Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bolgia Book Club

Most towns have book clubs. Many of my friends are in book clubs. I found a group that is notable for its size (17), breadth of interests, and gender balance. Many of my women friends seem to be in women only groups. I think it is odd, but they think it is just great.

We have an arbitrary group in that the host picks the book. There is no voting - so we do not end up with mediocre fare. We also have some spirited discussions since books can be wildly idiosyncratic.

The group formed several years before I joined, and an early book was Dante's "Inferno". The Bolgia name comes from the levels of Hell - called "bolgias" or pouches.

Book Club activities have also included field trips for cooking fare, dinners out, concerts, weekends away, art shows, plays and lectures. We always bring food and beverages - but finally had to institute some rules so that socializing does not take over the evening.

"Catfish and Mandala" by Andrew Pham was a selection we read before a beach weekend away in Gualala, CA. I was taken with the purity and precision of the writing and the total lack of references to other works. The author was an engineering student whose family immigrated from Vietnam after the end of the war. He was raised in two cultures, and returned to his homeland to make peace with the past and his roots by bicycling through the countryside. All thumbs up from the whole Bolgia Book Club.

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