Bootleg Backlog

Feb-June 2016:  We skipped ahead/over a few things, but the reading continued throughout…

FEBRUARY 2016:  @ Marie’s (no Viviane or Karen C)
Karen S’s pick:  Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout

  • available in the library (unlike other Strout titles first sought)
  • short enough for the available reading time
  • intrigued by the Congregational church aspect (she grew up in one)

Our Basic Input

  • story/writing so ‘burdened’ = hard to delve into
  • father SO disconnected from daughter = ugh, dark, bleak
  • final redemption was quite nice (and nicely done), but too short/small a portion of the book
  • writing- so clear, so easy to feel/relate to dad’s feelings

MARCH 2016: Eleanor & Park  by Rainbow Rowell (Marie’s pick). Who has notes?

APRIL 2016:  Fortune Smiles, Johnson  (Kitty’s pick). Notes, anyone?

MAY 2016:  No meeting. And yet the world did not come to a screeching halt.

JUNE 2016: @ Mary’s w/Karen S, Kitty, Shelley, Sue, Liz and Katie
Sue’ pick:  That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

  • tried other Russo books, but impending release made them all impossible to check out of the library
  • picked a short, older title from her bookshelf to get that Russo fix

Our Basic Input

  • Russo can turn a phrase!
  • but, this was a steady tone of ‘blah’ and so rather a downer
  • Horrible Mom speaking from the dead = gallows humor & funny; was it really how she was or just his perception? we couldn’t be sure
  • Words to NOT live by:  ‘Can’t afford it. Wouldn’t take it if I was given it.’
  • Russo’s parody/attack of academe (via the parents’ horrible house rental antics and reverse snobbery) was very clever
  • although the way they covered their shame & poverty with hutzpah & brassiness was rather sad in the end
  • 2x yearly they strove for perfection:  Christmas and vacation/summer house; rest of the year was a Hot Mess
  • Sunny & Marguerite served as clear counterpoints for the two kinds of love and relationship that were quite different than Jack & his wife (which was just grin & bear it; missed communication)

Next Meeting – & hopefully more robust notes:  July 19th @ Liz’s


It really IS a life and death situation.

Guest blogger:  Mary!
Notes from Bootleg Book club gathering at Karen Schuler’s home, January 19, 2016 (a mere three days before the Snowzilla Event of 2016):
missed Katie’s note taking, had to do with Mary’s mixed up pages

Attending:           Vivianne, Karen S, Karen C, Liz, Shelley, Angelika, Katie, Mary, Marie, Sue

Missing:               Kitty (hope you are feeling better now)

Book: The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan

Appetizers and Chatter:

  • Marie: Robert’s deploying to the Pacific: we are sending him wishes for safe travels
  • Angelika: sharing the tales of the dog watching business: the benefits of daycare dogs vs overnighters, saying yes or no to requests for services and the ramifications, dog clashes
  • Viviane: Daniela is in Hong Kong for the semester. Regimented schedule, 3 week seminar, organizational science and business focus
  • Shelley: brought delicious melted cheese, herb and bread appetizer (YUM), Kirstie’s company opening new office in Toronto (will she go work in the country to our north, eh?)
  • Karen S: All the menfolk were sent to Missoula for skiing with Christopher: holiday for the girls of the house! Making lemonade of lemons: United flights rebooked, had to go through Minneapolis: 6 hour layover enough time for trip to Mall of America! Schuler Men go off book in search of adventure
  • Liz: need more regulation for airlines: they can cancel you and have no responsibilities…
  • Karen C: in anticipating snow storm this weekend (will it be anything or nothing???), Karen books self to leave on Thursday instead of Friday (smart girl) but must travel alone (no hubby for this trip because the idea of leaving grandma with two kids and possibly big snow coming did not seem smart…now into day five of no school for montgomery county…that was the right call)
  • WEATHER: winter storm “Jonas” will it or won’t it…no need to say anymore.


Viviane’s pick: Why? Recommended by Hege, likes the author Ian McEwan. Initial reaction: liked Atonement better, but once started, wanted to see how it ended. Story interesting.

Most folks had read the whole book.

Liz who didn’t like Atonement, was engaged from page one (points for Viviane!!): amazed that male authors seem to be able to convey what’s in women’s heads so well.

First Topic: the KISS: Mothering concern or romantic? Boundaries crossed? Not know where the line is? Accidental lip to lip? Guilt over kiss drives other decisions? Charged moment?  Oedipal issue?

Conflicts for the judge (Fiona Maye…I realized I forgot her name completely: had to look it up):

  • was Adam Henry the child she never had?
  • Should she not have gone to the hospital to meet the boy Adam? Was she crossing the boundary there? Or was it right that she see for herself his state of mind, as he was so close to being 18 and an adult?
  • Once she made her ruling, which essentially saved Adam’s life, did she have any responsibility to him beyond the ruling? Should she have responded to his attempts to reach her?
  • BIG DISAGREEMENT HERE: (mostly Marie and Mary) over whether the judge should have done more once started to get the letters from Adam: What is role of the judge beyond her ruling.?
    • From a law perspective, she had done her job with her ruling. She did talk to the SW about boy once. Her role in his life stopped there.
    • From a moral perspective, did she owe him more because her ruling had saved his life? The boy’s life unraveled, its religious foundation shaken, and he reached out to the judge. Should she have shared the letters with the boy’s social worker?
    • Was there guilt/embarrassment over the kiss that kept her from doing something more?
  • Separate story: Marital strife: tool to show how Fiona’s work was impacting her life, her marriage. PTSD response to the Siamese twin ruling:
  • Most agree: male author’s perspective: two weeks without sex is long time…
  • Some disagreement: longer book (other characters could be more developed) vs just right length
  • Katie: comments and questions shared after most of group had left:
    • Enjoyed clarity of writing: clinical, under a microscope looking at Fiona’s life
    • Strong intellect: undermined by disconnect with her heart.

Did not cast book. Shared books that we have read and enjoyed:

Liz: Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan: quality chick lit/not historical fiction

Shelley: Matilda: read first, then saw at the Ken Cen

Viviane: Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

Mary: A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin

Marie: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Katie: Gutenberg:  How One Man Remade the World with Words by John Man

Karen C: Gray Mountain by John Grisham, Persuader by Lee Child, Deep Freeze by ??


Next book club: Marie’s house. Stay tuned for time/place/book to be picked by Karen Schuler


Pandering or Pondering Science

November 2015 @ Viviane’s w/Marie, Shelley, Kitty, Liz, Angelika, Karen C, Karen S, Katie, Brennah! & Vanessa!

CHATTER:  Thanksgiving Recap:  home, parents, beach, non-traffic/no woes (locally); Betsy Silbur got engaged on Veteran’s Day (her b’day). Time to meet the Ohio inlaws-to-be; Big Snows/Storms:  power outages fun or not? abandoned streets = bonus; RULE AMENDMENT:  Bringing supplies/food when you must cancel at the last minute is NOT required when you are ill (contagious…); Updating crockpots>>longer & lower; Ben ill but

BOOK:  The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey
Shelley picked it because Kirstie recommended it based on her book club pick.

  • trendy title/topic; zombies overdone but still semi-likeable
  • any monster would’ve worked
  • themes we noted/liked:  science v. compassion; the value of education; Pandora myth/irony; science of infection; individual sacrifice for/vs. the greater good
  • justice meted out rather well to all main characters without being too pat or overdone
  • cohesive ending…not cheerful, but cohesive
  • some found the plot very murky – not enough clues about the hows and whys of what went wrong (too-fast reading or writing issues?)
  • Dr. Caldwell was a fanatic in the Religion of Science; non-emotional demeanor notwithstanding
  • clues were there like bread crumbs; some clunky reveals
  • whole book trying to convey humans are not good enough = unpalatable to some of us
  • Pandora >>>releasing all the horrors and ‘trapping’ hope? is troubling; original Pandora myth varies from this a bit
  • atonement & redemption in the end = pretty satisfying to readers
  • 2nd half of book moved so much faster – some disliked this, others found it fit the plot (1st – learn the daily routines & setting…later race through the danger)
  • as a zombie story, it’s really quite good

CASTING:  no great consensus except for Glenn Close for Dr. Caldwell
SONG:  Zombie by The Cranberries or End of the World as We Know It by REM

January 2016 pick by Viviane is The Children Act by Ian McEwan

First Impressions & Life Sentences

October 2015 @ Shelley’s House with Liz, Mary, Marie, Viviane, & Yours Truly. (We miss you both Karens, Angelika &  Kitty.)
First Time EVER since 1988:  book selector (Sue) not present (date confusion)…she attended virtually!


  • Marine Corps Marathon – Katie ran it the day before; Liz’s Nannie Squad (from days of yore) also was represented..INSPIRING event
  • Mary vs. Seltzer bottle opening:  going to the kitchen ‘Is just too easy.’ One must wait out those dastardly bubbles.
  • Boatright’s Awesome Basement Fix up – who says back ups + asbestos = nothing but bad?
  • Halloween: even from Oslo, Queen of Creepy Decor Hege reigns
  • Whole Foods a.k.a. Whole Paycheck. Nuf said.
  • Did anyone else notice that each time we meet at Shelley’s Kirstie comes home from work with another story about that day’s party?
  • new Bethesda/Rockville shopping mass – not user-friendly! parking? nope. enough stuff open? not really. better, but who is marketing this? do they visit the site or talk to people who have the real-time construction info?

The Book:  The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens Front Cover

Sue picked it because she found it via an Amazon search & it looked good. Sue, Katie, Liz, Mary, Viviane read it all.

  • easy read, nobody thinks they’ll rush to read another Eskens book
  • some of us:  found writing way too simple & characters not very engaging…but, thought there were interesting plot points/’nuggets’ that showed (not fully developed) promise
  • some of us: hated the ‘nuggets’/themes (police procedural, abuse all around), but the writing & some intriguing characters were the factors that kept us going
  • Was the mystery predictable? Kind of. But that didn’t defray the tension of the big scenes.

No casting – we just weren’t feeling it. But the character Gary Sinise played in Forest Gump could be Carl Iverson.

Song –
Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads
(but not for the character one first may think…)

Sample lyrics:
You start a conversation you can’t even finish it.
You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?

The Bartender’s Tale: Hunnerd Percent Swuft – Here’s From A to Why

August 25, 2015 @ Angelika’s House: amazing dinner on back deck
Karen S >>Canada; Kitty>>African safari

Tiny Bits:

  • Happy 1st B’day to Ayla (thx for pics, Mary)
  • Sarajevo postcard/history lesson: thx & we miss you, Hege!
  • MoCo Fair = expensive, yukky; Howard Co Fair = so much better
  • Doggie DNA, Marie’s new pup, Maisie (1/8 mystery; 4/8 Plott Hound; 3/8 Doberman = 110% cute!)
  • Katrina, 10 years after: some fascinated/some ‘too soon/much’
  • college apts: some are so awesome, some are so NOT
  • Shelley’s house: back up nightmare but Servpro was so good & new flooring etc is all working out dandy

Themed Food!

  • Liz’s smoked trout appetizers
  • She
    lleys’ Manchego (goat/sheep) cheese, ham (pig knuckles) appetizer
  • Katie’s Orange Crush soda (okay, not really food)

Other Super-yummy stuff:  Viv’s salad, Sue’s guac & airy chips, Marie’s wine, Mary’s berry & peach (all hand-picked) crumble, Karen C’s something delish that Katie can’t recall (sorry, Karen), Angelika’s no-holds-barred dinner. It was all so SWUFT!

The Bartender’Bartender's Tale Aug 2015s Tale by Ivan Doig

Mary picked it because she really, really liked the story & the style that featured the ‘rich nothingness’ of wide 0pen summers and tween perspectives + unique insight from colorful characters. An ordinary story (well, on most days) under a Big Sky.

It was a BIG HIT! (Mary may still be grinning…). We all enjoyed the theme of connecting souls via stories (thru Rusty’s eyes). Mary & Liz are on a Books by Doig Read-a-thon.

Sound: so critical to so much…
small scale/big impact: Tom’s midnight movements in the house, listening through the vent, Canada Dan’s speech patterns
a longer echo:  Dell & his work; certain hints about past events dropped in current conversation

Rusty’s angst was so real & well-done; Dell’s description of his goals & passion was so compelling (the how & the why of it); Proxy…what would she do/say/reveal/get caught at next???; theater (cagey Vaudevillian bits & ‘high theater’ w/Shakespeare & Wilde & Mrs. Cloyce Renking (sp?)

Great treatment of history:  1960 (narrow view) & the bigger past; these 2 tributaries of time (plus other time streams) merged into a big River Now

Akin to Cannery Row (says Karen C):  small town, great characters, no great plot, but lovely sentiment; we all agreed

Mary Shared:

  1. Doig’s goal for mentoring writers to engage readers (paraphrased here):  Ground your work in local events and language but  be sure to talk about the larger story: life
  2. Actual history elements:  LIFE’s First-Ever Cover Story: Building the Fort Peck Dam, 1936
  3. Quotes/expressions from The Bartender’s Tale that struck (Mary’s) funny bone:
  • Don’t put beans up your nose
    • And with this in mind, Rusty says about Francine: “Uh oh. I knew she was awfully close to putting beans up her nose with that answer.” (p. 275)
  • Ess of Bees (son of a B….)
  • That’s the how of it. (p. 48 and lots of others)
  • Don’t be like a plague of locusts. (p. 48: you’re bugging me…)
  • “maddermoany”: matrimony (p. 60)
  • We split the blanket when she pulled out on you and me (p. 60) (divorced/split up)
  • Too bad they didn’t run down Arvin’s leg… (in reference to cousins Danny and Ronny, bullies. P.20)
  • Hunnerd percent
  • Everydamn where?
  • I’m getting middle aged , in the middle of getting too damn aged. (p. 161)
  • About parents: By the time we figure them out, we’ll be them. (p. 164)
  • He stood there restlessly, all pockets and ambition. (about Del when first presenting self to Tom at the Medicine Lodge, p. 172)
  • “The interviews, as conducted by Del, were like jazz or, yes, the blues; riffs of memory in a language all their own. “ (in reference to interviewing the mudjacks and their responses at the Mudjack Reunion, p 222.)
  • “Play the hand you’re dealt.”
  • “When you go through a gate, close it behind you.” (don’t look back…done is done)
  • Bits that the kids did: Muscles and Ace.

Theme Song:  Lead Belly’s signature song was Goodnight Irene
[‘Leadbelly’ often used; he wrote it as 2 words]

Other options abound. The Library of Congress recordings, done by John and Alan Lomax from 1934 to 1943, were released in a six volume series by Rounder Records in the early-to-mid-1990s:

  • Midnight Special (1991)
  • Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In (1991)
  • Let It Shine on Me (1991)
  • The Titanic (1994)
  • Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen (1994)
  • Go Down Old Hannah (1995)

NEXT MEETING:  Sue’s House, Sept. 27 @ 6 p.m.
Angelika’s selection: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Sue’s October selection:  The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Other books:
Good YA:  The Orphan Train (Mary)
Awful:  The Language of Flowers (Karen C)
Good-ish: The Martian (Karen C)
Dark & Depressssing: The Hausfrau (Liz, Viviane)
Fascinating: Galileo’s Daughter (Katie)
Really great autobiography: Open [Andre Agassi] (Katie)

Light Reading, Heavy Themes, Deep Discussion

June 23, 2015 Karen Castle’s Castle (all sans SB, KS, and VM)

Dramatic departure: The best kind of big summer storm. Over by Olney.

Chatter: Dewey vs. Bethany (no clear winner); cooking vs. dining out at beach (do both); grocery shopping patterns (do we have to???); travel! (Azores/Castles + all Portugal fans, Iceland/Sue&Liz, Punta Cana/Katie & so many Russians); trees (care & keeping hassles); deer (love ’em/hate ’em); “Irish Potato Famine” does the name ‘blame’ the Irish? = hyper-PC semantics; selling Hummels on Ebay/beware the fussy buyers; deer sensors: high pitch stirs people who come outside & that’s what ‘scares’ away the deer

THE BOOK (no obvious segue but starting to eat)
The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

Marie (???) picked it because:
1. Summer pick + light house = duh
2. Many likable characters
3. Tragic theme/choices not deal breakers to read
4. Library patrons LOVE talking about it

  • a steady stream of action & flow (not boring, not hyper)
  • Isabel stopped being so darn likable after meeting Hannah & still opting to deny the truth (poor Izzie; what a choice)
  • loved the info about the lighthouse care & keeper duties (well, most of us did most of the time)
  • Frank in the boat (accident) – some saw this as a rather weak transition for such a critical plot point; others were satisfied with the ‘townie attitude’ (while sane sheriff was away) led to the boat escape
  • Tom Sherbourne = sure born >>> good name choice! ditto for ‘Lucy’ (light)
  • so clever: Tom’s words to rescue Hannah (early on)/Hannah recalling same words years later to condemn Tom re: Lucy
  • Septimus the bad = causing/allowing distrust of Frank by all
  • Septimus the better = connecting with Lucy-Grace (the name and the actions)
  • we loved Bluey and Ralph, the characters who brought supplies & how they were the life line and also the undoing of life on the island
  • enjoyed the various symbols – light, names, water
  • much discussion about mental illness vs. really bad/selfish moments (esp. regarding Isabel)
  • ending – mostly nice/ok…but did Izzie have to survive all that & then miss seeing Lucy Grace by such a short time? Meh.

Theme Song: instrumental version of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’

CASTING (this did not go smoothly)
Tom – Ryan Gosling
Isabel  – Emily Blount
Septimus –
Violet –
Hannah – Natalie Portman
Gwen – Winona Ryder
Lucy –
Bluey – Peta from the Hunger Games
Ralph – Tom Skerrit

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

Yellow Dirt (Down in Your Soul)

March 25, 2015 @ Kitty’s (not brunch!) – Sans Karen C, Viviane & Marie. Sigh.

Iceland (Sue & Liz + 3 others): people are so, so nice; ALL meat (horse, whale, rotten shark); Northern Lights are ADDICTIVE (esp tracking with an app)
Fillmore Fun:  Kitty & Angelika – Cover bands (70s, then 80s & 90s); cover band magic: bring it on…fun for all (geeks, old, young, whatever)
Karen S’s & her mom’s book event was sooo awesome they will do another one! Aging Backward by Miranda White – flex, move, maximize range of motion + the ever-popular Tai Chi Plie (name of a rock band, maybe???)
Thank you letter from Brookside for $$$ for Ann Brooks (Karen C’s aunt)
The  Clutter Book – author talk @ KP library – lots of familiar faces there; have a system & stick with it; send your photos to the cloud!
Left Hang Newton – ‘off the beaten track’ a la Liz; from the same era as ‘grody to the max’ – live and learn

SEGUE – live and learn
BOOK: The Colour by Rose Tremain

Katie picked it because she wanted an historical fiction book about New Zealand and this was the ONLY one in the MoCo library system.

Glummer than one may have wished, but the beautiful writing and tough/fun main character to root for helped balance the general pall over it all. Literary in many ways. Very visual writing: the minute details of daily life were so clear; It took too long to reveal Joe’s crime in England (a bit gimmicky stringing along the reader); Joe running FROM England/Harriet running TO New Zealand/Lillian in the middle, but finally tipped toward NZ (and away from old embarrassments); Hooray for Billy the horse…so, so sad for Beauty the cow…and the dog simply got swept downstream to a new owner (& loooong life) – we’re sure of it….;

Harriett – Hilary Swank
Joseph – Adrian Brody
Lillian – Brenda Blethyn
Pare – Halle Barre
Dinsdale – Helena Bonham Carter
ToBy: Hugh Bonneville
Two Miners: the guys from the Velveeta Liquid Gold commercial

Harriett’s THEME SONG: These Boots Are Made for Walking by Nancy Sinatra
Josephs’ THEME SONG: Yellow Dirt (Down in Your Soul) by Seals & Crofts

NEXT MEETING: @ Liz’s on April 29 at 7:30

BOOK: (many copies in the library)
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund De Waal.

9 American Athletes + 1 Madman with Minions = 2 Books

February 24, 2015 @ Liz’s House – but Katie Hosting (Thx, Liz!)
missing: Shelley (eye), Sue (Sadie), Karen C (kids), Kitty (life)

PreGame: passport issues (Viv/Venezuela; Katie’s sis/ill friend in US); eye ickiness & other medical maladies war stories (can you say ‘glioblastoma?’ …some of us cannot); Travolta (revolt-a or just goofy? Scientology = not cool); Oscar chatter (Big Hollywood was missing…did snubbed Unbroken director Angelina tell the minions to stay away, too? Or is the event too freakin’ long to attend unless you’re nominated?); Best a la Liz: The Theory of Everything or Imitation Game (but not at Landmark Bethesda – fire evac protocol is a hot mess); Marie’s girl is happy-in-love in Venice, CA…GREs soon; her son’s Persian Gulf tour is OFF (amen); Angelika’s mom’s arm surgery/hard to support from afar (but mom is ok); Men & Plastic Surgery (Oscars again) – what’s up with that???; Note: Liz went to Malaysia once (Bootleg is tasked with helping her recall this factoid); canned peas v. flash frozen or fresh (it’s a new world of yummy, sorry Le Sueur)

Reminder: Karen S & her Mom hosting book talk this Sunday (March 1)

SEGUE:  Karen S. picked The Boys in the Boat by DJ Brown because:
1. neighbor’s suggestions were too sad, dark or 500+ pages
2. Amazon’s ‘if you like X, then try Y’ function

Warning: If Boys in the Boatyou identify too closely with any of the negative comments about BiB then don’t let Mary know; she just won’t have it. #BiBFanClub-AllIN

What we liked (esp. Mary!): Joe Ratz’s biography was so compelling; the rowing details esp. the tough races; the build up of the last 1/3 of the book & ending; real and readable like “The Glass Castle”; the coaches were well-portrayed as were some of the sports/news writers

What was so-so or polarizing for the group: shifting from Seattle to Berlin meant fewer pages for the Seattle/rowers’ stories; more bio info/insight for the ~6 boys in the boat that weren’t well-developed was needed (after all, Hitler wasn’t rowing); so much history intertwined gave context & connected it to the world stage, but to some it was distracting (E.g. ‘We already knew about the Dust Bowl

for cryin’ out loud’ vs. ‘It was so cool to see the details of these people’s lives in the context of bigger moments like the Dust Bowl.’); to be fair, Joe did tell the author that he wanted this book to be much, much bigger than just his story (perhaps author/Joe skipped straight to the World Stage & didn’t give us enough of his co-rowers’ lives); Joyce = true gem, 110%!!!

We all liked the idea… (thx, Viviane!)
Daniel James Brown should have or at least could have written two excellent and separate books.

Title: We don’t really get to know all 9 boys in the boat. Maybe a better title would’ve been ‘Mind in Boat’ since unity was the point. Plus, something related to WWII with ‘the boat /das boat’ in the title is too much like that war story.

Joe Ratz- the elder Hemsworth
Pocock – so much discussion, nothing write-able
Ky E (CA coach) – ditto
Utbrickson – Alex Skaarsgard
Harry (Dad) Ratz – and again, we deliberated…
Thula – Ellen Page (with a late surge for Amber Heard)
Joyce – Mia Wusilowski
Royal Brougham (reporter) – JK Simmons
Some of the boys in the boat:  Ansel Elgort, Max Kasch, Miles Teller (yes, they have to be tall!)

THEME SONG – discussion on if this new element to our book talk means assigning who’s responsible for an original soundtrack vs. picking an existing song; the latter was the intent of Katie’s original suggestion, but for this book the former held sway: Hozier is to write & sing (a non-offensively worded) song in his beautiful style

MARCH BOOK (Katie’s pick):  The Colour by Rose Tremain

Talking in Circles

Thursday, January 29, 2015 @ The Schuler Residence
[not a blizzard; but unsettled, cold weather nonetheless]

Attendees – Karen S., Marie, Liz (made it just in time), Mary (stayed longer than she’d expected to; with luck, didn’t suffer from not having done her “homework”), Shelley, Viviane, Kitty (note taker…Katie ill)

Pre-Book Discussion:

Many thanks to Andrew, who set everything up and made the soup – delish!

In fact, all the food was delish. And Shelley’s cheese and onion dip – OMG! Thank you for passing on the recipe; at least two of us made it for Superbowl parties, to great acclaim.

Daniel’s wedding photos – Gorgeous couple, gorgeous wedding, gorgeous in-laws (well, one set anyway). The photographer created an amazing, artsy book and Daniel and Kelsey look like models (but happy ones).

Karen’s dogs – Rogue and Maverick, who likes to French kiss.

Wendy and baby Alia – Adorable, and Wendy creates great cards using the baby as a prop.

Viviane’s stepson – Provided humanitarian relief post-Katrina and Sandy and left the field in frustration.

Liz – Arrived late, directly from the Dominican Republic. We should all be booking our trips to the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, which is “almost perfect.”

Remember to give Liz money for the library – she’s president of the Friends of the Library. Also, donate books for and then buy books at the used book sale (also one coming up at WJ).

The Book: At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon – an excellent book club book; a very good discussion.

Liz, Viv, Shelley, and Karen read the book; Mary read about half; Kitty and Marie were negligent.

Viviane picked the book to please her non-American friends, who said we never read non-American books.

Circular story-telling – Some liked it, some not. Does it explain the title? (Also, walking in circles in the prison yard.)

Does it matter what country the book takes place in? Karen wants to know where it is, and several people have pretty firm ideas. It seems that a lot of Latin American authors use unnamed countries (see Bel Canto, e.g.); is that a protective measure for them?

Some thought the book read like it had been translated (Liz did not think so), but in fact the guy has lived in the United States since he was three.


Henry                    Christian Bale

Pata Larga           Jimmy Smits

Nelson                  James Ransome

Ixta                        Marga Robbie

(and no, very few people knew who those last two actors are)