Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Endings

A couple of weeks ago I had 15 women attend my book discussion of Little Bee and before we broke up, I asked them for ideas, input, suggestions, for what they would like to see us talk about next year. Sad to say, we are not encouraged to hold book discussions year round at our library even though I'm sure we would have a small but loyal group in attendance. (that's another story - I may stage a little rebellion)

At any rate, the first thing almost everyone mentioned was, "can't we read a book with a happy ending?" Well, of course not! What would we have to discuss? Naturally, that isn't really true and it did get me thinking about my tendency to the dark side. I asked them if it wasn't time to tackle a classic and they agreed. We also talked about biography. Andrea and I have been scrambling to get our list together sooner rather than later as we send it out to Northern addresses in late June or July. I have at least 8 potentials already, among them, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Blame, The Lotus Eaters, and the classic political novel and Pulitzer winner, All the King's Men. If any of you readers have suggestions we'd love to hear them.

Meanwhile, I'm about half way through my May discussion book and it's truly my favorite this year. Cutting for Stone is one of those big, juicy, novels that you can just dive into and lose yourself in. Perhaps it even has a happy ending, I don't know yet, but it has memorable characters, gorgeous prose and, most pleasing to amateur physicians like me (said with tongue in cheek), phenomenal descriptions of the wonders of the human body in all its strength and frailty. Dr. Abraham Verghese loves the body as much as he loves words.

Sister Mary Joseph Praise, newly minted nun and nurse, meets Dr. Thomas Stone on a ship where he falls seriously ill. Through Sister's ministrations, Dr. Stone lives and realizes that he must have her working with him for as long as she will. Together they are a perfect team and spend 8 idyllic years at Mission Hospital in Ethiopia reading each other's minds in operating theater #3. Reading hearts, though, is apparently another matter altogether.

When Sister Praise is absent around the hospital for a few days and Dr. Stone is furiously unable to work without her, the entire cadre of nuns, staff and servants is appalled to find sister in her room, close to death and ready to deliver twin boys into the world. How can this be? The mystery will take 550 more pages to slowly reveal itself. In the meantime lucky readers will be in the presence of the tough-minded obstetrician Hema and her devoted husband Ghosh who save the conjoined twins Shiva and Marion, raising them with all the love and care humanly possible. You'll also be privy to the history of Ethiopia in the '70's during a military coup against Emperor Haile Sallasie and you'll move to New York City where the narrator, Marion, will eventually go to follow in his father's footsteps. The question is, which father?

I have to get back to reading but I just want to mention one more neat thing. Don and I finally decided on the play we want to see while we have a couple of days in NYC next month. I called for tickets to August Wilson's Fences, which was still in rehearsal, and was able to get great seats at a completely unreasonable price. The show opened Tuesday with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis starring and the glowing review was in the Times this week. Just for a lark I went online to check on ticket availability knowing that ours are safely tucked away in our vacation folder. You got it! $100 more than we paid just 2 weeks ago. Whew. I love it when that happens. Link to the review below:


dschirtzfl said...

If you need help staging a rebellion, just let me know. I get a little tired, after living in Lee County over thirty years, of being considered less important than snow-birds. We have to crowd so many arts events into the winter months; I relish those programs that continue year-round, or almost year-round.

Sallyb said...

It's so unfair, isn't it? After all, tax payers are tax payers. We've been told that it takes too much time for us to prepare these discussions but, as you well know, we do it for the love of it and on our own time.