Sunday, May 28, 2006

Minutes 17/04/2006

BOOK CLUB MEETING – Monday, April 17th, 2007
Bermuda College Library - 10PM – 7:45PM
Present: Amin Smith, Craig Harris, Laura Sweet, StClair Trott, Willow Pearce

• The meeting began at 6:10PM
• We welcomed new member Laura Sweet to the club. Laura joined us as a result of reading the recent article on the club in the Royal Gazette.
• Progress of the Blog was announced. Currently the Blog is still under construction and in need of updating and refinement. However, the address has been shared with all members and comments and input are now sought and encouraged.
• Amin has selected the next book to be read for the following meeting. It is ‘Alexander II : the Last Great Tsar’ by Edvard Radzinsky. The book has been ordered and 6 copies are currently available at the Bermuda Bookstore.
• Discussion of our last book, ‘A Woman in Berlin’ by an anonymous author, was lengthy and engaging. It was generally agreed that this was a very powerful and thought-provoking book that was enjoyed unanimously by the members.
• Amin commented that the author seemed to be a sympathiser of the regime and appeared to look down on her conquerors. Craig suggested an explanation for this outlook was the fact that at the time of writing this book the war had literally just ended. Also the author had been indoctrinated by propaganda for several years prior to beginning her journal.
• Laura concurred with Amin. She pointed out that although the author often referred to collective experiences she seemed to place herself above people.
• The scene where the author’s attacker spits in her mouth was mentioned as one epitomising defeat and subjugation. Willow added that he has heard of this same behaviour used to subdue animals.
• Continuing with the ‘animal’ theme, Laura noted that there were many animal references throughout the book. References to ‘cave dwellers’ and ‘wolves’ emphasised the dehumanising process that the author endured; yet survived. In the end, like an animal, she was reduced to only feeling two things – cold and hunger.
• StClair was impressed with the amount of detail contained in the book. There was also some debate as to how believable this book was? Was it a forgery? The group generally agreed that the book was authentic but had obviously been written, and edited, by a professional.
• Amin highlighted the effect of these atrocities on women. Willow added his own recollections of life in Germany after the war, and the effects both physical and emotional on the country.
• There was ensuing discussion on the effect of the war on German children and their role as combatants. Parallels were made to African children who today are pressed into military service.
• In the ‘Page Turner/Page Burner’ segment of the meeting, Craig presented two books on Berlin: Antony Beevor’s ‘The Fall of Berlin 1945’ and ‘The wall: The People’s Story’ by Christopher Hilton. He recommended both of these books for anyone interested in learning more about the Russian advance into Berlin and the aftermath.
• Willow agreed to research and select the next book to be read.
• The meeting ended at 7:45PM.

Minutes 20/3/2006

Book club Meeting – Monday, March 20th, 2006
Present: Amin smith, stClair Trott, Craig Harris
Regrets: Willow Pearce, Ruth Flannery

• The meeting was held in the meeting room of the Bermuda College Library and began at 6:10PM
• The recent Royal Gazette editorial highlighting the club was circulated to all members. Craig noted that, to date, he had received positive responses from 5-6 people who had read the story and were interested in joining the club’s April meeting.
• It was noted that the next book, ‘A Woman in Berlin’, had arrived at the BookMart and was available for purchase. Members who had already collected a copy described it as a powerful and engrossing book.
• The address for the club’s blog site was circulated. Although it is still being added to and refined it is now ready for members to view, use and comment on. Thanks were given to Amin for his efforts in making this site a reality.
• Carrying over from the last meeting, members were still keen to dissect ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’, the last book read. Unfortunately the book continued to generate only mediocre comments with all members saying that the book was ‘good’ but not ‘great’.
• The current selection, ‘In the Name of the Father’ by Gerry Conlon, was discussed next.
• This book was considered reasonably good, but again, not great. St Clair commented that one of his favourite aspects of the book was the portrayal of family life. He likened it to life in Bermuda in his youth.
• Amin thought it was well written in that it followed the story line logically. He said he could see something like this happening.
• Some debate ensued as to the veracity of the facts as portrayed by an Irish sympathiser of the IRA. It was generally agreed that he was unlikely to see the struggle in Northern Ireland in a fair manner. St Clair noted that the protagonist never believed any of his colleagues were guilty of anything.
• General dissatisfaction between the British, Scots and Irish was noted.
• Wrongful imprisonment was discussed at some length, as was terrorism in general.
• This developed into a conversation on modern Iran and the current situation regarding nuclear weapons.
• In the ‘Page Turner/Page Burner’ segment of the meeting Craig offered ‘how the Irish Saved Civilization’ by Thomas Cahill, a bestseller from the mid-90’s. He commented that the book was a meandering and difficult read that failed to properly support the title. He recommended that members avoid this book.
• StClair agreed to select the next book.
• The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, April 17th.
• The meeting ended at 7:45PM