Genre: Women’s Commercial Fiction
Word Count: 90,000 words
Pitch: Two suburban housewives and a goat go on a road trip through the small towns of South Africa, guided by their dead grandfather and a Zulu-speaking Ouija board.
Tensions had been running high in our book club for some time. I can’t remember how it started – I think Cass said something about White Oleander being lowbrow, and Jane got all upset because it had been her Choice of the Month for January. So when her turn came around again, Jane chose Nausea and gave us a fifteen-minute talk on Existentialism. Then Cass hit back with Crime and Punishment, Jane responded with The Crying of Lot 49, and from there it just spiralled out of control.
The rest of us were caught in a crossfire of books we could hardly make sense of, watching helplessly as our fun club became a battleground. While we once used to drink loads of wine and chat about Marian Keyes, we were now forced to listen to Cass and Jane barking terms like ‘genre’ and ‘motif’ at one another.
We were losing members at an alarming rate, and the mood among the remaining few was mutinous. But it wasn’t until Cass foisted Ulysses upon us that things got really ugly.
‘What the hell is this?’ asked Eve at the next meeting, dropping the book onto the coffee table with a solid thud.
‘Well,’ Cass smirked, ‘to borrow a phrase from one of the main characters―’
‘To borrow a phrase from Wikipedia, you mean,’ Eve cut her off. ‘Don’t pretend you’ve read this.’ And then she used some literary terms of her own, like ‘unreadable horror’, ‘raving lunatic’ and ‘two pretentious cows’.
MURDER MOST FOUL
Mr. Boddy is found in the hall with his head smashed. A trail of dirt leads from the door, and a hunk of granite lies a short ways off. A heavy perfume wafts from a handkerchief in his fingers, the scent a fruity tang.