Annnd The Drinking Club Is Back

To drinking, that is. You may have thought, based on past content, that this was a book blog. Guess again.

It’s felt harder and harder to connect over our shared love of wit and a good cabernet sauvignon since the worst Friday the 13th on record. And honestly, it hasn’t felt right to go about our business here like The Drinking Club can still meet up in a crowded corner booth at The Lovelace and gripe about our latest read. More pressing matters need our attention. Examples: the cops who killed Breonna Taylor haven’t been arrested. People are pretending we’re still not living through a pandemic. Breonna Taylor’s killers still haven’t been arrested. The US election will likely be a cluster (read: will definitely be a cluster). Breonna Taylor’s killers haven’t been arrested.

You did not need me, a white English major, to pontificate on these issues. Go to the experts–they are the people whose work we need to be learning and unlearning from. You know what we also don’t need? Another joke about these “unprecedented times.” Or a joke about how we keep saying “unprecedented times.” If I see it in one more millennial newsletter, my eyes will roll and become permanently lodged in the back of my skull.

What have we been doing, then? Not meeting to discuss the merits of 21st century literature. We’ve been Zooming, working, sleeping. Drinking. We’ve caught up a few times, but it’s hard to maintain a conversation past 30 minutes when no one has done anything except walk from their desk to their bed to the kitchen table and back to their bed (that’s not entirely true. DR works in a hospital managing the crap out of our essential workers and deserves more than a gold star, but that’s all we’ve got). As The Drinking Club’s (faithful? deluded?) scribe, I feel adrift without the companionship and snark of these incredible ladies. Maybe we are unmoored without the promise of a killer happy hour on the horizon.

Since we haven’t read anything together since A Year of Magical Thinking (what a time to read that), I’ll share with you what books have been filling my socially-distanced life:

  • The Nightingale – this was purchased at last year’s Independent Bookstore Day, courtesy of AM’s recommendation. I completed it at 1am on a Monday in April because I could not physically put it down. Historical drama at its best.
  • Bringing Down The Duke – I spent a few delightful spring evenings swept up in this smart regency romance. What could be wrong with a book in a series called A League of Extraordinary Women?
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses series- I finally read these after high praise for years from dear friends of the Drinking Club and DD. This fantasy is enthralling, but I have one question: who read the first book and thought, we should totally market this to teenagers? I read parts of the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury, along the East River and thank god I had my mask on to hide my girlish blush.
  • Manhattan Beach – I know, I was supposed to read this last year. This story of three interconnected people, and their search to give their lives meaning and purpose, was compelling.
  • Party of Two – we’ve talked about Jasmine Guillory before, and in case it wasn’t clear, this is a Jasmine Guillory stan blog. I couldn’t work once I had started this book. If you’re not reading her work, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. They’re smart, they’re swoon-worthy, and you will want to be friends with all her protagonists. I loved this immensely.
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over – this is another DD recommendation, being the fastest and most dedicated reader among us. It was charming and a touch melancholy, and the happy-for-now ending I was looking for.
  • Just Mercy – this needs to be required reading for everyone. Bryan Stevenson documents the harm our criminal justice system and our society’s racial inequalities do to Black people, and in particular, his clients on Death Row. He does this by shining a light on the humanity of the people he has worked with, the humanity that racist people and policies attempted to take from them. My favorite line from the book was: “the death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”
  • The Wife – this crime thriller was twisty and turny and left me with so many questions. I need a sequel. This book also has one of my favorite crime fiction protagonists. We need more stories with Detective Corrine Duncan taking charge.
  • Beach Read – oh, what I wouldn’t give to move to North Bear Shores. Specifically, to the house next to Gus Everett’s. I’ve already told DD about this plan, and she approves.
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – this was the second book selected by my grad school book club (the first being Just Mercy). We’re really running the gamut here. But there are few things better than sweet high school romances and even sweeter sister relationships. Though there was a consensus amongst the group that Movie Peter is better than Book Peter. You can keep your opinions about this to yourself.

What’s next on my illustrious reading list, you might ask? I will tell you.

Did we also just skim over the fact that I’m cheating on The Drinking Club with my grad school book club? Yes, I did.

Right now, I’m a quarter of the way through Ninth House, and just started Riot Baby. Thus far, both are phenomenal. I’ve also been working my way through Me And White Supremacy. I know it will be the most important book I do.

As the weather cools and PSL achieves world domination, we’ll be back with some of our regularly scheduled programming and biting humor. We do hope everyone is taking care. We’re lifting our last glasses of summer rosé to you.

Until next time,

EV

The Drinking Club Could Use Some Magical Thinking Right About Now

I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and well stocked on their wine. I don’t think many of us are far off from throwing in some Baileys to our whipped coffee one morning. The days blur, the stress builds, and you can’t unwind with a peaceful walk along the NYC riverfront because there are TOO MANY PEOPLE OUTSIDE.

As we wait for the next shoe to drop with each news alert, it gets harder to remember the petty grievances we once held, while the memories of happy hours and brunches and movie nights begin to feel like a part of a good dream you just remembered. Now seems like as good as any time to recap what The Drinking Club was up to before it all went to hell in a handbasket (I know this update is months late. I KNOW. The shame is relentless):

  • We read Cherry, and probably got ourselves banned from a posh Midtown wine bar. It might have been for calling the waiter out for his bartender’s crappy pours. It might also have been for leaving six credit cards to split a bill out of spite when said waiter suggested that “Venmo was a thing.” We have no regrets.
  • We read Daisy Jones & The Six, and feasted on grandma pizza and roommate horror stories in DR’s cozy new studio apartment.
  • We read Where The Crawdads Sing, and had very polarizing reactions to it. Some of us also stood on an Amtrak train from Baltimore to get to the gathering, and were probably not the greatest company.

As fate would have it, The Drinking Club gathered about a week before we were told to stay home for the foreseeable future (but not before buying all the yeast we could get our hands on). I had recently ditched MV for another club member, moving into a spacious and sunny bedroom in MM’s apartment. We gathered in my new living room that Friday night, inhaling sea salt chips with our Cabernet Sauvignon and letting loose after a long week. We spent a significant amount of time discussing bodily functions (were we possessed by 12-year-old boys?) and getting LL to dish on all the wedding planning updates (which has now, sadly, been postponed to 2021). It was my turn to select our read, and I chose a book by my favorite author, one that had been sitting on my shelf for nearly two years. The author: Joan Didion. The book: The Year of Magical Thinking, her exploration of death and grief after her husband suddenly died and their daughter became gravely ill. None of that is relevant to today at all.

This was not the cheeriest read, I will admit, especially once you know Quintana, Joan and John’s daughter, dies after the publication of the book. However, those of us that worship at the altar of Joan know that she can make dried paint sound fascinating. What is captivating about her writing is how perfectly she can distill a feeling or experience to the reader. She unravels our most complex actions into their simplest truths, removing any bias to show them as they are. In Magical Thinking, she untangles her grief thread by thread, taking us along as the time from John’s death grows from days to weeks to months. She documents her cool responses in moments of crises, her refusal to accept his death, and her overwhelming sadness as she puts her mourning on hold to care for her daughter. The moment she buys hospital scrubs at UCLA sticks with me still. This scene encapsulates how warped her reality is, and understandably so. Her world, at that moment, is one of trauma. She dissects this and her lowest moments scientifically, but also with compassion. This, combined with her in-depth reporting, gives the reader an unparalleled look at grief on a larger scale, as well as how it infects an individual.

If I’ve learned anything from this book, it’s that we won’t understand how our current crisis has changed us until we are well past it. We will develop quirks that will seem strange to our future selves, but were essential to coping during these quiet days. I’m hopeful Joan will be with us on the other side of this, helping us understand why we did what we did. No one will be able to do it as well as she can.

The Drinking Club is supposed to gather later today, where we’ll hear how DR is accomplishing her very necessary work at a hospital, how DD is managing working from home, and how AM is managing with her relatives in the age of COVID. MM and I will brag about the donuts we made (they were phenomenal). We’ll remind LL how much we’re looking forward to celebrating her wedding in 2021. And we’ll be grateful for each other, our health, and the books that helped us through this time. But mostly we’ll be grateful for the wine.

Until next time,

EV

The Drinking Club Ends the Decade

I know, it’s been a while. You don’t have to tell me. I spent the last 6 weeks staring at my inbox, tormented by unopened newsletters and bookmarks I wanted to share but couldn’t find the desire to jot down. That sounds melodramatic, coming from the least active blog of the least dedicated book club, but that’s what happened. Bookstagrammer, I am not. But I missed writing down the weird and wonderful I found and sharing it with all two of you. In the next year and decade, I’m vowing to keep in touch more, and to be kinder to myself and the rest of us when we just need a minute.

Not only has this December been chockablock (love this word) with best of the year lists, we’ve now had to cope with best of the decade lists. No one wants to remember what was cool in 2011, because then we’d have to remember what we were wearing, and doing. And we can no longer stomach the amount of Four Loko necessary to wipe those memories.

So, to close out the year, here are The Drinking Club’s Top 5 Books of the Decade that We Didn’t Read. We will read them, at some point. Maybe. After combing through these roundups, it occurred to me I must have had my own year of rest and relaxation (also known as the Grey’s Anatomy binge).

I should mention the rest of The Club was not polled for their recommendations. It’s entirely possible AM and DD have read these (and reread these), being the best of the bunch. We’ll catch up in 2020 with everyone for their input, and let you know what we’ve been up to (including the wine bar we’re no longer allowed into).

Without further ado, and in no particular order–the list:

5. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

I started these, but had to pause after Book 2 when I started to feel like the doll thrown down the sewer drain. Ferrante’s writing is visceral and infectious. I plan to return to Naples and Lena’s story, but this time in smaller doses.

4. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

I received this for Christmas the year it was published and was ecstatic. I’ve picked it up several times over the years…to put it in a moving box. Now it laughs from its perch on the bookshelf, knowing I will have moved again before I read it.

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This one also sits on my bookshelf, a couple of shelves below James. It doesn’t mock openly; it stares cooly from a corner spot. It knows how unworthy I am of it.

2. There, There by Tommy Orange

I will put my name on the NYPL waitlist tomorrow, and receive my digital rental in 8 months. I’ll read 60 pages in two weeks, and then wait another 7 months to finish it.

1. All the Drinking Club books

While I joined The Club late, even I haven’t read all the books selected over the years. I should probably start here.

 

Stay gold,

EV

The Happiest Hour – 10/27/19

Sundays aren’t normally happy hour days (they’re more like drinking-in-dread-as-Monday-approaches kind of days). But after guarding box lunches for middle age vegetarians at a work event this weekend, I’m feeling pretty ecstatic knowing I don’t have to step into my office tomorrow.

Here’s what you missed this week:

 

Cheers,

EV

The Librarians Have Spoken: The Club Gets The Results

Last month, we told you how we prayed to the Library Gods for recommendations for The Drinking Club. They replied, voice booming from the heavens, promising to answer us in two weeks. Which they did. And now I’m sharing the results…one month later. I have no defense.

The Almighty Alex, librarian extraordinaire, has suggested the titles below for our group. It’s a mix of literary fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. We’ve read one of them already, so we’re off to a great start.

  • The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • Free Food for Millionaires by Min-Jin Lee
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman

This list is comprehensive. We got sci-fi, mystery, dystopian, coming-of-age stories, nature writing. It’s also fairly diverse–knowing full well publishing is primarily pale, male, and stale, and there are a plethora of experiences not captured on this list. Still, there are only two dudes. We’ll take it as a sign of progress.

As you will have noticed, Almighty Alex included The Power, which we read last fall. Alex clearly saw into our collective soul to make these recommendations, so I feel confident in saying that if we read one of these, a third of us would like it. Several of these have been on my TBR for a while. I feel I should hand in my bibliophile card for not having read Americanah yet. It reminds me of my inadequacy every time I find it on my bookshelf.

This just means we have to read one of these. The Library Gods have been magnanimous–all of these books are book discussion sets, meaning they have longer check-out lengths and multiple copies available. They also created a collection for these titles on their website that we can save to our library account. They’ve even named it: Books for a Savvy Book Club. They’re being very generous with that moniker. It would be rude not to read one of their suggestions.

So, what should we read next? Is there a title missing that you think jives with the rest of this list? Let us know!

 

EV

The Club Goes to Another Book Club (The Horror!)

Before you get all worried or something, The Drinking Club is fine. More than fine. DR moved into her own apartment, because she is the most successful of all of us. MM kicked her toxic job to the curb. MV is killing it at her new job. LL is planning THE WEDDING of 2020. DD is constantly on the road, advocating for a cure for a debilitating disease. And AM is lounging in the Hamptons (at least we think. Powering up the helicopter to confirm).

And me? I’ve been knee deep in drayage paperwork and traveling to California to sell books to nerds (that last one was basically a work-sponsored vacation and the highlight of my year. DR is drafting the proposal to convince my manager to keep me out there permanently). I was in the cavernous halls of the San Diego Convention Center, contemplating the deodorant choices of certain members of the cosplay community, when the last meeting of The Drinking Club was held. It was a beautiful gathering; the wine carafes flowed, the baked mac & cheese was abundant. Though I can only guess. MV volunteered herself to write the latest recap (still waiting on it) after she scheduled the meeting when she knew I was out of town (still not bitter). I guess you’ll never know what everyone thought of Manhattan Beach.

Fear not, dear readers–I still attended a book club, so you’ll get your monthly dose of wine-infused literary analysis. This month’s reading adventure takes us to Midtown and the teal halls of TheSkimm. As a loyal subscriber (but terrible Skimm Squad member–my follow-through was abysmal), I received an invite to a trial book club event they were hosting. The book: The Farm by Joanne Ramos, an unsettling look at privilege and surrogacy told through the lens of the hosts carrying the fetuses of the world’s uber wealthy. The main event, a Q&A with Ramos at their office, seemed like a great way to kill two birds with one stone: feed my obsession with TheSkimm, and do some research for my day job (we host a similar annual event, however, the median age of our readers is around 75).

Joined by the best intern NYC has ever seen (and actual Skimmbassador), I settled into the plush couches at SkimmHQ with a very buttery glass of Chardonnay. The group assembled was intimate and eager to discuss, though not in an overbearing way. I was a bad sport and forgot to write a book recommendation on my name tag, but that didn’t prevent me from passing along a few recs of my own. There was a real sense of community, or at least a desire to build one from the like-minded ladies in the room.

Joanne Ramos was relatable and authentic; her responses weren’t canned, or overly crafted. The discussion that night covered whether we thought the ending of her novel was a happy one (no spoilers, but I was convinced it was going to end in a bloodbath); whether the likability of the characters mattered to us (Ramos said she had no interest in writing saints or villains); how Ramos’s immigrant experience and today’s political climate influence the protagonists; whether privilege prevents you from “doing good,” and where privilege comes from.

Probably the most interesting part of the discussion for me was the author’s bio, and the circuitous path she took to becoming a novelist. Without having grown up in the Midwest as a first generation immigrant, worked in finance, became a reporter, she said she wouldn’t have been able to write the story that she did. She shared an analogy a former boss had shared with her: while we might like our lives to be a series of choices that place us on a linear path, our choices are often resemble a patchwork quilt. Each experience is unique and colorful, and when added to others, creates a more interesting tableau that put you where you were meant to be. I think that’s a lesson that, while cheesy, we could all use in our hyper-competitive and Instagram-curated lives.

Another important takeaway: Gemma Chan, Saoirse Ronan, and Matthew McConaughey should keep their schedules open, because we want them for the movie. It’s been decided–they can’t back out now.

Until next time,

EV

 

The Club Texts When We Get Home

No one says goodbye anymore. At least, not women. No one is saying see you soon, catch ya later. No more so longs, farewells, or auf wiedersehen adieus. Instead, as they’re rounding the corner or taking the stairs down to the River Styx (more commonly known as the C train), they’re shouting “text me when you get home.” Because we live in a world where a woman’s safety is not a guarantee. Our send-offs have become pleas, because we know the danger in a quiet subway car, or a poorly lit street. We don’t want it to be the final goodbye.

You know another way to avoid the final goodbye? Instead of saying it, you hunt down canned wine and dollar slices. That gives you another hour and a half, at least.

Our last Drinking Club gathering ended over rose cans and garlic knots while MM, MV, and I enlightened DR and MM’s coworker with our stories of growing up in the place that spawned Teresa Giudice. The work friend said he felt right at home, having spent his childhood watching telenovelas. But unlike our latest read, our slice of suburbia was not terrorized by a phantom who stole entire communities’ peace of mind. And not one of us is as masterful a storyteller as the late Michelle McNamara. Her notes could win a Pulitzer.

If you paid attention in 6th grade English, those context clues should be telling you that our last read was I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. The thoughtfully and obsessively researched book is the result of McNamara’s fixation with the Golden State Killer, the serial rapist and murderer that stalked California in the 1970s and 1980s.

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The flap copy calls this book an “atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history;” that couldn’t be more accurate. McNamara transports the reader to the subdivisions of Northern and Southern California, where unexplained footprints beneath bedroom windows and noises along the fence lines foreshadowed horrific violations. We get to observe the police bullpens and crime labs where gruff detectives and everyone’s favorite hunky criminalist (where my murderinos at) became consumed by the mystery of the man who committed 50 sexual assaults and 10 murders before vanishing.

McNamara does all of this with an unwavering sense of humanity, sharing only enough information to make your hair stand on edge, but never feel exploitative towards the victims. She exposes the dark corners of her own past that led her to her obsession with the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker, allowing you a glimpse of a mind that, in order to understand the darkness, plunges headfirst into it. McNamara passed away before completing the book, before the world knew who the Golden State Killer was. Her colleagues and family finished for her, impressively maintaining her voice while piecing together her notes and published work to create the final chapters.

McNamara’s writing, more than anything, captures the fear and despair that sent these families and communities spiraling. How do you fight the feeling that your worst nightmare is patiently waiting for you to close your eyes, that there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from striking again? How, as someone sworn to protect the community, do you live knowing you couldn’t do anything to stop him, let alone identify him? How do you also confront McNamara’s untimely passing, that your life could end in an instant?

You make plans. You YOLO. You live by the inspirational quotes on the tchotchkes your elderly aunt gets from the Hallmark store. You dance like no one’s watching, in the rain. Because the stark cold reality is that there is nothing we can do to prevent the monsters from coming after us. This makes us control freaks oh so comfortable. There’s no shortage of Type As in the Drinking Club. You should see the things some of us can do with a spreadsheet.

So what are we planning for? For starters, we’re prepping for the copious amounts of hurricanes and Sazeracs we’ll be drinking at LL’s nuptials next spring. The AirBNB hunt has commenced. DR is journeying to Southeast Asia and is currently accepting applications for a road trip through the Pacific Northwest (The Drinking Club Takes Portland, anyone?) MV is looking across the pond for fall adventures with her SO, while MM is planning some major career moves that make us all so proud. If the others decided to show up, I can brag about them too (what that subtle enough?)

What I’m walking away with after this book is to live fully and unapologetically. The only way to combat the shadows is to live in them, bringing the monsters into the light. So stay til last call. And text me when you get home.

 

EV

The Club Gets Preppy

Before we get down to business, an important Corrections Corner:

It has come to my attention that some members (*cough* DR *cough*) feel recent posts have inaccurately portrayed them as “weird.” To which I reply: since when is that a bad thing? I revealed in the last post, dear reader, that I was enamored by a six-year-old’s story about talking animals that want to transform into breakfast items. Hardly what the grand dames would consider appropriate conversation material.

It amazes me how badass women, myself included, still give credence to what is considered “normal” and “weird.” Why, when confronted with a flawless Instagram story or a gaggle of women who seem to know the right thing to say, do we suddenly feel like the girl in middle school who isn’t wearing the right Abercrombie top?

Nothing could have induced this feeling more than our latest read, Prep. Curtis: you took me back to places I didn’t want to go. I’m not sure I’m happy about it. But here we are.

Sittenfeld’s first book received high praised, and you can see why: she manages to capture essential truths about our world, and ourselves, and place it alongside the putrid reality of high school seamlessly. Several of us had trouble getting into it, because these characters, especially Lee, can be so unlikable. But then–who actually likes teenagers?

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Following Lee’s journey through Ault, the prep school she imagined would transform her life, stirred memories I was convinced I left in the Comb-Over (we called our high school’s renovated entryway The Comb-Over because it resembles a certain President’s hairstyle. If only we knew).  Lee’s desire to connect, most evident in her obsession with knowing the intimate details of her peers’ lives, is uncomfortable and understandable. She wants to see others, and be seen in return. As teenagers, we all wanted to be understood (cue eye rolls and door slamming). But at Ault, an insular world ruled by byzantine social codes, you have to conform to be seen.

How does high school pan out for Lee? Not so great, but she makes it out in one piece, which is all most of us can ask for. As she narrates her high school years to us from some distance in time, it’s clear that the issues she had developing connections at Ault translated into adulthood. As a narrator, she’s cool, and while she reveals much of her inner thoughts, you get the sense that these are shared with some resistance. There’s more to Lee Fiora than she’s willing to let on.

Adulthood has a way of relieving some of the inhibitors that kept you pressed against the gymnasium wall at the school dance, because you quickly learn that no one care as much as you think they do. You learn how to spot your people, and allow those who bring you down to drift away.  I’m beyond lucky to know the members of The Drinking Club, who are some of the most generous women out there, with their time, energy, and love. They are all unabashedly themselves, and I love them more for it (but DR the most. Obvi).

And to demonstrate this, I thought I would share some of our “weird” quotes from our last gathering, because: a) they’re genius, and b) I don’t actually know how we made it from one subject to the next. But we covered a lot of ground.

  • “European men know what’s up with pants”: LL and AM vacationed in Iceland and Ireland and found a lot to admire in the scenery. Never underestimate the power of a well-constructed pocket.
  • “You just boil them alive”: The Donner Party we are not. MV instead has enlightened us to the art of cooking lobster after recent adventures with le boyfriend in California. And has maybe inspired a future Drinking Club activity?
  • “It’s either romantic, or where you plan a murder”: where else would this be, but Maine. DD traveled there for a half marathon and anticipated that she would be smitten with New England, as maybe a gorgeous fisherman. We’ll hand the second part of that statement over to Stephen King.
  • “I want to skin her and wear her–relax, it’s a Real Housewives quote”: I don’t know why LL shared this with us. I will say: you can’t go wrong adding a little Bethenny or Rinna into a conversation.

 

What else is new with The Drinking Club?

  • Wedding bells are ringing for LL, who has asked us to clear our calendars for spring nupitals in the South. Congrats!!!
  • Expect to see DR in the next Free Solo documentary, as she conquered the National Parks and did not fall off a cliff. (We’ll resist the I-Told-You-So. For now.)
  • MV is killing it at a new job, and will now be supplying us with bathing suits for life.
  • We thought we lost MM and AM there for a minute. But then MV and I found them on Independent Bookstore Day, when we ventured to Books Are Magic and learned just how long it takes to make a quiche.

 

Until next time,

EV

 

 

The Club Plans for the End Of Days…and Swimsuit Season

Have you ever had one of those moments where someone looks at you like you’ve grown a second head? Eyes simultaneously widening and narrowing in your direction, a silence so cinematic you can count the beats between what you said and their reaction?

I was telling the Drinking Club, as we noshed on killer burrata in a tiny basement restaurant in the West Village, that I had spent the previous night volunteering with an organization that encourage students to discover a love of writing. I had hoped they would appreciate some of the creative short stories the students had written, particularly one about a shep (a magical sheep, in case you’re not up on your fantastic beasts lexicon) named Toasterhead who wants to be transformed…into a waffle. By a monkey witch doctor.

AM was deeply disturbed by this tale. What does it say about me that I was charmed by it?

It was clear, that evening exploring the inner workings of a first grader’s imagination, that the human mind is capable of both creating wonder that opens our minds, and horror that causes our palms to sweat. The latter applies to our latest read, which struck at our deepest fears so effectively that some of us couldn’t finish the book.

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Emily St. John Mandel’s thrilling and freaky apocalyptic tale Station Eleven shows the reader what could happen to our humanity if the human race were to go extinct. Alternating timelines take us into the lives of an aging actor, his first wife, his best friend, a paparazzo-turned-paramedic, and a child actor before and after the deadly Georgian Flu outbreak. As they cope with personal and global fallout, each questions their past and what they’ve left behind, and what future they want to create for themselves. When a meglomaniac prophet begins wreaking havoc on the new world, those left must fight to preserve the fragile order that has been constructed. Although, I’m gonna say: regardless of whether 99% of the population has been killed by the worst cold, it is never okay for kids to start reading from the Book of Revelations. That’s some serious M. Night Shyamalan shit. Although I guess you could say the same thing about sheep becoming waffles.

All this talk of the world ending naturally led to a discussion of our own short time on this Earth. For reasons unknown, DR is convinced she’s getting offed first and has tasked each of us with very specific plans for her burial. This plan is complicated (think Viking funeral and you’re halfway here). I can think of no better way to celebrate her legacy.

But before we get there, we have to prepare ourselves for an equally dramatic event: swimsuit season. It’s been a brutal winter, I think we can all agree. And we’ve eaten a lot of mac and cheese to get through. It’s understandable. We don’t regret what we did. But because we live in a world where having a swimsuit body doesn’t mean having a body to put a swimsuit on, we need to figure out how to create a third stomach for mac and cheese (everyone knows you have a second stomach for dessert). Or burn down the patriarchy. We like Option 2 better.

What else is new with the Drinking Club, aside from finalizing our wills and stocking up on nonperishables?

  • AM got a promotion (finally) and MV found new employment (yaaaas).
  • I’m convinced it would be easier to find Carmen Sandiego than figure out where in the 50 states DD and MM are currently working, kicking ass and taking names.
  • AM and LL are heading to Iceland and Ireland this month. Here’s hoping they bring back Ryan Merriman.
  • DR will be exploring the beauty of the National Parks soon, and she’ll come back refreshed and tanned because of course she’s not going to die on a hike, like she keeps saying she will.

 

And now, we’re going to continue with our lives and not imagine the world ending when someone sneezes.

Until next time,

EV

The Club Takes A Vow Of Silence

I have a newfound appreciation for the monks who take a vow of silence. They understand what is essential to spiritual well-being. Especially the ones that brew beer.

Let me back up a bit.

A few weeks ago, I was answering work emails in a bland New Mexico hotel room when the text below came in from AM:

“Can we also set up a date where we just read and make tea and hot chocolate and don’t even have to speak but just existing in reading in the same room? This is my dream.”

Same, AM. Same.

As any self-respecting millennial would do, we let the plan sit, like that pad thai from lunch two weeks ago that we thought we would eat later. Then we thought we would be fancy and rent one of those igloos planted in the winter wonderland of Bryant Park, until we realized we’re not fancy at all. Then we discovered the Silent Book Club. Two hours of reading in quiet companionship, with minimal socializing? How had we not heard of this before?

The next meetup would take place at Jadis, which you may recall from a previous post (we won’t remind you of what has happened on those wine bar couches). We met outside the bar shortly after the start of the event, afraid to enter the Den of the Introverts alone. After acquiring our Cotes du Rhone, we made our way to the back lounge, where a few groups were already congregated. Our only clue to which group we belonged were the stray paperbacks on the glass coffee table.

After standing behind them like two dopes, trying to make eye contact with someone, we awkwardly introduced ourselves and squeezed in on the wooden bench (not nearly as comfortable, but probably safer than the couch). And then: we read. For 60 uninterrupted minutes.

When was the last time you had 60 uninterrupted minutes to read? Where you weren’t drawn away from the page by the beguiling ding of a Snapchat notification, or the voice of your mother in your head, reminding you of all the responsibilities you’re avoiding by reading? This was bliss. We sat, enjoying our reads (AM with Catch-22, me with the next Martha Hall Kelly book), savoring our wine, embracing the time we had, knowing real life was but minutes away. I have to agree with AM–the bench was not the ideal reading spot–but the experience was emotionally restorative. Even if we were both momentarily distracted by the reader sitting next to us, arguing with the server about the bar’s credit card minimum.

We’re both eager to attend again, and we just might be on time to get a good seat.

 

E