Pick a Side…thoughtfully

August 2018 Shelley’s House with Marie, Mary, Karen C,. Viviane, Rose & Yours Truly
Liz–35th anniversary in Canada, Kitty & Karen S. work, Sue in FL


  • Shelley’s new kitchen is gorgeous (and so much more space with the just-right updates). New DR is cool-cozy, too! Made the always-delish food even better & it’s like we were eating in a fancy foodie magazine. Well, even better…since Shelley updated (renovated?) Martha’s cold soup recipe, too. Just don’t say the word ‘corn’ to Shelley this month.
  • Speaking of food… the raspberries added to beverages were beyond perfect (thx, Marie) and the blueberry buckle/crumble (ack! which one is it, Karen?) was over-the-top yummy
  • Karen C & family are recent drag racing converts. The real deal (not some over-priced, wimpy county fair version, either).
  • Mary’s son has moved/upgraded his NYC apartment. However, his kitchen is the 10-million percent opposite of Shelley’s. Otherwise, actual living space & a new 3rd roomie make it all work great.
  • Speaking of NYC & kids, 2 of Viviane’s daughters are surviving each other as roommates (the padlocked closet may or may not help). Also, Airbnb-ing their place when out of town lessens the money issues. Silly-but-smart girls.
  • Katie’s Katelyn has a new job:  head athletic trainer for track & field at U of Md. Effective Sept. 17 (sorry, Yale…she’s gotta go)
  • Marie moved 3,000 pounds of rock as a major step in her overall landscaping design (where ‘design’ means undo doggie damage and get something, anything green to grow…this is a common design theme for many of us)
  • Rose has her hands full. Her dad recently passed and helping her mom get oriented (and hopefully) moved is all quite a challenge. It was nice to hear about her childhood home and community, though.

Segue – Somebody said the word ‘America’ for some reason and Shelley quickly called ‘segue to the book!’

THE BOOK:  The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Karen C. picked it because she’d read it long ago and liked it (and she Quiet Americanpicks classics/reading list titles).

  • She did not like it as much as she recalls liking it ‘back then,’ but isn’t quite sure why. This is not an uncommon thing with re-reading after many years.
  • Some of us liked/didn’t mind Fowler, others did not like him much at all. The ones who were more pro-Fowler did not have distinct reasons other than he introduced keen observations on the situations at hand. The anti-Fowler set disliked how it was a point of pride for him to have no set values/standards; he was an overly-droll, snobby coward with a major opium problem.
  •  All were taken by Greene’s awareness of just how complicated Vietnam already was in 1955.
  • Greene’s great economy with words impressed us. So much conveyed in such crisp, tidy phrasing.
  • Pyle was considered the true bad guy by many. Others saw him as the ‘know enough to be very dangerous’ bumbling fool.
  • We considered Phuong to be quite resilient and liked her subtle autonomy (well, except from her older sister). Phuong seemed to represent the most logical (while still not ideal) way to manage horrible circumstances. She was an interesting combo of determination, subservience, and suspected subversive activity. A survivor who revealed little of her true self.
  • The French lived up to all the bad stereotypes about them. The inspector was, we admitted, quite clever & insightful.
  • Some of us were very surprised by the ending and Fowler’s role. Others not so much. Either way, it was quite cynical of Greene (even disturbingly so) that Fowler finally took a stand and ended up more miserable than ever (but it was b/c he finally had a conscience, perhaps).

NEXT BOOK:  Shelley’s pick, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

NEXT MEETING:  Road trip! Sue’s house. Date tbd.



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