It’s Book Club night and like many others, I’m comfortably settled into my armchair prepared to watch Jennifer Byrne, Marike Hardy and Jason Steger, with guest panellists, discuss the merits of new releases and classic titles. I listen, argue and make notes.
Despite the ABC’s best efforts to discourage viewers by frequently changing its place in the schedule, we have doggedly followed whereever the programmers, in their wisdom, led. Even putting the show to air at 10pm did not deter us from our literary pleasure.
There was an announcement in October, but we all “went ostrich” and decided to believe that the best reason for watching television would have an eleventh-hour reprieve, staying to entertain us for another 11 years at least.
But at 9pm on December 19, after 11 wonderful years, Jennifer Byrne and friends said farewell with the words “long live the book”.
Now to add insult to injury, the ABC also announced Books and Arts will be replaced by a new program, The Hub, presented by a different host each weekday at 10am. Tuesday is The Book Hub hosted by Claire Nichols, with contributions from authors Annabel Crabb, Tara Moss and Michael Robotham.
Finally some good news – Old title re-released
Down and Out in London and Paris, by Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, was republished in November 2017, some 80 plus years after its original release in 1933!
We have all read, or claim to have read, Animal Farm and 1984, but there are many of us, or perhaps it’s only me, who are unfamiliar with Orwell’s other works. Down and Out in London and Paris is a two-part memoir of Orwell’s life, before his 30th birthday. As you might guess from the title, it covers Orwell’s time living on the edge, picking up restaurant or other casual work in Paris and London. He relates the nightly scramble for beds in a hostel and remembers the characters he met.
The new edition includes a foreword by chef Anthony Bourdain who says: “Orwell was there long, long before me, ‘ripping the lid off’ fine dining and depicting, in unsparing terms, the filth, the language, the subculture, the complete disconnect between what was seen in the dining room and what happened behind the kitchen doors …Down and Out in Paris and London changed my life.”