Thursday, September 4, 2003

Day of the Locust/Miss Lonleyhearts

Thanks to Logan's Run for hosting a great BC last night! It was great to have our new member La Mademoiselle there, and also are newly revived ;) member Ms. K, plus little baby N. who treated us to some kicking and moving around. Ms. K, you look fantastic, we were so happy to see you! We also had Riley there, Logan's Run's roommate's dog; given that she didn't eat the dessert, she was much better behaved than Bella. Speaking of food, La Mademoiselle brought caprese skewers and salmon finger sandwiches with crème fraiche to start, then a decadent cheese casserole and salad for din, and (at least to the extent it didn't wind up on the floor) Ciao Bella gelato and cookies for dessert. Dalish!

On to the book. This was by far the lowest-rated book (both stories!) in BC history. In fact, the Doctor delivered our lowest score ever: 2. Other ratings were two 3's, 4, and two 5's. The reasons why the stories were disliked across the board are many. People thought the tone of the author was arrogant, the stories were depressing, demotivating, and violent, the "plots" dragged on to the extent that people started counting pages, and the characters were totally unsympathetic. We also could not figure out why this book is considered a "classic" or has any literary value (or, at least enough to be on school curriculums, which apparently it is). Was there a deeper meaning? Was the author trying to convey his personal philosophy? Were the books a sign of the times in the 1930's? Finally we decided, if nobody "got it," maybe there's nothing to get, the books just weren't that good.

Our next meeting will be TUESDAY, September 30, at the Doctor's house. Ms. K is bringing apps, and Red dessert. We'll be reading the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. El Jefe started this book last night when she got home from BC (yes, El Jefe is dedicated!) and wants to point out that even though it is on the heftier side, the type is big and it seems like it will be a quick read. See you at the next BC!

Monday, August 18, 2003

Confederacy of Dunces

Hi All, and welcome to La Mademoiselle, our newest BC member. El Jefe knows you've all been waiting with bated breath for the recap, which is a few days late this time as I was up in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea this weekend sans computer. Thanks to The Tiger for hosting in her fab new home. El Jefe is psyched you had the patio table in place--a big fan of the outdoor BC! We feasted on cheese and salami for apps, then had a delish taco dinner with The Tiger's killer guacamole, and finished off with a dessert from our favorite BC baker, Logan's Run. El Jefe is kind of regretting not taking a doggie bag home. If only Logan's Run had convinced me!! Tiger, can you send the name of the secret ingredient for your chicken, thanks!

Now we must recount a truly historic moment: the first 10 rating in BC history! Yes, you heard me correctly. Confederacy of Dunces scored a 10.

Overall, it had fairly high ratings from everyone else as well, the lowest being a 6 or 6-1/2. The overwhelming comment was that the book was damn funny, although only about half of us admitted to actually laughing out loud (El Jefe was certainly in that group!). Also, the book got praise across the board for it's fantastic character development. There were a few votes for Jones as favorite character, although the Highlander (inexplicably ;) ) liked Gus Levy. What little substantive book discussion (see post script below) we had centered around the question of whether Ignatius J. Reilly was a veritable looney, or whether he was just a misunderstood intellectual and nonconformist. He definitely got strong reactions from everyone, who seemed to love him or be repulsed by him. El Jefe had to leave a bit early to do some work and tend to electrical outages back at the money pit (I mean, Chez Jefe), but folks, did we ever reach a consensus on whether Reilly was a B.K. Troop rip-off or not?

Speaking of B.K. Troop, our next book is Miss Lonleyhearts/Day of the Locusts, two novels by Nathanael West, which was recommended by our author friend Allison Burnett. The meeting will be at Logans Run's house, directions to follow.

Thursday, July 3, 2003


Thanks everyone for a great BC last night, and especially to Logan's Run for arranging for Allison to come and speak with us! Quick menu review: dalish and chunky homemade guac to start, Lasagna and oh-so-garlicky Caesar salad, and rhubarb pie and ice cream for dessert. Yum, we do it right in this book club!

So, definitely an interesting vibe having the author there. Needless to say, we did not start out by scoring the book. Luckily, most of us really enjoyed the book and so our discussion largely focused on finding out more about his influences, motivations, and why he wrote this thing or that thing into the book. Allison seemed more than willing to answer our questions, including the question of why a straight (allegedly!) man would write a book about a gay character. Although thinking back on it, did we ever really get the answer to this? Can't remember. El Jefe also doesn't know that we ever got to the bottom of why a young, straight guy like Christopher would bother hanging around a scroungy old queen like B.K. One interesting tidbit is that Allison is half-way through the 3rd BK Troop novel. Future list o' death candidates? Now, back to the voting. We did rate the book at the end after the author left, and the average score was a straight 6. Really not that bad! Red's 3 dragged it down a bit, but I don't think she let on to Allison that she would have given low marks...In fact, just got a report from Logan's Run that he called to say thanks and that he had a good time. Logan's Run, again, way to go on organizing!

Our next meeting is at The Tiger's new house, on Aug. 13th. Note this is the 2nd Wed. of the month. We're reading A Confederacy of Dunce, by John Kennedy Toole. This selection was inspired by the Doctor and me who both thought BK was a dead ringer (read: rip-off) of Ignatius J. Riley, the main character for our new book. We've also already selected the following book, Day of the Locusts by Nathaniel West. That second book is short, and should allow us to get back on track to our normal first Wed. schedule in only three weeks. Ladies, El Jefe is sad: 5 full weeks to the next BC!

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Bel Canto

Thanks to Ms. K for hosting last night! The delish menu started off with crudités and creamy sun-dried tomato dip, followed by a tomato basil soup topped with homemade parmesan crostini (yum!) and Logan's Run's decadent specialty, Heath Bar crunch cookies. People who want the recipe can e-mail Logan's Run!  El Jefe's little kitty Bella would have liked them too.

As for the book, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, on the whole the group did not seem to like it as much as our last book The Hours. Complaints ranged from "too flowery" to "too dramatic" to "first 150 pages put me to sleep" to "I pictured Roxanne as a big fatty." Yet there really were no standout characters that truly turned people off from the book. Mr. Hosokawa, who drew the most criticism for his self-centeredness, certainly didn't raise the type of heartfelt annoyance that, say, Laura Brown did for some people. Perhaps this book simply didn't have as much to discuss, as Ms. K suggested. But even so, we did raise some interesting points about the Stockholm Syndrome, whether Roxanne and Gen married for love or merely an homage to their shared experience, and the correct pronunciation of Gen's name (4 for "Jen," 3 for "Gen").

A couple of points of business were decided: TCOB will regularly be the first Wednesday of each month; our first BC field trip will be the movie The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, Merryl Streep, and Julianne Moore, on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 22. El Jefe will reconfirm attendance and buy tickets the day before.

Next meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 5 at C____ Pearson's house, directions to follow. As per the vote, we'll be reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

P.S. Please e-mail El Jefe if you're willing to bring an app or dessert.