I have just started the current Book Club Choice, “The last Exit from Brooklyn”, by Hubert Selby jnr, a book that was banned from publication in Britain in 1964 but won on Appeal. My daughter, a member of the Book club started to read it before me and has told me that she is very interested in my reaction to this account of the lives of junkies, hustlers, drag queens and prostitutes in the ”under belly ‘ of New York. Well, I am struggling at the moment not so much with the content but with the language. I have to read it out loud to make sense of the words as the author writes it exactly as his characters speak , a simple clean example, “Getup somea those chips. Ya dont want yadinner toget cold,doya”.
The story is about the ‘goings on’ of a group of petty criminals, drug addicts, prostitutes and a sad transvestite, Georgette looking for ‘love’. I am afraid that at the moment, despite a lot of nasty violent action, I find their lives boring. I must be immune to this bunch of characters, perhaps they will grow on me and I will start caring about what happens to them, at the moment I don’t. This is a ghastly, sordid tale where dreadful things happen under the influence of drugs and booze . However, I am going to read on and let you know, hoping that there is redemption for at least someone in this book. I don’t hold out much hope so far!!!!
This book was written by Hubert Selby jnr, an ex marine drug addict, it has shocked generations of Americans while being praised for it’s prose.
The Book Group met on a lovely sunny evening to discuss “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, by Rachel Joyce. Nine of our members came bringing four lively children who enjoyed playing in the garden on the trampoline, while we talked about the book which all but one of us had finished.
There was a good discussion, mostly positive, everyone found different aspects to enjoy. It is a life affirming novel, showing how people can eventually come through dreadful tragedies in their family life. We under stand how an unsympathetic character like Maureen, Harold’s wife, became the unhappy person she appears at the start. When she misses Harold away on his Pilgrimage to save his dying friend and old colleague Queenie, she appreciates what they have in their marriage. Harold is in debt to Queenie for an act of sacrifice in their past for which ha has never thanked her, he wrongly thinks that he can save her life by walking five hundred miles to see her.
During his marathon walk he meets many different people, some help him, inspiring him to keep going ,while others just want to high jack his celebrity status that develops when the ‘Press’ get hold of the story. As I travelled along with Harold, I found that I learned as much about myself as I did about him, it is quite a philosophical book, quite thought provoking.
In my previous report I wrote that I liked Harold Fry, I certainly did not change my mind as I finished the book and learned about the tragedy that affected the family and how it changed everything.
I enjoyed this book and gave it the highest mark when we came to score it, I gave it eight and a half ,while the others averaged seven (a bit mean I thought.). We ended the evening scoffing lovely home made cakes as usual. A most successful and enjoyable meeting..
The next book is “The Last Exit from Brooklyn” by Hubert Selby jnr
Because of the extremely wet and cold Spring weather I have struggled to keep the plants that I have grown from seed being of any use. I have had tomatoes and peppers in my bedroom for months, the south facing kitchen window being taken up with courgette,cucumber,squash and pumpkin plants. For weeks I have ben trying to harden them off by putting them out during the day time and bringing them in at night, a major job. I have been waiting for the temperature to be at least 10 degrees at night so that the plants will not be chilled, for the last three nights it has reached this goal, thank goodness!!!! The pots were getting heavier and heavier because I had to keep repotting the plants as they grew, my back and legs were only just holding out as I staggered up the two steps to my container garden/yard about thirty times morning and night before and after work. I can now relax and look after them. My daughter brought runner bean plants to go with the French beans that I had already. I hope that this will keep me in fresh veg all summer feeling very virtuous as I experiment with my new venture, making my own compost. I have no soil in the yard so I have to buy in all my compost which is quite expensive and very difficult for me to get hold of as I do not have a car and the bags are heavy. My family are good at bringing me bags of compost instead of “Mother Days” flowers which I appreciate.
Not everything has gone well this Spring, nothing to do with the weather, I have failed with my basil plants, something has enjoyed eating them. I made a huge mistake using the old compost from my “Grow Bags” to pot my seedlings. The whole flat was over run by ants. We searched everywhere to see where they had come in, puffing “Ant Killer”into every crevice until “the penny dropped” I had an “Ant Farm” in all the pots!!!! In my working life before I came to the city I was a farmer looking after sheep and cattle, I was never a gardener so I am learning ‘On the Hoof’, and so making lots of mistakes. I always had a lot of houseplants, some are still with me after 20 years.
My favourite plant, the fuchsia cutting ,’stolen” in November has been flowering for months, probably because it has lived in the kitchen until a month ago. It is truly magnificent with very large flowers of shocking pink and deep purple., everyone wants cuttings . My Spring bulbs were fantastically beautiful, anemones planted with daffodils, crocus and winter pansies. This interest in gardening has given me a new lease of life, it is so good having a hobby that I can manage to do no matter how old I am, let’s hope I can continue for a little while yet.
Book Club meeting next Saturday.discussing “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”.by Rachel Joyce.
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Tagged and flowers, bad winter, chilli peppers, Container gardening, courgettes, cucumbers, French Beans, lots of herbs, runner beans, Spring 2013, squash, tomatoes, wet Spring with cold nights