This episode featured, The Girl With Glas Feet by Ali Shaw and what an incredible discussion was had by all.
The novel's location a northern archipelago named St Hauda's Land, a cold, unforgiving landscape with an inner warmth that had me thinking Orkneys or Shetland (some knitting would have been good, I don't remeber any) and an edge of mystery and intrigue which was the perfect backdrop for Ali Shaw's story of Ida who is slowly turning to glass and the efforts of local photographer Midas to prevent it.
Yes, we had much discussion about the names and could MIDAs only exist if Ida was an intrinsic part of him...then there was all that 'touch turning to gold' to explore and plenty of magical realism ensued. It's that wonderful combination of the real world, all those touchstones of reality laced with the uncanny magic. Some of it worked wonderfully for me, some of it slightly less so which I think was more down to my lack of imagination at a time when I've been knee-deep in gritty realism in my reading lately. But how fascinating it was to talk about the book with such an enthusiastic group of readers around the world.
NTTVBG posts go live just after midnight GMT on the scheduled Sunday so Australia was quick off the mark and had the discussion rolling by the time we all arrived. Some had been swept away by it, others were more measured, and in search of some enlightenment I had listened to an interview given by Ali Shaw to a US radio station.
I wanted to get his own thoughts on The Girl With Glass Feet because mine were a bit muddled. I had myself tied in knots looking for the fairytale analogies...was this Cinderella with the glass slippers under a different guise or something else entirely?
In fact Ali Shaw cited Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid as more of a favourite and made reference to the glass delusions of Charles VI of France, when in a fit of madness Charles believed he was made of glass and wearing the psychological padded suit lest he break. Though ultimately this book is pure fantasy from the imagination of an incredibly talented young writer and thankfully Ali Shaw also added that explanations for everything didn't feel essential to the whole, let's have some mystery and 'unexplained' happenings in life these days and enjoy some uncertainty; some times we try too hard to make sense of everything and how can you make sense of magical realism, you can't, that's the point.
I think we all agreed Ali Shaw is a writer to watch and I would certainly want to read whatever he writes next and then as the day draws to a close with an astonishing 128 exchanges in comments and we all slowly wend our way home while Simon gets out the virtual vacuum cleaner, I get that little buzz of anticipation about the next book on the pile waiting to be picked up.
I'm really looking forward to this Sunday at Kirsty's Other Stories for discussion about Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers because I've had a real Woolfian wallow in readiness and loved every minute of it...still dipping into The Waves, ten pages a day no more and I've finished the Anthony Curtis biography so I'm up to speed.
Do join us if you want to, and this time round it might not even matter if you haven't read the book, I think the Woolfian discussion will be fascinating.