Last weekend I put the call out to see who might be interested in a monthly, Irish-specific, mostly fiction-specific (with some poetry every now and then) online book club.
With the initial quorum set at three to get things up and running, I’m happy to say that the target has been met, with the possibility of a couple of others joining the group during February ahead of a provisional discussion time and date of 9pm on Monday, February 25th.
I must say I’m excited by the whole thing. I’ve been delighted with the responses, a couple from people I’m aware of and whose work I admire and respect, and others who I have become acquainted with for the first time over the past seven days, and with whom I’m really looking forward to chatting about Irish books over the next few weeks and months.
If there is a cover-all description for all those who expressed an interest over the past few days – and I’m not one who usually goes in for generalisations – it’s that they think about books and writing and reading more than the casual reader, or, dare I suggest, the typical book club member. Although it wasn’t stipulated, this might well be on the road to becoming a reading club for writers, a collective of those who read not only for enjoyment or distraction or a decent conversation topic, but because reading and writing are something vital. (Every so often a line from Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” springs to mind: “[Miss Prothero] looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, ‘Would you like anything to read?’”)
That diversion safely negotiated, thanks to all those who got in touch, and if this is the first occasion you’ve found yourself on these pages then you might still have time to get involved.
With all that out of the way, I’m please to say our first book club choice is The China Factory, a short story collection by Mary Costello which was published by The Stinging Fly Press last year and nominated for the Guardian First Book award.
Going back to the first toe-in-the-water post about a prospective book club, the criteria for selection remain unchanged – book club choices must be written by an Irish writer (living or dead) or published by an Irish publisher – but the discussion mechanism has altered slightly: we won’t be going down the route of a Google+ Hangout chat on the last Monday of the month, so we’ll instead find another way of getting together virtually for a couple of hours in three weeks’ time. About which more soon.
The China Factory can be purchased directly from The Stinging Fly’s website, or good local bookstores. Welcome aboard, and I look forward to catching up with you later in the month.
(P.S. If anyone has suggestions for a March book club selection please add a comment below or email email@example.com)