There is one major thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and that’s language.
18 met at the home of Melba Holt to discuss this month’s selection led by Beverly Dossett. Many thanks to Melba for her hospitality and to Beverly for her insights into this novel. Most of our group read and liked the story, although a few admitted reluctances to read a book about a family living in a temporary hut inside a municipal dump in Cambodia where residents build a life from what others throw away. The setting is shortly after the decline of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970’s. The regime claimed the lives of two million people as their Marxist leader mandated the population to return to communal farms creating an agrarian utopia, killing those of intellect, some who wore glasses, and spoke a foreign language.
The Rent Collector is fiction, although the inspiration for the book came from the author’s son who produced a documentary film, “River of Victory.” Sang Ly, her husband, and their very ill infant make their home in a filthy and dangerous environment, similar to a gang dominant ghetto. Surprisingly the message throughout the novel is one of hope, determination, and redemption. Sang Ly is convinced for her son to have a chance at a better life, the key is learning to read, although it won’t heal his body, but reading will give him something to look forward to, a reason to fight, and fill him with courage. The person rising up to the task is none other than the old, crotchety, often tipsy landlord referred to as the Cow who was a college literature teacher before she was a rent collector. You might ask how this educated person ends up in the dump. You’ll have to read this well-written, poignant story to find out.
The role of literature in the novel is universal in that, to understand it, you must read it with your head, but interpret it with your heart. Literature always includes a telling lesson with words linked together with emotion and purpose. It gives us somewhere to go when we must stay where we are. Education brings us to an understanding of our place in the world… “we are literature…our lives, our hopes, our desire, our despairs, our passions, our strengths, and weaknesses.”
Those present today deserve a gold star for their insightful comments, shared stories, questions, and answers. We defined what hope means to us; talked about the role of luck in our lives; who might have been “Lucky Fat’s” benefactor; the significance of a broken clock; shelters, both literally and figuratively; the threat of change; dreams; and the significance of the reading of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Phoenix Bird.
The ones who were unable to make the meeting missed the reason Bookers is still going strong after fifteen-years.
On the business side:
Our “crack” committee is still reading selections for the three slots we have yet to fill. We’ll keep you posted.
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE: LIGHT READ
PINK: MODERATELY CHALLENGING
November 13: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Published in 1989, it tells the story of two best friends growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Discussion Leader: Melanie Prebis
Home of Katherine Maxwell-McDonald
December 11: Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Charming and poignant about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written.
Discussion Leader: Rebecca Brisendine
Home of Bonnie Magee
Jan. 8, 2019: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Set in Alaska in 1974. The ultimate test of survival for a family in crisis.
Discussion Leader: Patty Evans
Home of Daryl Daniels
February 12: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
Set in 1917 England and based on a true story, two young cousins somehow convince the world that the magic exists.
Discussion Leader: Daryl Daniels
Home of Beverly Dossett
March 12: Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles
Set in East Texas during the depression, a story of hardship, sacrifice, and strength.
Discussion Leader: Ann Ireland
Home of Mary Wensel
April 9: Book TBD
Home of Jane Shaw
May 14: Book TBD
Evening Wine & Cheese Meeting @ home of Jean Alexander
Summer Read: Book TBD
“The most difficult battles in life are those we fight within.” Buddha