Thursday, January 24, 2008

BOOKLEAVES and Recent Acquisitions...And Nick.

The book for last Sunday's meeting: The Kite Runner. Veronica said that the group had already read this book last year. She didn't object to doing it again since there has been a lot of group turnover since then. Plus, her job is still (perhaps this is a permanent condition of the job?) running her ragged, so rerunning The Kite Runner gave her an opportunity to catch her breath on reading.

Aaron and I arrived first, and traded books. He's letting me borrow a graphic novel called Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea by Guy Delisle (Delisle's from Quebec! This would help me knock off another province, eh, John?) and Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I started Pyongyang already. READ IT! Even if you don't like graphic novels, read it anyway. It's GOOD! Okay, I'll stop shouting now. I'm sorry about that involuntary fleck of spittle; here's a tissue.

Amy returned for a second meeting, and a new person, Mitzi, came to the group. Along with Aaron, Bernadette, Veronica and whatshername, we were able to get a spirited discussion going about whether Amir really did want and deserve redemption, and his reliability as a narrator. Both Bernadette and I agreed that the book was emotionally draining. We all discussed the similarity of themes in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

After the meeting, when Aaron and I were walking to the subway, we wondered if Khaled Hosseini was in danger of repeating himself if he were to write another novel anytime soon. We agreed that if he tackled Afghanistan again, he might either need to wait a few years, or perhaps attempt to go back in time and do a historical novel. Later on that evening, I thought he could successfully do a novel that explores going from one culture to the next. Or a memoir. He's a wonderful storyteller; he has created such memorable characters and helped foreigners to understand the tangled skeins of history that led up the calamities Afghanistan has faced for so many years. Not a mean feat. I'm eager to see what his next book will be like.

In other BOOKLEAVES news, You Suck by Christopher Moore got moved back yet again because not everyone has a copy of the book. We were going to go ahead and do Into Thin Air, but then decided we wanted something lighter. Finally, we decided on Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I read the book last year, but I'm looking forward to reading it again. The title essay about Sedaris' attempts to learn French from a surly French teacher who seems to despise her foreign students always gets me laughing, and I also enjoy reading about Sedaris' crazy family, especially his sister Amy and his waaaay masculine baby brother, nicknamed The Rooster.

We changed venues as well. During the meeting, some of us were hungry, so we went around the corner to Dos Tacos and monopolized the large back booth. It made for more of an intimate setting. In the coffee shop, the tables are tiny, and even when we push them together, we're still sitting longwise, and the people sitting at the ends can't hear each other's comments very well. To add to the problem, Angel-In-Us plays music on the loudspeaker a little too loud for it to properly be called background music. We decided to meet at Dos Tacos again for the February 3 meeting. Until then, I'll reread the Sedaris book and decide which kind of burrito I'm going to eat this time. (I miss Mexican food. I miss it like hell; you can't imagine. Sometimes, I think about cilantro and get tears in my eyes. MEM's wife made the most wonderful salsa last summer; I puddle up about that, too. If you're an expat, you'll understand. If not, just believe that I'm not crazy, okay?)

We all left Dos Tacos and went back to the Kyobo building, going downstairs under the coffee shop to the bookstore. I love that part of the meeting, too. It's the end of the meeting, but it's such a soft and easy ending. Aaron alerted me to a table full of Korean literature. Mindful of my resolution to read more of that this year, I picked up two short novels, An Appointment With My Brother by Yi Mun-Yol and The Chronicle Of Manchwidang by Kim Moon-Soo. (I've listed the author's names as they are on the cover, with the family name first.)

Fast-forward a couple of hours, and my feet found me at What The Book? As always, I saw so much that I wanted. There was a copy of Villette, and I started to get guilt spikes (spikes, not pangs. Pangs would be too soft. There is never anything gentle about my guilt) all over again about my abandoned Bronte Challenge from last year. If I bought Villette, I'd have every Bronte novel I need to renew the challenge. I passed it up. My Tough & Cool Inner Bookworm walked off in disgust. Muttered something about quitting me and going over to hang with Classical Bookworm permanently. Lighten up, T&CIB. If it's still there in February, I'll grab it. I promise.

Here's what I brought home:
Angle Of Repose - Wallace Stegner (one more for the Pulitzer pile)
Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures - Kyoko Mori (Already finished it & will review at the end of the month)
Fat Girl - Judith Moore

At the back of my bookmind, there's still this Nick Hornby buzz going on. Can't wait for Housekeeping vs. the Dirt to arrive! The student worker who fetches the mail? He doesn't know it yet, but I'm gonna be his new best friend until the moment he puts that particular package right into my sweaty hands. Meanwhile, I checked my TBR shelf and found a collection of stories edited by Hornby called Speaking With The Angel. He wrote the introduction and has a story in there! I'll read around in that book (the Hornby bits) and try to rearrange my shelves like Nick's, to reflect Trivial Pursuit groupings rather than my staid adherence to the Dewey Decimal System. These are but small consolations; they'll have to do for now.


Jeane said...

Gotta love Nick!

Bookfool said...

I haven't read Speaking with the Angel, but I think I own almost everything the man has ever written. I'm missing his music book (not sure I actually want that) and Housekeeping vs. the Dirt (which has been on my wish list since I read The Polysyllabic Spree). There's one book I haven't gotten through - the one about a female doctor getting a divorce? But, I'm sure it was just me. It would have to be.

Tara said...

I love cilantro and sometimes I crave it. I feel your pain. You know, you might be able to grow some in a window if you had some seeds. Just a thought.

Unknown said...

"Me talk pretty one day" is my Fav Sedaris book. My friend and I laughed ourselves sick over that one. I'm heading to France in a few weeks and I plan on buying things in plural! Thanks for visit to my blog. I've got Helen Ferguson (Anna Kavan) "Leave me alone" now to read. I've put it on hold for a bit, because I've read several hard books for a bit and want to take a reading some non-fiction? hmmmmm