Last summer I started a book discussion group. It was the first time since grad school that I'd been in one, and it was great. It took me back to those days in my 20's when my friends Anne, Camilla, Jonna and I would meet at Camilla's Laguna Beach home to drink wine, share dinner and discuss literature. This newer group would meet out on my back deck on summer evenings to read, talk books and often current events. It was great, like having my own little Rahel Varnhagen literary salon transplanted to the 21st century Pacific Northwest. I've always thought that if I lived in the past, proprietess of a 19th century salon filled with artist, writers, intellectuals would be on my list of desirable existences.
Over the winter, the group disintigrated, which was okay, because the holiday season is a busy time and it somehow just naturally fell apart. I missed it a little, but thought "If people aren't interested, they aren't interested". Well, as it turns out they were interested and their lack of response to the couple of e-mails I send to plan for the winter was all due to some evil mail server issue and not to lack of interest at all. Basically, it all came down to me being a massively oversensitive goober who jumps to unsubstantiated and unnecessary conclusions, when she could just ask "Hey, don't you all want to do this anymore?" Anyway, by spring the whole misunderstanding was cleared, and we started up again.
So far we have discussed Jacob the Liar and The Kite Runner. The discussion of Jacob was exciting and went on for a couple of hours. The Kite Runner was also great, if less focused. We kept getting sidetracked into the abyssmal state of American politics and our disappointment in a congress that approved additional spending for war rather than telling Bush "no", which then turned to a discussion about how most politicians (even the Democrats who claim to be the voice of change) are more interested in how their stances are going to poll than they are in just doing what is right because it is the right thing to do. Still, it was a great discussion, even if it didn't do Hosseini's book justice. Hopefully, we can comment a bit more of the Kite Runner next time.
Anyway, last Thursday when we met, we drew up a schedule for the rest of the year, and here it is:
Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis
Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane
The Quiet American. Graham Greene
Mountains Beyond Mountains. Tracy Kidder
Never Let Me Go. Kazuo Ishiguro
Out of Africa. Isaak Dineson
It is a nice combination of classics that I haven't read, newer books I haven't read and one classic that I have already read but love and am excited to talk about, because it will give me a captive audience at which to quote the more poetic passages. Now if I could just start my own writer's colony. I think a writing group may be just what I'm missing...