Did you ever nominate a book for your reading club, then panic when it’s chosen? If so, you understand my qualms about Saturday’s meeting. Larry Beinhart‘s The Librarian seemed an ideal choice when submitted; suddenly I could foresee my taste being questioned.
The Librarian is a political thriller–a circumstance suggesting two pitfalls already. In this group, our best interchanges hinge on elements like characterization, imagery, theme; The Librarian is decidedly plot-centered. Another “why didn’t I think of this earlier” issue involves the group’s political preferences, which I believed I’d correctly assessed. But what if I’d misunderstood?
Fortunately, the quirky escapade was the right change of pace at the right time. More than one reader had mentally “seen” the story as a movie as they read–appropriate, since Beinhart’s earlier American Hero inspired the film Wag the Dog. (The just-released movie Salvation Boulevard is also based on Beinhart’s novel by that name.) Thankfully, nobody evidenced a less liberal viewpoint than I’d imagined.
Not only was the book a hit; it also inspired the Best Book Club Fare Ever. Our hosts chose as their theme “conspiracy food”. (Didn’t know that was a culinary genre, did you?) The idea was that edibles can assume disguises and transmit misleading cues, just as people can. Thus, as we walked in the door, our eyes locked on a tall, white frosted confection dominating the dining room table. Rounded and stately with thick icing, dotted with the traditional tiny red fruits, this impressive treat had us wishing we could go proceed straight to dessert.
That’s when our hostess disclosed the cake’s true identity: meatloaf slathered with mashed potatoes, garnished with cherry tomatoes. Even looking close, we found the dessert mirage hard to dispel. When Laura sliced into the towering creation to reveal an interior formed in two distinct layers featuring potato “frosting” in between, we erupted into spontaneous applause. That degree of attention to detail deserved no less.
Our hosts had even anticipated that our gratitude for a clever entrée wouldn’t preclude dessert lust. With a flourish, they indicated the designated sweet, a lovely platter of–tiny hamburgers?
We had truly underestimated our hosts’ resourcefulness. Why stop with a fake-dessert entrée when you can also serve up a fake-entrée dessert? Those weren’t real sliders after all; we were beholding slider cookies: brownie patties sandwiched between vanilla cookies garnished with green-tinted coconut and standard-looking red and yellow “condiments” made of frosting. Never have so many phone cameras emerged so quickly from so many pockets.
And never has an after-dinner book discussion proven so anticlimactic.