February 2018 Bootleg @ Katie’s House with Viviane, Shelley, Marie, Liz, Mary, & Karen S
– we missed the others (such movers & shakers they be)
So. We had our normal chatty preliminaries. But the tinier details were swept away on a current of Big Things Happening in Real Time. LIFE was interrupting life.
- We started with an upbeat interruption of Grand Celebratory proportions. Mary reported on her mom’s 100th Birthday Party. She shared the oh-so-clever postcard invitations, goodie bag graphics, pink kitty party ears, and happy anecdotes from the day. Such a great gathering of so many lives – all for one wonderful lady.
- Then there were the phone calls and texts. Most of us got at least one; this is normal. Yet one family was having a bigger case of Life. Real-time angst over roommates, job, and general I’m-still-new-at-adulting issues that demanded multiple cycles of Mom Input (or maybe just listening) to manage. Not a problem for us, but it did impact conversational continuity for the digitally attached mom. Life on the daily sometimes gets messy. #momstotherescue
- Marie reported that Robert is deployed ‘somewhere remote,’ where apparently there’s no good coffee (among other things). Understandably, she’s finding his deployment (which some may say is to defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) weighs on her mind as she goes about each day. To alleviate & support, she’s asked us to bring care package items for Robert & his mates to the next Bootleg meeting. Details TBA.
- Then the sad news of a Clearbook Lane neighbor’s impending passing was shared (after a 2-year but not-announced illness). Several Bootleggers even left early to sit at the hospital with the husband that night. It was one of the ill neighbor’s last, so that kind community effort was well-timed, for sure. Sometimes the end of life has its own slow and then sudden schedule.
- Except when somebody pre-empts that schedule. Another Bootlegger received a text from her young-adult child about a recent roommate’s suicide of the night/day before. It was a shock to all (of the person’s loved ones, mainly. But also to us). And a hard moment for our Bootleg mom to not be able to comfort her own in situ (due to distance). Thankfully, there were others there who could.
- This incident reminded others of suicide tragedies, too.
So. The book pick was beyond apropos since life truly interrupts life.
Karen S. picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford because…
It was on her To Be Read pile & coincidentally (well, maybe the fact it’s not a 50-pound tome helped) she grabbed it on her way out for a business trip to…Seattle, the book’s primary setting.
Before the Meeting: Katie was struggling to read the distinctly wrought medical scenes, so she asked Marie if cancer remained a theme throughout the book. Marie replied, ‘No, don’t worry. And it gets much better once they’re in the internment camp.’
Um… Try finding that last sentence uttered or printed anywhere else in the Universe.
Marie meant there’s less emphasis on cancer, which is true. Yet if you’re sensitive to the topic don’t read this book now (its lingers through the final pages).
- good writing! we liked it!
- so rich with the mélange of cultures, blues/jazz, school yard bully scenarios played out against (and because of) WWII atrocities, American heart vs citizenship vs loyalties, small-minded business moves vs long-term business goals, romance vs traditional marriage, scholarshipping vs school of hard knocks
- alternating timelines (’42 and ’86) worked quite well in terms of flow and engagement; hard to see first-hand the older Henry’s (& Keiko’s) lost chances as they play out in his teen years
- interment camp realities seemed well-described; regarding earlier ‘it gets much better’ there statement: it seems that at least this one in Idaho (seemingly) managed to allow families to re-create lives (school, outings, Girl Scouts) in some fashion…
- effectively portrayed such HUGE themes (parenting, political moves, large swaths of history, citizenship both heartfelt and legal, etc.) through the small actions of two teens and their small cohort >>> well done! also, this could be a middle school & up reader, for sure
- we are so accustomed to thinking of San Francisco when China Town is mentioned, that we all kept having to recalibrate to being in Seattle
- so much time passed for Henry without Keiko (and vice versa), yet they both lived full lives with much to be proud and happy about…so lovely that they found each other again…life circled back for them – how rare and delightful
- we all liked the new discoveries Henry’s son was making thanks in part to his fiancé’s impetus (she’s a keeper!); finally, Henry figures out something about transitioning roles/seasons as a parent…Sheldon and Keiko’s parents planted seeds
- Sheldon! the whole night club scene was awesome; his final message to ‘fix it’ was nicely done on all levels
- the scene where the news and joyous noise of the war ending sweeps over the hills and consumes everyone as it goes is written gorgeously; Sheldon’s musical homage to the empty corridors is fitting, too
- the preserved history of the Panama Hotel itself and its basement contents is very cool, esp. since it seems to be true (the Tea Room, too)
- we agreed it really was Keiko at the Panama Hotel witnessing Henry’s proposal (not just a writerly illusion/allusion): the entire novel’s angst (at least the relationship part) was encapsulated there
- So, did Henry’s and Keiko’s lives get in the way of their life? Yes. And no. For example, Henry would not have this son if things had gone another way.
Next Meeting: Marie’s House, most likely the last Monday or Tuesday of March
Next Book, Katie’s pick:
Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon by Kelley & Thomas French
Sneak Preview: Karen S already announced her next pick (yes, that’s approx. 10 months ahead of time). Title not recalled (sorry). She also will have the author as a guest to the meeting. It’s a thing she (Karen S) does.