|| Book Club || The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

This month my book club (in Sydney – not to be confused with Jessie’s in NYC which you will hear about soon) picked The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood for our reading pleasure  As usual, here is some info and things to think about to make you look like some kind of genius at your next club night. Also **SPOLER ALERT** - read the book first people!

About the Author

Originally from Cooma, New South Wales Charlotte Wood is the author of (among other things) five novels.  Her books have been frequently short listed for prizes, with The Natural Way Of Things winning the Indi Book Award for 2016. With a journalism background and having taught writing, she is currently in her last year of a three year appointment as Chair of Arts Practice, Literature, at the Australia Council for the Arts.

Questions to consider

  • What were some of the things Wood asks, tells or gets you thinking about in terms of gender?
  • The reader is set up to want to know why these women are there, what will happen to them and who is behind it all –  were you satisfied by what you learnt?
  • How did you feel about the moment the girls are presented with the fancy bags of stuff? Was their reaction believable/justifiable?
  • What do you make of Verla's decision to stay? Did you agree? Was it brave, was it smart, was it a cop out? How was it different to Yolanda's decision to stay?
  • Yolanda, initially the most conventionally desirable,  undergoes a radical transformation.  Discuss.
  • Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass gets a pretty good look in, including this doozy “I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me, You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.” – what do you make of it? (Here are the Cliffs Notes for those playing at home but too lazy to read the actual poem.)
  • What is the deal with that white horse?
  • And what is the deal with Ransom?

|| Book Club || Fame Gold Citrus - Claire Vaye Watkins

We thought we might provide a little book club kit with some facts, questions and links for you to take to your book club and impress your friends! This months book club looks at Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins.

Firstly, impress your book club friends by knowing a bit about the author (according to her own site):

  • She was born in Bishop, California in 1984.

  • Raised in the Mojave Desert, first in Tecopa, California and then across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada.

  •  A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow.

  • Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, Tin House, The Paris Review, One Story, Glimmer Train, Best of the West, Best of the Southwest, The New York Times and many others.

  • A recipient of fellowships from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, Claire was also one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.”

  • Battleborn, collection of short stories won a bunch of really important sounding prizes.

  • She is a Guggenheim Fellow, on the faculty of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan

  • She is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada

Okay - so you know about Claire, now you have to think about the book. Below are some questions to get you and your book club thinking and talking:

  1. What did you think about the way to book was written? How did you feel about the structurally experimental parts? What worked and what didn’t?
  2. What did you think of the ending?
  3. What were the main themes?
  4.  Who was your favourite character and why?
  5. The reviews mention the focus on celebrity, did you get that? What do you think it said?
  6. What did you think about the moment when Ray left? Did you guess what was coming?
  7. What did you make of the graphic scene in the *ahem* 'workin girls' house?
  8. What was your general impression of the world Watkins painted?
  9. What did you like, dislike, want more off and want less of?

Hopefully that will get you started and the rest will come easily! Have a great book club! Leave us a comment to let us know how you went.