Thursday, December 17, 2015

Good Lord Book Club

I was looking forward to the meeting.  I't had been a few months since my old book group disbanded and I missed the possibility of discussing good literature with other people.  Yes, possibility, because some book groups don't talk about books.  I conveniently forget that.
The old group was only a few people.  They seemed more interesting in drinking the oversized cups of tea and eating the enormous slices of cake that the little coffeehouse where we met was famous for.     I get that working people have difficulty reading whole books within a few weeks.  Especially books that are deemed to be assigned.  But if the people are friendly, and the conversation good, it doesn't matter much, does it?
It does to me.  I want a book group that reads books and likes to talk about them.  Hell, my writing group could produce quality writing and do it while discussing books at the same time.  Am I being ridiculous?  Is it too much to ask for?  So...I was looking forward to the meeting of this new group sponsored by my local library.  They even give people the books!
When I saw James McBride's Good Lord Bird was to be the featured book of the December 14th meeting, I jumped at the opportunity.  I love that book. It's got everything I look for in a good read.  Dubbed a historical novel, McBride's portrait of the infamous slave rebellion leader John Brown is hilarious and poignant.  The writing voice is electric.  This book is centered in my wheelhouse.  Bring it on.

We arrived a few minutes before the start and found our way back to the little room at the read of the library where the book discussions take place.  Three older women dotted the table in the middle of the room.  They were soon joined by 3 more, all in their late 60s or early 70s.  Then the facilitator arrived.  A peppy woman in her late 50s, I'd say.  She introduced herself as Alice and plopped a bag of doughy scones on the table and proceeded to unload her backpack with books and papers all related to John Brown , James McBride, or the raid at Harper's Ferry.  Two more folks arrived and I realized this was just abut the most bizarre looking group of people I's ever seen assembled in one place.  So this is who depends on the library to give them book, I mused.
"Don't the men in this neighborhood read," as the 10 member , a woman with one eye completely closed and oozing something entered, took a scone and began rummaging around for her copy of the book.  No response to my query, I guess I need to raise my voice...but I don't see any hearing aids.
The facilitator began a brief presentation on the collection of materials she displayed before us.  Other books fiction and non-fiction, adult and young adult, all on the historical figure John Brown and some of the people in his life that many of our book's characters were based on, loosely or not. All helpful stuff.  Before the meeting formally began another person entered.  I almost blurted out , Yay! a man who reads," before the figure before me removed her had to reveal a rather masculine looking woman.  No big deal.  Just glad I didn't embarrass myself.  I'm sure I must have looked as weird to them as they appeared to me.
I was hoping to redeem my estimate of these folks, but then we began to go around the table and each tell what we thought of the book.  That's when things got murky.  The first 3 opined that they didn't care for the book but that the writing voice was great.  That was followed by two confessions that they couldn't make it through the book because it didn't hold their attention.  But...the writing voice was most original.
Who are these people?  For the next few minutes, the time it would be my turn to express an idea, I was debating what word I would use to relate how wonderful this book was and why I thought this way.  I settled on "adore."
So it went.
After the initial comments, we actually did share ideas about the substance of the book.
---Second installment to follow---

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