Peg is reading Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. Why?
1) She loves Alice Munro, and has read her stories over the years in books and journals and has given them to her daughters. I know because I am one of her daughters!
2) She was in Barnes & Noble and saw it on the shelf, realized she still had $ on her gift card from her son and daughter-in-law from Christmas, and thought, "Oh! I'll get a hardback!"
Right after I had this little discussion with Peg aka Mom, Susan sat down near us, the same Susan who has decided to pronounce Zooey as ZO-ee, and who was a little put out that I had not yet put her in this blog as being someone who was reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
"I will now," I said.
"Well, I'm not reading it now," she said. (I almost said "she pouted" but you are only supposed to say "said" when rendering dialogue.) "I'm done."
"Well, I hadn't really had a chance to ask you why you were reading it," I said. "Why were you?"
"I was in Barnes & Noble," she said, "and I had a gift card, so I went ahead and got it in hardback."
Twilight Zone music.
Susan had been waiting for The Help to come out in paperback, and had even asked the bookseller about the likely date, but there isn't one, not as long as it selling so well in hardback. That's how the industry works, causing a lot of hardbacks to be remaindered, as people hold out for the paperbacks, due to cost and convenience (easier/lighter to carry around). But then there's a hardback like The Help that everybody wants to read now. It's out in Kindle and audio formats, and available to pre-order in large-print paperback...but no regular trade paperback yet.
Next morning I learned that Mary Beth and Pam had also recently read The Help and really enjoyed and learned a lot from it. The "help" are the black maids raising white children in homes and communities where they are subjected to routine disrespect and indignities. Mary Beth, interested from a young age in politics and current events, vividly remembered the civil rights issues so crucial to this novel, and, of course, the assassinations of Medgar Evars and Martin Luther King, Jr. Pam felt she led a more sheltered young life and realized she was as unaware as some of the white women depicted in the novel of the important events going on all around her. I'll tell you more about what Pam and Mary Beth are reading tomorrow...or the next day.
For now, I want to say that Susan is currently reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen, a memoir, because her mom picked it up at Borders with a sale coupon and because Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love liked it.
So mothers and daughters are reading and sharing books about women here, not the chick lit sort, but the coping with real life sort. The Lives of Girls and Women sort. My book group read that novel by Alice Munro, and my mom says the stories in Too Much Happiness (which I can now borrow from her, in hardback!) are rich and complicated indeed.
"There's one I've read through twice already, and I'm still not sure I got it," she said.
And I'm not sure I get what happened when I passed through the room and found a woman dangling a pendulum over another woman flat on the floor at the retreat. She explained it was part of her work with energy and healing touch. In some spots the pendulum was still, in some spinning in gentle circles, and in others moving side to side.
After the woman on the floor got up, I said, "Can I try it?" and she dangled the pendulum over me. It went crazy, spinning everywhere in wild dancing circles and apparently I have wide open chakras! That, or I read too much.