Book clubs and the CBC

At the risk of blowing my cover entirely, I hereby announce to both my readers that I'll be on CBC Radio One tomorrow in BC talking about the men's book club I cofounded last year. Not having been on radio since winning tickets to see Whitney Houston in 1991 by correctly identifying Carl Perkins as the singer of "Blue Suede Shoes," I'm a little anxious, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

Apparently Sheryl MacKay recently ran a book club contest that asked for info about group membership, and of the "hundreds of entries," there wasn't a single men-only club. Naturally we stopped scratching ourselves long enough to send in a wee note, and as a result two of us will appear on NXNW after the (ugh) 7 a.m. PST news on Saturday morning. Listen live to streaming audio! (It's unlikely to get podcasted, I'd guess, since we're hardly big-name individuals....)

The 20-minutes we talked will be edited down to about 12, so I'll be interested to see what gets dropped. I did say that as a club we'd especially enjoyed Rob Wiersema's Before I Wake, and that among my favourite writers are Theresa Kishkan and Terry Glavin, so hopefully those comments make it to air. I'm less keen to hear our insults of Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan, but presumably Sheryl will want to provoke some response from listeners!

UPDATE: Sheryl cut out my praise of Theresa Kishkan and Terry Glavin, probably because those were solo rather than club reads, but she did keep our appreciation of Rob Wiersema. It sounded good, I think, but listen for yourself through RealPlayer, or find it on NXNW's main page. My agent's on the other line, I'll catch you later....

Comments

Lisamm said…
Hi Richard, I'm doing a series of guest posts on my blog entitled "In Praise of Book Clubs" and I wondered if you'd be interested in guest posting. We'd love to get a man's point of view! I've asked people to write on why the love their book clubs, or what makes them special. Please drop me a note (when you're done being famous on the radio!) and let me know if you'd be interested. My email is lisamunley AT ca DOT rr DOT com Thanks!
Lisamm said…
why THEY love their book clubs.. sorry for the typo
David Leach said…
Hey Richard: I don't know if you heard the broadcast yet, but you guys were great. (CBC needed to do some fact-checking: they said you were a high-school teacher.) There was an entertaining good-cop, bad-cop moment when Doug laid down the hammer on Clara Callan, and then you came back with a more velvet-gloved critique. It probably saved you a call from Richard Wright's lawyer!

And neither of you got flustered when the host pulled a "60 Minutes" hardball question out of the blue and asked why you (or rather, we) haven't read any women authors yet.

All in all, a good segment... although I still wished they had interviewed you after the most recent meeting at Bart's, so you could have described how you all ignored the enticements of free beer and Spandex-clad Kokanee Girls to debate the geo-political themes (and plot holes) of The Kite Runner! Sadly, by arriving late, I missed both the pro bono Kokanee and the barstool morality test...
richard said…
Ah, David, Richard Wright's got enough going on that our wee opinions aren't relevant! Clara Callan comes in a special Book Club edition, and apparently the ladies love it :-)

And yeah, I'm not sure how Sheryl got my employer wrong. I liked the show too. To me it sounded a bit choppy, but that's because I know what we said before it got edited down to about half the length. The feedback's been positive.

Lisamm, I'll send you a note about this. It sounds interesting!
fiona-h said…
Off topic, but I just thought of something you (and your book club?)might enjoy: have you read Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes? Seem to recall that you liked Madame Bovary...
I found it tp be very thought-provoking, well-researched, and certainly original. Written by a boy too :-)
richard said…
Are you sure this isn't by Julianne Barnes?

A book suggestion is never off-topic! Flaubert's Parrot has been on my radar for a long time, and your Barnes fanaticism is persuasive all on its own :-)
David Leach said…
Let me second the Flaubert's Parrot recommendation. One of my all-time favourite novels. I believe it's the Barnes' book (correct me if I'm wrong) with the very, very funny chapter listing all the types of books that the narrator thinks that authors need to be banned from writing.
fiona-h said…
You're quite right. I'm looking at that chapter now, and I think that perhaps it's a good guide on how not to write the typical Canadian award winner that Richard mentions...
For instance, here's item 2 of 10 in the checklist:
"2. There shall be no more novels about incest. No, not even ones in very bad taste."
richard said…
Well, if you two are going to have a full-on conversation about this, clearly I'll need to get on with reading Flaubert's Parrot. It's always interested me, so I'll move it up the reading list somewhat.

I just hope that eventually I can get back to my beloved Barbara Cartland, since apparently she left 160 unpublished manuscripts behind at her death....
John Mutford said…
I just listened today. Good stuff. I've been a member of writing and book clubs over the past two years, and while other males occasionally show up, I'm always in the minority. It's not that I mind it (as a primary school teacher I'm used to the gender divide), but it's nice to know such a group as yours exist, even as a reminder that books aren't solely a feminine pursuit.
Anonymous said…
We have a book discussion group here on the Sunshine Coast and there are 4 women who come regularly and 6 men. We all choose a book and then host the group at our homes when our book comes up for discussion. It's pretty interesting -- both the books and the way they either excite or leave members cold. My last choice, Zoli by Colum McCann (I paired it with Isabel Fonseca's Bury Me Standing for its background on the Roma in Eastern Europe), was singularly dissed by most in the group! What I like about the evenings is the sense that we are taking books seriously enough to read them and think deeply about them and then discussing them in a thoughtful way. For those of us not involved in academia, these opportunities are rare.
Theresa K.
richard said…
Thanks for jumping in, John and Theresa.

John: no, books aren't a female pursuit, though the worlds of book clubs and bloggers might suggest otherwise. Mind you, there's also something of a gendered distinction between those who read books and those who make money off them.

Theresa: your club sounds terrific. Literate people outside the academy must think we uni types get to spend most of our time talking intensely about books, and I wish it were true. The fact is that we spend much of our time working alone, and dealing with the same kinds of administrivia faced by people working in any other large organization. That's one point I made to Sheryl that wasn't played fully, that a book club gives me the chance to actually be an engaged reader among other engaged readers. Not every day is like a literary conference! (And not every conference is a place I'd want to spend time, either....)

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