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. 

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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)

 

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“If you wish success you must master the American language . . . I can tell in your face that you will not learn it.”

accordioncrimes.jpgBooks on Tap read Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx at Champion Brewery on October 4. Most known for her short stories and The Shipping News, here Proulx examines 20th century American immigration using the conceit of one accordion that passes through the hands of Americans from Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Mexico and African-Americans. Almost all meet a grim death, as does the accordion itself after 100 years. 

We did like the research and detail Proulx included and some of the personal stories. However, it was a very long book without much connective tissue and brutal existences for most of the sprawling cast. We struggled to articulate the overall theme (and identify the crimes), finally landing on the fragility of the hope expressed both in the crafting and playing of the accordion and the American experiment as a whole. 

The highlight of the evening was when Peter Kleeman played his melodeon. He explained the similarities and differences between the melodeon and accordion and how each work. He also told us how the different ethnicities in the book tuned and played the instruments differently. He convinced us that Proulx was clever to make the accordion the main character because it is used so widely. Each group can be familiar with it but use it in ways that would baffle others, just as their choices in America can seem both rational and terrible to the reader. 

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About the book 

Other works 

Also Mentioned:

The Red Violin (film)

 

 Books on Tap Information:

 

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