Fictional Cinema, 2017: The Christmas Ornament

This year’s ornament was yet another piece of furniture. We have a dining table, a bookshelf, and now a TV for the screening room and sadly a pretty thick one given the size of today’s flat screens. I had to make room enough on the inside for my recording device and I wanted enough room on the top to perch and item or two to represent the gathering. Each of the TVs had a tiny copy of the book on top, some had a teeny tiny version of the quiz, and as an example, mine had a bowl of potatoes for my mostly potato meal for Everything is Illuminated.

The red dot you can see on Jonathan’s hand is the special part of this ornament.

I thought I was going to record one of our favorite quotes from each book but somewhere around the holidays, I went a little crazy and recorded Christmas tunes with lyrics that told part of the story from each book.  When you press the red button mine sings to the tune of Over the River and Through the Woods:  “Everything is Illuminated as we search for Trachimbrod, Grandfather is blind, but he’s driving behind, a woman with boxes of things quite odd.” 

December, 2017: The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

(Book #92) Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia –That may or may not be Polish for Merry Christmas and/ or Happy Holiday of the Holy Birth. We may never know for certain but what we can know with absolute certainty is that Geri is our hostessa bozonarodzeniowa! 

Geri hosted the most wonderful night of the year with generous hospitality,  vodka punch, the delicious meal, which required a translator via cell phone in the market — two kinds of pierogies, kielbasa, zapiekanka, (baguettes with mushrooms and cheese) sauerkraut, pickled herring, beets, pickles and those non Polish olives–AND the flourless chocolate cake cheesecake soufflé pudding for Melissa’s 30th birthday! She makes room for us every year for a December meeting and our cookie exchange extravaganza.

Our discussion of the book started with the notion that the author clearly did her research, and while that may have tempted her to include it all, she was able to write much of it with the spark of fiction. We talked about the  description of the evening during which they had to endure the hunting party and how painful that must have been for persons whose job it was to care for the animals. Another moment that caught our attention late in the book was when two gunshots were heard but not seen. A few of us had seen the movie and felt they had done a fine job with it. I wasn’t one who had seen it which prevented any possibility of a quiz and besides it’s almost Christmas.

A favorite quote: “Suffering took hold of me like a magic spell abolishing all differences between friends and strangers.”

We all have our booklist maps for our 2018 journey across the USA as well as our wackier than ever bookclub Christmas ornaments.

November, 2017: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Finally, my turn to host.

To My Most Premium Friends:
Heritage Touring schemes to make welcome a miniature banquet for friends of our megacorp. The banquet will present itself on Tuesday, the 7 of Novembier at 2120 W Schiller in Odessa. There will be premium entertainment, commotion and extended prizes.  Accommodation for vehicles may be rigid as the neighborhood is contemporary, but labels of designation are not demanded, so it is possible to lodge wherever you see a location appearing blank.
You are not oblongated to come but I perceive you will have premium amusement. Please retaliate if you are able to come into view.  I look ahead to jovial consultation with the total of you.

(Book #91) Because Jonathan is a vegetarian, all he was able to eat on his travels with Alex Perchov  was the potato that typically accompanies the meat.  My meal was all about potatoes. Chris summarized the meal as follows:  “Several of you will be pretty spleened when you find out what you missed: Teresa made a fabulous potato-focused dinner in honor of the “hero’s” vegetarian diet (and there was no meat served on the side that had to be slipped to Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. or any other canine in residence, including one really wacky but adorable  new guy whose name I can’t remember). After little potato tarts, beets and sweets, and carrots and broccoli with sour cream dips, we had a bounty of dishes: a golden beet torta that included the beet greens; a quiche with asparagus and cheese in a sweet potato crust; a wonderful salad with arugula, grape tomatoes, green beans, tiny potatoes, and a delicious vinaigrette (with capers?); and gnocchi with pecorino, pine nuts, and broccoli (or rabe?). It was hard to keep track of all the different vegetables involved here, but no one could decide which was the favorite dish. As usual, Teresa must have been cooking all weekend and all day Monday and Tuesday.”

For dessert I served a chocolate cake recipe that includes, you guessed it, mashed potatoes. Then to ruin all the fun, I handed out the quiz:

Everything is Illuminated QUIZ

1. The movie is structured as a book written by Alex Perchov.  Is this how the book is written?

  1. Yes, this is how the book is written.
  2. No, the book is written from two perspectives: Alex’ narration of Jonathan Safran Foer’s visit to the Ukraine and letters from Alex to Jonathan after the visit is over.
  3. No, the book is written from three perspectives: the two noted in answer B and a folkloric or magical realist tale Foer writes about his grandfather’s shtetl from its beginning to end.
  4. No, the book is written from four perspectives: the three noted in answer C and diary entries from Sammy Davis Jr., Jr.

2. In the movie, Jonathan tells Alex that he is a vegetarian and the waitress brings him one potato on a plate.  Does this happen in the book?

  1. Yes, he gets one potato and that’s his dinner.
  2. Yes, he gets one potato but it falls on the dirty floor.
  3. No, he is told that he can have two potatoes but they come with a piece of meat.  When it arrives he asks Alex to take the meat off his plate. He eats both of the potatoes.
  4. No, he is told that he can have two potatoes but they come with a piece of meat. When it arrives he asks Alex to take the meat off his plate and then Sammy Davis Jr., Jr. humps the table leg and  knocks one of the potatoes to the dirty floor.

3.  In the movie, the woman they find is Augustine’s sister Lista.  Is that true of the book?

  1. Yes, that is true, Lista was Augustine’s older sister.
  2. No, they find Augustine.
  3. Her name is Lista, but the only time we’ve heard that name before is the widow Lista who was one of Safran’s conquests.
  4. c might be the right answer and it may also be true that Lista is actually the “older sister” she describes as having been shot in “her place” killing the baby but allowing for her survival.

4. In the movie we are led to believe that Alex’ grandfather was a Jew, but having survived a mass shooting, he pulled himself out of the tangle of corpses, took off his coat with the star of David sewn on it, and pitched the coat into the trench with the bodies. Is this his back story in the book?

  1. Yes, he was Jewish but walked away from his heritage.
  2. Yes, he was Jewish and secretly still observes his faith.
  3. No, he was not Jewish but had a Jewish friend that he defended even at his own peril.
  4. No, he was not Jewish but identified his friend as Jewish when his own life was threatened.

5. The movie ends with Alex, little Igor, Alex’s mother and father in attendance at the grandfather’s funeral. Is this how it happened in the book?

  1. No, because by the time the grandfather takes his own life, Alex has already told his father that the family does not need him.
  2. No, we only know the grandfather intends to commit suicide by we do not hear of his funeral.
  3. No, because the grandfather does not die in the book.

A favorite quote: “She has become an expert at confusing what is with what was and what should be with what could be.”

Answers: 3, 4, [3 or 4] 4, and 1.

October, 2017: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

(Book #90) I declare if Linda did not host us with perfect Southern hospitality. What a feast We started with wine, shrimp cocktail and a delicious cheese spread.  At the table we were treated to ham, macaroni and cheese, sautéed green beans, and delicious corn bread. For desert we had the most amazing caramel cake.  What a feast!

Our discussion of the book began with the notion of whether the antiques dealer so interested in his social position, shot his lover in cold blood or self-defense.  I know that I thought he had shot him out of some sort of revenge but that may be a hold-over from watching the movie and not trusting Kevin Spacey to tell the truth. (That was based on Keyser Soze, not the more recent accusation in the #metoomovement.) We also talked about truth being stranger than fiction when you consider the outrageous characters Berendt found in Savannah. Most of us thought it was quite a good read and noted we’ve read several well-written non-fiction works that read like fiction. I didn’t prepare a quiz for the meeting, so the girls could enjoy an anxiety free evening.

A favorite quote: “If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, “What’s your business?” In Macon they ask, “Where do you go to church?” In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is “What would you like to drink?”

September, 2017: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

Fellow Comrades, 

The People’s Commissariat is holding another meeting to discuss the recent activities in Gorky Park. It is highly recommended that all Bolshevik ladies attend, as our illustrious leader Mr Putin will be present and may possibly bring his American friend.  Bring plenty of cash if you plan to do business.
This event is planned for half past six, on Wednesday, the twentieth of September, 2017.  The new address for the current people’s representative is  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Free parking is limited on XXXXXXXXXXXXX or at the park; meter parking available on XXXXXXXXXXXXX.
The Committee for State Security is interested in knowing if you plan to attend.  Your support for the party will be duly noted.
Looking forward to receiving your response, Comrade S. M. XXXXXXXXXX

I had to miss this meeting due to illness but Chris picked up the thank you:

(Book #89) Thank you, Sharon, for an incredible evening in Moscow and environs (the roof deck setting for Gorky Park was particularly spectacular). Everything was wonderful. Obviously you’re a highly placed party member who gets to shop at all the best stores. The canapes were fabulously luxurious, and the champagne was perfect, even if it did come from Russia’s colony to the west. I think I’m the only one who didn’t have seconds of the beef Stroganoff, which wasn’t because I didn’t find it as delicious as everyone else did but because I had a very strong premonition that there was going to be a dessert that I’d find irresistible, and I was right. That walnut honey cake was one of the best I’ve tasted. If  you could pass on the recipe for the carrot salad, I know we’d all appreciate it. In exchange, I’d offer to call a temporary halt to my dissident activities, but I have no intention of doing that and therefore just rely on  your generosity.

Teresa, we all missed you and your quiz, and we hardly talked about the book, partly because only 3 of us had finished it and we didn’t want to spoil it for those who intended to keep reading. In fact we talked more about Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

There was also an interesting focus on the topic of penises, and I really can’t explain that at all, because I think they came up in a few different contexts. Sorry you missed it and hope you feel better soon!

Thanks again, Comrade Gonzalez, for a perfect evening.

The quiz had to be emailed:

Gorky Park Quiz

The movie starts with the scene of skaters on the ice at Gorky Park, among them a group of three, two men and a young woman. Is this how the book starts.

  1. Yes, this is how the book starts.
  2. No, the book starts with a description of two people being murdered in a remote area of the park. 
  3. No, the book starts with a skater discovering a snow-covered body.
  4. No. the book starts with investigators at the scene of three dead bodies in a remote area of the park.

In the movie, we see the woman who plays the music for the ice skaters, but the audience isn’t ware of the disability that Renko discovers in the book. What is it?

  1. She is blind.
  2. She is deaf.
  3. She is missing an arm.
  4. She has Attention Deficit Disorder.

In the movie, Renko’s famous father General Renko is mentioned several times but never seen.  Is this true in the book?

  1. Yes, he is mentioned numerous times but we never meet him.
  2. No, he is never mentioned and we never meet him.
  3. No, he is mentioned by several characters and Renko visits him at his dacha.
  4. No, he is never mentioned by other characters by Renko bumps into him at the bathhouse.

In the movie there is no sign of Renko having a wife.  Is he married in the book?

  1. Yes, he is happily married to Zoya.
  2. Yes, he is married to Zoya but she leaves him for another man.
  3. No, he was married to Zoya but she died.
  4. No, he is single.

In the movie we witness the shooting deaths of Golodkin (the black marketeer and Renko’s colleague Pasha. Is this true in the book?

  1. Yes, the shooting is described as it is happening.
  2. No, these two are not shot/killed in the book.
  3. No, we only learn of their deaths when Renko does.
  4. No, only Golodkin is shot and killed.

In the movie, Renko shows Irina the reconstructed head of Valelriya. Is that true of the book?

  1. Yes, he does to prove that Valeriya did not escape.
  2. No, because the reconstructed had had been reduced to dust by Iamskoy and his thug.
  3.  No he pretends to, showing her part of a head that Professor Andreev used for teaching.
  4.  Both 2 and 3.

In the movie the final shoot-out takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. Is that true of the book:

  1. No, they are in New York.
  2. No, they are in Moscow.
  3. No, they are in St. Petersburg.
  4. Yes, they are in Stockholm.

A favorite quote: “There are not many road signs in Russia you know. If you don’t know where the road goes, you shouldn’t be on it.”

Answers: 4, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, and 1.

August, 2017: Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rosner

This was the reciprocal switch in venue from February.


So sorry that this is coming the next day but Melissa and Sharon took me to The Hideout, a seedy little bar near Home Depot after book club last night. The three of us were drinking, reading the book selection for next month, and keeping an eye out for Mr. Goodbar. I remember we were approached by Three Musketeers and after that everything is a bit muddled… and I woke up with such a taste for chocolate…
But before that everything was great! Lynn had a lovely selection of wine on hand but she also had a special drink, an alternate version of the Stoli Doli using Skyy vodka that was quite terrific — the fruity goodness makes you forget what might happen later. There was a great selection of cheeses and a cheese spread with salmon. And on the bar there were nuts and mini Mr. Goodbars! Dinner was a lovely summer meal — a cold paella salad with mussels, shrimp and sausage (which I will also be enjoying for lunch today because of the natural abundance and the late cancellations)  and a zucchini pizza which Melissa “almost wants the recipe for.”  I’m going to make that official and request the recipe.  Dessert was a Banana Split Cake which was better than a trip to the Dairy Queen (and if you know me you know what a compliment that is.) I’ll be enjoying that later today as well. 
Big, big thanks for a lovely evening and delicious fare!

(Book #88) Regarding our discussion of the book, we all agreed it just screams the 70’s. Most of us were in high school or college and while we probably didn’t spend as much time in bars as Theresa, most of us had at least one experience where something frightening could have happened if things went another way. We decided that the format of the book is far more intriguing than the movie. Right after I finished reading the book, I watched the movie and there is just so much to be said for the structure of the book — the fact that we know from the start what will happen and we have to watch it unfold. The Theresa Dunn written by Judith Rossner is so complex — your mind whirs throughout her story looking for evidence of how her attitudes were shaped, what key moments, if changed, could have created a different psyche and how she is able to navigate the intense contradictions in her existence. Then I had to go and spoil it all by giving the horrible quiz:

Looking for Mr. Goodbar QUIZ  (worth a possible 15 points!!)

1. In the movie, Theresa tells Martin (the English professor) that she came home from the hospital in a body cast after her surgery and was in a bed in the front room for all to see for a year.  Is that true of the book?

Yes or No

2. In the movie, Theresa is a teacher of deaf children. Is this also true in the book?

Yes or No  in the book she teaches ___________________________________________

3. In the movie, there is an Aunt Maureen who had congenital scoliosis. Is this true in the book?

Yes or No

4. In the movie James, (the traditional suitor) is a social worker.  Is this true in the book?

Yes or No, in the book he is a/an ____________________________________________

5. In the movie, she goes to a doctor to get birth control.  Is this true in the book?

Yes or No

6. In the movie, Theresa tells Tony (the Italian stallion) that her name is Sonya Irini Katerina Henikoff.  Is this true in the book?

Yes or No

7. In the movie, Theresa bumps into Martin in the bar. He has a beard, has quit teaching, is writing a novel, and getting divorced. She kicks him to the curb.  Is this true of the book?

Yes or No

8. In the movie, Tony asks to share Theresa’s apartment.  She says NO – ask your mother.  He says he already did and she said No. Then he says that Theresa and his mother are the two biggest cunts in the world.  Is this how it happened in the book?

Yes or  No, in the book he makes this remark _______________________________

9. In the movie, James is at the bar on NYE and Theresa starts a conversation with her killer to get rid of James.  Is this what happened in the book?

Yes or No

10. In the movie, James gives Theresa a strobe light for Christmas which is used heavily in the murder scene.  Is that the Christmas present he gives her in the book??

Yes or No, in the book he gives her a _________________________________________

A favorite quote: “Sexually, he was like a dose of anethetic, he made her go dead all over, but he was so nice.

Answers: 1. No, she was in the hospital for a year.  2. No, in the book she teaches first grade.  3. No.  4. No, in the book he is an attorney.   5. No, she just doesn’t believe she can get pregnant. 6. Yes.  7. No.  8. No, in the book he makes the remark at his mother’s birthday party.  9. No.  10. No, in the book he gives her a ring.

July, 2017: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

(Book #87) Marcia hosted this meeting and the email sent to it after was like the girls’ prank letter from the book:

Our Own Delightful Marcia, Your dinner has moved me deeply as you may imagine.  But alas, I must decline to ever dine in your lovely garden again.  My reasons are twofold.  Your dedication to the culinary skills is like the art of Madame Pavlova, putting my humble efforts to shame, and my love of food such as you prepare, the delicious cheese, salmon, capers, the stunning (both in appearance and taste) Scottish Shepherd’s Pie, the clever salad and the perfect touch of dessert reaches out to me, desiring to be consumed in such quantities that by body mass might go beyond the bounds of Time and Space or at least above the available numbers on my scale. But I was proud of giving myself to the menu when we were all assembled in your garden and the storm of appreciation raged through each of the dinner guests. If I am in a certain condition, I shall wear larger pajama pants until the peril of overeating subsides. This is no way suggests that I am swearing off overindulgence and I may permit such misconduct to occur again from time to time as an outlet — for while I am well past my Prime, I have an unflagging appetite. Allow me in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon a superb meal as well as, as well as, yes, as well as a lovely setting.With fondest joy,Teresa                                                                              OK that’s my best take on the Muriel Spark thank you — it was indeed lovely and delicious and comfortable  — and the Shepherd’s Pie was incredible! 

Our discussion about the book centered mostly on the character of Miss Jean Brodie. Though we’re not certain what to think of Miss Jean Brody’s influence on her girls, we’re guessing we’re not meant to concern ourselves too deeply, but rather enjoy the wonderful quirkiness of the writing. I enjoyed Miss Brodie’s views on team spirit; her use of the Mona Lisa as the go-to for an expression of composure; and her argument against a poster espousing Safety First. I was also completely taken in by Sandy and Jenny’s many projects and adventures and the running conversations that Sandy kept up with Alan Breck and Sergeant Anne Grey. Then came the awful quiz:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie QUIZ

The movie starts with close-ups on Miss Brodie and other teachers on their way to school, how does the book start?

  1. With a discussion of Miss Brodie’s before school routine.
  2. With a description of the students and teachers filing into school.
  3. With a description of the Brodie set standing with boys and their bikes near the school gates.
  4. With the Brodie set assembled under the elm tree listening to the story of Hugh Carruthers.

In the movie, there are only four girls in the Brodie set: Mary Macgregor, Monica Douglas, Sandy Stranger and Jenny Gray. How many are in the book?

  1. The number is the same as in the movie — four girls.
  2. There are five girls in the Brodie set, the four above and Eunice Gardiner, who does the splits.
  3. There are six girls in the Brodie set, the four above, Eunice Gardiner, and Rose Stanley, the one with sex appeal.
  4. There are seven girls in the Brodie set, the four above, Eunice, Rose and the delinquent rich girl Joyce Emily Hammond.

In the movie, Sandy and Jenny are shown dancing while they discuss Miss Brodie and writing a letter in the library.  What are some of their projects/adventures in the book, circle all that apply.

  1. They are digging a hole to Australia
  2. They are writing The Mountain Eyrie about Hugh Carruthers being mistakenly reported dead.
  3. They play Witches by the Fire.
  4. They write a love letter from Miss Brodie to Gordon and hide it in the back of a cave.

In the movie, there is no mention of the four houses of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls.  What are the names of the four houses in the book?

  1. Holyrood, Argyll, Melrose and Biggar
  2. Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff
  3. Cards, Blues, Lies, and Pancakes
  4. Risingsun, Illrepute, Usher, and Jackbuilt

In the movie,  Mary Macgregor dies when her train is attacked on the way to Spain to fight for Franco. How does she die in the book?

  1. She doesn’t die in the book.
  2. She dies in a fire in a hotel.
  3. She dies in a fire in the science lab.
  4. She dies just as she did in the movie.

Bonus Question #1:  Miss Jean Brodie doesn’t agree with the Prime Minister’s poster declaring Safety First. What three things does she declare are first?

Bonus Question #2: Who does Miss Jean Brodie use as an example of having an expression of composure come foul, come fair?.

Bonus Question #3:  What color were the school uniforms?

Bonus Question #4 Did Muriel Spark base the character of Miss Jean Brodie on a person she knew?

A favorite quote: “Allow me in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon your sexual intercourse, as well as your singing.

Answers: 3, 3, 1, [1,2,3,&4], 2, Beauty, Truth & Goodness, Mona Lisa, Violet and Yes, Christine Kay.

June, 2017: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

(Book #86) I have to preface this email rant with the fact that I love Flannery O’Connor’s writing. I adored both Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man is Hard to Find.  But her novel, Wise Blood was just so foreign to me, I couldn’t relate at all — it was an absurdist piece and I was lost. This email was my summary of the evening:

June 19.2017

Two weeks ago, friends, I was in despair. I was miserable and lonesome and sick, friends. I realized I’d read a book that was just about the most miserable and lonesome thing that can happen to a man or a woman! I was ready to hang myself or despair completely. But that was before I met the Prophet Christine or heard how she was out to help me, how she was preaching the Church of Books Without Books But With the Saving Grace of Damn Good Food. She helped me to bring my despair over the dark comic psychopathy I’d been forced to read and put it out into the open where everybody could offer accord. And she did it with the power of the new jesus, corn salad. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to testify to this new church and the Prophet Christine. In the first course, friends, it starts with wine, crackers and three cheeses from the book of Stampers. You can rely on this cheese, it’s nothing foreign connected with it. You don’t have to nibble on nothing you don’t understand and approve of. The second reason why you can absolutely trust this church — it’s based on Cook Books — it’s based on you own personal interpretation of the recipes found in the books — recipes for crispy chicken, green salad, bruchetta, and yes, friends, some kind of corn salad with so many good things mixed up in it, you will feel the exaltation of it push the despair away — push it right off your plate. 

That ought to be enough reasons friends, but I’m going to tell you one more, just to show I can. Southern Comfort Cake, cake with the comfort of the South baked right into and poured into the icing too — a religious experience like no other. I never heard an idea that had more in it than the one for that cake.  Here’s the best part — if you send the Prophet one dollar, just ten dimes, she will tell you the secret of the crispy chicken and how you can make the corn salad your personal saviour. 

I’ve got to go now friends, but don’t forget to send that dollar or ten, twenty, whatever you have handy to get the recipe for your new life. Your life will be a celebration and you will spend your days in thankful gratitude for the Prophet of the Darn Good Food.

We talked about how strange the book seemed to all of us and then we took that darned quiz:

Wise Blood QUIZ

The movie starts with Hazel Motes wearing his service uniform and hitching a ride.  He is picked up by a man driving a truck.  How does the book start.

  1. Hazel is hitchhiking but no one stops for him.
  2. Hazel is on his way to the train station to go to Taulkinham.
  3. Hazel is on the train to Taulkinham.
  4. Hazel has just been thrown off the train because of an altercation with the porter.

n the movie, Haze buys a car from Slate and pays $225 for it.  What did he pay in the book?

  1. He didn’t buy a car in the book.
  2. He paid $40 for the car and extra for gas.
  3. He paid $140 for the car and it came with a full tank of gas.
  4. He paid $225 just as in the movie.

In the movie, Haze finds Enoch at the zoo yelling at the monkeys. Where does Haze find Enoch in the book?

  1. He is by the monkey cages as in the movie.
  2. In the MVSEVM.
  3. At his booth by the zoo gate.
  4. Near the pool/bath house.

In the movie Enoch gets in the car with Haze to help him find where Hawks and his daughter live.  Does he do that in the book.

  1. Yes, but he cant find it.
  2. No, because Haze made him mad when he wasn’t interested in the mummy at the museum.
  3. No, because Haze hit him in the forehead with a rock and knocked him out.
  4. No, because he didn’t know where they lived.

In the movie Haze wears the same black hat throughout.  Is that true of the book?

  1. No, his first hat is black and is destroyed by Leora.  He buys a white one to replace it.
  2. No, his first black hat is destroyed by Leora and he buys one exactly like it to replace it.
  3. No, after his black hat is destroyed by Sabbath, he buys a white one to replace it.
  4. Yes, he wears the same black hat throughout.

Bonus Question #1:  Where did the train porter say he was from?

Bonus Question #2: What color was Haze’s Essex?

Bonus Question #3: (the pet question) What famous hand did Enoch stand in line to shake?

Bonus Question #4 What did Haze use to blind himself?

A favorite quote: “I’m a member and preacher to that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.”

May, 2017: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

(Book #85) The members of the Boarding House Book Club met for their discussion of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter last night. Mrs. A. outdid herself with hospitality and fine cooking. I was up in my room putting some important papers together so I didn’t look carefully at the assortment of cheese and fruit set out in the parlor, but I paid close attention to the meal once we moved around the dining room table. It was a big group of us, only one tenant stayed up in her room. Mrs. A. served a pot roast, the first ever, she said though none of us could believe it. She served it with mashed potatoes, peas, asparagus and gravy. Some of us embarrassed ourselves by having more than our fair share of the gravy, though I won’t name names. She told us we should thank someone named Garten for the deliciousness of the meal, but none of us could think of any Gartens that live in town, so we just assumed she was being modest. We’re pretty sure she cooked it all without any help from anyone.  For dessert Mrs. A. served an apple pie baked on a sheet pan so there was plenty of it.  All of the meal was consumed amidst lively conversation and we heard many childhood stories. It seems one of the tenants, Geraldine, had a childhood similar to Ralph Kelly’s in the book. McCullers’ prose, and the tone it creates, has such a distinct signature. So much is communicated in this novel but some of us had to admit that we  tired when the focus stayed too long on Jake Blount or Dr. Copeland. Then one of the more cantankerous tenants gave us a quiz:

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter QUIZ

In the movie, Mick Kelly is one of three children and Portia is an only child. How many more children are in these two families in the book?

  1. 0 – the book has the same number of kids as the movie.
  2. 1 – Mick’s family is the same but Portia has a brother.
  3. 3 – Portia has a brother, and Mick has two older sisters.
  4. 6 – Mick has two older sisters and an older brother, and Portia has three brothers.

In the movie, one of the four people who become significant in John Singer’s life is almost written out, but in the book they are:

  1. Jake Blount, Dr. Copeland, Mick Kelly and Charles Parker
  2. Biff Brannon, Jake Blount, Dr. Copeland and Mick Kelly
  3. Biff Brannon, Jake Blount, Mick Kelly and Baby Wilson
  4. Biff Brannon, Dr. Copeland, Mick Kelly, and Charles Parker

In the movie, Singer buys a phonograph for his room and allows others, notably Mick, to listen, but in the book he buys what for his room?

  1. He buys a phonograph in the book as well.
  2. He buys a movie projector with Mickey Mouse and Popeye movies.
  3. He buys a radio.
  4. He buys a Keurig coffee machine and K cups.

In the movie,  all of the following occur.  Which is the only one true of the book?  

  1. Bubber says he can’t read so Singer better not hand him one of his cards if he wants something.
  2. Mick spends most of the time at her party with Delores Brown’s older brother Harry.
  3. Jake Blount gets a job with a carnival.
  4. Singer moves to another town to be closer to the mental hospital. 
  5. They are all true of the book.

In the movie, Dr, Copeland seeks justice for Willie’s mistreatment in prison from a judge at the court house. He is made to wait all day and isn’t told the judge is gone until an hour after the judge has left the building.  What happens in the book?

  1. He doesn’t go to the court house in the book.
  2. He is beaten and thrown in jail.
  3. He is allowed to see the judge who tells him he can do nothing for him.
  4. He is allowed to see the judge who offers him a coffee from his new Keurig machine.

Bonus Question #1:  In the movie, Bubber’s biggest offense is lighting firecrackers at Mick’s party, what is it in the book?

Bonus Question #2: At his Christmas party, who does Dr. Copeland talk about in his speech to all in attendance — it’s not the baby Jesus.

Bonus Question #3: When Mick is trying to keep George (Bubber) awake when she can’t sleep, she starts a game about someone whose name starts with M.  Who is it?

Bonus Question #4 (the pet question) Singer writes to Antonapoulos about the cat who used to hang out at the jewelry shop — what happened to the cat?

A favorite quote from the book to make the answers a little farther away: “Maybe when people longed for a thing that bad, the longing made them trust in anything that might give it to them.”

Answers: 4, 2, 3, 3, 2, He shoots Baby Wilson in the head., Karl Marx, Mussolini, and He ate something poisonous and died.

April, 2017: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen

(Book #84) Melissa had a farm in Africa. Or at least she made her space look like a farm in Africa and gave each of us a safari hat for shade from the sun. We began with cheese, crackers and a wonderful fruit plate. Melissa served a wonderful soup topped with pine nuts and chives, a salad and baked chicken and potatoes. For dessert we had poached pears with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cookies.

There was great discussion about the book starting with Karen’s objective to kill one of every  species of animal in Africa. Yes, it was a different time but even before awareness of the danger of extinction, it seems lacking in any kind of appreciation for the planet. We talked about her steely reserve to do such a thing alone and the boldness to treat illness and accident. We started to talk about the differences between book and movie because this was one movie many had seen at one time or another but I stopped the talk to give the dreadful quiz:

Out of Africa QUIZ

The movie is a love story and so it is all about Karen’s relationship with Denys Finch-Hatton.  It starts with Karen remembering “He even took his gramophone on safari.” How does the book begin?

  1. It starts the same way as the movie.
  2. It starts with “I was born in the manor house of Rungstedlund, north of Copenhagen.”
  3. It starts with “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”
  4. It starts with “I have long been a storyteller and this is my story.”

n the movie we see Chief Kinanjui three times, when Karen must ask him for his permission to begin her farm,  when he marks a line on the tent pole of the school to say children under that height may go to school and when he relents and tells her children of any height may attend.  When do we see him in the book? Circle all that apply: (You will get one point for each correct answer, but a point will be subtracted for any incorrect answer.)

  1. When Karen asks him for permission to begin her farm.
  2. When he visits Karen’s farm and she gives him a drink that knocks him out cold.
  3. When he comes to the farm to witness the settlement between the parties involved in the shooting.
  4. When he is on his deathbed and Karen does not agree to his wish to be brought to the farm.

Who was the young man who Karen had hospitalized for terrible wounds on his legs and who later became a cook who named his dishes after something that had happened on the day the recipe was shown to him — such as sauce of the grey horse that died?

  1. Kamante
  2. Farah
  3. Esa.
  4. Juma

In the movie, Karen takes oxen and provisions to the border where her husband is stationed, as part of the war effort and she is greeted with “Baron, your wife is here.” In the book she explains why she took on this expedition.

  1. She was told to find a white man to go with the natives, but couldn’t find a white man who would do it.
  2. She was told to find a white man to go with the natives, but the man she hired was arrested for suspicion of being a German.
  3. She was told to find a white man to go with the natives, but the man she hired asked for more money just as they were to set off,
  4. She was told to find a white man to go with the natives, but the very idea that she should be required to hire a man angered her.

Bonus Question#1:  Name any of the four dogs mentioned in the book. (one point for each one you name)

Bonus Question #2: Many observers witnessed lions sitting/sunning/resting on whose grave?

A favorite quote: “Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road.”

Answers: 3, [2,3,&4], 1, 2, [Dusk, Pania, David & Dinah] and Denys.