Book the 5th:
Charles Mason (1728 -1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British Surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, in an updated eighteenth-century novel featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political and major caffeine abuse.
We follow the mismatch’d pair – one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-Romantic – from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revoluntionary America and back, through the stange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment’s dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented them by the Age of Reason.
Only one of us had managed to finish the book (and that might have been on a previous occasion), two of us has started it and found the experience akin to wading waste deep in rotting jelly and one had picked up the book, looked intently at the cover for a bit and then put it down and forgot all about it.
Honestly, we had tried but in the main, left it too late to make any traction. While we all continued to *want* to want to read the book…it didn’t happen this time round.
So we drank coffee, chatted about other books and comics we were reading, had our customary little foray into the Cumberbatch appreciation fandom and spent a merry hour or so nattering about nonsense. It was lovely.
And perhaps necessary. By the end of the hour we were all reinvigorated as a book club and very enthused to get stuck into our next book. Most of us have heard very interesting things about Zora Neale Hurston and her seminal novel There eyes were watching God. Perhaps more significantly, it’s not a huge tomb so shame alone should be enough to get us through it!