Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Club Discussion Pt 1

Hey ya'll. i know it's been kind of quiet on the home front here. Today was the Pride parade/celebration in the neighborhood that I work and it was insane. I had so much to prepare for and today was busier than Christmas. It was fun experiencing my first pride parade and the insanity, but I am mentally exhausted, and have to get up tomorrow morning and keep pushing through. You know you work too much when you think Saturday is Monday.

Anyways, I will be posting some news about the giveaway tomorrow, a little late but it's for the better. For now, I wanted to start the discussion about the July book club book, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. I have had a chance to get about 100 pages in. I normally tear through books in a day or so, but I just haven't had the time. I do love this book so far. I wish the stories were longer though, and I am guessing that's why she wrote "Swamplandia" to follow up with the first story.

So far, my favorite story, so far, was the short about the young astronomer who gets involved with an ironic crime circle. The gang is comprised of the "bad boy" from school, a pretty little girl and an albino man-child. Their ultimate goal is to steal baby turtles, although don't have any idea what they will do with them. It is such a familiar feeling, being away for the summer and getting mixed up in hi-jinks. It is the ultimate child fantasy. Although there is a darker side to it. I like that about each story. Light and strange, intertwined with dark and moral.

There is a common theme of innocence and youth in each story that makes the oddities of the short easy to digest and relate to. The story in which the young boy is forced by his brother to look for their dead sister through magical goggles seems so unreal. However, the logic is so childish and hopeful. The elder brother blames himself for his sisters death/disappearance, so finding her through magic will ease the guilt.
One of the things I love about these stories are the places they take you to. They are so mysterious, yet could exist anywhere. Places I want to fall into through the pages of this book.

What do you think so far? Which characters stand out to you? Which story do you love? Is there anything you don't like about the book? I'd love to hear your thoughts! We can discuss more of the book in the comments!

Thanks for playing along!


  1. i read the book so fast! and same as you, i wish every store would go on longer. I'm definately going to pick up swamplandia. My favorite was the title story. i always like stories about schools. especially unusual ones. needless to say i loved the harry potter books.

  2. I love stories about schools too. Doesn't the author capture innocence and youth really well though?

  3. Okay, I spent a bit of time with this book yesterday and today during the ferry part of my commute and I think you've picked a good one, Beca! It's an entertaining, easy read and the stories are each quirky enough to be unique without seeming like the writer is trying too hard to be different.

    I just finished reading All the Pretty Horses, so it's pretty hard for me to be fair to this writing. Few American writers are anything close to being as talented as Cormac McCarthy, but I do find Russell's writing itself a bit lacklustre and unimaginative.

    There are, of course, some gems, too. Like this one from the second story:

    "I look for my sister, but it's hopeless. The goggles are all fogged up. Every fish burns lantern-bright, and I can't tell the living from the dead. It's all just blurry light, light smeared like some celestial fingerprint all over the rocks and the reef and the sunken garbage. Olivia could be everywhere."

    I think my favourite so far is Z.Z. Sleep-Away Camp... Looking forward to more reading and discussion! Thanks for hosting and picking such a fun read, Beca! This book is the perfect anti-thesis to Wide Sargasso Sea!

  4. Oh, and in addition to the longest comment ever, I would definitely say that the author captures the viewpoint of children really well. The trickiness of relationships when you're a child shines through in all of the stories I've read so far and makes me feel a lot of empathy for the characters.

  5. Sarah, I really love simple writing. Cormac McCarthy makes my brain hurt when I just want a easy read (although I love everything he's written and when I don't feel like zoning out, it's perfect) but with this book, I loved the plain-speak. It isn't fancy and it isn't complex, almost as though a youngster did write it. It is fairly dry though, and could have a little more life in it. the stories are there, but maybe a little more pizzazz would make the writing more interesting.
    And I loved the story with the magic goggles. And the astronomy story. I wish that one was a full book!

  6. Yes, I love the astronomy story, too! Right now I'm reading the one about the minotaur dad and kind of enjoying it, too. I think I just experienced a bit of a jolt going from McCarthy to this book. It was a stark transition, and I don't read much popular fiction. I don't think this book completely fits the mold of popular fiction, though. It's weird and has a lot of uncomfortable moments and I really appreciate that. It's perfect early morning commute reading!

  7. Ok, I'm really late to the game on this one. Got the book late & haven't sat down to read it much. I'm 3 or 4 stories in now though. They're not my favourite style of short story (well, short stories aren't my fave in general) but I am enjoying them. That passage that Sarah quoted really stood out to me too! And I agree that they really do a good job of getting inside a kid's head.

    I came across an art print on Etsy the other day that looked like it was made for "Haunting Olivia," I'll share it on my blog next week.