decline-and-fallSent down from Oxford for indecent behaviour, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly unsurprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle. Hi colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds and the young run riot, no one is safe, least of all Paul.

requiem-a-hallucinationIn this enchanting and evocative novel, Antonio Tabucchi takes the reader on a dream-like trip to Portugal, a country he is deeply attached to. He spent many years there as director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Lisbon. He even wrote Requiem in Portuguese; it had to be translated into Italian for publication in his native Italy.

Requiem‘s narrator has an appointment to meet someone on a quay by the Tagus at twelve. But, it turns out, not twelve noon, twelve midnight, so he has a long time to while away. As the day unfolds, he has many encounters–a young junky, a taxi driver who is not familiar with the streets, several waiters, a gypsy, a cemetery keeper, the mysterious Isabel, an accordionist, in all almost two dozen people both real and illusionary. Finally he meets The Guest, the ghost of the long dead great poet Fernando Pessoa. Part travelog, part autobiography, part fiction, and even a bit of a cookbook, Requiem becomes an homage to a country and its people, and a farewell to the past as the narrator lays claim to a literary forebear who, like himself, is an evasive and many-sided personality.

vernon-godlittleNamed as one of the 100 Best Things in the World by GQ magazine in 2003, the riotous adventures of Vernon Gregory Little in small town Texas and beachfront Mexico mark one of the most spectacular, irreverent and bizarre debuts of the twenty-first century so far. Its depiction of innocence and simple humanity (all seasoned with a dash of dysfunctional profanity) in an evil world is never less than astonishing. The only novel to be set in the barbecue sauce capital of Central Texas, Vernon God Little suggests that desperate times throw up the most unlikely of heroes.

arab-jazzKosher sushi, kebabs, a second-hand bookshop and a bar: the 19th arrondissement in Paris is a cosmopolitan district where multicultural citizens live, love and worship alongside one another. This peace is shattered when Ahmed Taroudant’s melancholy daydreams are interrupted by the blood dripping from his upstairs neighbour’s brutally mutilated corpse.

The violent murder of Laura Vignole, and the pork joint placed next to her, set imaginations ablaze across the neighbourhood, and Ahmed finds himself the prime suspect. But detectives Rachel Kupferstein and Jean Hamelot are not short of other leads. What is the connection between a disbanded hip-hop group and the fiery extremist preachers that jostle for attention in the streets? And what is the mysterious blue pill that is taking the district by storm?

Karim Miské demonstrates a sharp eye for character and an evocative sense of place, moving seamlessly between the sensual streets of Paris and the synagogues of New York to reveal the truth behind a horrifying crime.

by-grand-central-station-i-sat-down-and-weptElizabeth Smart’s passionate fictional account of her intense love-affair with the poet George Barker, described by Angela Carter as ‘Like Madame Bovary blasted by lightening . . .A masterpiece’. One day, while browsing in a London bookshop, Elizabeth Smart chanced upon a slim volume of poetry by George Barker – and fell passionately in love with him through the printed word. Eventually they communicated directly and, as a result of Barker’s impecunious circumstances, Elizabeth Smart flew both him and his wife from Japan, where he was teaching, to join her in the United States. Thus began one of the most extraordinary, intense and ultimately tragic love affairs of our time. They never married but Elizabeth bore George Barker four children and their relationship provided the impassioned inspiration for one of the most moving and immediate chronicles of a love affair ever written – By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Originally published in 1945, this remarkable book is now widely identified as a classic work of poetic prose which, more than six decades later, has retained all of its searing poignancy, beauty and power of impact.

Welcome to Literature in Pubs

Literature in Pubs (LIPs) is a community book group searching for literary stimulation in the relaxing atmosphere of a good pub. Currently the meetings are held at The Railway Pub on Tithebarn Street in Liverpool city centre, on the 3rd Monday of every month at 6pm-8pm.

The aim is to provide an informal setting for people to come and discuss their ideas in relation to a piece of literature once a month. No literary background is required, just a passion for discussion.

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