There were six of us at tonight’s meeting where we discussed The Story of the Night by Colm Tóibín. As is often the way, there were mixed opinions on the book (it would be boring if we all felt the same). The book had three parts, which felt at times like three different books. There didn’t seem to be a traditional plot, instead there were various strands and events, some of which seemed to go nowhere. Some of us enjoyed that and felt it made it more real, while others were disappointed with as it didn’t make to most of its opportunities. We discussed, what we felt were some of the themes and key points of the book. These included Richards relationship with his mother, his relationships in general, how he seemed to be an outsider looking in, how he can be oblivious to what’s happening around him and how the lack of plot makes it feel like a fictional autobiography. Our averaged out score was 6 out of 10.
There were nine of us at last night’s book club meeting at Waterstones where we discussed The Gender Games by Juno Dawson. We started by going round the table and saying whether we liked the book or not. Although there was one strongly negative response, most seemed to be slightly positive with one extremely positive. As we discussed what we liked and didn’t like, there was a general feeling that although she covered some interesting topics, they weren’t covered as in depth as some would have liked. “I just didn’t think she was that deep”.
The book was part memoir and part reflection on gender and sex. This included looking at how boys and girls/men and women are treated differently and expected to behave differently. This led to a discussion about how these issues had changed over the years. I think we generally appreciated her insight into the difference between gender and sex, even if we didn’t all agree with her. There was discussion about the mix of memoir and gender discussion, which some felt worked, and others didn’t. The same applies to her style of writing which included lots of abbreviations such as IDK and DTF. Some felt she was writing for a young audience, which ties in with her history as an author of Young Adult Fiction. This developed into trying to identify who exactly she was writing this book for, especially after her comment “…If you’re a man reading this book, I salute you. I’ll be honest, I didn’t write it with you in mind”. A few thought the memoir part of the book would have worked better if she had written it in a few years’ time, when she was further down her journey of transitioning, or when she had more experience in general. As one member of the group said “She’s too young to write a bloody book”.
While this reflection may sound negative I think there were lots of positives. The topics raised in her book led to some interesting discussions within the group on topics including militant feminists, how boys and girls are treated differently and privilege. We all voted out of ten and the average score was five although votes ranged from two to nine.