Friday, 27 September 2013

Ragged Company

Preston Library Book Club


   The purpose of story: "To light the fire of imagination so the things you didn't see could permeate you" (Richard Wagamese).
   Our fires were lit as we imagined Amelia One sky, Timber, Digger, Double Dick and even 'Square John' Granite.
   I felt that some of the situations were a 'real stretch'.  It almost seemed that the author was thinking, "What is the worst thing that could happen to an individual?" and he came up with those scenarios.  The back story of each character was heart-breaking.
    In fact, I even suggested that the story of 'Double Dick' should be eliminated.  I found his back story to be so extreme.  The book is about 'redemption' but Dick had no chance of redemption from the day he was born.
  The group convinced me that there was a purpose to the story of Double Dick.  And throughout the novel, there were snippets of conversation between Amelia and Double Dick, in the hereafter.  Perhaps this was to put his life on earth into perspective and confirm that every life has a purpose.

  I expressed wonder at the author giving his name to the character with the most horrendous back story.
  The author tells about being homeless himself.  Writing this book was his way of saying good-bye to that part of his past.

  We all agreed that Richard is a wonderful writer.  His language is superb.
   The cover of the novel illustrates the theme of home.  The 'Ragged Company' found their first home and their connection to Granite in the theatre.
  The lottery ticket reminds us that money does not solve the deep issues of life.
   The fingerprint on the bottom left is a reminder of the uniqueness of each individual.


 Home is really the truth that you carry with you.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese is special to me!
John and I have read together some of his books and loved every word.
Richard has the warmest spirit and lifts humanity to a whole new level.

Before our son died this summer, John and I took turns recording "One Native Life"- the biography of Richard.  Our son enjoyed listening to our voices when we couldn't be with him, and he really related to the book.  Rob also loved nature and was a gentle spirit.

Imagine our delight when we had a chance to hear Richard when he spoke at our local "One Book One Community" event.  He talked not only about his book, but stories about his life. What an inspiration!
At the book signing, I was asked to pose with Richard.

Richard felt the basic theme of his book is 'the idea of home'- not bricks and mortar, but the truth that you carry with you.
The novel showed that every homeless person has a 'story', something that caused a lack of connection with self.
Richard had been homeless for many years and wrote this book to say good-bye to that part of his past.
Richard embraces all of humanity and we could see many connections to our son.
We were delighted to meet him.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Book Group Book

Because I love book clubs, I was most interested in this book.
There are 46 essays describing individual book groups.
What a variety!

Some book clubs are organized around food.  One group met in a restaurant and it was not unusual for people to arrive without having read the book. In fact, at one meeting, they discovered that no one in the group had read the book- but the waitress had!

A men's group, consisting of professionals, met in a bar in Toronto.  Over the years, they decided to include women.  However, the focus changed from the consumption of alcohol to discussing good writing.  Some of the men dropped out!

"All of the books on my book club's reading lists have enriched my life twice over- once in the reading and then again in the rehashing." (quote from book).

In North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, there are groups called "Changing Lives through Literature"- for criminals.  Here, people are sentenced to literature and probation rather than prison. Hopefully, novels can touch them, teach them and give them courage to find their way out of crime.
This is a type of book club where they read and discuss books, where bonds are formed by sharing ideas and perspectives.  The judge and probation officer are even part of the discussions.
The professor who began the concept said, "I am convinced that through their reading and discussion of literature, these men are all bringing hope away from that long wooden table in our seminar room."
A similar group for women has been started in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

What a fascinating concept!

In these groups there were no quizzes, tests or written exercises.  But, still, some people chose prison over literature.