Wednesday, January 11, 2006
st. george and the book club
I confronted a demon last night.
Demon, thy name is Book Club Anxiety.
Last night was my turn to host the Book Club, at my not-up-to-neighborhood-standards house. Last time it was my turn I chickened out and held it at the coffee shop. But I'm older and wiser now, and like most of us, every year I care less what people think.
So, I had them all over, the neighborhood book club women, and as usual we had snacks and wine and cake, and talked (a little) about the book, and it was all very pleasant and made me want to read even more books. Hooray!
Did they know that the vacuum bag exploded in the living room 30 minutes before they arrived? No, they did not.
Did anyone comment on our "quaint" peeling wallpaper in the dining room? No one did.
Did the cats decide to reject the new litter-box sharing arrangement during the course of the evening and take a dump on the couch? Thankfully, no.
Did they like the insanely chocolate dessert that HWWLLB baked for us? They surely did.
Success! I may even have qualified for an honorable mention in the pages of Southern Living Magazine (for the uninitiated, SL is like Martha Stewart Living, only with more lard and doilies. In our neighborhood they practice a somewhat off-beat, but faithful, rendition).
The only remaining evidence of a lovely evening are the wine glasses in my drying rack.
How incredibly ironic that the book we were discussing, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, is all about appearances (hence the title). It was not a hit. Housekeeping is definitely a writer's book (not that I really know what that means) rather than a book club book. But the writing! Oh! My! God! Spectacular. Robinson has a new book out called Gilead that I'm really looking forward to reading.
I also wonder whether the 'keeping up appearances' theme either hit a little too close to home with some of our Southern Living neighbors, or just went right over their heads.
I really hope this doesn't come off sounding mean (and I'm biting my nails in anticipation of Kristy's comments, because she is the amazing mistress of our book club and the reason I love it). I really do like and respect these women. Some I don't know very well, but I know their perfectly manicured lawns and paintakingly-chosen Victorian paint colors, and those give me the hives. But hey, I force them to read icy cold literature that bites at their values (a totally unintended turn of events, I swear!), and they respond with grace and invite me to their beautiful homes for snacks and wine and cake and the next discussion. The wine, oh, thank you God for wine.