The Art of Gathering

artofgatheringWhile there was not an official title to discuss, a small contingent of the Books on Tap group gathered on 1/2/20 at Champion Brewery to toast the New Year.   We also celebrated one member’s upcoming retirement and another member’s project that has been receiving local publicity.

 

But no Books on Tap meeting goes without recommending a couple of books, so here are a few that were mentioned:

The Art of Gathering

City of Girls

 

And here are the upcoming titles for discussion at Books on Tap:

 

“It make one’s mouth hurt to speak with such forced merriment.”

holidays on ice.jpgBooks on Tap read  David Sedaris’s essay collection Holiday’s on Ice  at Champion Brewery on December 5. Originally published in 1997 the dated bigotry leaps from the page in 2019. Overall we found the humor crueler than we expected and liked his personal stories better than his fiction. While we didn’t all finish each essay, we did agree that the popularly staged “Santaland Diaries”  had the funniest moments, especially when performed by Sedaris with his Billie Holiday impersonation. We also recommend listening to Julia Sweeney’s  reading of “Season’s Greetings to our Friends and Family!!!” and seeing Sinterklass in action in the Netherlands. 

Sedaris’ favorite character is his mother, who appears in almost every personal story. His parents are awful in his recounting and we assume Sedaris is using humor to cope. But that is part of the appeal: the universality of the screwed up family and the relief in finding out that ours isn’t the worst. 

More Information:

About the author 

About the book 

Other works 

Other humorous authors book mentioned:

Ian Fraser

Woody Allen

Roz Chas

Jenny Lawson

Tina Fey

Dave Barry

Bill Bryson

Trevor Noah

 

 Books on Tap Information:

  • No January meeting
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February 6)
  • Same Page Title TBA (March 5)
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (April 2)
  • There, There by Tommy Orange (May 7)
  • Clock Dance by Anne Tyler (June 4)

 

Have a suggestion for future titles? Add them to this list

Previous titles

“When you hear stories from people like you, you feel less alone. When you feel less alone, and like you have a community of people behind you, alongside you, I believe you can live a better life.”

there there.jpgThe Brown Baggers met on Thursday, November 21 to discuss Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There, There

Orange, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, explores the plight of the “Urban Indian” through a cast of twelve characters living in and around Oakland, California, where Orange himself was born and raised.  The cast is a diverse group of Natives and mixed race people, including a young man born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and a woman who spent part of her childhood living on Alcatraz Island during the 1969-1970 occupation. As the novel progresses, the threads that connect the characters begin to reveal themselves and ultimately lead to tragedy at a large powwow. 

For many of the Brown Baggers, the prologue and interlude were the most affecting parts of the novel. Some described having a visceral reaction, like a punch in the gut, as Orange describes the violence and genocide that generations of Native Americans have faced. The prologue provided context for the novel and Orange continues that thread in the interlude as he tackles privilege and how history has been sanitized by those who have benefited the most from slavery and genocide. 

As for the story itself, some had a difficult time distinguishing characters from one another and felt the ending’s climax to be a bit improbable. Most described the book as “difficult” for more than just the unorthodox structure. Orange doesn’t hold back as his characters face tragedy after tragedy. They struggle with depression, alcoholism, drugs, and domestic violence, but most of all, they struggle with what it means to be Native American. After all, how does one create an identity and sense of authenticity when one’s culture and image has been defined by others for hundreds of  years? This question of identity brought to mind another novel the group recently read about immigrants. Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us demonstrates how culture and geography defined a community of Indian-Muslim Americans. However, unlike the characters in A Place for Us, native people do not have a homeland to return to, but rather “buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory. There is no there there.”

There, There challenges what non-native people think they know about the native people experience and establishes Orange as a new and exciting Native American voice in the literary world.

Mentioned:

Louise Erdrich

Sherman Alexie

Terese Marie Mailhot – Heart berries: A Memoir 

Susan Devan Harness – Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

 

The Brown Baggers will meet on December 19 to select titles for the coming year. Join us at noon and bring a few titles to recommend.