Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It’s Book Club today.

We’re talking about Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures) by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson. It’s written by three UN workers who meet in Cambodia and they tell their stories through that mission, and then subsequent missions in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti and Liberia.

It’s another hit for the book club reader in me as I would NEVER have picked it up voluntarily and it was tragic but brilliant.

I’m now reading Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald. You might have seen in on my pile of goodies here. It has a lovely spine and cover (the spine is very important if that’s the way it’s presented in the book shop) which is why I picked it up.

In my own struggle to cobble together a novel, I’m strongly attracted to ‘beautifully crafted’ in the hope that I might learn something.

Pigtopia tells the story of two unlikely friends, Jack and Holly. ‘Jack Plum looks like a monster’ says Holly, ‘but his voice is sweet and soft. He also looks like an adult but he doesn’t act like one.’ With only his invalid, alcoholic mother at home, Jack wants to befriend Holly but he waits until her 14th birthday so he can make offerings and approach her when the time is right. When he does speak to her, she’s terrified as Jack is the brunt of local folklore. Jack asks himself ‘why she is so feared and is it just my big hoghead and ugliness?

Holly, despite her lack of physical development, is more mature than her peers. Things got better when her Dad left so she lives happily alone with her Mum. However, the status quo is about to change at home.

So they begin an unlikely friendship. Jack introduces Holly to the pigs that he rears in secret and Holly promises to help him with life’s practicalities.

Some of the reviews I read suggest an uncertainty whether Pigtopia is written for children or adults… they wonder from the book jacket (not the same edition as mine) and speculate whether Kitty Fitzgerald knew. But what I think… I DON’T CARE. It just doesn’t matter who it’s aimed at.

Listen: ‘Mam says that Dad was pigflesh and pigmind, a huge mucky porker what nabbed her by force, then jogtrotted off beyond the farlands when he understood what had been hatched.’

I’m about half way through and something rather awful has happened. Holly has promised she will help Jack without the outside world intruding in on his world. Jack has 'the frights' and so do I. I can’t wait to find out what they’re going to do.


Lane said...

The spine and the tactile feel are so important.

Will keep an eye open for the book:-)

Debs said...

It sounds fascinating, I shall have to... no, I shan't. I must read more of my tbr piles before buying more books.

Flowerpot said...

I quite agree about the spine and feel of a book, too. Sounds an interesting book - keep us posted!

HelenMH said...

I love it when I find and read books that I wouldn't normally pick up, and they turn out to be fantastic.

Carol and Chris said...

That sounds absolutely wonderful....must go get myself a copy...

C x

JJ said...

Lane, We so often talk about the cover and if they're on a shelf, it's the spine that needs to shout at us, isn't it?

Debs, yeah, sorry about that. Like any of us need more books.

Flowerpot, It was fabulous.

HelenMH, so do I. It's what I love about book club but also I'm better at choosing those books to give the magic a chance.

Carol, hope you enjoy it.