‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ The famous opening lines of LP Hartley’s 1900-set novel, ‘The Go-Between’, could almost be taken as a subtitle for the Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise festival – a year-long look at the development of music and culture over the course of the twentieth century. It makes the book an apt choice for the Centre’s first Book Club read of 2013.
Indeed, literature programmer and Book Club coordinator Erica Jarnes has carefully selected each of this year’s books so that they tie in with the larger festival, providing context and an added richness for those who wish to investigate further.
Thus a month of programmes focusing on Paris in the 1920s ended with the Book Club’s discussion of Ernest Hemingway’s highly-contentious-yet-highly entertaining memoir ‘A Moveable Feast’. March sees the focus of the festival shifting to Weimar, Germany, with the Book Club following suit by looking atChristopher Isherwood’s brilliant novel ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ on March 28.
Next up, on April 30, the group will discuss Patrick Neate’s tale of family, friendship and jazz ‘Twelve Bar Blues’, followed on May 23 by Mikhail Bulgakov’s satirical fantasy ‘The Master and Margarita’, which was written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin’s regime. It is this careful planning that gives the Southbank Centre Book Club its special appeal. Regular attendees should get a real sense of a literary journey through the twentieth century with each passing session, but casual members and newcomers are also encouraged.
Another plus is the make-up of the group itself: numbering around 30, with no single sex or agegroup dominating the discussion, the gathering is small enough to feel intimate, yet large enough to enable more reserved members to simply sit quietly and observe without feeling selfconscious. And finally, it’s free – which is as welcome now as it was in the past. Wayne Gooderham
For info, see southbankcentre.co.uk. Free (but booking essential). Mar 28, Apr 30, May 23 6.30pm.
Four other great book clubs
The Science Fiction Book Group
Next meet: March 25
Reading: ‘Floating Worlds’ by Cecelia Holland
More info: sciencefictionbookclub.org
South Woodford Crime Reading Group
Next meet: April 8
Reading: ‘The Glass Room’ by Ann Cleeves
More info: South Woodford Library, 8708 9067
London Gay Reading Group
Books of a gay interest
Next meet: Second Sunday of each month
Reading: ‘Why Be Happy when You Could Be Normal?’ by Jeanette Winterson
More info: lgrg.co.uk