EVENING BOOK CLUB
The WLS Evening Book Club is a very simple affair, open to all. Here’s how to join:
Borrow one of our library copies free of charge.
Hop online from 7-8 p.m. each First Wednesday for some great conversation!
New to book clubs? Come join us! There’s nothing quite like the pleasure of talking about something you just read with some nice folks who’ve read it, too.
We hold our meetings on Zoom, so you can join us right from your favourite reading chair. New to Zoom? It’s easy—we’ll help you connect.
Library copies are first come, first served (you can also buy your own at one from our friends at the Wairarapa’s many great local bookstores.)
Any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Readers of the Wairarapa, you are never alone!
Wednesday 5 April: In the Eye of the Wild
In April we’ll be discussing In the Eye of the Wild, Natassja Martin’s memoir of her life-changing encounter with a bear in the remote Kamchatka Mountains. Martin is a French author and anthropologist who has studied the Gwich-in people of Alaska and the Even people of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Along with In the Eye of the Wild (Croire aux fauves in France) she has written Les Âmes sauvages: Face à l’Occident, la résistance d’un peuple d’Alaska, for which she received the Prix Louis Castex from the Académie Française.
The Blurb: In the Eye of the Wild begins with an account of the French anthropologist Nastassja Martin’s near fatal run-in with a Kamchatka bear in the mountains of Siberia. Martin’s professional interest is animism; she addresses philosophical questions about the relation of humankind to nature, and in her work she seeks to partake as fully as she can in the lives of the indigenous peoples she studies.
Her violent encounter with the bear, however, brings her face-to-face with something entirely beyond her ken—the untamed, the nonhuman, the animal, the wild. In the course of that encounter something in the balance of her world shifts. A change takes place that she must somehow reckon with.
Left severely mutilated, dazed with pain, Martin undergoes multiple operations in a provincial Russian hospital, while also being grilled by the secret police. Back in France, she finds herself back on the operating table, a source of new trauma. She realizes that the only thing for her to do is to return to Kamchatka. She must discover what it means to have become, as the Even people call it, medka, a person who is half human, half bear.
In the Eye of the Wild is a fascinating, mind-altering book about terror, pain, endurance, and self-transformation, comparable in its intensity of perception and originality of style to J. A. Baker’s classic The Peregrine. Here Nastassja Martin takes us to the farthest limits of human being. —from New York Review Books
Reviews seem to agree that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill account of how human spirit triumphs against nature, and more about exploring the liminal space where human and animal meet. What do you think?
Check out To Believe in the Animal from Villa Albertine. It includes interviews with Nastassja Martin, novelist David Vann, and translator Sophie Lewis.
Here are the books we’ve read and enjoyed! Want to read them in your own book club? Contact email@example.com about checking out a free book club set of any title.
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, by Shehan Karunatilaka.
“Evil is not what we should fear. Creatures with power acting in their own interest: that is what should make us shudder.”
The Book of Goose, by Yiyun Li.
“There are different ways to measure depth, but not many readers measure a book's depth with a knife, making a cut from the first page all the way down to the last.”
“How is anyone going to get sick from walking a few miles over the moor and standing on a hillside in the wind?”
The Last White Man, by Mohsin Hamid
“... a white man had indeed shot a dark man, but also that the dark man and the white man were the same.”
The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan.
“The need for personal glory is like cigarette addiction: a habit that feels life-sustaining
even as it kills you.”
Remarkably Bright Creatures, by Shelby Van Pelt.
“Humans… For the most part you are dull and blundering. But occasionally you can be remarkably bright creatures.”
The Bookseller at the End of the World, by Ruth Shaw
“‘I expressed my condolences and spoke about how often we are taken by surprise when someone dies. I have always believed everyone has a story to tell’”
Something New Under the Sun, by Alexandra Kleeman
“Why was the only choice paper or plastic, rathern than being able to choose to buy nothing at all?”
Strange Beasts of China, by Yan Ge.
“‘My mother used to tell me, ‘You can’t be sure that beasts aren’t people, or that people aren’t just another type of beast.’”
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro.
“‘Sometimes,’ she said, ‘at special moments like that, people feel a pain alongside their happiness. I’m glad you watch everything so carefully, Klara.’”
Greta & Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly
"There comes a time of night when it becomes okay to sit on the ground, even away from parks and boulders and other natural sitting spots."
Lea Ypi, Free: Coming of Age at the End of History
“When you see a system change once, it’s not that difficult to believe that it can change again."
Sue Orr, Loop Tracks
"The first time I got on an aeroplane, I was sixteen years old and pregnant."
Doireann Ní Ghríofa, A Ghost in the Throat
“This is a female text, written in the twenty-first century. How late it is. How much has changed. How little.”
Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You
“Maybe we’re just born to love and worry about the people we know, and to go on loving and worrying even when there are more important things we should be doing. And if that means the human species is going to die out, isn’t it in a way the nicest reason to die out, the nicest reason you can imagine?”