Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Wuthering Otters

I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that I joined a local book group a few months back. Let me explain a little more about this, which started off as one innocent email and has now snowballed into a giant embarrassing ball of Shame Wool, which even now is twining around my conscience like a hungry kitten. Shame Wool - it feels uncomfortable and itchy on the inside of your soul.

Back in January, I saw an advert on Gumtree for a book group. I decided, as it had been one of my New Year's resolutions to be more social (as for the other two resolutions, let's just say that one of them I kept reasonably well and the other was one of those resolutions you never really intend to keep anyway, it's just there to bulk out the list) that I would email back and ask for the details. I had just missed the January meeting, so the guy emailed me the details for the February meeting instead. We were supposed to read 'A Place of Greater Safety' by Hilary Mantell. I bought the book for my Kindle, and as I am an exceptionally quick reader, made the foolish mistake of leaving myself only one weekend to read it. Turns out the damn thing was 1100 pages long and about the French revolution, which would never have been my subject of choice on Mastermind.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book - the humour was dry, the descriptions were good and it flowed from character to character nicely - but I hadn't expected it to be such a mountain. I had other tasks to do and they couldn't wait. I eventually gave in to the realisation that I was not going to make that particular meeting. I could have gone without reading the end, but I wanted to enjoy it alone. Foolish Otternator. Hindsight makes everything so clear.

In March, with the meeting fast approaching on my calendar, I decided I would begin reading the new book choice early. I was full of determination and zest for life in a very Bridget Jones kind of way . I got about halfway through it with days to spare, and then Other Half dropped a party bombshell on me. I wasn't too bothered, after all, the book was 'Daisy Miller', by Henry James, and while it had amused me for a bit, I had never really got into it. I told myself I would go to the next meeting. For sure. Definitely. I absolutely will. There's no reason why I shouldn't go. None at all.

And then the next meeting rolled around and I tried to read 'The Castle' by Kafka.

I don't know whether you have ever read any Kafka, but I read 'Metamorphosis' a while back, and I was under the apparently horribly mistaken impression that I liked his work. 'Metamorphosis' was everything 'The Castle' wasn't - it was direct, quirky, delightful to read and didn't make me want to stab myself in the eyes just to get away from it. In short, every time I saw the copy of 'The Castle' lying on the coffee table, I felt my inner otter cry tiny tears of fear and hatred. I don't think I've ever wanted to finish something less in my entire life. To cut a long story short, I refused point blank to go near it again, and as such, sulked for a while before conceding that I was probably not going to go to the book group in April either. Other Half reasoned that i didn't necessarily have to finish the book to discuss it, but I didn't really think that expressing my honest sentiments to a group of strangers who I'd hoped to make friends with would really endear me to them, particularly if those sentiments ran along the lines of "the book contained drivelling long-winded unsympathetic characters who I wish would all just sod off, particularly the protagonist who manages to be simultaneously an insipid fool and a manipulative, churlish dickface".

Unfortunately for me, the next book group meeting is on the 7th May. Sadly my Twitterfest journey also starts on 7th May (when I will meet some of my fellow twitters in different parts of England and spend time getting copiously drunk with them) so I won't be going to that either. In summary, for the last 4 months, I have been continually prepping for something I haven't yet been to. If I go now, it's just awkward. They'll wonder what took me so long. Frankly, I wonder what's taken me so long. I suppose that's just the kind of person I am.

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