The First Meeting

We have become quite the food and wine book club, with meals informed by food mentioned in the book — so much so that when we read our 101st book, John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead, Susan, in fact, served us prime rib! Unlike J. Sutter, we all made it through dinner without choking incident. For our first humble meeting, however, I served appetizers; it seemed short stories required short foods. We all enjoyed Sedaris’ choice of title which references a painting by Adriaen van der Werff. In his introduction Sedaris writes: “The authors in this book are huge to me and I am a comparative midget, scratching around in their comparative shadow. ‘Pint-Sized Fanatic Bowing Before Statues of Hercules’ might have been more concise, but people don’t paint things like that, and besides, it doesn’t sound as good.” Most of the girls enjoyed the short stories though one member asked that we stay away from short stories in future choices, because she didn’t enjoy the short story form. We stayed away from the genre untilĀ  after she’d decided to drop out of the group, but by the time we read Lorrie Moore’s Bark, we had another member who shunned the short story. (She too dropped out, and moved out of state, but I don’t think it had anything to do with us or the short story form.) Because I started with Katherine Mansfield, I love the short story and see it as the crystallized essence of the novel. The ratio of words to a-ha moments (in this case a moment when something you’ve never quite thought of in this way is perfectly expressed) is much, much smaller than for the novel — for those readers interested in efficiency of insight.