If you’re a book clubber, you’ve probably noticed this, too: the most satisfying discussions result when some of the group didn’t care for the chosen title and, in airing their grievances, point out facets the rest of us missed or perhaps even incite a spirited debate.
Everyone who attended this week’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress event apparently liked the book, but the conversation flowed nicely despite universal approval. As discussion leader, I claim no credit; Dai Sijie’s first novel is pretty much a can’t-miss selection, either for individual pleasure reading or for group consideration. The narrative showcases the author’s cinematic eye, personal experience in “re-education” during China’s Cultural Revolution, and use of imagery and touches of the fairy tale and the fable to incorporate plot elements into a surprisingly compact tale.
Nine attendees contributed insightful comments, and as the conversation progressed, I realized that the majority of the group has actually traveled in China. Hearing others recount anecdotes from their visits and place their trips into the context of recent Chinese history added another dimension to the story.
Relaxing around a table and sipping a latte in the comfort of Star Co.’s back room enhanced my enjoyment of the Balzac exchange. I missed July’s Three Cups of Tea event but heard compliments about Friar Tuck’s Pantry, another prime location for treating oneself to snacks, beverages, and good talk about books. Of course I love the library, but I could easily get accustomed to more off-site discussions at these great downtown Round Rock venues.