Sunday 16 October 2016

Brona's Salon

Brona's Salon is a new meme which aims to gather a group of like-minded bookish people 'under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.'

I will provide a few prompts to inspire our conversation.
However please feel free to discuss your current read or join in the conversation in any way that you see fit.
Amusement, refinement and knowledge will surely follow!

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. 

How did you find out about this book?

The Shadow (wo)man Booker group read and reviewed this book.
It was one that was generally enjoyed, with some reservations about it being worthy enough for a literary award. 

Why are you reading it now? 

I'm trying to read half the Booker shortlist before the big announcement next week. 

First impressions? 

Entertaining historical fiction with a metafiction touch - is this a memoir or not? 
What is real? What is fiction?
Is there such a thing as fictional true crime?

Metafiction seems to be a literary device that lots of writers are playing with right now.

I'm thinking of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien with her book within the book, Elena Ferrante's ambiguous 'is it memoir is it real' Neapolitan tetraology, Michelle de Kretser's Springtime: A Ghost Story with its discussion mid-story about the nature of ghost stories, Kent Haruf's use of the same fictional town in all his stories and the referencing of his previous books in Our Souls At Night and Alain de Botton's use of footnotes to address issues brought up in his narrative in The Course of Love.

And that's just some of the books I've read this year that can be classified as metafiction!

Wikipedia describes metafiction as -

A story about a writer who creates a story.
A story that features itself as a narrative or as a physical object.
A story containing another work of fiction within itself.
Narrative footnotes which continue the story while commenting on it.
A story that reframes or suggests a radically different reading of another story.
A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots.
A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story.
A story in which the authors refers to elements of the story as both fact and fiction.
A book in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader.
 A story in which the readers of the story itself force the author to change the story.
A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story.
A story in which the characters make reference to the author or his previous work.

Have you read any metafiction books recently?

Which character do you relate to so far?

I'm not sure if relate is the right word, but I certainly feel empathy for Roddy's sister Jetta.
She has no rights, no protection but all the care and responsibility of looking after her family.

Are you happy to continue?

So far.
I can see Burnet building a case whereby the bullying, mean, officious Mackenzie Broad family got what they deserved (by being murdered), but it seems too neat and too obvious.
Is Roddy a reliable narrator?
The Macrae stoicism and acceptance of fate as being their lot in life feels a trifle overdone.
I'm enjoying the details of Scottish croft life - as bleak and as hard as it was.

Despite the topic, this is a fun psychological thriller read, but I can feel a bit of a drag creeping in.
I hope Burnet doesn't get bogged down or lose his way.

Where do you think the story will go? 

We know that Roddy killed the Mackenzie Broad's from the start. 
He didn't hide or deny what happened.
But is he covering for someone - his father? his sister?

I can see that his advocate is leaning towards an insanity plea - is this a ploy? Or a real concern about Roddy's mental state.
His journal currently presents a logical, thoughtful, intelligent man.


  1. I've not heard of metafiction. I don't think I've read metafiction, but some of my more contemporary works come to mind, like , by A.S. Byatt, but I'm not sure.

    I think I'll give this salon a shot later today. : D

    1. Oops, I lost my book title when I attempted to italicize it. The book was Possession. See if that works.

    2. I hadn't realised how broad a church metafiction was until I looked it up. From memory Possession would fall into the story containing another story category.
      Quite a few classic authors used this device too - The Canterbury Tales, Don Quixote, Northanger Abbey, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, The Good Soldier, The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Golden Notebook, Orlando, The Arabian Nights, The Decameron, The Long Goodbye, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Bleak House, The Princess Bride, The Illiad, The World According to Garp, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses,
      The Wide Sargasso Sea, Shakespeare, Paul Auster, Kurt Vonnegut, Dr Seuss and Stephen King just to name a few!

    3. I'd love to see what your reading right now Ruth :-)

    4. Oh, then that makes sense. It's really not that strange after all. I've read Canterbury Tales (children's version), DQ, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller.

      Hey thanks for doing a salon. Another blogger had hosted one some time ago, and it was a lot of fun answering question about the book you are reading. I'll put my post up now.

    5. Yes I remember that. I went searching for her but her blog seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere.

  2. Hey, my Master and Margarita readalong fits the bill! The four chapters that take place in ancient Jerusalem appear to be excerpts from the master's novel. Also they are Woland's memories, maybe. Who knows.

    The answers to the questions: I first read M&M in college, so that's where I heard of it. It was assigned in a class. It's a really weird novel. It's hard to identify with anyone in it; all the lesser characters wind up in a mental hospital, having been victimized by the devil, and Margarita happily joins his team.

    I'm also reading "In Search of Ireland," a travel book by H. V. Norton (written in 1928, Ireland is newly indepndent!).

    1. Sounds like metafiction to me! It's everywhere.

      I've had M & M on my TBR pile for years, but keep putting it off. A readalong would have been a lovely way to go...except for my personal Booker reading mini challenge. Does M & M have use magical realism or is it more like a dream/druggy/grungy underworld type thing?

      I also like to read a non-fiction (or two) as I read my latest novel...I believe they call that multi-tasking!

  3. So Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell metafiction? It sounds quite interesting...I haven't read much else like it (JS & MN falls under that category). Perhaps the closest would be my latest read which was based on a couple of fairy tales. I'm not into murder mysteries or crime fiction any more. However, metafiction...we learn something new everyday! :D

    I think I'd like to take part in this salon. It's a nice idea. I'll have something up in a bit.

    1. I haven't read JS & MN but I think it's an alternate history story with some magical elements. I think Clarke does pay homage to some earlier English literary traditions. Both those elements could be meta fiction I think.

      I don't normally read a lot of crime (maybe one or two a year!) My preferred type is cosy crime - His Bloody Project also works for me as it is more historical fiction than crime. The crime itself is a small part of the book - the bulk of the story is really a study in psychology - motivation, behaviour, nature vs environment, what does insanity look like?

      I hope you can join us Risa :-)

  4. Thanks for hosting this salon, I'm definitely joining!
    When will be the next one? Will it be monthly?

    1. I'm planning on monthly at this stage, but don't want to pin it down to hard and fast :-)

      Will try to put up a Salon about the middle of each month though.

  5. Metafiction is an interesting concept.
    Thanks for adding the link to my post!

  6. I was visiting the other links. Natalie's isn't working

  7. I like this feature and decided to combine it with my Tuesday Intro post this week.

  8. I take it this meme is supposed to be up once a month? Just wanted to add another link to this post:

    1. Thanks. I am doing this monthly - roughly the middle of the month.
      I'll make sure the linky is open for longer next time :-)

      Thanks for stopping by.
      the next one will go up in a week or so...

    2. Thanks, Brona! I really think these questions make you think a bit more about first impressions. So, yep!...I might be doing them often enough. :D Thanks for stopping by and the shot-out on twitter!


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