WNBA Book Club News — And don’t miss tonight’s meeting – Tuesday, January 8!

We have started a book club in our chapter!  And we thought that we should take the list of Great Group Reads recommended for book clubs during National Reading Group Month as our reading guide.

Our next book is The Orchardist by Amanda Copeland. Discussion is on January 8, 7:00 PM, at the Panera at 5940 Fairview, right near SouthPark Mall. If you need more info, please contact Kristen Knox at whitreidsmama@yahoo.com .

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Carin Siegfried, our Past President and current National VP, writes the following about our December book, I MARRIED YOU FOR HAPPINESS by Lily Tuck:

I thought I’d write up the discussion so that people who were interested but unfamiliar with a book club (how it works, what is discussed, is it interesting) could see what goes on, and also people who missed the meeting could find out what they missed. I will try to do this for each meeting, but it’s a lot of write up, so we’ll see. For this first meeting, I took notes on my phone, and I missed a few things, so there are some jumps and a few omitted lines, but I do not know shorthand! This still ought to give you the general gist of things. (I plan to record the next discussion which hopefully will help.)

The first book we read was I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck, a fairly short book of just 208 pages about one night when a woman, Nina, is sitting by the side of her dead husband, Philip, and reminiscing on their marriage and life together. Due to sicknesses, we were a few people short, but we still had a lively discussion. Our discussants ranged over a 20-year age span, some married some single, so it gave a good diversity of perspective that really helped the discussion. (The discussant listed as C1 was unable to come because she was ill but she sent K, the moderator, some of her thoughts and comments beforehand, so K incorporated them into the discussion where pertinent.) To clarify some points, Louise is Nina and Philip’s daughter, and yes the book is a novel although it read like a memoir which is why we ended up talking about memoirs.

-C1 (via K): You probably need to be European to really appreciate this story. The open-ended, internal style really does remind me of a French film. (I’ve actually seen the Juliette Binoche film Bleu, as well the others in that series.)

-K: Do you need to be European to understand the book? I don’t think so, although Americans do prefer endings.

-C2: It’s impossible to know since no one can ever experience it both ways.

-A: It is difficult to relate to Nina.

-C1 (via K): This book breaks all the rules. This book does everything I’ve been told not to do (in writing): telling, flashbacks, and esoteric interiority. Things that should evoke emotion, don’t, like the rape and abortion.

-T: Nina was floating through her life, complaining but not doing anything about stuff.

-K: But she was in shock, which makes her detached.

-A: Is she a reliable narrator?

-C2: But emotions are in reaction to others, plus the bad events she wasn’t very emotional about were forty years ago.

-T: But what about Iris?

-K: All three women, she never really knew if he had affairs with them. She didn’t know enough about them to ever deal with them.

-C2: And she knew all about the rape so that’s why she could deal with it.

-T: At the end, it seemed like she blamed Philip for a lot of things.

-K: Philip comes off as an entertaining, interesting guy from his lectures. It’s a subject matter I never would have taken (physics). I liked learning about Schrödinger’s cat; lucky Louise, for her Philip is still alive.

-A: Nina is very insecure and all of her relationships are broken, including with Louise.

-K: Jealousy of Louise is not unusual, especially with just one child.

-C2: Don’t forget she’s an unreliable narrator.

-K: Aren’t all first person narrators unreliable?

-T: It seemed like all of Nina’s relationships were somewhat dishonest except maybe the friend in the apartment?

-K: Do you think her marriage was happy?

-A: No.

-C2: Yes.

-K: I think she was contented.

-A: What did she do that made her seem happy?

-C2: Marriages are about compromise.

-A: How does she compromise?

-C2: Not hounding Philip about Iris.

-T: What about her giving up her career for him? What about the dinner with his colleague when she did the dishes?

-C2: She wouldn’t necessarily have been successful if they hadn’t gotten married.

-A: It was unfair when they were at the nude beach and Philip wanted her to cover up.

-T: I found Nina’s freedom surprising.

-K: The biggest clue about the title is the very end of the book. It’s a very contented image, Philip is waiting for her.

-C2: I didn’t like the random French. It felt pretentious.

-K: I liked the small lovely moments of the relationship, like when they were dancing in the house.

-T: I recognize the loveliness, but the highlighted moments seem to be the negative ones.

-A: Negative sexual encounters pervade the book like when she’s picturing Louise with a man lying on top of her like she’s dead.

T and A disagreed if a scene where Philip and Nina are having sex was happy or sad.

-T: It’s hot out and they have sex and they’re looking out.

-K: Sex and death have always been intertwined; it’s a natural affirmation of a life-threatening experience.

-C2: And intertwined like in Dracula.

-A: Are Nina’s sexual experiences all bad?

-K: Not all sex is great, some is mediocre, but I think overall it’s good. Her memories do only highlight a few instances. The fact that she hopes Louise is with a man does show that sex and relationships aren’t just a bad thing to Nina.

-C2: She’s thinking of how to break the news to Louise.

-K: She hopes Louise has someone to lean on.

-A: I think I just saw it through the jealousy lens.

-K: They don’t have the best relationship and now with Philip gone, hopefully Louise has someone who can help.

-C1 (via K): I think Quantitative Probability is cool. I found myself dreaming mathematical probabilities at 2 am, which made my head hurt. I think it means I understood Nina’s fascination and frustration with numbers. And the cat.

-K: It’s interesting that with Nina being an artist, it’s like they’re two sides of the same coin.  

-C1 (via K):  The red hat—is circling around to pick it up symbolic of their relationship?

-A: Also red is Philip’s favorite color, so that’s another compromise.

-T: She spends most of her time thinking about the past.

-K: Is that because the present and future are too hard to imagine? A spouse is such a part of your life that you can’t picture what shape it would take going forward.

-A: I see grief in her not eating and getting drunk, and worrying about the shutters and who would fix them.

-T: Drinking the wine to become muddled shows her inner conflict.

-A: She keeps trying to remember her exact words to him before he died.

-T: She’s bothered that she didn’t realizing those would be the last words she said to him and she wasn’t really paying attention.

-K: It’s something for her to focus on. You focus on weird stuff when someone dies.

-T: When something big happens, moments that seemed small are suddenly significant.

-T: I generally don’t like memoirs by women; women’s internal introspective thoughts seem indulgent.

-A: I like memoirs but I didn’t really like this book. There was no way we were ever going to get inside, emotions were just implied. It felt very stream-of-consciousness; it didn’t offer the depth of introspection I wanted.

-T: The Glass Castle I liked, but maybe it’s a difference in tone.

-C2: Took me a long time to figure out what books I like and dislike and you have to read some bad books to figure that out.

-K: Eat Pray Love is an example if a very self indulgent introspection. In this book, does Nina lie to herself? And does she recognize that? If not, is she really lying?

-C2: It’s how our brains evolved to deal with horrible things.

-A: Like when she said the affair wasn’t really an affair because it was only three times.

-K: Then there’s the issue of memory. As soon as something is past, it changes.

-C2: My sisters and I argue about events we were all at all the time.

-T: Have you read Love Is a Mix Tape?

 

Then K had to leave and the rest of us discussed memoirs we recommended for a little bit before breaking up.

 

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