November 2013 @ Viviane’s (Dec 4th)
Las Gringitas! (well, all but AS, MS, SS)
Current Developments: Viv won the war! No tv in the LR; gorgeous BOOKshelves coming soon; Liz is learning to be retired & suspects she may be failing; Sue in FL (again) for Baby B’day 2; Angelika & Mary 2busy2meet; Clearbrook Ln neighbor died Thxgiving Day – Marie dining w/priest (of course) was there in a flash…coming soon, Marie’s new business, Priest in a Pocket; Get a will, people….or better yet living trust (avoid probate/taxes as much as you can); Confession: many of us cannot ID each other’s homes & rely on following fellow bootleggers to the right front door (& fear walking into the wrong house if left to own internal gps); Parkwood vs. Martin’s Addition to Ch Ch View vs. Chevy Chase – does anybody really care?; If you’ve lived on your street for more than a year & still don’t know a nearby neighbor, go knock on the door, please (Karen S will go with you if you need a Shyness Mediator); Door-to-door charity solicitors vs. somebody just casing the joint….who can you trust and what else can be done to stop this crazy home invasion crap? hello, MoCo police – neighborhood patrols on weekday mornings, please; alone & scared vs. reveling in the quiet (and how having a dog brings easier reveling); current day politicians Anglicizing their last names to gain political clout is skeevy
Liz – How many people do you know who will be 100% honest with you?Kitty – Not many. And sometimes that’s really okay.
Character & Plot Developments: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Shelley picked it because her employee – who has an English lit degree – recommended it. Everyone present read it but Kitty ( she’s ready for her other book group, though…meow).
- most of us liked it; Liz love-love-loved it
- Karen C hated it; Katie was more negative than positive
- May-Dec romance didn’t bother any of us much; some of us very bothered that a similar affair with a female student would have been portrayed & received with great negativity (Exhibit A: Pella’s fling & marriage with the professor she left)
- all characters were well written & most had some interesting, logical development arcs; but many of us did not truly care about any of them (those who really liked the book seemed to like the situations more than the characters)
- Mike Schwartz pretty much rocked despite an inherit sadness (self-pity?) that knocked him off course for a while
- Owen was an eye-opener, but he hit so many bad stereotypes did he really enlighten anyone (characters or readers?); some of us found him fun/refreshing, others felt he was arrogant/manipulative
- the love of the PLACE (university) was very nice and well-integrated throughout the book and across many characters
- but…mostly it seemed like the 1950s & then mention of cell phones or more modern history got poked into place to remind folks it was of the modern era
- some liked the drama, romance, and unusual combinations of circumstances; in contrast, Katie characterized the overall plot and tone as Masterpiece Theater crossed with TMZ gossip
- good character names: allusions to Melville, & just kinda cool
- the Pella/Henry hook up was icky to all of us, but it did serve the purpose of featuring co-dependency in one of the long plot lines surrounding arrested development
- Affenlight – was he an immature, selfish buffoon? or was it cool to see him finally discover his true priorities in life? Most – but not all – of us said Yes to option 2.
- the writing about baseball was exquisite; in some ways it even appealed to those (few) of us who do not like baseball. However, Karen C. was disappointed that the writing was NOT good enough to convince her to become more interested in something she does not care for (mark of a good book/writer, we agreed)
- Affenlight’s ‘lifelong struggle with being landlocked’ was NOT apparent in the book (unless his confused sexuality equated to ‘landlocked’ as a metaphor); sure, he was hitched to his Melville Glory Days, but Affenlight was not a forlorn sailor (well, other than when Owen gave him the ‘hey, sailor’ coyness act);
- the digging up & sea burial of Affenlight was not like by us b/c:
- the last bullet point above
- it was gross & stupid
- the scene was overwrought; it distracted from/undid the maturity Henry, Mike, Pella and Owen had gained by all the other more relevant situations they’d survived together
- Affenlight had NOT spent his life ‘building a soul to benefit others’; he was a doofus or at least just not that Zen
Arrested Development is the primary theme because:
- Pella & her interactions with all her love interests
- Starblind & his BMOC ways
- Henry’s meteoric b’ball rise comes to a screeching halt
- Mike can’t face leaving and/or mediocre grad school
- Affenlight – his Glory Days & his current living space
- the setting…Melville or bust
- Cook – such talent in a small college cafeteria?
- Owen – stuck in stereotypes
- A GOOD example of arrested development? Genevieve’s legs!
A Local Development: Luis Aparicio, Jr. plays baseball locally. Eric (Katie’s hubby) has played with & against him for years. By some reports, Junior does not seem to have the same sophistication (on or off the field) as is attributed to Senior in this novel. Arrested development strikes again?
Gert Afflenlight – William Hurt (nicely suggested, Viviane)
Owen – Khleo Thomas
Henry – Anton Yelchin
Mike – Liam Hemsworth
Pella – Ellen Page
Genevieve – Halle Barry
the Cook – Gordan Ramsey
the Coach – Jeff Bridges
January 2014 @ Karen Schuler’s house (storm warning duly expected)
Viviane’s pick: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling