Then the next month we did it all again. The calling, the messaging. I don't remember what the book was that month. Finally, we were like, "Those bitches are not very neighborly!" Then we laughed and forgot about it. I figured that it was actually a closed group that for some reason, kept announcing itself in the newsletter. Whatevs. It's not like I need another intellectual outlet anyway, I just heard they had snacks.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I was sitting in a tennis tournament committee meeting. My neighbor and tennis buddy, T, mentioned that she had to get ready for book club that night. We were all about to begin our committee business, but I was like, "Hold up. You're in our neighborhood book club? By what magical means did you gain entry into that enchanted salon? Because PN and I couldn't guess the secret word. Is it because I only have one PhD?" Halfway through my outburst, T was nodding her head and rolling her eyes. She said, "I'll tell you about it later." And I was like, "Oh so this committee meeting is not the proper place for me to air my private, unrelated grievances? And I'm saying this out loud right now? OKAY."
Later T told me that the book club is presided over by two Methuselan souls who, as she put it, are "not tech-savvy," and who have been cutting and pasting the same announcement into the newsletter for years, never noticing that the blurb doesn't contain all the vital information about the meeting. They also "don't like change," but are sweet as pie, she swore. These dear old girls are not phone savvy enough to return calls, as well, I suppose. But T begged me to give it another try, because she's trying to bring the average age of the participants down somewhere into the double-digits. A couple of days later, Pretty Neighbor and I were copied on an email introducing us to the book club distribution list. I wrote back enthusiastically that I was glad to meet them and that I was ready to discuss the ever lovin' shit out of some books.
I did not say it that way.
But I am ready to discuss the shit out of some books. Except that I just started the November book, Hotel on The Corner of Bitter And Sweet. And it is going to be an uphill climb. Has anyone read this? I've read the first fifty pages. I sigh. It is one of those books that thinks the reader needs to be told directly how the characters are feeling at all times. For example, our main character Henry has just found out that a boarded-up hotel in Seattle contains the belongings of dozens of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps. Now these long-hidden things are being brought to light. Henry is also sad because his wife died some months before, so it is a rough time. The narrator says:
The more Henry thought about the shabby old knickknacks, the forgotten treasures, the more he wondered if his own broken heart might be found in there, hidden among the unclaimed possessions of another time. Boarded up in the basement of a condemned hotel. Lost, but never forgotten.AARGH. His heart is broken, see? And it's not like a thing like a knickknack but he's wondering in metaphor, see? AAAAAAAHHHHH.
This kind of book, I find, does not trust its reader to be left alone for one minute, and is forever getting up in our grill to make sure we're on the right track. This is known, in literary criticism, as "writing the shit into it."
I should simmer down and give this book the benefit of the doubt. And I will finish it so that I get an A+ in book club. But I wonder if I could suggest we all reread Snow Falling on Cedars instead for a better treatment of this material?
Either way, I will come back and tell you all about our first gathering. You see, I have never been in a book club. I have a sense that it is different from a grad seminar, so this will be fun.
I'm also about to start reading the new Jeffrey Eugenides book with my friend David, and Elle and I have both read the Pioneer Woman book (yes) and we need to discuss the shit out of that.
Are y'all in book clubs? My mother-in-law is in three! I think Jenni is in one but they mostly drink. Or maybe that was just an actual wine club. Gimme the scoops on what y'all are reading.
All my love,