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Introducing A Seriously Pajiban Book Club

By Steven Lloyd Wilson and Joanna Robinson | Book Reviews | October 25, 2013 | Comments ()


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Steven Lloyd Wilson: Over the summer, Joanna and I tried to write a review of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but ended up in a back and forth email conversation about the story rather than ever converging on any cohesive review of the text. Which was disappointing, both because the conversation was fantastic, and because if we don’t deliver articles, Dustin’s children don’t eat, and they get bloody mean when they’re hungry.

An idea emerged though from the wreckage of this never-finished article, that when it comes to books, the conversation about them can be more rewarding than a static review written by one or more of us. And so we lit upon this new feature, in which we conversate instead of bloviate. We’ll let you know in advance what we’re going to be reading and discussing, so that you can read said book and join in conversation in the comments. Like a Socratic dialogue sort of thing. Jo?

Joanna Robinson: So Steven and I, ever eager to share the things we know and love with you all, hope you’ll join us in two weeks, on Friday, November 8th, for a discussion of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. We picked that book not just because it’s the one we tried (and failed) to write about earlier this summer and not just because Steven and I worship the gothic ground Gaiman walks on, but because it’s a quick read (only 181 pages), we know many of you have already read it and it’s right up your collective Pajiban alleys.

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We really do want to create a discussion-friendly community with this project so please feel free to send us your suggestions for future book club selections as well topics or questions you’d like to see addressed. You can reach Joanna here or Steven here. You can get the book in any number of places either at the library, your local bookshop or, most conveniently of course, online. We ask that if you get the book on Amazon, you click here as a portion of the proceeds will then go to a cause near and dear the hearts of the literary Pajibans: The American Cancer Society.

Oh yes! And we’ve given our little club a name. Steven, do you want to give the kids a little historical background? You do the professorial thing so well.

SLW: Ahem. So back in the 1930s there was a little writer’s club that met at Oxford University named The Inklings. You may have heard of a couple of their members: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, in the days before they’d made their names. They’d meet occasionally, read their in-progress works aloud (including The Lord of the Rings), and discuss and criticize them at length either in Lewis’ rooms or a local pub. It was at one of these meetings, during a reading of a new chapter of Tolkien, that Hugo Dyson famously yelled out from the back: “oh fuck, not another elf!”

And so it’s in that spirit that we are shamelessly hijacking their name and hitching an adjective to the front in order to distinguish ourselves from everyone else who has tried to take what we are rightfully stealing. Thus, The Faintest Inklings.

JR: The tentacular name is also supposed to recall the original Pajiban deity who has, of late, fallen into disuse. But as any Gaiman fan knows, the Old Gods never die…they wait. So, my little Inkpots, please join us in this literary endeavor. We promise not to lead you astray.

SLW: Yeah, I am not making that promise.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • MontroseMama

    Just finished. Wow. Loved it. Can't wait for the discussion. Would like a heads up on the next book.

  • Target_Blonde

    Ugh was traveling for work so I couldn't comment until just now but I downloaded the book from the library this afternoon, can't wait to start reading it!!

  • Captain_Tuttle

    Tardy as ever, but I'm in. Just finished the book last week & I adored it.

  • I'm in. Oh yes, oh yes.

  • Donna SHerman

    Excellent excellent excellent. I just saw this in our bookstore the other day and thought about giving it a go.

  • birdgal

    I'm in like Flynn! And, ahead of the curve since I finished this a couple months ago.

  • Even Stevens

    I just finished this book today, yay! It was amazing, and I'm already dreading the review for CBR because there is just no way I can do it justice. He is a man of beautiful words.

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    I want to be in, too. so, I guess I am. Hi!

  • Kendra, Warrior Babe

    Yes and yes. Can't wait! I'm so pumped, I came out of the shadows. (Long time lurker, 3rd time commenter.)

  • raeraefred

    I LOVE this idea -- club, name, and starting book all! this makes my day more than not having to teach school the next two days. ^_^

  • Uriah_Creep

    Can you imagine being a fly on the wall of the original Inklings club at Oxford? It would be like experiencing some of the best audiobooks ever.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I like to read books. They have words. I like to read words.

  • Guest

    I cannot wait! This may be the thing that eases the pain of how horribly I have failed at the Cannonball.

  • Tinkerville

    I love this idea and since I've read this book twice already, I'm really excited to hear everyone's thoughts on it.

  • damnitjanet

    I'm in.

  • Kala

    Read it when it first came out, but I would love to read it again. I need a palate cleanser for all the required reading I'm currently wading through.

  • Zuffle

    Disuse? Pajiba is my church, and I pray to Godtopus every day. And value hugely my godtopus T-shirt, which I wear whenever clean, and have saved like the fools of Sodom from bolognese stains on many an occasion with quick deteregence. Amen.

  • Zuffle

    Also, I've read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, and have many uncomfortable feelings still to quell. I fucking love that I can count on you to do right by your congregation. I love you all.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I just read this a few weeks ago. I have all of the feelings.

  • Groovy, Marsha.

  • trixie

    I'm in! I'd also like to recommend "Lamb" by Christopher Moore for a future read and discussion. I do adore his books and Lamb is my favorite by far.

  • Kendra, Warrior Babe

    Ack!!! I just bought the leatherbound Bible-esque copy because I gave my worn paperback to a friend because after borrowing it, he is a Moore convert. And rereading "Stupidest Angel" is my Christmas tradition. (TL;DR Agree!!)

  • Bea Pants

    I love this! Just reqested a copy from my local library!

  • BWeaves

    I'd like to recommend "Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog)" by Jerome K. Jerome, because the more people I can turn on to the funniest book in the English language, the happier I am.

    While I like "The Faintest Inklings," I'm rather fond of Sefa's "The Inkpots."

  • JoannaRobinson

    Um, I said Inkpots in the article, darlin'. And Three Men In A Boat is an all time favorite. Have you read To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis? SUCH fun.

  • BWeaves

    Oh, so you did call us little inkpots. But I thought you wanted the official name to be The Faintest Inklings. I like Inkpots better.

    I've read the Connie Willis book and didn't like it. But I'm a huge fan of all of Jerome's writings.

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    by Connie Wiliis? Why, yes, yes, I have! So much fun.

  • narfna

    I'm in.
    Also, I'd never heard that "oh fuck, not another elf" thing before, and it just totally made my morning.

  • Derek

    Read the book couple of months back. Loved it and i can't wait for this book club thing. I echo what another commenter said below; make it as podcast. Im pretty sure lotsa ppl would love tat :D

  • denesteak

    This is awesome, what a great fucking idea!

  • denesteak

    just got it to my kindle! Can't wait to read it!!

  • bastich

    Great idea! Love the name! Count me in!

    So when do we cover Tucker Max?

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Right after 50 Shades of Grey and before we read Tori Spelling's latest. Check the syllabus for heaven's sake.

  • bastich

    I lost mine! Could you just tell me if they have a "Snooki Month" blocked off?

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    If Snooki got a whole month where would we fit in the self help books from the Bravo Housewives?

  • nosio

    Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*ckers.

    (by that I mean I'm so in.)

  • Brilliant. I too tried to encapsulate all my feelings and thoughts on "Ocean at the End of the Lane" and failed miserably. Looking forward to this discussion!

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Lead away... astray.

  • Bought it the week it came out and I haven't touched it. Now i have a reason to pour into it.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I did the same think with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I'm not proud of it.

  • For future reads, I'd suggest something from one of the original Inklings, 'The Screwtape Letters' or possibly a particular favorite of mine, 'King Solomon's Mines.' They're both fairly easy but still interesting reads.

  • NateMan

    Had the audiobook since it came out, and still haven't started it. Now I must!

  • kasper

    Sounds great, the only problem is how are you going to do it with the limited comment layout on this site? It isn't really designed to have multiple threads going at once, and the fact that you can only nest replies to one level makes discussion difficult.

    Not sure what the alternative is, maybe a pajibabookclub subreddit?

  • Jessica Pippin

    How exciting! I'm in.

  • tamatha_uhmelmahaye

    Conversate?! CONVERSATE?!? Steven Lloyd Wilson you are dead to me! DEAD. TO. ME!

    And I liked you so much.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    aw, c'mon. There was a rhythm to its usage - I don't think it was willy nilly. If you can't be folksy in book club, where can ya?

  • tamatha_uhmelmahaye

    Oh, I get that that non-word was chosen deliberately for rhyme, but my hatred of it overrides all else.

  • J4Sho

    Same here. I had to wince at its usage even while laughing at the clever way it was used.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I love everything about this. And yes, that book is a perfect one to start with. I have 3 flights next week, and this would be divine to take on that plane.

  • koko temur

    Touring with ke$ha again, are you?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm at the DC Ritz Carlton as I type this, bitch. I got *club* access, whaaaaaat.

  • As long as she doesn't start brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels, it's alright.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    (c'mon. I'm not crude. Johnny Walker Black is my mouthwash)

  • annie

    I think I'm most excited about being called Inkpots. Priorities!

  • basse buus

    Argh! I really want to join, but apparently there is 13(!) people ahead of me in the queue at my local library for this book.

  • Anna von Beav

    "Like"

  • axis2clusterB

    So excited! I loved the book.

  • I hope TK lurks, so when the first commenter cleverly [sic] weighs in with, 'oh god, not another elf.' TK will be there as he always is wont to.

  • Well, this makes my day. You could not have picked a better book to start with either.

  • I'm currently a dreadful reader and have been wanting to read far more than my present measly effort of one novel a year. I think this may be exactly the encouragement I need! I'm getting this book ASAP and look forward to the discussion!

  • Ian Fay

    Woot! I'm about halfway through the first book already. Looking forward to this.

  • Would you do this as a podcast? As long as it doesn't involve Dave Chen, I'm in. ;)

  • JoannaRobinson

    I've thought about it. About doing a short companion pod. We'd have to convince Prof. Steven, though.

  • Malin

    Pajiban book club? Sounds great. I'm in. I read the book this summer and adored it. May have to see if I have time to reread it to remember all my pertinent thoughts.

  • Mz Black Widow

    sounds fantastic :) I have inhaled books for 50 years and do so love to type about them. Plus, your first choice is one of the most enjoyable reads of 2013.

  • Ian Fay

    Same here. My decision to get an e-reader about 18 months ago was purely to save what little shelf space I had left.

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