March saw us read another local writer in the shape of Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness Of A Long Distance Runner. Although we found the collection of short stories a little dated, we found the subject covered a very hand to mouth existence, very reminiscent of the era it was based and written in. Very much like D H Lawrence, the overall subject matter provided a historical/social history of the times and is incredibly important to preserve – we couldn’t think of any other authors of modern times that write in this way, although ‘This Thing Called Love’ aired in 2004, showed a very good depiction of Nottingham people.
A lot of the stories showed a black humour element and had a very ‘matter of fact’ attitude. There was also a chauvinistic element and a certain misconception of a woman’s place in society.
A quick summary of the stories discussed:
- The Loneliness Of A Long Distance Runner
This story was considered very powerful with empathy against the main character. Incredibly well written with readers thinking they were running with him and strong parallels between the boy and the governor.
2. Uncle Ernest
This was my favourite story in the collection, although others felt it left them cold and was creepy. I loved the innocence of the man, but others thought he had a hidden agenda.
4. The Fishing Boat Picture
Readers thought this was a lovely story and showed an amazing kindness by the man, to help his ex-wife, once she returned.
Where as I thought the main theme of the collection was loneliness, a discussion was had around perhaps a theme of defunctional men. This evolved into a discussion of, if we as a society are more isolated now, with the closure of local industries and how little opportunity there is in terms of education.
Finally only a handful of us read short stories, with a few admitting they have preconceived ideas about these. I’m not sure if this collection will encourage more people to pick up more of this genre, but it certainly provided a change in the usual book club choice!