10. The Hunger Games

This trilogy has sat on my shelf for at least a year.  I’ve meant to get to it.  Really.  My oldest daughter grabbed it off the shelf during the winter break holidays and devoured the first two books in 6 days.  She usually doesn’t read big books in English.  She’s a manga fan, and she reads them in French.  She had to hold back not to talk about the details of these books because I didn’t want her to spoil it for me.  So, here I am finally getting down to it.  Frankly, it was worth it!  I  started the second part Catching Fire today….

The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen and she lives in the US in the future which has been turned into something other than what we know today.  People are maintained in districts, which they are not allowed to leave.  They are controlled by the Capitol.  In the Capitol, people are wealthy, eat well, and essentially live easy frivolous and much too comfortable lives.  Every year, twenty-four youths between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen to fight to death for the good of their district.  The good is food and other things that some districts are lacking, but most of all it’s to keep the districts from rebelling.  Katniss decides to take the place of her twelve-year-old sister who is unfortunately chosen the first year her name is put in.  Primrose is young, small, and is utterly ill-equipped to compete in such a competition.  Katniss and Prim come from District 12, where there are coal mines.  The majority of District 12 citizens are very poor and don’t have enough food to satisfy their hunger.

The Hunger Games is a very suspenseful well written story.  The anticipation of how the game will continue is more interesting than who wins in the end.  Katniss is a very likeable and clever character who is a gifted hunter with a bow and arrow.  She also knows how to gather herbs and set snares to catch rabbits.  The other contestants each have their strengths and weaknesses that bring lots of intrigue to the major events of the story and you just can’t stop reading until the end.  Trilogies sometimes tire me out but I’m looking forward to discovering the end of part two and to eventually finish part three.

Suzanne Collins has managed to construct a reality show with a twist.  It’s quite violent  but I guess it’s no worse than what adolescents watch on television and internet these days.  The movie opened in France last Wednesday and I was unsure about seeing it.  With all the complexities and things to explain, I really couldn’t see how they would do this movie correctly.  Needless to say, we decided to see it last Sunday afternoon.  We were only fifteen minutes into the movie and my daughter and I were already disappointed.  Even though, I tried to enjoy the escape of the movies, anyway.  One major default with this movie is that it’s mostly from the point of view of the Gamemakers where the book is from the contestants’ view.  I think that’s what keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.

Collins has written on children’s television shows since 1991.  She’s also worked on the staff of several Nickelodeon shows.  She met writer, James Proimos while working on a children’s show called Generation O!.  He convinced her to begin writing books for children.  She first wrote a five-part series called The Underland Chronicles, a fantasy/war series.  From there she wrote The Hunger Games Trilogy, which was on the USA Today’s bestseller list for over 134 weeks.  The question is:  What will Suzanne Collins write next to top that?

I read, You read, We all read for……

People are always asking me what my book club is reading and how we’ve managed to last so long.  I put it down to mutual respect and sharing the same passion – reading, not to mention loving talking about books.  It doesn’t matter whether they are intriguing, not so interesting, classics, historical, etc..  The main goal is to enjoy discussing books.

We are quite a large group now about fifteen and we are some very passionate, opinionated women when we discuss books.  Things wouldn’t be so interesting if that wasn’t the case.  Really I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We started with eight members and as the years have gone on more people have joined and some have left.  There are about five of us left from the original group.

The principal strengths of this reading group are that we are all different ages, nationalities (British, American, and French) and interests.  That leaves a lot of room for discussion.  How do things work?  We choose our reading list towards the end of the school year in June.  So we read seven books each year.  Each member comes to the second to last meeting with two suggestions.  I compile a list and yes at the moment it’s colossal.  I send each member the complete list and that gives them time to research and decide what titles they want to vote for at our last meeting.  The last meeting, we discuss our last book, vote for next year’s list, and try to decide which book we will start with in October.  The thickest novel usually gets put up as choice #1 for October.  This process allows everyone to acquire their books over summer in the UK or USA or maybe even arrange to borrow them from friends.  In the future we may have to limit how many suggestions we put in because the list is starting to get just a little too long.  So that’s it!  Everything is organized, democratically voted on, and most of all a moment we all look forward to.  Here are the choices for 2011-2012:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time we meet, April  14th, it will be to discuss The White Tiger.  It was the 2008 Booker Prize winner.  That always makes some members nervous.  I’m assuming it’s going to be a challenge but that’s fine.  I’m up for it!  We’ve already read The Help, Sarah’s Key, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Slap. I’ve done posts on The Slap, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Help.  Check them out if you want to know what I thought.  Sarah’s Key – 2 stars  The first half was extremely interesting and very moving but the second half was boring, stereotypical, and badly written. It’s really a shame because she did such a good job on the first half of the story.  The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim – 4 stars the beginning of this book depressed me to no end, but by the time I reached the middle of the book I started to find it more interesting and even more so after the book club discussion.  It was a little disappointing that he didn’t explore more closely certain episodes but all in all it was a good read.  It is Jonathan Coe after all.

As for the rest of the books that we’ve read since 2005, here’s a long list and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.  The list is extensive but they are all interesting and engaging in their own words.  I’ll put a few of my favorites in bold.  Who knows maybe you’ll find something you’d like to read, reread, or that you just plain forgot about.

Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky

Wash the Blood Clean From My Hands – Fred Vargas

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown – Couldn’t finish this book.  It was like a history text-book. Argh!!! It was like a giant sleeping pill to me, but it is one of the most exhaustive narratives recounting Native American life.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Water For Elephants – Sara Guen

Blue Angel – Francine Prose

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Midnight’s Children – Salmon Rushdie – Couldn’t finish this book.  I couldn’t figure out who was who.  He kept changing the characters’ names. A little too pompous for my taste!

The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak

The Memory Keepers Daughter – KIm Edwards

Skinny Legs and All – Tom Robbins

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

The Darling – Russel Banks

How to Be Good – Nick Hornby

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

An Equal Music – Vikram Seth

The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot

Saturday – Ian McEwan

Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck

I am Charlotte Simmons – Tom Wolfe

Lignes de Failles – Nancy Huston

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

What I Loved – Sylvie Hustvedt

A History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philipa Gregory

The Alchemist – Paulo Coello

The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracey Chevalier

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffennegger

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Brick Lane – Monica Ali

On Beauty – Zadie Smith

My Life in France – Julia Child

The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer/Annie Barrows

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

The Virgin Blue – Tracey Chevalier

The Ginger Tree – Oswald Wynd

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

The Comedians – Graham Green

9. Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country

They say the truth comes from the mouths of babes and that’s exactly what this book is about.  This book arrived on shelves in 2009 shortly after President Obama took office.  I didn’t read it right away when it was given to me.  I decided to wait a while and here we are almost up to the next elections.  The initiative of this book came from the 826 National specifically 826 Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District, run by Jory John.  The 826 Nationals are non-profit tutoring and writing centers.  There are also chapters in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Seattle. Children go to these centers after school between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m .and get help with their homework and writing.  The children can create stories, plays, poems, comic strips, etc. there.  In 826 Valencia the children were asked to write letters to President Obama as an exercise.  Children aged six to eighteen were asked to write on the question “What should President Obama do now?”.  Wow!  That seems like a loaded question.  As a matter of fact, most adults would have asked if it was a rhetorical question.  Their letters are filled with the same occupations as adults – the war, financial crisis,  gas prices, health care, saving animals, education, crime, unemployment, global warming, immigration, etc.  There are also suggestions on how President Obama should “relax, help people, and even eat donuts”. When Jory John started to read the letters he contacted the other centers to do the same and from all the interesting, creative letters came the project to compile them into Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country.  Heartfelt, hilarious, hopeful, ……..I really enjoyed reading this book.  It’s really a little gem! 🙂 I rate it 4 stars out of 5. Big thumbs up!

“Dear President Obama,

I would like to know if you could fix the economy and the war problem.  How would you avoid shoes being thrown at you?  And why did you choose the Democratic Party?  Also, why do you think no other African Americans ran for president?” (p. 44)

From,

Edgar Laczano, age 11

San Francisco

_______________________________________________

“Dear President Obama,

I believe you will do marvelous things for our country.  As a thirteen year old, I’m confident that I could make a list of ten things I would do if I were the president.  But I’m not.  So here’s a list of things you should do as President of the United States.

1. Health care for everyone!!!

2. Eat a donut (or two).

3. Play with your family.

4. Buy donuts for your family.

5.Read the book Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

6. Pass a law to allow gay marriages in  all states.

7. Ban the right to bear arms.

8. The right of freedom of speech should be modified.

9. Limit the sale and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

10. Modify the budget for schools in North America.

I have the determination to pursue the dream to be the president.” (p. 19)

Sincerely,

Heaven Willis,  age 13

Chicago

___________________________________________

“Dear President Obama,

You are like a big me, because I am from Chicago and I am biracial and have curly hair.  I live in Seattle now, but I’m still from Chicago.

How do you feel about being president?

I have an idea.  Why don’t you give everybody, even the homeless, ten dollars every day?  Each person would need this money for food, clothes, toys, and many other needs.  And don’t forget to give the kids money, too.

My advice for you and your family is to be yourself and you will change the world.  If I were president, I would try to make the world a better place.” (p. 39)

Sincerely,

Avante Price, age 7

Seattle

____________________________________________________

Check out any of these 826 Nationals by plugging in the city after 826 followed by dot org.  These people are really doing some fantastic work with these children!

http://826valencia.org

8. A Mercy

Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors – The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, Paradise, Song of Solomon, etc.  I discovered her and her incredible novels in my second year of university, as an English lit major and have never stopped reading her since.  I always look forward to anything new she writes.  She is a writer, editor, and professor and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for the novel Beloved – a must read and for me a must reread.  However, she really became famous when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in literature in 1993, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”. Having read most of her books, Love and A Mercy were the last two left  on my list.  It’s almost done! I finally got around to reading A Mercy.  It was interesting to read about slavery in this way.  Morrison attempted to write about slavery at its beginnings before it became organized and regulated.  She brings together Florens a slave, Lina a Native American labourer, Jacob Vaark, and Rebekkah, Jacob Vaark’s wife, who was sent from the Old World.  These three women are slaves in their own ways and bound by their situations.  Their relationships which begins as unified and solid almost like a “family” slowly but surely deteriorates and becomes rash, desperate, and unkind.  The place is the New World in the 17th century at the beginning where everything is wild and up for grabs by all different nationalities.  The story is told in first and third person and is not easy to understand but by the third chapter things become clearer.

I think Morrison was trying to show that slavery wasn’t always connected to the hatred of the black man and that many people had slave-like status in the New World in which men and women were trying to survive.  I must admit I enjoyed the second half of this book a lot more than the first half.  I felt disconnected from the characters and I missed the in-depth characterization that Morrison usually does.  Maybe this was done on purpose to accentuate these very different people coming together.  In my opinion, I think this book was too short.  I did enjoy reading the connections between the  characters and the way the connections were made(skillfully done), although it’s not a joyful read.  Once I started to get into the book it seemed to fly by and I was looking for more and then “pouf” it was over.  It’s about 160 pages and beautifully written, as always.  Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest this title to someone who has never read Morrison.  I would say start with The Bluest Eye or Sula and then work your way through Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Paradise, and of course the crème de la crème BelovedBeloved is not an easy read but it’s all worth it in the end.  It’s one of my favorites and I need to reread it.  I say check out A Mercy if you’re a Morrison fan.  I give it three and a half stars.  I don’t hate it but it’s not in my top favorites of Morrison.  I’ll have to hurry to read Love, since I read somewhere that she has a new novel coming out in May called Home.  It looks intriguing.

Red Tape part 2

Well 9 days, 5 hours combing the internet, and 10 phone calls later I’ve come to the conclusion that there is very little incentive in France to get out there and create your own business.  My goodness you have to be a lot more than Superwoman or Einstein. I imagine you have to be that rabid dog foaming at the mouth with teeth biting the bone for dear life, while being dragged through hoops on fire.  I knew this all along but I just kept thinking it’s the 21st century and things are going to be better.  I realize more and more it’s a cultural mindset.  I’m not French, so really I can’t relate and I don’t want to; that would be the end of who I am if I started to.

So what should I start with – the good news or the bad?  The bad news is I can’t teach in companies and do personal tutoring as a self-employed teacher.  I have to choose.  The civil servant on the phone suggested I could start two separate companies, then I could do both.  Silence prevailed because I thought I was going to scream.  It’s really unfair how they try to control how much you make and how much business you can do.  The agrément I need is the basic one called the agrément simple.  Each job has either the simple one or a more complicated one which has lots more checks and paperwork.  These agréments are for various types of jobs like, child care, tutoring, giving classes in a clients’ home, transporting young children(handicapped or the elderly), etc.

Good news I don’t have to go to the Préfecture d’Evreux to get my agrément file, I can do it on the internet.  I have to provide lots of paperwork, like diplomas, brochures, etc(more on that later).  I will send all the information in by  internet and then I have to wait two months for the response.  Before I make this demand I have to change from my auto-entrpreneur to a micro-entreprise.  I was told this takes about fifteen days.  That means I must have all my paperwork to change statutes before I apply for the agrément.  Don’t forget this is France and July and August are the months where the fewest knowledgeable and helpful people work.  The French are usually away here on extremely long summer vacations about  2 – 4 weeks.  Everything works at snail pace – dreadfully slow.  If I can respect this schedule I should know when the summer school holidays are finished at the end of August or in September.  Hi ho, Hi ho, I’m off to work,  I go…..

7. The Vintage Caper

Lord knows why I decided to read this book!  I should know better.  Shame on me!  The only books I really enjoyed by Peter Mayle were his first, A Year in Provence, as well as Chasing Cezanne and Hotel Pastis.  I have read a few others but nothing to really write home about.  Someone gave me this book and I don’t remember who because it was in a big bag full of duds, this one and a few other hidden treasures.

Essentially, it’s the story of Danny Roth a very wealthy entertainment lawyer.  It begins with Danny expressing the desire to wear his hair in a ponytail since his bald spot is starting to grow.  His wife responds, “Just remember Danny underneath every ponytail is a horse’s ass.”  This really made me laugh but it was the first and last time.  The rest of the novel was cliché and quite frankly boring.  I can’t understand why he continues to write about the French in this manner.  It’s so insipid, predictable, and uninteresting.

Danny Roth is not only a rich lawyer but a wine connoisseur who owns 3.5 million dollars worth of wine that he keeps in his cellar.  Unfortunately, the wine is stolen while he and his wife are on a ski holiday; with the help of their Mexican caretaker Rafael Torres.  All of this takes place after a lengthy article is run in The LA Times detailing his extensive wine collection, pictures included.  The insurance company rules out that Danny Roth set up the heist to get the insurance money, so they hire an investigator called Sam Levitt, whose job it is to unmask the robbers and find the stolen wine.  His sleuthing will take him to the old wine country, Bordeaux and to Marseille and Paris.

Ok this book isn’t all bad so I’ll give you a little about what was well done.  If you’re a wine lover but don’t know much about it, you’ll learn some interesting things about wine.  If you’re an expert or oenophile – pass.  Moreover, you also get a sense of French food and the obsession wine lovers have accompanying food with the right wine.  Living in France for twenty-two years has taught me a lot about that.

No spoilers here, so I won’t be telling you how it ends.  Although you may be able to guess.  Read at your own risk.  It’s not a long book –  223 pages.  I give it about 2-3 stars.

Red Tape

Starting a small business in France is no simple task.  I’ve taught these past few years with a statute called “auto-entrepreneur”.  This means that I can work as a self-employed teacher.  I’m expected to bill my clients with no VAT and declare my total earnings every three months, whether I earn something or not.  After declaration we have to pay our social charges which are determined by the amount earned and the type of business activity.  The statute auto-entrepreneur has a limited turnover of 81,500€ for selling merchandise  and 32,600€ for provision of services.  Unfortunately, those who work as auto-entrepreneur can’t write off their expenses. So it could be very costly to work depending on your activity.   This statute could have been very comfortable for me except no one is allowed to be on this statute longer than three years.

I’m slowly coming to my three years in November 2012.  So I’ve been working towards changing to a company.  This afternoon I tried to call the DDTEFP which stands for Direction Départementale du Travail, de l’Emploi, et de la Formation Professionnelle.  I called to ask them to send me the file by email, that I needed to get an agrément.  The agrément is an approval which shows that you are a recognized trainer and gives your clients advantages on their tax forms.  Instead, I got a civil servant on the line telling me what I can and can’t do.  She basically told me that I couldn’t tutor English and teach English in companies, that I had to choose.  I understood that the file she was to give me was for tutoring but, I just wanted to know if there was a file I could fill out to teach in companies as an independent as well.  She then persisted to give me a bogus email address to get the file.  I went to the address but the file wasn’t there.  This is typical of French administration.  The people who answer the phones never seem to know what’s going on and always seem to steer people in the wrong direction.  I then called the Chamber de Commerce to ask them what I needed to teach in companies as an independent and they didn’t know anything either.  I couldn’t believe this.  Normally the Chamber of Commerce should know how business works here in France.  This lady gave me another number.  I called that number and she didn’t know either and of course the person who could answer my question was on holiday and wouldn’t be back for a week.  We are on winter break at the moment.  So I started my search and found everything on the net.

A self-employed trainer needs a number from the DRTEFP which stands for La Direction Régionale du Travail, de l’Emploi, de la Formation.  Apparently many trainers are discouraged by the process of obtaining the famous number.  Basically, I must fill out a file asking for the number while providing a teaching service to a first client.  I must tell the client that I’ve applied and I’m waiting to receive my number from the DRTEFP.  Usually the number is distributed within two to three weeks.  Then I must rebill the client with the new valid number received from the DRTEFP.  Et voilà I’m in business. Sounds a lot like getting the green card.  You need a green card to get a job and you can’t get a job until you have the green card!

That took three hours to discover this afternoon and I still have to get both files sent to me by email.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be more fruitful.  I need to get on the move Mick Jagger…..

2. EFL Series: Vocab Rehab

Poor vocabulary and lack of motivation to read the written word are some of the principal causes for slow progress in oral and written comprehension in English.  This is the case for most levels and all ages.  Teachers are constantly trying to devise new ways or to create beneficial lessons that enrich vocabulary, while captivating the attention of their learners.  Not an easy task you say, but I look at it as an ongoing challenge throughout the year.  There are no right or wrong ways to proceed.  The main goals are to not expect the learners to acquire more than ten words per lesson and principally to keep it fun and interesting.  This doesn’t mean they can’t see more than ten words.

Here is the lesson plan I used in my workshop that I do in my daughters’ school for a small group of French students in 5ème (that’s 7th grade for US).  Firstly, I explained that they would see a video which contained only music no speaking.  They seemed to be reassured by that.  Their job would be to observe carefully, not writing and not speaking.  I then allowed them to watch a second time.  After, I gave them mini white boards so that they could write anything that they could name in the video in English, absolutely anything i.e. tree, man, chair and so on  I also allowed them to write words in French if they didn’t know them in English.  So, finally we arrived at the third viewing of the video.  I periodically stopped the frame so that they would have time to visualize and to write the words they knew.

This video is simple and has quite a lot of things they should know in English at this level.  Of course, this is where the difficulty begins.  The learners and I suddenly realize all the words they don’t know, but as the teacher I try to keep them focused on what they do know for the moment.  After we’ve completely viewed the video for the third time we spend a few minutes talking about the video.  I try to illicit responses in English by asking some general questions:

Where is the young man?

What is he doing?

What is he going to eat for breakfast?

Where does he go?

Then we look at the words they wrote on their boards in English first.  I try to focus on what words seemed to come up on all the boards and which ones didn’t, especially easy words that they should know like postman, mail, pool, women…Then we look at the words they wrote in French.  I first ask aloud if anyone knows what the word is in English.  Surprisingly enough others know but didn’t put it on their board.  It’s great when the kids can help each other.  This gives them confidence and encourages team work.  As for the teacher,  it’s a chance to go over spelling, plurals, and to spell in English.  Spelling aloud in English is still a bit challenging for them at this level because they confuse the E and I and G and J.  They also forget how to say X, K, R and Y.

By the time this part of the lesson is finished I’ve already made a list of the words they don’t know on the board.  I then give them a worksheet with statements about the video.  They have to decide if the statements are true or false.  I verify they understand what true and false mean and then we continue the lesson.  I have each learner read a sentence and they say whether they think the statement is true or false.  The others can agree or disagree.  They must say why they disagree even if the language is simple, but it must be in English.  As we go along if they aren’t so sure of the answer, I open my laptop and put on the video so that they can verify the images for the correct answer.  They really do love this part and it allows them to reuse some of the vocabulary we went through before because it’s on the board.  Not to mention, they really do have very good memories.

At the end of the lesson the learners have to write the list of vocabulary words they didn’t know on paper.  Their homework is to choose ten of those words and write a sentence with each one.  When they come back for further workshops in the year I will have time to work on the other words on the list gradually.  So, there you have it!  Give it a try using any type of video.  If you can’t find one that is silent or that just has background music just turn the sound off.  Your learners will love it and so will you.  Look below for the link of the worksheet and video used for this lesson.

Breakfast Prepositions Video worksheet

6. The Slap

Well finally finished last night very late!  Frankly I didn’t think I would get through it.  The beginning had so much cursing and bad sex, I couldn’t believe it.  As the story advances, the principal themes start to become more clear.  It’s basically a story of friends and is set in Australia, specifically Melbourne.  The main characters are Hector, Anouk, Harry, Connie, Rosie, Manolis, Aisha, and Richie. The writer has given a section to each character.   You learn about the characters’ background and how they are related to the other characters mentioned.  Some of the themes are parenting, “being” Australian, alcoholism, domestic violence, aging, motherhood, family loyalty, homosexuality, drug abuse, marriage and fidelity.  I may have forgotten a few but it’s a very vast list, too vast.

Actually, I think there are too many themes running through the story.  I think it’s for this reason that things are often exaggerated.  It’s all in your face!

Tsiolkas tells the story from eight points of view where the characters question their desires, fears, and expectations.  In the beginning of the novel, there is a family barbecue which turns into a disaster when an adult slaps an indomitable three-year old. The slap and its consequences force the characters to evaluate their family life and the way they live.  The slap is the commencement of much retrospect which in turn brings out much jealousy, lying, and mistrust among the characters.  As things progress, the story becomes more interesting because the scope of the characters is better developed and more interesting to read towards the end.  I think my favorite sections are Aisha and Anouk.  The majority of the characters are far from likeable because they sometimes do such despicable things but the core and themes of the story are what keep you reading.

Christos Tsiolkas has written Loaded (was turned into a feature film called Head-On), The Jesus Man, and Dead EuropeThe Slap was longlisted for the Man Booker and was adapted for television on ABC 1.  Tsiolkas is also a screenwriter, essayist, and playwright.

I’d recommend reading The Slap if you’re interested in a bite of Australia.  The lifestyle is very much alive in the novel.  Although the  first 150 pages are probably the most difficult.  You will either hang on for dear life, which I did because I was reading it for my book club today or drop it like a hot potato. I finished it at 10pm on Friday.  I started counting how many times the f—-word was used.  When I counted up to 50 and I was only at the beginning it started to get on my nerves.  Someone mentioned that this was probably the way this class really speaks in Australia, but I’m not so sure.  Someone else today mentioned that a lot of the cursing was what the characters were thinking.  A lot of us found that the dialogue of these eight characters sure sounded alike, whether man, woman, old or young-not ver realistic.  I remember my Australian friends from Egypt and they are nothing like the men described in The Slap, nor do they speak the way they do in this book.  Then I thought could it be that they are not from the same class!  It’s really too bad there are no Australians in our book club.  We could have then got a better idea of what was realistic and what was stereotypic.  Despite all the bad things we said about The Slap, we did find a few redeeming aspects to the story.  I won’t get into details because I don’t want to write any spoilers.  We did have a good laugh and extensive discussion.  I’d give it about three and a half stars out of five, but I most definitely won’t be reading it again.

I don’t know much about Australian literature and the only other Australian I’ve read is Kathy Lette. I guess her writing would be considered Chick Lit, but it’s a funny and relaxing read.  Someone suggested that I read Peter Carey, so I’m going to check him out.  Hope to get one of his novels on my 50 read books list of 2012.  I’ll keep searching for more examples so that I can maybe finally come to some conclusion about Australian literature.  For the moment it’s a bit of a mystery…..

Check out the trailer for The Slap!  It seems to follow the book quite closely.  I can definitely see how this will keep audiences glued to the television in the evening.

The Slap – ABC 1 Trailer