Tuesday, November 29, 2011
When Keeping It Real Goes Right, Book Club Edition
My "Other" book club met last night, that is, the book club I joined about a year ago hoping it would be a welcome contra to the original shitty, ginormous Podunkville book club of 25 people I was invited to join when we first moved here 3 odd years ago. And in many respects it has been.
If you've been reading me awhile, you know the importance of being in a book club in Podunkville - that's how you get the information you need to make it here in business, family and in life. Maybe it's a small town thing.
The truth is, Other Book Club is usually boring. After the last several meetings, I've gone home each time thinking I needed to gently break up with these folks but I couldn't bring myself to do it; because as I've already said I need the info being a member of the group can provide. Our book club seems to be missing a certain spark. Everyone is perfectly "nice." And sometimes "nice" is really grating, and not enough. Part of the problem is none of the members are really outspoken or funny or vibrant. Least of all introverted me.
Last night I decided to take the risk of being really honest about what I truly thought of the book. Holy hell, I hated the book so much so that I finally felt I had to keep it real.
The actual title of the book is irrelevant. Bottom line: it sucked out loud. I'm just grateful it was a library book. It was this ridiculous, poorly-written, fictional tale of a dysfunctional Oregonian family where everyone - children, mothers, the differently-abled - gets violently raped. Literally, I lost count of the number of assaults and rapes detailed in the damn book. And I mean it when I say none of it was at all essential to plot or character development. It was one of those shitty 450-ish-page books that on the surface feels female empowering, but when you dig deeper it is totally antifeminist, complete with those tired old "mother must be punished for having an abortion" tropes, and going back to the absentee dad thereby affirming the power of traditional marriage bullshit. It depicted a developmentally disabled character in a troubling "magical" and "inspirational" light, and with a certain dialogue that just did not ring true. And I kept thinking to myself "I just don't believe any of this could be real." I could go on and on, but I won't. Strangely, it has gotten glowing reviews online except for one negative one out of 87 that reassured me I was not taking crazy pills for hating it.
So I said pretty much all of that out loud at book club. And lo and behold, some of the other members revealed they felt like I did. We had a deep conversation about it. I felt like everyone was heard and respected. I even felt like I understood the rationale of the couple who loved the book - although I won't be jotting down their book recommendations, nor they mine, I came away liking them as people. What a pleasant feeling.
How about your book club experiences? Have you read anything lately in a group or on your own that really spoke to you? ("Wolf Hall" is on my list, thanks @Paola, as well as "Kindred" by Octavia Butler, thanks @Cloud.)