Brown Baggers Book Group (Central Library)
On the third Thursday of the month bring your lunch and discuss fiction and non-fiction books. Library staff will provide value-added content and lead the discussion. Drinks and desserts will be provided. Send an email to be added to our mailing list.
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke
- What made this novel uncomfortably but hysterically funny to me was how likable the protagonist becomes, even as he physically and emotionally devastates everything he touches, and struggles to mis-interpret his experience in novel ways. The novel (and our reading of other novels, our attempts to square our experience with our actions, our attempts to justify our existences) is summed up by the judge, just before sentencing him to 10 years in prison for burning Emily Dickinson's home.
" '...Mr. Pulsifer, can a story actually be blamed for arson and murder?' 'Huh,' I said, then acted as if I were thinking about the question, which I should have been..."
I agree with this comment Sharon. Although I went back and forth with my feelings for Sam. Sometimes I felt for him because he seemed like a genuinely good person beneath his penchant for causing chaos and heartbreak, other times his cowardice, and decision making was so glaring and ludicrously bad, like when he confessed to cheating on Anne Marie even though he hadn't. I know that he tells that lie because he feels its preferable to telling the truth regarding his past but moments like those, in the narrative, made him hard to like.
Did other people feel that the dark, sort-of absurd humor worked for them? It didn't always work for me. One of my favorite scenes in the entire novel was when Sam and Peter went to the poetry reading at the Robert Frost House!! I thought those passages were hilarious. "No Cheap Tricks...No Tricks at all"! A scene that didn't work for me was when Sam goes home to find the Mirabellis playing dress-up. That fell flat and I actually cringed while reading it.
I just finished the book last night and I'm still trying to gather my thoughts over what kind of commentary the author was making on the nature of stories, memoirs, characters, etc. I was definitely struck by that fact that Lees Ardor and Mrs. Pulsifer both made drastic, life-altering decisions based at least partially on the fact that they didn't want to be "characters". Has anyone ever been that affected by a fictional character? In my youth...I would feel strong attractions to characters and even emulate some of their traits or mannerisms but I've certainly never done something drastic so as not to conform with the behavior, whether positive or negative, of a fictional character.
I'm really sorry I won't be there for this discussion and I hope people will save some comments for the wiki!! See you soon! Dennis
- A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin