March 22, 2012

March Meeting - The Sun Also Rises

Well, then...for a book that only three people showed up to discuss and only one person finished (well, at least in the past decade), we managed to have quite a good discussion about this one. Cheryl had, by way of no one else voicing an opinion, chosen this one but she found it so boring that she gave up and decided just to do some research on the internet about it. Linda had read the book thirty years ago and clearly had not enjoyed it enough to give it a re-read! 

We talked quite a bit about Hemingway's writing style and how it changed the way books were written. For Lisa, who is also currently reading Charles Dickens, this one was quite a change. It was pointed out that Hemingway, especially when there are only two characters involved in a dialogue, doesn't let the reader know who is speaking. It really does force the reader to pay attention.

Hemingway has something of a reputation for being a misogynist, so it was surprising to Lisa to find that the only lead female character, Brett, was really the only character who seemed to feel any remorse for any of her actions (although she certainly was amoral). Cheryl said this was something that she had found in her research as well. Frankly, none of the characters were people to like ... but they didn't provoke much of a response one way or the other which was a disappointment.

We talked about the way in which Hemingway wrote about black characters, being Jewish, and even being gay. Very derogatory and, in this day and age, a bit surprising. It would cause quite a stir to write a book like this today.

We talked some more about what we're going to read in the coming months. Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" was added to the list - Cheryl has been raving about this one for years. We've got two months still open yet so we're looking for suggestions. We also talked about having Timothy Schaffert join us in April; we can't ask him to do that, though, if we don't make sure we're going to have a good turnout of people who have read the book.

February Meeting - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

We had a good turnout for our February meeting and even got to have Barb join us via Skype. As usual, it was hard to keep us on track but we still managed to have an interesting discussion about the book. Robyn, in particular, had a lot to say about the feelings the book brought up for her. The ethics involved in using cells and other parts of bodies, without their knowledge or even with it, really got us talking. This one was definitely a hit with the group. This one allowed even those that didn't make it through the book to have plenty to contribute without risking any spoilers.

We had a good chance to talk about some possible suggestions for the remainder of the year and a about what everyone is reading outside of book club. Ellen had just finished a Wendy Wasserstein autobiography that got everyone interested in both it and the subject of memoirs and biographies.