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The Writers’ Book Club

A writer is a reader moved to emulation
-SAUL BELLOW, attributed, The Hidden Writer

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write
--STEPHEN KING, On Writing

How does the Writers’ Book Club differ from other book clubs?  For starters, the group doesn’t so much discuss the book as dissect it. Members want to discover what it is about the writing itself that makes the book work or, in some cases, not work. Also, we consider how we can “borrow” the author’s techniques for our own writing. Disagreements abound and are always part of the fun, as is the food. For example, we downed grilled cheese sandwiches during our discussion of In the Deep Midwinter, in which the characters indulge in 1950s comfort food.

Click on Events on the toolbar to see a list of books we are reading. Scroll down for write-ups of discussion of books we read last year. Photos by Tom Hoyer


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

September’s Book Club selection was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.  The meeting was hosted by Sarah Barnett and her new dog, Blue.   Many members were rereading the book for a second or even third time and uniformly remarked that they found it richer and better this time around.   No one felt the current movie version did justice to the book; and, in fact, no one felt the previous version did so, either.  No one knew if there was an earlier version but it is to be suspected that it, too, would have failed to measure up.  It is always surprising when the entire group expresses positive feelings about a book.  It is also surprising how many different kinds of positive reactions there are to be found in a group as diverse as this one.  One faction, of which the author is a key member, found Gatsby’s nobility in “the colossal vitality of his illusion,” the same kind of illusion that drives the notion of American exceptionalism.   Others focused on the ever-modern obsessions with wealth, conspicuous consumption, and the pursuit of one’s fifteen minutes of fame.  The story’s continuing relevance, its still-contemporary appeal comes in part from its simplicity of plot, the fact that the underlying ideas are clearly represented, and that century by century, love and sacrifice remain enduring romantic values in life and in fiction.
--Tom Hoyer

This Bed Our Bodies Shaped by April Lindner
In August, guild members were welcomed at Renay Regardie’s beautiful home for our annual poetry book discussion. Linder’s book received praise from many readers for its lyrical phrasing. Both Judy Wood and Renay Regardie said they found the poems enjoyable and easy to understand, even though they don’t normally read poetry. The opening poem, “Dressing for Work” generated some discussion about why it was written in third person (while most of the other poems in the book were in first person). Linda Blumner said it worked well and added a certain coldness that allowed us to see where the marriage was headed. We read aloud several poems we liked. “The Smell of Men,” “Kimono,” “Perennial,” and “Dog Bite” promoted a bit of discussion about  the “I” in each of these stories. Paul Dyer admitted he read two or three, but would prefer someone come over and read them to him. Maribeth Fischer, among others, mentioned that she felt held at a distance from many of the poems. She said that although she doesn’t need deep personal narrative, she didn’t always feel connected to the writing. Ethan Joella remarked that he liked the poems while reading them, but quickly forgot many of them. The majority of the group agreed that the poems that touched on children, marriage, and aging were the ones with which we could most identify.
--Gail Comorat



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