Thursday, March 12, 2009

Strangers on a Train

Thanks to La Mademoiselle for hosting a very lively BC at her new home! Over the river and through the woods--the directions were a full paragraph shorter this time. And no cars were towed!  Better yet, no sooner had we started to sip our first glass of wine than we got a wonderful announcement from Logan's Run.  Ms. K, can you guess? We all did before Logan's Run even got the last word out of her mouth. That's right--BC offspring #11 is on the way!! We are all very very excited!

We started off with a dalish platter of assorted cheeses salami, grapes, and raisin toasts, followed by tomatoes stuffed with chicken and herbs over saffron rice, a luscious green salad, and profiteroles topped with Valrhona chocolate sauce. Tres Francaise, and tres lishy.

Moving right on to the book since it was so well received.... Strangers on a Train got an average rating of 8.3--easily ranking in the top 10 percent of all BC selections. Not only was the rating high, but there was a lot of discussion over this story of a psychopathic closeted homosexual, who meets a social-climbing architect on a train, murders his wife after she just miscarried another man's baby, and then is driven to madness ultimately killing the psychopath's father in return, until he finally is nabbed in a sting operation by a private detective while confessing his crime to the real father of his wife's illegitimate, miscarried baby. And yet somehow, this book did not come across as overly dramatic (in fact, La Mademoiselle thought it was somewhat dull and predictable). Our group was fascinated by all the characters. Bruno started out as repulsive (because of his zit, natch) and annoying, but then a few people found themselves understanding and perhaps even sympathizing with his psychoses, which clearly stemmed from confused sexual identity, a feeling of jealousy and worthlessness, and some weird unnatural attachment to his mother. And thinking about it now, the same comments came up in relation to Guy: he was alternately annoying and weak, and at the same time you could get an insight into where he was coming from and you really wanted him to succeed.  As the Doctor pointed out, it was almost as if Guy turned into Bruno over the course of the book.  Plus, the story was just a lot of fun to read with its deliciously retro throwbacks--the two martini lunch, the boat rides "upstate," the dressing jacket, the gumshoe private detective, the cougar country mom standing to gain from her husband's life insurance policy.  All in all, we had a lot to talk about analyzing the characters and reviewing the twists and turns of the gripping plot. (And talk about analysis, I'm not sure we spent quite enough time probing how Red's dad happened to "just turn up" an article on Patricia Highsmith from, ah, 6 months ago in a hard copy of the newspaper?!--int.)

Please note the dates for the next 2 BCs: Thursday, Apr. 9, and Monday, May 11 at the Doctor's and Foxx's houses, respectively. Logan's Run volunteered for apps and the Tiger is getting volunteered for dessert. Also, Jackie is on Jury Duty for the next week so PLEASE ORDER THE BOOKS YOURSELVES! There are links below people--click and ship! Until next time... xo

The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (Note: he is really hot and there's a video of him on Amazon)

Now that he's gotten us talking about the viral life of ideas and the power of gut reactions, Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."

The Gardner Heist, Ulrich Boser

Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation's most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.