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Archive > Group Read -> June 2018 -> Nomination thread (A book set in, or about, the 1980s, won by High Dive by Johnathan Lee)

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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Every month we will discuss a book on a specific era or a theme. This book will be the winner of a group poll. The approximate timings are...


1st of the month - request nominations
6th of the month - publish poll
11th of the month - announce winner

Our next theme is the 1980s and we will be reading and discussing the winning book in June 2018

If you feel inspired, please nominate a book set in, or about, the 1980s that you would like to read and discuss.

It can be either fiction or non-fiction.

Please supply the title, author, a brief synopsis, and anything else you'd like to mention about the book, and why you think it might make a good book to discuss.

If your nomination wins then please be willing to fully participate in the subsequent discussion.

Happy nominating.




message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 31, 2018 04:19AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
I was just searching around for a suitable nomination and came up with....


Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess (2001)

It's the novelisation of Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry’s award-winning film, telling the story of a young boy from a mining village who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

According to The Guardian...

The story is a commentary on Thatcher’s Britain from a decidedly hostile political viewpoint.

A brilliant and deservedly successful story that is overtly critical of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.


I have never seen the film or the play, and actually only know the basic details of the story. The book, whilst aimed at young readers and upwards, has incredibly positive reviews, is only c200 pages, and yet seems to raise lots of interesting points about the 1980s, or more specifically Britain in the 1980s, though I am hoping that the themes are universal (was Reagan's American any different?).

So, there you are, I nominate, Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess




message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I will suggest a book I have read previously:
High Dive High Dive by Jonathan Lee

‘A meticulous and gripping reimagination of the Brighton bomb’ Observer, Best Novels of 2015

In September 1984, a man calling himself Roy Walsh checked into The Grand Hotel in Brighton and planted a bomb in room 629. The device was primed to explode in twenty-four days, six hours and six minutes, when intelligence had confirmed that Margaret Thatcher and her whole cabinet would be staying in the hotel.

Moving between the luxurious hospitality of a British tourist town and the troubled city of Belfast, and told from the perspectives of a young IRA explosives expert, the deputy hotel manager and his teenage daughter, High Dive is a taut and tender retelling of one of the most ambitious assassination attempts against the British establishment.


message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
That is an inspired nomination Susan. I have read it too and it is superb.


message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Nominations so far:


SUSAN: High Dive by Jonathan Lee
NIGEYB: Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess


message 6: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments I would like to nominate The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns. She wrote 3 books during the 80's and this is the only one I haven't read but it appears to be the most accessible since it has recently been republished. I've thoroughly enjoyed the other books by her so I expect this one would be good as well.

Bella Winter has hit a low. Homeless and jobless, she is the mother of a toddler by a man whose name she didn’t quite catch, and her once pretty face is disfigured by the scar she acquired in a car accident. Friendless and without family, she’s recently disentangled herself from a selfish and indifferent boyfriend and a cruel and indifferent mother. But she shares a quality common to Barbara Comyns’s other heroines: a bracingly unsentimental ability to carry on. Before too long, Bella has found not only a job but a vocation; not only a place to live but a home and a makeshift family. As Comyns’s novel progresses, the story echoes and inverts the Brothers Grimm’s macabre tale The Juniper Tree. Will Bella’s hard-won restoration to life and love come at the cost of the happiness of others?


message 7: by Story (last edited Apr 01, 2018 02:32PM) (new)

Story (storyheart) I'll second The Juniper Tree. I recently read and was blown away by Comyn's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead.


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
Never read anything by her - an intriguing looking novel, Lynaia.


message 9: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments I've recently read 3 books by her and enjoyed all of them.


message 10: by Tania (last edited Apr 01, 2018 03:25PM) (new)

Tania | 858 comments I really enjoyed Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by her, and The Juniper Tree is one of my favourites of the Grimms Tales. (I like the darker ones).
It's already going to be a hard to choose.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
Yes, I have heard of the Woolworths book. I agree, Tania, we have three good suggestions already to choose from, and all very different.


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
All sounds very intriguing - thanks


Nominations so far:

LYNAIA: The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns
SUSAN: High Dive by Jonathan Lee
NIGEYB: Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess


message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
I'd like to nominate a book which was published in 2006 but is set in the 1980s which I have sitting on my shelves and have been meaning to read for ages:

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas).

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Here is part of the Goodreads blurb:

From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new.

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy...

Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell’s subtlest and most effective achievement to date.



message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I have a friend who has been trying to get me to read David Mitchell for ages, Judy. Could this be the time?!


message 15: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Thanks Judy - I've read a few books by David Mitchell and all have been good


Nominations so far:

JUDY: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
LYNAIA: The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns
SUSAN: High Dive by Jonathan Lee
NIGEYB: Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess


message 16: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I have a friend who has been trying to get me to read David Mitchell for ages, Judy. Could this be the time?!"

I've also been meaning to read him for ages, Susan - not quite sure now how I acquired this book!


message 17: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 664 comments BSG is my favourite David Mitchell book. I wish he could forget the fantasy and go back to writing that way...


message 18: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
That's interesting, Hugh, sounds like I've chosen a good one to start with. I think I will read it whether it wins or not. :)

I do also really like Barbara Comyns and remember enjoying the Juniper Tree - she is a unique writer.


message 19: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
I decided against nominating this because David Mitchell appealed more, but, while humming and haaing over what to nominate for the 1980s, was quite intrigued by the sound of I'm Coming to Take You to Lunch: A Fantastic Tale of Boys, Booze and How Wham! Were Sold to China by Simon Napier-Bell Could you get a more 1980s title?! Has anyone read this?


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I do keep meaning to read the various volumes of Simon Napier-Bell's memoirs, Judy. I think You Don't Have To Say You Love Me is the first of three books, but I may be wrong.


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
It does look great, I agree, Nigeyb :)


message 23: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Our next theme is the 1980s and we will be reading and discussing the winning book in June 2018

If you feel inspired, please nominate a book set in, or about, the 1980s that you would like to read and discuss.

It can be either fiction or non-fiction.

Please supply the title, author, a brief synopsis, and anything else you'd like to mention about the book, and why you think it might make a good book to discuss.

If your nomination wins then please be willing to fully participate in the subsequent discussion.

Nominations so far:

JUDY: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
LYNAIA: The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns
SUSAN: High Dive by Jonathan Lee
NIGEYB: Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess




message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I remember those phones very well, Nigeyb! Great photo.


message 25: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 664 comments Judy wrote: "That's interesting, Hugh, sounds like I've chosen a good one to start with."
I liked it because it is almost a childhood memoir - Mitchell is a few years younger than me but much of it seemed very familiar. It is not at all typical of his work.


message 26: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
Nearly a decade younger than me, Hugh - but that means I remember the period well!


message 27: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4191 comments Mod
Sounds as if I might do better to start with the first Napier Bell book.


message 28: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments Ha Ha! Yes, love the photo Nigeyb! Those were quite the status symbol in there day.


message 29: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 3976 comments Mod
I'll nominate The Handmaid's Tale: although set in an undated (I think) 'future', it was first published in 1985 and obliquely reflects the pressures and stresses of 1980s politics as felt by Atwood.

It may, though, be a book that we've all read?


message 30: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 03, 2018 01:36PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
I never had one of those phones but did have an early car phone. Always cutting out.


Thanks Roman Clodia for the Margaret Atwood nomination

Nominations so far:

ROMAN CLODIA: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
JUDY: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
LYNAIA: The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns
SUSAN: High Dive by Jonathan Lee
NIGEYB: Billy Elliot by Melvin Burgess




message 31: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Last call for nominations


message 32: by Nigeyb (new)


message 33: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Pollwatch:


The Juniper Tree 3 votes, 30.0%
Billy Elliot 2 votes, 20.0%
High Dive 2 votes, 20.0%
Black Swan Green 2 votes, 20.0%
The Handmaid's Tale 1 vote, 10.0%





message 34: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
Close so far. Ah, the miner's strike... Take me back, Nigeyb!


message 35: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
I remember at the time the Miner's Strike seemed to go on for years and, when I look back, seems to dominate the decade. I expect there are some good books about the strike. One fictional account that I loved was...

GB84 by David Peace

...which would have made a brilliant discussion book. A shame I have only just thought about it. A really incredible read.

David Peace has a style instantly recognisable to fans of James Ellroy. He builds a perfect sense of time and place by interspersing his narrative with diaries, newspaper reports, dreams, grocery lists.

He honed the style in four acclaimed novels covering the way in which Yorkshire was traumatised by the Peter Sutcliffe years, building what has been called an 'occult history' of the underbelly of those times.

The other great defining story from then for Yorkshire, for Britain, was the Miner's strike.

We learn, or remember for those old enough, how the strike was provoked: how the 1983 election majority gave the Tory government carte blanche to change the country in any way it decided, and what it decided was to break the unions by breaking the miners. We learn how the law was shanghaied and subverted and rewritten to make traditional protest and community support all but impossible.

How much manipulation of and within the media went on: how events at Orgreave, for instance, were deliberately staged and cynically edited, to leave the public with an image of strikers as either sunburned shirkers or violent louts.

We learn of the secret shipments of coal, the secret shipments of scabs. We learn of the demonisation of Arthur Scargill, and the way in which both Labour Party and TUC were able to wash their hands of a faltering strike.

We learn of the militarisation of the police: the way in which they taunted pickets, the martial force with which roads were patrolled; the secret squads sent out at night to provoke fights and sow distrust among the comrades.

We read of the the NUM's increasingly desperate attempts to transfer, secure and hide its fighting funds; its code-words, and phone conventions; its back-parlour deals.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

What a book! What a writer!




message 36: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 3976 comments Mod
GB84 - I'm sold! I've been meaning to try Pearce for some time now.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I love Pearce too - have only read the dark, disturbing Yorkshire Ripper books, but really liked them. GB84 sounds fascinating. Yes, what a shame you sometimes only think of great nominations too late!


message 38: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Please let me know what you make of it RC


Yes, Susan, I apologise for not thinking more deeply about my nomination. I now realise I should think about what I associate a decade with, and then think about books on those themes. Instead, what I did, was just search "literature 1980s" which is just too vague. Ah well, next time we do a decade I'll use my new found insight and see what happens.


message 39: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
It happens to all of us, Nibeyb. I nominate a book every month and then think of a better one!


message 40: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 05, 2018 05:04AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
Book-wise, the 1980s always makes me immediately of 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' by Tom Wolfe. I rejected that as too obvious (and too American as I wanted something British or European) and also assumed everyone has probably already read it. I've not returned to it since reading it on publication in 1987 and wonder whether it would still be as good now. A 700 page behemoth that I devoured in a few sittings such was its page-turner-y qualities.

Epoch defining, or so it seemed

Perfectly capture the era...

Wall Street trading, wealth, power, prestige etc, along with the dark flipside

Anyone read it since it was published?


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
No, I haven't read anything by Tom Wolfe.


message 42: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 05, 2018 05:07AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
When Tom Wolfe's good he's absolutely amazing. I have heard that when he's not so good he can be v bad. However, I can personally vouch for....


The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

The Right Stuff (would be in my top ten books of all time - no question)

The Bonfire of the Vanities


As good as books get. Really.


message 43: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
I respect your literary opinion, but anything about space just makes me feel bored beyond belief. I actually once fell asleep on a - long - bus tour around Kennedy Space Centre :)


message 44: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 05, 2018 07:16AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
I can only urge you to put aside your feelings about space - 'The Right Stuff' is a gripping page turner.


Like you, I have no great interest in the Space Race, or trying to break the sound barrier, but, despite this, I was riveted from start to finish. Superb.

It was also made into a film that is, improbably, almost as good as the book.




message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
Hmmm. I will put Tom Wolfe on my never ending TBR list then.


message 46: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) Susan wrote: "I respect your literary opinion, but anything about space just makes me feel bored beyond belief. I actually once fell asleep on a - long - bus tour around Kennedy Space Centre :)"

I have the same reaction. Instant coma.


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan | 8899 comments Mod
Good to hear it's not just me then :)


message 48: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 664 comments The only Wolfe I read was Bonfire of the Vanities. I can see why it was popular but I wasn't a fan.


message 49: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8414 comments Mod
I can only hope you pick up The Right Stuff one of these fine days. Prepare to be engrossed. Money back guarantee.


message 50: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments I've often been curious about Tom Wolfe but have never read anything by him yet. Will definitely have to add him to my TBR list.


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