Saturday, May 21, 2011

BOOKTALK at Fresh Grounds -- April 27th Books set in the 60's

Our Book Club met at Fresh Grounds, our local coffee shop, on
April 27th to discuss our selection of the month -- books set in the 60's. We each read a different book and this is how our booktalk went:


Stella read "Couples" by John Updike and said that she just couldn't get into it. Couples were changing partners, etc. and that isn't her style of book. This is what it said on Goodreads: Couples is the book that has been assailed for its complete frankness and praised as an artful, seductive, savagely graphic portrait of love, marriage, and adultery in America. I can see why Stella didn't like it.

Betty read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. She really liked it and said it went faster than several of the books she has read lately which meant it was good! Lily's mother died when she was 4 and her father was very strict. He used to make her kneel on grits if she did anything wrong. She had a nanny named Rosaleen, a black woman. Rosaleen was very excited when President Johnson passed a law giving blacks the right to vote. She and Lily walked downtown so Rosaleen could register, but on the way they ran into 3 white men who beat her up. Rosaleen got arrested and ended up in the hospital because she "fell". Lily went to see her and decided she was going to run away and she was taking Rosaleen with her. Lily's mother had had a picture of a black Madonna which was from a jar of honey. Lily and Rosaleen decided to try to find the place where the honey came from, so they left. When they got to the farm, they met May, June & August -- three women who lived there. Rosaleen and Lily decided to stay for a while. Every night, they all knelt down in the living room in front of the black Madonna and said the Rosary. Eventually, Lily's father figured out where she was and he came to get her. She decided to stay with the women because they showed her what love was and her father had no idea of what that meant.

Linda read "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman. Linda especially liked this book because it takes place in Savannah, GA, where she lived from 2003 - 2005. CeeCee Honeycutt was a young girl whose mother was mentally challenged. CeeCee tried to take care of her, but when she got to be around 12 years old, she began to be embarrassed by the things she did. The people in their town knew about the woman's condition, but they made fun of her anyway. One day, when her mother was out walking, she got hit by an ice cream truck and died. CeeCee's father didn't know what to do with her and left her on her own. Her only friend was an elderly neighbor. However, her aunt came from Savannah to take CeeCee home with her. Most of the book was about the little girl learning to live in Savannah. Her aunt had a black cook who took a liking to the little girl. The cook couldn't read, so CeeCee shared her books with her and the cook shared her life experience with CeeCee. All the characters in the book were women and several had eccentricities that were amusing. Linda says that there was still a definite division between races when she lived in Savannah in 2003-2005, so she can imagine what it would have been like in the 1960's. She said when she finished the book, she wished there were a sequel to show how CeeCee grew up after those experiences.

Pat read something that was very different from the books she usually reads:

"Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows" by Rod McKuen.

It is a book of poetry. She shared her favorite poem from the book -- "Thoughts on Capital Punishment". Here it is for you:

Thoughts on Capital Punishment by Rod McKuen

There ought to be capital punishment for cars
that run over rabbits and drive into dogs
and commit the unspeakable, unpardonable crime
of killing a kitty cat still in his prime.

Purgatory, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Those hurrying headlights coming out of the dark
that scatter the scampering squirrels in the park
should await the best jury that one might compose
of fatherless chipmunks and husbandless does.

And then found guilty, after too fair a trial
should be caged in a cage with a hyena’s smile
or maybe an elephant with an elephant gun
should shoot out his eyes when the verdict is done.

There ought to be something, something that’s fair
to avenge Mrs. Badger as she waits in her lair
for her husband who lies with his guts spilling out
cause he didn’t know what automobiles are about.

Hell on the highway, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Who kills a man kills a bit of himself
But a cat too is an extension of God.

We thought it was outstanding!

World of Pies by Karen Stolz

First-time novelist Karen Stolz has created a cozy, poignant and exquisitely written episodic tale of family, food, and love. Set in a small town in Texas in the 1960's, where "there wasn't a lot to pick from, summer-wise: counter-girl at Jerry's Dairy King, shampoo girl at Barb's Tint n' Clip; the maid job at the Bluebonnet Motel," a young girl named Roxanne comes of age.

I wanted to read this book because it looked fun! It was on a list I found of books whose story took place in the 60’s and the author of the list said it was her favorite. This book just begins in the 60’s. Each chapter deals with a different social issue. The first one is about equality. Roxanne’s father thought up the idea of a Pie Fair to attract people to their little town of Annette, Texas. Her mother played bridge with a number of ladies in the town. One of them was planning to enter a pie made by a colored woman, Mary Ellis, who did her cooking. Roxanne’s mother said that shouldn’t be allowed – that each woman should bake her own pie -- and her husband eventually backed her up, but she was ostracized from the bridge club that summer.

The following chapters follow Roxanne through her life and stops at eventful periods to give us a taste of how it is. I liked it because I remember some of the things that were happening. I grew up in the 60's too. Roxanne would have been a little older than I, but not much. The story tells how it was to live in a small town, but the things they were dealing with could have happened anywhere -- racism, old flames coming for a visit, the assassination of President Kennedy, the war in Vietnam and its affect on those who fought it, homosexuality, losing a parent, getting married, deciding whether to have children, aging parents...this book dealt with everything! And it was entertaining while doing it. Roxanne discovers that women can hold jobs she never imagined, that her father would do anything for her mother – even take swimming lessons with children, and all the relationships she formed with co-workers and friends. The author sent one of the characters, Roxanne’s cousin, to Vietnam to return a broken man with typical postwar issues who wanders through life for a while escaping through drugs and alcohol until Roxanne convinces him to get help. Later in the story he takes over her father’s business in Annette, gets married and settles down.

The book was very easy to read because the language the author uses just flows along. Granted it is a short book, but even a short book can be boring. This one wasn’t. I really felt as though I was there in Annette, Texas experiencing the things that Roxanne was experiencing. It is a typical coming-of-age story, but I could relate to it. Even though I never experienced some of the things Roxanne did, I could have – I knew others who did. The author wraps up the story really well. There are no questions about what happened to this one or that one. The book was satisfying and I enjoyed it.

Thanks for checking out our Booktalk! Our May selection is Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, we agreed to read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson for June, and we are reading a "cat mystery" for July!

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool that you all read different books on one theme for your book club! I've heard about that but never actually heard from someone who's done it. I'd love to know more aboutt he months when you all do this. How do you discuss the books? Is it more of a review roundup? How do you pick your themes? Cool idea!