Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mahana, you ugly

Ten years ago I would have been too cool for this book club. Back then I was sassy, savvy, opinionated and passionate. I inwardly rolled my eyes at things other people said or liked or did because they were too boring/conformist/ignorant/bourgeois/elitist/racist/judgmental/materialistic/ uninteresting/sappy to make a connection with me. I would have been bored to tears by the discussion of this book: How important are friends to women and to their growth in life? Are you a ten-cow wife? Does life get better as we age? Pul-lease!! Gag me with a pre-printed list of book-club discussion questions. I would have found a way to disassociate my book discussing habits from this collective group of womanly "them." You know, "them," like the "them" that eagerly read every word of every nightly 50-page assignment in high school AP history, and eagerly answered every question while "us" sat in the distant corner and wrote limericks and made up new languages and laughed. "Us" and "them," like the Pink Floyd song. Er, well, I just read the lyrics to that song and I don't know if it means exactly what I'm talking about, but the title really works for how I would have felt about this book club ten years ago.

Today, I am a changed girl. I mostly really like this book club and am only slightly irritated that this month's selection was so obviously written in half a day. That it was written specifically for Mormon women LDS book clubs. That it had no depth. No character or plot development. That no one today wanted to discuss whatever trace of literary element there may have been, but rather chose to stick to those horrid discussion points: If fairies could bestow gifts, what gifts would you wish for your children? Which are easier to raise--boys or girls?

What I did enjoy was the company, at least one of whom is on my list of favorite people and others who are becoming lovely friends. The lunch was a treat: decked out baked potato bar, roll, salad, and chocolate cake with my beverage of choice, water. Getting out without the kids--always fun. Having a reason to make myself read is great. Looking forward to future book selections with more substance, exciting. And it was interesting to listen to how this book actually impacted at least one woman significantly (impact on me: very, very low) as it helped her come closer to terms with her inability to reproduce and the disappointment her two adopted children have become.

So, all in all, my experience of reading this book and attending our book club meeting was a few hours well spent. Here's the book:

Don't read it. It's really lame. But if you do, and afterward want to discuss if friends should always be absolutely honest with each other or what children with challenges bring to a family, I'll only roll my eyes a little. I think I've mellowed and am ever-so-gradually becoming one of "them." And I'm cool with that.

Unrelated post script: Will diana or ahc or someone smart please tell me what to do with commas and quotation marks? I get so confused.

13 comments:

emily said...

sometimes i wonder if i am a broken mom who refuses to grow up and "enjoy" these silly things. hopefully the fact that i am so odd will help me raise interesting children...

ahc said...

Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation mark in conventional American usage.(If you lived in the UK, the rules for commas in quotes are different.) The way you wrote "them" with the comma after the quote is actually on par for British English, but in the U.S. you should have your comma inside the quote. Other than that picky little detail, your writing is grammatically correct and a pleasure to read!

p.s. As you may have guessed, I was one of "them." I think I still am. . .

Emily said...

"Them" were only bad when they irritated me. I would have always adored you, ahc, even in high school AP HIstory.

amyjune said...

This is a tangent, but our old stake president served his mission somewhere in the Pacific Islands and when he returned, married, and had children, he named one of his daughters Mahana. Of course she was born before the the Johnny LIngo. Can you imagine growing up with that name post Johnny Lingo.
At least you have a book club to attend. I'm trying to get one started in my area but as of now it's just me and a friend.

ahc said...

Amyjune, maybe we should start on online book club! I'm sure Emily and Suzie would join in!

Suzie Petunia said...

Sign me up! As for your questions regarding punctuation, I have a book you should read: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. It is entertaining as much as it is educational. Not really a book club-type book, though. Has everyone read The Alchemist yet?? Honestly... sitting here thinking about having you all congregate in my soon-to-be decorated living room (am I obsessing about that?...) and chatting about The Alchemist over hot cocoa and cookies sounds like a little slice of heaven. When do you want to come?

neil and diana said...

Dennis gave me that book at Christmas. It's good but grating because it's written with British style (refer to ahc's post), so even while Truss is getting on a punctuation soapbox you want to scream "NOOOOOO!!!!! YOUR "PERFECT" USE OF APOSTROPHES IS MAKING MY YANKEE BLOOD CURDLE!" I think your meditation on the transition from us to them is lovely, but I think it's more like recognizing the us characteristics in certain members of them. So it's more like them to us. Because you will never be them.

amyjune said...

To answer your question Suzie, I am waiting to read it until I can find it in Portuguese. But don't worry I will read it.

ahc said...

Suzie, I liked Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. She has a second book out now called Talk to the Hand (or something similar) all about manners (well, mostly about the LOSS of good manners). I haven't read it, but it's on my list. . . along with The Alchemist and a million other books. So little time to read lately!

Steve said...

When I've published my first sci-fi Mormon novel, will you have the ladies at your book club read it?

Elinor said...

Hi Emily, I've been thinking a lot about your reaction to the latest Joni Hilton book. Small world--Joni actually was a very naughty obnoxious teen who lived in our ward, and was very MEAN to Kathy. Kathy just found frineds outside the ward and continued active, despite Joni and her tribe of real pains. Most turned out okay, but they completely drove at least 2 of their group in the ward totally out of the church. I expect her brainless writing is an attempt to quell her conscience, except at nearing 50 (I'm 70!) she's likely lived so many lives she's immune to conscience from that era. She moved to California and eventually became MISS CALIFORNIA. She was adopted and the only child after her sibling sister died in Oregon when a rock slide killed her and her runaway friend. This is a real harsh review of the person, not just her nonsensical writing but she's on at least her 3rd marriage. Her first wedding announcement was a 5-photo item, with the centerfold showing a young Joni riding piggyback on her gray-haired husband's back on the beach. (a doctor, it specifically said) It was so appalling we gave it to Bruce & Maargaret for his printing business way back when he was still in Provo and it was used for a "very bad taste" example. I think her name then was Wynn or Johnson, and when she showed up on New Year's Day as the commentator on the Rose Bowl parade it was all we could do to keep the station on. My mean spirit continues. She kept putting down her male commentator, with a Holier Than Thou and I'm really good to just endure this (Big dollars involved?) I kept hoping she wouldn't mention the name of the church she claimed. Oh well. As a teen she and the rest of her tribe got up and moved when our Kathy sat down for Sunday School, in a very obvious shunning moment. I taught their MIA class once and they cackled like chickens the whole time. Since I'd gone fasting, it finally got better when I told them they were going to be held accountable for all they drove out of the church, and at least one of that group later told me I'd made a difference. My problem is I've lived too long, but not long enough to like dear Joni. Her editor at Covenant Books thinks the sun rises and sets with her. Which is why I haven't submitted (nor won't until there is a new editor, and that already may be.) I'd like to get your comments on my expose. Send it to my Grandma Hyde site when you've got a minute. Love your writing. You are really literary.

Also I'm reading Eats, Shoots and Leavses and find it hilarious, as well as helpful.

For Bookclubs" Ever ready any of Josi Kilpack's books? A lot to think about there. In once she has a character who has to assume a new identity to escape an abusive husband. Or how about Jennie Hansen? I have met both. Jennie has lived a lot of places and her latest one "The Bracelet" is set near Idaho Falls. I bought her book but haven't read it.

Another fun LDS author is Michele Ashman Bell. I say fun because she's got a lot of personality. G

Elinor said...

Thanks for your comment on my review of Joni and her books. I posted a reply on my Grandma Hyde site. Guess I was pretty harsh but some people really have the ability to make me angry at who they have become, despite who they are. Don't know if she had kids. I always felt sorry for her mother. Her father (these are her adopted parents0 was a stange man, a socialogist who taught our Sunday School class for a while and liked to bring up strange subjects each week. I absolutely refused to attend after a while but Alan always went so he could counter the topic (The Best writers in America write for Playboy, etc. as he shared what was in the latest edition and when Alan asked if that was a good magazine for good Latter day Saints to read. Maybe Joni came by her GREATNESS by osmosis, or maybe she was striking back as an abused child? Nuff said. I guess I should just repent and feel sorry for her, or maybe it is professional jealousy that makes me upset that people actually read her stuff and think it's funny. PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMILY. Over the Hill at 30 means you pick up speed and soon lead all the rest. Hooray for you.

Elinor said...

Thanks for your comment on my review of Joni and her books. I posted a reply on my Grandma Hyde site. Guess I was pretty harsh but some people really have the ability to make me angry at who they have become, despite who they are. Don't know if she had kids. I always felt sorry for her mother. Her father (these are her adopted parents0 was a stange man, a socialogist who taught our Sunday School class for a while and liked to bring up strange subjects each week. I absolutely refused to attend after a while but Alan always went so he could counter the topic (The Best writers in America write for Playboy, etc. as he shared what was in the latest edition and when Alan asked if that was a good magazine for good Latter day Saints to read. Maybe Joni came by her GREATNESS by osmosis, or maybe she was striking back as an abused child? Nuff said. I guess I should just repent and feel sorry for her, or maybe it is professional jealousy that makes me upset that people actually read her stuff and think it's funny. PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMILY. Over the Hill at 30 means you pick up speed and soon lead all the rest. Hooray for you.