Friday, December 6, 2002

The Hours

And so it began, just one block west of the heart of Little Ethiopia, in the lower unit of a classic 1930s Spanish duplex.  That early December evening in 2002, chilly (by L.A. standards), through post-rush hour traffic (also by L.A. standards), we made our way to the first ever gathering of The Club of Books.

"Would anybody be interested in starting a book club with me? I'd like to do a rotating-host first Thurs. of every month, with the first meeting being on Dec. 5. Only requirements are: you read the book (or most of it) each month, and you are willing to host."

Seven of us were:  Ms. K, Logan's Run, the Doctor, Red, Highlander, Blondie, and me, El Jefe.  Crowded around a vintage bauhaus dining set, newly salvaged--practically stolen!--from the Rose Bowl flea market to match El Jefe's new Los Angeles digs, we noshed our way through a lively discussion of Michael Cunningham's "The Hours."

Mies Van der Rohe Canilever Cane Chair, 1927

The inaugural menu kicked off with pita and hummus, followed by roasted tomato and basil soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (si, El Jefe was making those way back when).  And a scrumptious carrot cake for dessert courtesy of Ms. K.  At least, we assumed it was scrumptious given the speed at which Bella, poor kitty, took it to town.  She suffered from acute feline sugar coma for the rest of the evening.

In general, the Hours was well liked, but with mixed opinions on the characters. Everyone's favorite character either was Laura Brown or Clarissa, but most people liked only one or the other;  Laura people found Clarissa to be contrived, and Clarissa people disliked Laura's insecurity and failure to be grateful for the good things in her life.  Overall, there was more sympathy for Virginia Woolf herself, perhaps, because her mental illness is a known historical fact, and she is portrayed in literature as a tragic genius that we are taught--starting in high school English class--to appreciate.  The question also was raised whether the author is gay, given that he wrote a book about three women-- one lesbian and two with homosexual overtones-- and a gay man.

El Jefe couldn't resist putting logistical matters on the table pronto. The majority was in favor of keeping the club all women, but inviting the boys to join for a special meeting once a year.  Also, people were happy with the size and didn't want to add-- at least at first-- more than one or two more people.  Holding meetings on Wednesdays rather than Thursdays also was an idea.  (Ah, scintillating!)  Finally, an admonition to send book suggestions when they come to mind so as not to wind up huddled over the computer at the end of each meeting-- paperbacks only.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7pm at Ms. K.'s house. We will be reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, 336 pages.

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