One of the many reasons I dated Mr. Halfstory was because he could talk about books. Our first conversation was about Jurassic Park (by Michael Crichton), which is, admittedly, not a literary high point, but when the guy is standing next to his motorcycle and looks a little unkempt, but still reads, well, Happy Birthday to Me! Later I came to realize he’d read a lot. And he’d read about British colonialism and Turgenev. And he understood both. I’d studied plenty of writing and had a handle on…Willa Cather! I lap him now in pages turned but the truth is we still approach books from two viewpoints, kind of like entering the same room through different doors (me crashing through the waiters’ entrance and him holding the Reserved ticket). He always see the Big Message. I find similar Big Message people in my book club. My friend E., upon reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles (by Haruki Murakami) came up with an astute observation about the twin explosions one of the characters witnesses as a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course! I was busy tripping on why a seemingly smart protagonist would ever walk behind an apartment building with an untrustworthy and irksome girl. To my credit, a very well-read friend of mine declared Murakami a “freaky dude.” You know who you are and I thank you for that (even though I loved that particular book). Another friend in book club noticed many foreshadowings and significant details in The Little Friend (by Sarah Waters), which is basically a ghost story. My reading was similar, although I lost patience with all those people running around a haunted mansion, denying the dead children’s voices they all heard. If they were really that obtuse, they all should have packed their bags, driven to the nearest vacant lookout and waited for the guy with the hook hand.
Anyway, my book club is the bomb. Together, with the intellectual tidbits we scatter around like pinata prizes and the thoughtfully chosen libations and morsels, we cover all literary bases: timely non-fiction, best-sellers, literature, dips into poetry and Young Adult and the occasional bounce into chick lit. The Big Messages mix smoothly with the Detail folks. Sometimes we cross over to each others’ camps, but we all just accept each other without question. Or the questions are friendship-centric. Kind of a luxury these days. Ten years strong and I hope it keeps going.