Thursday, November 10, 2011

NOVEMBER 2011 BOOKERS MINUTES - Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

    “A whistling woman and a crowing hen never comes to a very good end.”
                                  (Southern for - be who you are)

23 Bookers and one honorary guest met at the home of Lorene O’Neil to discuss Mark Childress’ novel, Georgia Bottoms.  Mary Jacob and Pam Parks, dressed in character, acted out the book, and led the question and answer session following their wonderful performances.  Many thanks to Mary and Pam for bringing the book to life for us and to their director, Bernie Crudden, for her theatrical contributions.  Rumor has it they are searching for a “Georgia” for the movie version.  Pam might consider leaving San Antonio in the rearview mirror and heading to the Hollywood hills. 

MN is in Alabama finalizing everything at the beach house and we can now happily report they have moved into their little “cottage.”  Sadly, her 92 year-old mother-in-law, Dickie, has suffered a stroke and is critically ill.  For those of you who have been fortunate to meet this genteel southern lady, it won’t surprise you to learn she wanted to make sure her standing hair appointment was cancelled since she was hospitalized.  She is forever a radiant sight in the midst of a drizzling rain.  Please keep the Stanky family in your thoughts and prayers.

Mark Childress is the author of seven novels and three children’s picture books.  Born in Monroeville, Alabama (also the home of Harper Lee) and a graduate of the University of Alabama (Roll Tide), he currently lives in Key West, Florida.  The title character of his latest book tells the story of Georgia Bottoms, Six Points Alabama’s “finest feature.  She is beautiful, worldly, a splendid cook and a faithful churchgoer who cares for her aged mother and sells handmade quilts to her neighbors while leading a secret and rather fruitful life.”  Some reviewers have classified the book as a “light romp” to which he replies: “I guess on one level it is a comedy…but there’s also some really very serious stuff going on in her life…somehow comedy makes the sad parts sadder…it has provoked a lot of discussion in book clubs…it’s nice when people argue about it.”  Georgia might not meet the classic definition of a Southern belle – pampered, coy, willful, selfish, totally dependent on the men in her life, and whose purpose of getting an education was to prepare for an advantageous marriage…she was not named after the flowers of the south, like Rose Ann, Violet Ann, or Iris Ann or Martha after the descendents of Thomas Jefferson…she was just born too late for the antebellum era.

There is an old southern statement that “every dog should have a few fleas” and Georgia with her unfiltered approach to life typifies this saying.  Our two-gal show opened with Mary donning an ant-hat assuming the role of the hostess of the “Ant Connection,” Ms. Ellen DeGenerants.  Today’s special guest was Georgia Bottoms because she patterned her life after ant behavior.  Ants work together for the good of the species…they don’t mind being a speck among millions; the strong help the weak, and when the crumb falls it is how the world goes round and you have to find a way to overcome life’s circumstances.

Pam in pearls, a yellow linen dress and matching pointy shoes called on her best southern drawl to tell us Georgia’s life story.  She lives in Six Points with Little Mama, who blames Rosa Parks for everything wrong in the world, her idiot brother, Brother, who spends most of his life as a convict, and their dog, Wizzy.  She attends the First Baptist Church every Sunday, sitting in the family pew, carrying on the traditions set forth by her grandmother, Big Sue.  Georgia is single, 34 years old, and the sole support of her family holding down two jobs, neither of which are “above board.”  She buys quilts from a group of black ladies, sells them as her own for a very tidy profit and in the evenings secretly indulges the fantasies of six local male pillars of the community.  They don’t insult her with payment for services, but offer a “little gift” for the entertainment.  Her private world was about to come to a screeching halt when one of her “callers,” the Reverend Eugene, decided to make a full confession of his sins in front of God, his family, and the congregation of the First Baptist Church.  Georgia did the only thing a good southern girl could do – faint.  Georgia’s claim to fame was her annual September ladies’ luncheon, set with lavish decorations and a menu that included Miss Angie’s Five-Layer English Pea Salad, Lobster Scallion Shooters, Taco Cheesecakes, Curried Chicken Salad with grapes and candied pecans, Fresh Mountain Apple Jell-O compote, Endive boats with cranberry ambrosia cream cheese spread, Pizzetta Bruschetta, and Coca-Cola Cake.  It was the most sought after invitation in Six Points.  Unfortunately for Georgia Osama bin Laden decided to blow up New York and the Pentagon on the very day of this occasion.  If matters couldn’t get worse, her black illegitimate son from New Orleans showed up at her door, a new preacher arrived to the delight of Georgia, but turned out to be a mole who tried to blackmail her…the life she had built for herself was crumbling and she did the only thing a good southern girl could do – confess and name names.  “Yes, I am a sinner, but let me you one thing…I am not a hypocrite.” Heeding another old southern adage, “the sun don't shine on the same dog's tail all the time,” she knew her hometown and herself had received their comeuppance.  The gang all piled into the car and headed to New Orleans, and just as they crossed the bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, it appeared everyone was evacuating the city.  Georgia thinks they are just making room for her…she smiles to her new life as she heads into Hurricane Katrina.

Ellen DeGenerants thanks Georgia for sharing her very interesting story and comments that she seems to have been on a spiritual search…at the beginning being certain there is no God, but her whole life has been leading her in a different direction.  “The hard shell that you put up to protect yourself has crumbled away, and as you have told us you are completely different person than even you thought.  Your world has really been shaken up by a giant cosmic foot kicking the ant hill of humanity.”

Mary and Pam take a bow… and thanks for all your hard work, preparation, and bringing some sunshine and laughter into our lives.  Also, Pam e-mailed the author and he was delighted we were not only discussing his book, but also putting on a production in its honor.

This was a fun spirited book, and we all agree, not a literary giant, but in MN’s words, “very satirical, lots of play on words…liked his writing style…a different kind of read,” which generated lively conversation and offered an element of surprise at each turn of plot.  We generally felt Georgia was justified in her reaction to the events of 9-11…life goes on.  We asked why Georgia never became involved with her suitors and concluded it was because she saw her “evening business” as a job…a means to an end and nothing more.  And, we wondered what life Georgia will make for herself when she reaches New Orleans…she might call upon another truism: “Southerners can never resist a losing cause,”…maybe she will be overseeing the distribution of double-wide trailer homes for FEMA.

            On the business side:

News from posted on their website today is the announcement of the inclusion of a Kindle Lending Library to their Amazon Prime Membership for no extra fee.  You may borrow a book a month with no due dates if you are a member of Amazon Prime, which costs $79.00 per year and includes free two-day shipping on any orders.  If you are not a member of Amazon Prime, they are offering a one-month trial.  More information is available on their site…it sounds like a great deal for Kindle owners and a great incentive for prospective customers.  Thanks to Kay Robinson for bringing this to my attention.

We decided to begin our holiday party and meeting at 9:30 AM instead of 10:00 AM.  Food and beverages will be served first, followed by the review and discussion of A Week in Winter. Bonnie Magee has again graciously agreed to be our food czar and will be coordinating this very soon via e-mail.

Bernie, who is on the Pinnacle Women’s Club Christmas Party committee, is in charge of gathering 100 silver charger plates.  Once again, Bookers rose to the occasion and it seems she will meet her quota, however, if you have any to loan, please contact Bernie directly. 


                                    WHITE:                       LIGHT READ
                                    PINK:                          MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                    RED:                            CHALLENGING

December 13th:            Holiday Party & Meeting, 9:30 AM
                                    A Week in Winter by Marcia Willett
                                    Recommended by Bernie Crudden, MN & JoDee
                                    Home of Jean Alexander, co-hosted by Bernie Crudden
                                    Reviewer: Janet Noblitt
                                    Bonnie Magee, Food Czar

January 10th:                 The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
Note change:              Home of Bonnie Magee, co-hosted by Patty Evans
                                    Reviewer: Beverly Dossett

February 14th:               The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
                                    Home of Daryl Daniels, co-hosted by Janet Noblitt
                                    Reviewer: Patty Evans

March 13th:                  Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
                                    Recommended by Beverly Dossett, Lee Durso, Alison Crawford,
                                    Jane Freer, Melanie Prebis, Jean McSpadden
                                    Home of Lee Durso, co-hosted by Kay Robinson
                                    Reviewer: Lee Durso

April 10th:                     Book to be announced
                                    Home of Donna Walter, co-hosted by Charlotte Pechacek
                                    Reviewers: MN & JoDee

May 8th:                       5th Annual Wine & Cheese Evening Meeting, 6:00 PM
                                    Home of Melanie Prebis, co-hosted by Linsey Garwacki
                                    Book (or not) to be determined

June 12th:                      Bonus meeting to be announced.

                                 Can you name the smartest state in the United States?

                                               ALABAMA – 4 A’s and 1 B

Well, shut my mouth,

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