemore, come from very different walks of life and have very different takes on the world. What use does the author make of their contrasting perspectives in the story? 4. Colette Rousseaux is a remarkably strong female character for this period. What did you feel she added to the novel? 5. The Death Instinct opens on Wall Street and much of the action takes place in the financial world and in the corridors of Washington. How does the author bring these worlds to dramatic life?