Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Another late BC recap, but better late than never. We had a very lively meeting at Chez Jefe that kicked off with tuna tartare, followed by pumpkin-black bean soup and grilled cheese (the beginning of those hearty winter BC dinners!), and a low-calorie Oreo cream cake for dessert.  Lish!  After a thorough discussion of Red's new Belgian love interest, we reluctantly moved on to a discussion of the book....

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was relatively well received, with a 6.75 rating. Could it be that our typical grade inflation is deflating?  That is a comparatively low average score for a book that everyone seemed to like.  But, we certainly are talking about "like" and not "love."  No one was passionate about this book.  We talked about the game show math puzzle a bit (the goats and cars behind closed doors) and once everyone was satisfied with the answer to that, there wasn't a whole lot else to say.  The strongest part of the book was the author's insight into autism, and his portrayal of how an autistic mind sees the world. Several people were surprised to find out that Christopher's character was 15 years old, since his narration suggested that he was more like 10 or 11.  We also talked briefly about the father;  in a recurring BC theme, we were split between being sympathetic towards and disgusted by this character who had dealt a deadly blow to an innocent dog with a garden fork, and yet clearly was dedicated to his handicapped son.  And.... that's about it.  The group was much more interested in discussing the holiday calendar. I believe there is a triple-threat trunk show (the Foxx, La Madamoiselle, Red) being hosted by Logan's Run on the 14th, so save the date.

As I mentioned, the discussion was very lively when it came to the LOD selection and the stressful challenge of picking a book for the December meeting. I've tallied the votes to date, and even though two people didn't weigh in (ahem) there are two clear leaders of the pack, so we'll go with those for December and January, respectively.

The December book will be The Sea by John Banville, this year's Booker prize winner. Yes, it's hardcover, but hey, writers need to make a living too.  January's book is Herzog, by Saul Bellow.

As for the date for Dec. BC, everyone I've heard from so far (missing two) is available all of the dates, but P___ likely will prefer to generously let us use her home on Monday the 5th. So, please pencil that date in and I will send a confirmation once I hear from the rest of the group. Remember that you are welcome to invite a guest but please make sure they read the book and make sure to let the Highlander know if you are bringing someone or not so she can get a headcount.
La Madamoiselle has volunteered for apps for the December BC.  Logan's Run, can I volunteer you and your Skor Bar cookies for dessert?!  Everyone else, wine, bubbly, you name it, but please designate a driver. Until then... read early and often! xo

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Better late than never on this recap of last week's BC, co-hosted by El Jefe and the Foxx at Chez Jefe. Dinner was lish-- charcuterie and fromage to start (including some authentic Camembert Francaise imported by Red, which still is stinking up El Jefe's refrigerator!), followed by a tasty lasagna and salad with crusty bread, and two kinds of homemade cookies for dessert. Yummy. Who needs to talk about books when we can just eat?

But we did, and Confessions of Max Tivioli was pretty popular coming in with a healthy 8.75. Aside from a few comments that the book started slowly or some parts dragged a little, the group really liked CMT overall. It had a little of everything: humor, unique storyline, interesting characters, and tearjerker moments. Everyone especially appreciated that the plot of the novel was so unique: not only does the main character have the singular characteristic of aging backwards, but the twists and turns of the story were revealed little by little in an interesting way that kept the reader intrigued throughout. Although it was difficult to get a mental picture of Max at times, people thought he was a sympathetic character--but with some faults. For example, why couldn't he get over Alice, his boyhood infatuation, even when he was himself approaching old age? Was he emotionally caught in a childlike state just like his body? Also: why didn't he come clean with Alice about his medical condition? By lying to her, he was dooming the relationship from the outset. The group generally also liked Hughie, Max's best friend very much, and his sad death at the end of the novel made a few people cry. Why didn't Max want to stay with him and let Hughie care for him? After all, Max's regression to a childlike state was not much different from Hughie growing old; as Ms. K. said, we all become like children at the end of our lives. Alice on the other hand got a lukewarm reception. People didn't understand her motivations with men, why she left two husbands, and why Max was so attracted to her in the first place. Aside from the characters, it's also worth noting that people appreciated the author's extensive research in re-creating turn-of-the-century San Francisco from the clothing styles to the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

Our next meeting is back on schedule, Wednesday October 5, at the Foxx's house! The Doctor is bringing apps, Ms. K. dessert. We are reading Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, which is the biography of Queen Noor of Jordan.

Friday, July 8, 2005

The Corrections

Now this is a sign that BC really is coming into its own: we're beginning to have those meetings that become "remember when" episodes in book club history. As in, "Remember when Logan's Run's refrigerator was broken for 4 days and she hosted BC anyways? And the Foxx brought dessert in a cooler?" Props to Logan's Run for totally dealing and in perfect style, as usual. Really, you didn't have to, but we're all glad you did! La Mademoiselle made hot brie with apricot jam encased in filo dough, then, a make-you-own burger feast with two side salads by master griller Logan's Run, and topped off by some sort of yogurty-bananay-molassesy-chocolatey concoction for dessert that El Jefe has no idea what you'd call it except dalish!

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen made a strong showing of 8 points on the nose. Grade inflation? Perhaps. But El Jefe would say overall people really liked the book and were glad to have read it. Clearly a character-driven novel, our conversation focused on each of the Lambert family members in turn. There wasn't much consensus on either a favorite or most-hated character. Rather, certain characters bothered people either more or less but that seemed to be the author's intention; as despicable as they were, there was a sympathetic side to everyone. But what if these were our friends rather than fictional characters? Would we still find them sympathetic, or would we find them totally outrageous and out-of-touch, and tell them to just start dealing better? How far does normal family idiosyncrasy go before it crosses the line into serious character flaws? There was more agreement on the funny parts of the book: Chip's exploits in Lithuania, Alfred's hallucinations about malicious talking Turds, Chip's salmon down the pants, and Gary's ridiculous escapade with electric saw and grill tools. Good times for all.

Our next book is The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. See the last BC installment for a description and link. Meeting will be at Blondie's house on Tuesday, Aug. 2 (note the usual change of date). Ms. K is bringing apps, Logan's Run dessert. Everyone else: LOTS OF WINE--can't wait!!!! Also, don't forget your LOD suggestions, since we may try to pick two in a row again. Until next time, read early and often!

P.S. This is my last day at work before maternity leave. Email me at my personal e-mail for the next 4 months!!!!