The Book Club

I’ve recently become a member of a newly formed book club.  I think this is really going to work out well for me because the beauty of being in this club is that it doesn’t look like we’re going to read much of anything.  I’ll explain.

At Yduj’s suggestion, we formed this reading group made of ten people composed mostly of her friends and colleagues and a few of mine.  Prior to our first meeting we had agreed to read the new Salman Rushdie memoir, Joseph Anton which is primarily about his years in hiding after a fatwa calling for the author’s murder was ordered by the Ayatollah Khomeini as a result of the  publication of Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses.   Only seven of the ten members showed up for our first meeting.  This turned out to be about five or six people too many.  Herding cats would have been easier than trying to keep these folks focused on our reason for being there.  Extraneous conversations were flying all over the place and it soon became clear that this was not going to be as high-minded an adventure as I had imagined.

One of the problems we seemed to be having was that the book we had selected is long…very long.  In fact, so long that collectively we hadn’t read as many pages as there are in his book.  Had the other three members been there, it’s possible that we might have reached that threshold.  Not that it would have changed anything.

For several hours we bandied about ideas for the club.  We agreed on only one thing–to give up on the Rushdie book.  Let me correct that.  We also agreed that the bagels, cheeses and whitefish spread were a lovely treat.  As was the fresh fruit salad.  But we couldn’t come anywhere near to a collective decision on what next to try to read.  The afternoon was starting to feel more like a bris than a book club.  Just without the baby and the mohel.  Otherwise exactly the same.

And then it came to us–like a voice from on high.  Someone suggested that we turn our attention to films instead of books.  And so it happened.  We were born again!  This time as a film club.  Hallelujah!  We agreed to see Steven Spielberg’s new film, Lincoln, prior to our next meeting.  The subtext here is, that under no circumstances, tempted though we might be, should we read the Doris Kearns Goodwin biography upon which the film is based.  That would be heretical.  Possibly leading to yet another fatwa.

In trying to figure out why the book club idea seems to have failed I realized we had made a serious error in our approach.  Apparently, we had all read Joseph Anton starting from the same place–the beginning.  What a duplication of effort!  Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense for each of us to have read a different seventy pages or so?  Just think how many books we could “read” with a plan like that.  If I’m ever in a book club again, that will be my suggestion.  Anyway, it’s probably the only way I’m ever going to be able be get through Moby Dick.

We have several weeks to see the movie before our next meeting.  My guess is that  when we meet up again, not all of us will have seen the film. After all, most of us have busy lives.  Going to the movies and  devoting time to a meeting might be a bit much.  In which case I’m going to suggest that we re-born ourselves again.  This time as a television club.   I’d bet that would make it much easier to fulfill the assignment between meetings.  Just think how much fun it would be discussing Homeland or Downton Abbey with a group.  And,  if we wanted to re-visit our brush with Joseph Anton, I’m sure, given how much promoting of himself and his book he’s doing, it’s just a matter of time until we’ll be able to catch Rushdie on Dancing with the Stars.  I hear he cuts quite a figure in tights.



Post fatwa


2 Responses to “The Book Club”

  1. Rich Says:

    Late in posting this, but I shared your book club ruminations (also means chewing cud!) with my book group of twelve years(!!) We had all just failed to read The Cloud Atlas, a book we understood to be only three hundred pages, but turned out to be over five hundred pages and, for us, virtually impenetrable.

    Perhaps you’re impressed (or more likely dismayed) by our twelve years of intellectual (sort of) togetherness, but in our defense there was an eight year hiatus over that time, between East of Eden and On The Road.

    This reply section could use a spell checker, other than me.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlonn Says:

    i’ll be your spell checker. your spelling sucks!

    let me see if i have this right….you’ve been in a book club for twelve years but didn’t meet for eight of those? in that case, my book club goes back 22 years; we just didn’t meet the first twenty one years and 51 weeks.

    i lied about your spelling. it’s beautiful.

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