Book Club Anxiety

After eight months of induction into this book club, I have finally earned the right to choose a book – and it is a weighty responsibility.

I had thought I would simply go with my friend, Laura’s, suggestion of Marilyn Robinson’s slender book, Housekeeping. It was perfect, I thought; especially when my sister requested I bring her a copy to Bangkok. I figured that Sue could tell me how she liked the book as she read while I was there. Unfortunately, Sue did not particularly enjoy Housekeeping, finding the descriptive writing beautiful, but implausible as representing a young girl’s thoughts.

I started playing with other titles, like the first book of Paul Auster‘s “The New York Trilogy,” called City of Glass (1985). I have enjoyed Auster before, and I especially like how contemporary artists, like Sophie Calle, have been inspired by the fictional art projects of his characters. But, I worried that I had never laid eyes on the book and that it might be hard to get six copies of a 20-year-old title quickly. (The person making the bookclub reading selection is responsible for getting enough copies for the whole group.)

Then, one night early in my trip to Bangkok, we were out at a loud raucous Italian dinner with a cosmopolitan and international crowd of designers, writers, and theater types. The Scottish woman sitting next to me, who runs educational theater programs in Cambodia, was eating pasta with squid’s ink and was wearing a fabulous beaded ring that looked like a bunch of multi-colored grapes hanging off her finger. During a moment when she was dumping the contents of her purse on the table to find her cigarettes, a book tumbled out that everybody started talking about. It seemed that everybody at the table had either read this book or was intending on reading it. I flipped through, and saw that the writing style was slightly experimental, funny, and tongue-in-cheeky. Plus, I decided it would be fun to let myself to be influenced by these expats…

So, after eating a reuben at Manhattan in the Desert today, I will pass out six copies of Jonathan Foer Safron’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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