I’m going to preface this by saying that work events are exhausting.
The day we held our latest gathering, I was at the Javits Center, surviving the final day of BookExpo. I work for a publishing company, and the day’s events included presenting new books to 100 librarians and book club organizers, and keeping rowdy booksellers in line as they shoved their way to the new Holly Black galley. So I wasn’t in the best state of mind when I turned up at our meeting place, a cozy bar on the Lower East Side. I didn’t recognize DR as I approached the bar. There was no sign, and it took us several minutes to find the hand painted number on the building front, and the narrow hallway to the back of the bar where the others were waiting at a table. As I plunked my bag next to my chair, I saw a small glass water bottle with a clear liquid next to my water glass. I picked it up and poured. Before I could lift it to my lips, MM said “you know that’s not water.” I had poured myself a water glass of white wine. The club is now referring to wine as Elizabeth Water. Great.
We didn’t have a full discussion of Alias Grace (our latest pick), though AM and I had chatted about it a couple of weeks before the meeting. This is my first Margaret Atwood (criminal, I know). I admired how she seamlessly blended historical record with fiction, creating a fully realized Grace Marks from the newspapers and books that paint her as a wicked temptress, insane criminal, and/or naive simpleton. The juxtaposition between Grace’s retelling of her story and Simon’s struggles while conducting his research shows that many possess a darkness underneath the surface, ready to reveal itself under duress. Who is to say whether Grace is truly evil, while Simon hovers on the edge of criminal behavior himself? I was also told to watch the Netflix series before we could debrief further. It is now on my queue.
Other books we talked about: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. This was one of the club’s first reads, before I joined. AM passed along her copy, calling it garbage. I’m inclined to believe her, but I will reserve judgment until I’m fifty pages in (I live by the fifty-page rule).
8 of the 9 members of the club were present tonight (a rare occurrence for us). What’s new with some of our favorite readers?
- LL went to Paris to watch her friends get engaged, and then went to Spain with her boyfriend.
- DR went to Atlanta for a friend’s wedding and sampled all of the Coca-Cola flavors.
- SS survived a spider bite, and invited us to a bar where her (incredibly nice) boyfriend will be bartending this weekend and will supply us with free drinks
Next up is MV’s turn. She’s consulted me on her choice, so it’s like having two turns. Stay tuned for more from the Drinking Club with a Reading Problem.