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Welcome (back) to the book club and apologies for the temporary hiatus- I've been struck down by computing problems- but we're back just in time for the New Writing North "Simul-Read", a very tricky way of saying that all the book groups are reading the same book this month! So, get reading Talk of the Town by Jacob Polley...

It's 1986, the last day of the summer holidays, and Christopher Hearsey is wondering why his best mate Arthur has suddenly disappeared, and whether lippy Gill Ross a few doors down might know anything about it. The great border city of Carlisle is buzzing with rumours following an act of terrible violence, and in order to begin his search Chris must face down his own dread, not only of the consequences of his own actions, but of local big man Booby Grove, and his psychotic sidekick Carl 'the black' Hole, who is keen to settle an old score. Populated by a menacing and hilarious cast of characters, and moving from the dark aggrieved streets of the city to the agricultural hinterland of the Solway Firth, this is the story of a boy desperate to get out of town, out of a bad situation, even out of his own skin. Written with a moving demotic brilliance, reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, "Talk of the Town" is an exhilarating and terrifying odyssey.

The first novel from the Carlise poet, the novel was published earlier this year to much acclaim: The Independent praised 'Polley's beguiling prose style [which] tests the limits of language, blending lyricism with brutality; juxtaposing tenderness with vicious criminality.' and it was compared by Books Quarterly to Huckleberry Finn (praise indeed!). In a similar vein to Ross Raisin's acclaimed novel God's Own Country in Book Club terms, I think opinions may be divided on this one but please persevere through the first few chapters and this one might surprise you...

And start posting those opinions below... x

Poem of the Week!

By Book Club on Aug 19, 09 07:37 AM

Emily Dickinson is an American poet who in the latter half of the nineteenth century. She lead a largely reclusive life in her family home and was regarded as a strange, eccentric figure in their hometown of Amherst, Massacheusetts. Little did they know that all the time she was writing some of the most delicate and unusual poetry ever written. Here's her unique take on the summer:

The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer's day?

Emily Dickinson

Poem of the Week!

By Book Club on Aug 12, 09 07:27 AM

When recently confronted with the accusation that most poems are, well, a bit miserable, Linda France, wonderful poet in her own right, rose to the challenge and suggested this one. I'd never heard it before but it is lovely and summery and will (hopefully) get you through the miserable weather.

On a Perfect Day

.. I eat an artichoke in front
of the Charles Street Laundromat
and watch the clouds bloom
into white flowers out of
the building across the way.
The bright air moves on my face
like the touch of someone who loves me.
Far overhead a dart-shaped plane softens
through membranes of vacancy. A ship,
riding the bright glissade of the Hudson, slips
past the end of the street. Colette's vagabond
says the sun belongs to the lizard
that warms in its light. I own these moments
when my skin like a drumhead stretches on the frame
of my bones, then swells, a bellows filled
with sacred breath seared by this flame,
this happiness.

Jane Gentry
from A Garden in Kentucky, 1995

New Books for Autumn!

By Book Club on Aug 10, 09 07:30 AM

If you're searching for some summer reading inspiration you're in luck: the new batch of New Writing North book group books have been announced just in time for your holidays. So, pick the group closest to you, read the book and you'll be all set to join in come September!

Sunderland Book Group TONIGHT!

By Book Club on Aug 5, 09 07:51 AM

If you love reading and happen to be in Sunderland, make tonight the night you join a real book group! The group meets tonight (and usually the first Wednesday of every month) at Bar Justice at 6.00pm with reader in residence Laura Sandy. It's incredibly easy to join- read the book, turn up and get talking! All groups are informal and fun, the perfect combination of drinks, laughs, a bit of book discussion and the odd visit from an author. Tonight they are departing from the usual format and having a Summer Reads Party! Whether it's something you love, a classic that you think needs debunking or the book that got you into reading in the first place, bring it along and tell them about it. All washed down with delicious summer cocktails- what's not to like?

Bar Justice
47 West Sunniside
Sunderland
SR1 1BA

http://sunderlandbookgroup.wordpress.com/

Poem of the Week!

By Book Club on Aug 5, 09 07:03 AM

Not only do I think this poem beautifully captures the way the sensory overload of a summer's day can stir half-forgotton memories, it also gets in a sneaky reference to my favourite poem in the world This is just to say by William Carlos Williams.

In The Tunnel of Summers

Moving from day into day,
I don't know how,
eating these plums now
this morning for breakfast,
tasting of childhood's
mouth-pucker tartness,
watching the broad light
seed in the fences,
honey of barley,
gold ocean, grasses,
as the tunnel of summers,
of nothing but summers,
opens again
in my traveling senses.

I am eight and eighteen and eighty
all the Augusts of my day.

Why should I be, I be
more than another?
Brown foot in sandal,
burnt palm on flaked clay,
flesh under waterfall
baubled in strong spray,
blood on the stubble
of fly-sweet hay.
Why not my mother's, my
grandmother's ankle
hurting as harvest hurts
thistle and animal?
A needle of burning;
why this way or that way?

They are already building the long straw cemetery
where my granddaughter's daughter has been born and buried.

Anne Stevenson

Danny is the type of kid that got chucked out of your class at school. The type you'd avoid on a dark night. One of the "ASBO-kids" you usually read about in the Daily Mail and who are curiously absent from "real" books. He is not immediately likeable, understandable or sympathetic.

So, it seems a brave step that Kicked Out, Newcastle-based Richard W Hardwick's debut novel, takes sixteen-year old Danny as its main protagonist. The plot is uncomplicated. When Danny is kicked out of his abusive home and finds he has nowhere else to go, he is forced into a shelter for homeless teenagers. There he pairs up with Goochy, a more experienced and streetwise resident, and together they negotiate their new life within the intense hostel environment- a place where deep friendships are formed but mistrust and violence constantly simmers below the surface. Things seem to be getting better- with friends and a new relationship lending much needed stability to his life- but when Danny discovers a shocking truth about his past, dramatically and inevitably things begin to unravel.

Hexham Book Group TONIGHT!

By Book Club on Aug 4, 09 07:51 AM

If you are bookish and live in Hexham, make tonight the night you join a real book group! The group meets tonight (and usually the second Wednesday of every month) at The Forum Cinema Cafe at 7.30pm with reader in residence Susie Troup. It's incredibly easy to join- read the book, turn up and get talking! All groups are informal and fun, the perfect combination of drinks, laughs, a bit of book discussion and the odd visit from an author. Tonight the book will be discussing the August book of the month Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas, so come along and try it yourself....

Forum Cinema
8-9 Market Place
Hexham
Northumberland
NE46 1XF

http://hexhambookgroup.wordpress.com/

Poem of the Week!

By Book Club on Jul 29, 09 06:27 PM

When recently confronted with the accusation that most poems are, well, a bit miserable, Linda France, wonderful poet in her own right, rose to the challenge and suggested this one. I'd never heard it before but it is lovely and summery and will (hopefully) get you through the miserable weather.

On a Perfect Day

.. I eat an artichoke in front
of the Charles Street Laundromat
and watch the clouds bloom
into white flowers out of
the building across the way.
The bright air moves on my face
like the touch of someone who loves me.
Far overhead a dart-shaped plane softens
through membranes of vacancy. A ship,
riding the bright glissade of the Hudson, slips
past the end of the street. Colette's vagabond
says the sun belongs to the lizard
that warms in its light. I own these moments
when my skin like a drumhead stretches on the frame
of my bones, then swells, a bellows filled
with sacred breath seared by this flame,
this happiness.

Jane Gentry
from A Garden in Kentucky, 1995

Berwick Book Group TONIGHT!

By Book Club on Jul 28, 09 07:51 AM

If you are bookish and happen to be in Berwick, make tonight the night you join a real book group! The group meets tonight (and usually the last Tuesday of every month) at 6.30pm with reader in residence Barbara Henderson. It's incredibly easy to join- read the book, turn up and get talking! All groups are informal and fun, the perfect combination of drinks, laughs, a bit of book discussion and the odd visit from an author.

Tonight they are departing from their usual format and having aSummer Reads Picnic! The group are meeting at Spitall Beach and all bringing along a picnic nibble and a favourite (preferably food- related) piece of writing. A great chance to find out what goes on in a book group!

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http://berwickbookgroup.wordpress.com/

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