Report on Fabulous Monsters

Fabulous Monsters by Alberto Manguel inspired great discussion last night and – as all good choices – it struck various chords and resonated differently with all readers. In this it was a fine choice, even if it may not have passed the Wilson test for all readers, nor have encouraged all readers to finish.
Thanks to BM for a very thorough and thoughtful review of the book. Discussion of the various characters and allusions within the chapters raised the wider realisation of how very diverse and wide-ranging Manguel’s content was. Although for some this does, and has, inspired further reading to investigate references and characters, the obverse is to some it read as rather disjointed and scattered. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Further discussion of the volume identified that there may have been issues around the editing and the very fine line that this work walked between being academic-oriented versus having popular appeal. The illustration by the author were widely appreciated and Joe I believe that you raised the value of reading this in physical form where it encouraged random reading of chapters and not being constrained to a Kindle-enforced sequence. There seemed little arc to the sequence as was pointed out … the chapters themselves seemed to stand each on its own as an essa
A further issue was raised as to whether the book lived up to its promise or that maybe certain readers raised their own expectations to unattainable heights?  However, I think all agreed that the premise/question:  why certain fictional characters can have a deeper impact on our lives than those flesh and blood ones that we share our existence with – was unique and something worth exploring. Whether the author actual accomplished this is the bigger question. There was an opinion put forward that the vast number of characters and related characters introduced in the book came across, not as a deeply reflective piece, but more as pure vanity on the part of the author – a demonstration that he was well-read and could pull references from a massive range of classic and multi-cultural literary sources. The emergent theme in the writing was that Manguel was raising the awareness of lesser recognised but particularly important characters in literature and calking for these fabulous monsters to be remembered and considered.
As Jim said, it would be amazing to attend a lecture by this fellow and in fact possibly, if we were able to hear his voice in these various mini-lectures that is the best way to contextualise and enjoy this book.
So enough attempts to try and remember what we may or may not have said last night in our cosy cellar. I hope I caught at least some of the notes of the discussion.

The scores for the record (and entered into our ledger) were:

Brian M – 7.5
Jim – 6.0
Joe – 6.0
Declan – 5.0
Fergal – No Vote Cast
Ruairi – 5.0
Brian C – 3.5
Shawn – 4.0
Mike – 5.0
For an average of 5.25 and a cheaper night for Brian M than he started to fear ;-)
Thanks Brian for the recommendation.
So…on to January
We had three books suggested:
Shawn: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Mike: Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier
Brian M: Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan.

The voting here was as close as it could be (and I will note that I had Mike verify my math on this and it seems to have held up this morning).

With votes of 19,18,17 the read for the coming month is Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.

I wish you all the very best for the season and now return you to yr regularly scheduled programming. Take care and as always cherish your esteemed collegiality and look forward to the coming year.

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