So our first pick for Book Club was February’s M Train and I APOLOGISE UNRESERVEDLY I AM GROVELLING AT YOUR FEET that it has taken me til March 8 to get you my thoughts. March 8! We’ve already started Trainspotting! I’m about to announce book #3! Time flies when you’re too busy to blog.
So, having said that, I loved M Train hard. Patti’s lyrical writing wove the mundane into beautiful memories, elevated enough to sit alongside outrageous recollections like that one time she sat in Iceland, singing Buddy Holly songs at midnight with international chess champion Bobby Fisher in a hoodie, accompanied by a bodguard she borrowed from NASA.
I mean… what? She has lived a thousand lives in one. And writes about them so dreamily.
I had a little sob in several places, particularly at the image of her tiny daughter sleeping in her halloween costume, sure her daddy would see it when he got home later that night… only he never did.
My fear of food poisoning resurfaced at the same time as I craved Tuscan bean soup and brown toast, but as much as Patti mentioned black coffee, I just couldn’t go there. Caffeine makes me feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office for about 8 hours and I can absolutely do without that kind of anxiety in a life void of predictability.
I also loved her musings on Sylvia Plath:
I wondered what happened to the oven. Perhaps the next tenant got an impeccably clean range, a massive reliquary for a poet’s last reflection and a strand of light brown hair caught on a metal hinge.
And I think the quote that came up the most in the book club’s online discussion is the one Patti wrote about books she loved but couldn’t explain why – which perfectly summed up how we felt about M Train ourselves:
I would enter a book wholeheartedly and sometimes venture so deeply it was as if I were living within it. I finished many books in such a manner there, closing the covers ecstatically yet having no memory of the content by the time I returned home.
I also loved how she was furious at her table being used at Cafe Ino by the loud chick on the phone and after she directed some terrible thoughts at her for a while, Patti’s conscience got the better of her and she grumbles “oh all right, may the world’s small things fill her with delight”. I cracked up. That’ll be my mantra next time I’m behind an idiot driver or someone’s chewing too loudly. It’s the new “under his eye” for me 🤣 blessed be the fruit.
I was also very swayed by the cowpoke that came to her in her dreams, sitting quietly staring out into the landscape, before dropping a philosophical bomb and wandering away. In one scene, “He reached over and lightly gripped my arm. I noticed there was a crescent moon tattooed in the space between his thumb and forefinger. A writer’s hand.”
Yeah, that’s permanent.
I had a blast at our first book club meeting, held in an Irish bar/bookshop on a random Monday night, and will take this time to remind you we have a Facebook group if that’s your thing. It’s where we hold the online live discussion at the end of each month for folks who don’t live in Melbourne or who otherwise can’t make the IRL meeting. It’s good stuff!
I will leave you with this:
We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother’s voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things I know. Don’t go. Don’t grow.