I love Sundays. I guiltlessly indulge in afternoon naps. I sprawl on my couch with a bowl of popcorn and catch up on movies. And if the reading that I should be doing for work or school hasn't got me completely enthalled, it's only on Sundays that I give myself full license to turn to something else. Which is how I stayed up too late last night finishing Sean Dixon's The Girls Who Knew Everything. But what an engrossing, imaginative, thrilling read. This was one of my fellow Dewey's picks and I've had the book on my to-be-read pile for a few months now. This is the story of the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women's Book Club - a motley group of eccentric and intense women who nevertheless jointly tremble when one of their members pronounces, "those five most exciting words in the Lacuna Cabal lexicon: 'I've been to the library.'" They meet in unusual places and go one step further in their discussions by actually acting out scenes in the book, often with disastrous consequences. The crisis in their club comes as a group of strangers accidentally stumble on a meeting, and are reluctantly manipulated into participating with the group's latest pick - The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Now I haven't given a thought to Gilgamesh since undergrad days when I dropped Northrop Frye's famous and famously tough course on world mythology and the Bible (and why, you may be asking, would anyone drop a course taught by Northrop Frye? I know - I was young and silly. I panicked. We had to do seminars on the meaning of key words in the Bible and I had drawn the word "fire". I had left my term paper to the last minute and I was supposed to be comparing Eve to Guinevere and Helen of Troy. I was doomed. I fled. Someday, in an ideal world, tuition will be actually be affordable so that students don't have to spend so much time working part-time jobs and they can actually enjoy the courses they are working so hard to take. As it turned out, Frye died later that year. But I still did experience several unforgettable lectures, although I have yet to finish reading the Bible. But I digress.)
Back to Dixon's book. It' s full of quirky characters, has not one but two omniscent narrators with an axe to grind, contains witty footnotes, and at its core is a smart, urban tale combined with an improbable and yet irresistable adventure story. Robots, the war in Iraq, blogging and commentary on Canlit (the group particularly reveres In the Skin of a Lion and Fall on Your Knees) all play a part. It's definately a book for bibliophiles and what a great choice for a book club! Could we maybe say Giller Prize shortlist?