Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DECEMBER 2015 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Loneliness deepens when the only comfort you’re afforded is a gentle breeze through an open window in spring after a cold dark winter….then something happens that makes you want to shout over the rooftops rather than whisper under the blankets….

24 Bookers visited the joyful home of Jean Alexander for an Arbor Island Christmas, toasting the season with edibles, drinkables, friends, and devotees of the written word. Many thanks to Bonnie Magee for coordinating the menu and to those who answered the call for food and beverages; to the elves that kept the spirits flowing; and to Lee Alexander and Patsy Dehn for paving the way for our presentation about two widows fighting loneliness and finding a way to fill the void.

New member, Sheri Green, visited for the first time and we hope to see more of her in the future. Also, we all delighted in our special guests making a return appearance, Penny Barshop and Gloria Tucker. Welcome!!

Cherry Fugitt shared the following message encapsulating the fiber of our community, and we would like to dedicate it to those in need of reassurances that you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers and in particular, today as David Barrett, husband of Gloria and brother to Barbara Creach undergoes major surgery.
       “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

After hanging up his valet hat Lee Alexander assumed the role of Chaplain Alexander conducting a celebration of life memorial service to the late author, Alan Kent Haruf who died at seventy-one, days before completing Our Souls at Night. It was a long road to fame as he wrote several novels bringing critical acclaim, but no readers until at age fifty- six he became an “overnight sensation” with Plainsong, bringing awards, praise, readers, and a distinctive writing regimen. Every morning he would sit down at his manual typewriter, pull a cap over his eyes, and “write blind” enabling his creative side to flourish. “I was storytelling, not polishing.” With a fatal diagnosis of incurable lung disease, he called on a muse or spiritual guidance to fuel his desire to leave a final legacy in a notable career. Our Souls at Night, born one chapter at a time, netted a spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring work of art. He desired to be remembered as a person - loving and compassionate toward other people…as a writer, someone who had a small talent but worked the best he could at using that talent.” Mission accomplished Mr. Haruf.

Patsy Dehn narrated a synopsis of the story of a man and a woman, both “up in years” coming together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future. Set in the familiar setting of the small town of Holt, Colorado, home to all of the author’s fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to neighbor, Louis Waters, both widows, living alone in houses empty of family, both enduring lonely nights, especially with no one to talk with. The drama played out in the Alexander’s master bedroom with JoDee in the role of Louis and MN playing Addie narrating their thoughts to tell Mr. Haruf’s story. Addie is in bed pondering how different this arrangement is…hoping it’s a good different, while Louis climbs in on the other side, thinking, he’s either crazy or maybe the luckiest man alive. The script is attached. MN and I hope we’ve conveyed how they felt, their doubts, their fears, the excitement, the pain, and what they discovered as the remedy to loneliness, especially at night.

One of the mainstays of Bookers is how we strive to put ourselves in the shoes of others, and to find a way to bring the book out of the pages and into the forefront of our discussions. We talked about choices – what we might do if given the same ultimatum Addie faced as she only had one child left and only one grandchild. We shared personal stories, hoped for solutions rather than giving into the finality of decisions; we worried about Jamie…how he would react when love disappeared again and he realized he was the bargaining chip for a relationship with his grandmother. We asked how loneliness often makes us do things out of character. Some in the group displayed displeasure of the abrupt ending and frustration that no other options presented themselves for a “happy-ever-after” ending. Maybe the author ran out of time or maybe his ending just mirrors life. Thanks to everyone for being such a good audience. Louis and Addie, MN and JoDee appreciate the time you spent with us!
                                   On the business side

Our tribute (Bookers & Bridge) to Lois Welch is being completed and Patsy Dehn and Jean Alexander will let us know when it is complete and again we appreciate your generosity in funding this project in her honor.

The results of Goodreads “Best of the Year” are in. Winning the fiction category, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman with over thirty thousand votes…and Our Souls at Night, ninth overall with over ten thousand votes! The Nightingale won the historical fiction category overwhelmingly with over fifty-seven thousand votes. We’ve read two out of three!

Note the changes below: We are, with the blessing of Patty Evans, replacing our January selection, The Secret Chord, with another option in order for MN and me to have a chance to read this work of historical fiction. We respect Patty’s opinion and appreciate her consideration to delay this piece to allow us to form our opinion of the choice. We’ve received some very negative comments from another one of our respected readers, so we feel we need to dive into this deeper to see if we are comfortable with the recommendation. We hope you all understand. In January’s slot, we’ve selected the classic, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, first published in 1982, a Pulitzer Prize winner the following year, premiered as a movie in 1985, and is currently playing on Broadway. Written in epistolary form, it is the story of two sisters, one a missionary in Africa, the other a child-wife living in the South, detailing how love transforms and cruelty disfigures the human spirit.
Jean Alexander discovered a conflict with the dates of the February meeting, so we’ve moved her review of Winter Garden to April and have replaced it with The Rosie Project about a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics who decides it’s time he finds a wife and develops a methodical process to find the perfect partner.

Beverly Dossett recommended If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. We’ll be checking it out. Thanks so much.
                               COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                               WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                               PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                               RED:              CHALLENGING

January 12, 2016:                  The Color Purple by Alice Walker                                       
                                                Home of: Rebecca Brisendine
                                                Guest Reviewer: Penny Barshop
February 9th:                         The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
                                                Home of: Daryl Daniels
                                                Reviewer: Kay Robinson
March 8th:                              TBD (Possibly, The Secret Chord)
April 12th:                               Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Home of Kay Robinson
Reviewer: Jean Alexander
May 17th:                                Wine & Cheese evening meeting
                                                Note later date
                                                A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
                                                Home of: Beverly Dossett
                                                Reviewer: Jean McSpadden
Summer Break:                     June, July, & August
                                                Summer Read, TBD
September 13th:                      Beginning of Bookers’ 12th year
Happy Reading,
Louis and Addie will be thinking of you as you turn back the bedcovers, especially at night.

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