Monday, May 16, 2011

The Stone Diaries & a New Book Group

I joined a new book group this week.
Actually I invited myself - SO not like me!
You see, I met the neatest person while I waited 6 hours for a plane.
We had lots in common, knew some of the same people, and she made
the big world we live in, feel small and welcoming.
I loved her!!
Wow, it was like spirit talking to spirit.
She was reading a book that I asked about, which led to talking about more book titles,
and before you know it
I was asking about her book group and I did it....
I invited myself to visit her book group!!
She was so welcoming and said, "of course."
(She's nice that way;))

Well the big day came.
I read the whole book,
underlined important parts,
and looked up about a bajillion new words!!

The whole evening was fantastic.
This group really talks books.
Consensus: We are confused.
Did we like it? Love it? Hate it? Tolerate it?
I finally think we came up with the idea that we "wondered" about it.

Here are some of our thoughts:

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields presents itself as a mix of autobiography, biography, and historical memoir and contains as well a compilation of papers and family photos which claim to belong to or be relevant to the protagonist. The Stone Diaries tells the story of Daisy Goodwill Flett, her birth, childhood, courtship, marriage, motherhood and finally death. It is the story of an ordinary woman's life, told in an unusual combination of shifting first- and third-person points of view. Daisy Goodwill Flett is both the narrator and the subject of her life's story. (This was an interesting device as even Daisy says she can't always tell the truth.) Daisy, is " a middle-class woman, a woman of moderate intelligence and medium-sized ego and average good luck." In other words, she is an every-woman "so much like all other women that her story would seem barely worth remarking about except perhaps for her determination to tell it." (Penguin Putnam Reading Guide)

The pacing was all over the place – or maybe I was all over the place. I was at times eager to read on and at others wishing the book would just end already. Several of us thought there were weird side notes and blatant talk about sex that seemed to come out of nowhere. It was typically so random and odd. Yet, all of my complaints aside, I felt riveted by the prose and the thoughts. Twists of phrases twirled in my mind long after I had read them.

"He has entered his baroque period."

"When we think of the past we tend to assume that people were simpler in their functions....We take for granted that our fore bearers were imbued with a deeper purity of purpose than we possess nowadays, and a more singular set of mind...But none of this is true. Those who went before us were every bit as wayward and unaccountable and unsteady in their longings as people are today"

"it was as though she had veered accidentally into her own life"

Sometimes life is like..." a thousand little disappointments raining down on top of each other."

"...why wouldn't she love it, this exquisite wounding, the salt of perfect pain?"

In old age "...we are always dampening down our inner weather, permitting ourselves the comforts of postponement, of rehearsals."

I learned lots of new words... dithyrambic (my personal favorite)

and a great phrase..."full of ginger and fizz"!!

Our discussion was interesting as well when we approached how we see our own lives. Others experience it as well and may hold an entirely different version. (Yes, my own sister and I - same parents and only 18 months apart in age - see much of our growing up very differently!)
As we also have different people who intersect our lives
(spouses, siblings, parents, friends)
does our "life" really belong to us alone?
Are the stories our own? Are they shared?
The discussion was fabulous!

But we still wondered.
We wondered what the criteria to become a Pulitzer Prize consists of.
We wondered what the other contenders were like.
We wondered if we liked the book.

I loved the learning and the sense of belonging with some new friends.
How fantastic to bond - even better to bond over books!

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