Thursday, June 30, 2011

It was not a wonderful, wonderful book,
 but it was a wonderful, wonderful night.
Un Giorno: my first Book Club meeting
One day I went to the English Book Club Meeting at the Hotel Universo and we had to read One Day by David Nicholls. It started out great, the book I mean. Like the newbie that I am, I eagerly downloaded it from Amazon.com and started reading, happy that it fit my winnie-the-pooh criteria of being a story that ostensibly could be about me. But I then started hating it and had to force myself to finish.

For several days I tried to think of positive things I could say about the book which is a manipulative saga about a relationship as it evolves over the years between a real wanker of a good looking English guy with holes where his soul should have been and a less posh girl with self esteem issues who makes horrible, masochistic choices, but not in the extreme way that I did at that age, and then gets killed off three quarters of the way through. Oh sorry, little spoiler alert there.

Anyway, a whopping twenty five people came to this Book Club meeting and so I felt a little intimidated, a feeling which should have made me quieter than usual and more reserved, but, sadly, it did not. We had to go around the table and introduce ourselves and I said something incomprehensible about middle school and fleas, you know my life, and I forgot to say where I was from. Good start. I mean all we had to say was our names and where we were from and why we were there. How did I mess that up? Other people were adorable and a bunch of them had the kind of English accent that makes you love them instantly. But I am from Flushing, Queens so mostly I have always started out from the position: Gosh, I hope people will be kind and overlook stuff.

The one time I had got a small role in a school play, I developed what I like to call an Elvis twitch whereby my upper lip curled and uncurled on its own accord and I had to cover my face with my hair for the rest of the play. While I prayed that Elvis had left the building, and hoped someone would pass the wine, I tried to remember this whole theory I had come up with based on this thing the Tommy Hilfiger twins gave me called the Celestine Prophecy so that I could say something about the book. In essence it was supposed to be this:

"Childhood traumas block our ability to fully experience the mystical. All humans, because of their upbringing, tend toward one of four control dramas:
  • Intimidators steal energy from others by threat.
  • Interrogators steal it by judging and questioning.
  • Aloof people attract attention (and energy) to themselves by playing coy.
  • Poor me's make us feel guilty and responsible for them.
Become aware of the family dynamics that created your control drama and you can focus on your essential question, which is how to make of your life a higher- level synthesis of your parents' lives".

I figured if nothing else I could understand the novel based on how the protagonists' family problems made them become a wanker and a door-mat. But I forgot the fourth out of the four dramas and the people who loved the book were understandably a bit taken back by my whole hatred of it. Luckily my side of the table did not, overall, like the book. I think of those wry, dark, twinkly eyed pessimists as My People.  In the end on a score from one to ten, people gave the book a 6. I gave it a 3. A bunch of happy people on the other side of the table gave it 8s and 9s.  They had cute accents mostly.

The book for August is Like Water for Chocolate and I figure I can redeem myself by taking the suggestion of making one of the recipes from the book and bringing the dish to the next meeting. SIgh! So in summary, not only do all of the expats in Lucca speak better Italian than I; they speak better English too.

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