Netsuke – Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em

April 29, 2015 @ Liz’s: Cameo Surprise: HEGE! Missed: Karenx2, Mary, Sue

Folks in Oslo/Bergen = too scared to try book club
Apps & Pilots: the planes fly themselves (until the iPads go out)
Dreams: we all have various reoccurring ones; many theories on why anyone dreams and why some dreams recur. Recurring ones:

  • Hege-getting from 1 room to next via tiny hole/tunnel
  • Katie-mean Thing 1 & 2 and vacuuming incident
  • Liz-she must move (hovel in Bethesda; far from liquor store)
  • Vivian-lonely young girl biking, biking  in big mansion
  • Kitty-opens door in house to a brand-new unknown room

House phone – do you still have/want one ?
Blue cheese – do you love it or hate it?
Dinner – shrimp creole (added to the Bootleg Recipes tab)

THE BOOK:  Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund deWaalhare with the amber eyes April 2015
Kitty picked it b/c her sister & friend loved it and each gave her a copy.

Some of us had the fully illustrated version and greatly appreciated seeing many of the paintings as they were discussed in the book.

Most agreed it was a sloooow start; at least one liked it from the beginning (and perhaps enjoyed the start teh most). The Paris section (to ~page 75) put off most of us b/c of the convoluted plotting and excessive presence of the author’s voice & descriptions of self. Some also were annoyed/put off that it shaped up to be another intense WWII book. But then apparently a new editor stepped in and the book flowed so much better – to about 1/2 of us. The concentric circles of history writ large, the particular cities at key times, the Ephrussi family and the individual family members worked in tandem. It was a clear and engaging view of the people -well, the mega-rich people, (not the battles) of WWII. Descriptions of Vienna were extremely well done. If he wrote ‘vitrine’ one more time, some of our heads may have exploded. Get a thesaurus!

Netsuke: None of us were overly impressed with the netsuke as integral to the book (though we did have some Show & Tell, very cool!). Yes, they were the thing that the author traced, but at first they were annoyingly over-described. Then they were just a prop among all the other riches & took a back seat to the people. Most of us found this to be quite a relief (and a boost to readability).

Other points to ponder:

1. Even while Hitler was still in school, the Jews of Europe were actively hiding their Jewishness. Was it shame? Self-protection w/an eye to self-promotion? Or some ‘it’s only going to get better if we don’t cause a stir’ version of looking the other way? So creepy and sad. They were actively welcomed into many, many successful Gentile families & did business universally. So why still this need to hide? Not blaming, just wondering.

2. Iggie lived the Anschluss and lost it all. We love how he regained a gorgeous, exotic, individual life. But it was bitterly ironic that he chose to buy ‘discount art’ from Japanese who’d lost it all. Sure, Japan was an aggressor, but this still needled some of us a bit.

Why this title? The hare was no different than any other netsuke. Or was it?

Nobody wanted to cast it. Some strange murmurings that non-fiction is not cast-able. Whaaaat???

Theme song:  Turning Japanese by the Vapors

Marie hosts May 28th (Thursday) @ 7:15
Liz selected: Back When We Were Young by Anne Tyler


One response to “Netsuke – Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em

  1. Shelley Boatright


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