Wednesday, May 30, 2007

book club





The group leader for my book club wears a book club t-shirt in the same design as the fight club logo - with the first rule as "we do not talk about book club" as the first rule.

I'm going to break that rule.

This is a book club I found through my local library system. It has two great things to recommend it. 1 - it's free. 2 - we actually discuss the books.

One might wonder about the second point, but I have participated in a couple of book clubs where we really don't discuss the books. If we do, it's around 20% of the conversation. The other parts of the conversation involve basic gossip about the people we know. As you can imagine, I can gossip about people any day of the week! Discussing ideas and writing styles are much more rare. We meet once a month - which gives me plenty of time to get the book and read it in my spare time.

We read a diversity of fiction, non fiction, novels and popular fiction.

The latest book we've read is Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.

It is a stunning non-fiction book about the author's war-torn childhood in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

I would not have read this book if it was not a part of book club (something else to recommend book club). I thought parts of it were incredibly sad.

Because not only is the author growing up white in war torn Africa, her mother is also an alcoholic. And later in the book, her mother is diagnosed with manic depression. Both descriptions of her mother's drinking and depression were incredibly
disturbing.

Not trying to give too much away if you're thinking of reading it, there are children who die in the book. For some of us, reading descriptions of dying children is very difficult. Personally, I've found it much more difficult since becoming a mother myself. I'm not ashamed to admit there were parts I cried at and had to put the book down. But it was a quick read - I made it through in a weekend.

The language is beautiful. The description of the country is breath-taking. It helps one understand just why her family stayed in Africa, despite dictators and war. There is humor in unexpected places.

I have just one negative comment about the memoir. I understand the description of the different class/race levels. The tension between the settlers and the native occupants of Rhodesia is clear - and the poverty of the non white occupants is
obvious.

There are parts where Alexandra is determined to bridge that gap - what she was taught to believe and what she now knows about the equality of all people and her respect forAfrican music, spirituality. While I don't know how she could apologize for some of what happened - since it was just a tale of what happened - I would have liked to see more acknowledgment that the war was wrong, the separation between the races was wrong. She definitely implied that it was wrong, I would have liked her to come out and say that. That may have ended up on the editorial floor though.

2 comments:

Freckle Face Girl said...

Thanks for the tip. I love biographies! I'll have to put that on my list.

By the way, I must admit that I am very impressed by you. You are a working mom with twins & you still find time to read intelligent books. I am not quite there yet, but I'll get this book & try. :)

aerin said...

Thanks FFG! The reason I find time to read is that the house isn't very clean - and we eat out - a lot. Reading has definitely become easier as the kids get older. They can watch tv or be outside - and it's not a big deal if I carry a book along.