Talking Tables Talks Books #2

Posted by Beth Pickard on

The book club at Talking Tables is a tradition that has been running for several years now and it’s always been a great opportunity for the booklovers among us to get together, get reading and celebrate our love of literature. With so many great books out there, we’re often spoilt for choice and look to other book clubs for inspiration. This year we thought we’d repay the favour and share our thoughts with all of you.

This month’s book club choice was the Douglas Coupland novel, all Families are Psychotic. As a group, we had mixed feelings with our choice this month. Some of us loved it and others found it hard to get into. However, everyone found something to like, and it certainly provoked some interesting topics of conversation.

The book starts with matriarch Jane Thompson awakening in a tawdry motel in California and tallying up the whereabouts of her three children. Jane is the book’s main voice, but we also switch perspectives with her three children from time to time. Most of the story is told in the present tense with occasional flashbacks all leading up to the day Jane’s daughter, Sarah, is due to man a mission to Mars. The pace is frantic and so much, both monumental and incidental, transpires under the same fleeting pace. This style of writing was something someone described as cinematic, and it certainly feels at times that it would be well suited to a film adaptation.

The tone of the novel is something that some of us struggled with as it swings between madcap comedy and drama, whilst covering serious issues like terminal illness and self-harm. Whether the humour hits is probably down to personal taste and we had mixed reactions.

The overarching theme of the novel appears to be the familial bond that draws these characters together despite their seemingly insurmountable issues and conflicting personalities. A moment between Jane and her estranged husband Ted near the novel’s end is a particularly poignant moment between a couple that has long since become estranged coming back together again for the sake of their daughter. There’s no hint at romantic reconciliation but it instead seems to show the weight of history these characters share is something that can’t be so easily erased despite their turbulent history. At its heart, the novel is a funny and light-hearted look at dysfunctional families and the ties that bind them together.

As a book club choice, it certainly got the group thinking about their own weird and wonderful families. Lately most of us haven’t been able to spend as much time with parents and relatives as we’d like, and it was nice to read about another family coming together and celebrating one another despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

For our next book we have chosen to read something factual and have decided on Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A brief history of humankind.” We’ll let you know next month how we got on. Happy reading!


Talking Tables book club

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