Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bar Book Club

We met last night at the microbrewery for our latest book club. Beer of choice was a new one, Bourbon Barrel Stout--very good. It's a dark beer with a lot of flavor (which is exactly what I prefer).

We'd read Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which was a bit of a strange experience for some in our group...and I think earned some snickers from some spouses and such (Yeah, they call it a book group, but they're reading a comic. What geeks). Actually the guy who suggested it had read it for a communications and culture class in college some 10 years ago, and he was the one whose sister-in-law had called him a geek.

So I enjoyed the book, and we ended up with a good discussion on it. I didn't read comics growing up, and I think for those who did the book would be even more exciting--it's like it validates the type of thing you liked reading when you were younger while giving it greater depth, weightier topics, more adult themes or approaches. I can see the same thing for some of the books I do read, that they make it OK again to enjoy whatever it is that you're sort of embarrassed that you liked back in those awful early teen years...

The other thing that jumped out at me because I've been trying to expose myself to more graphic novels and the storytelling techniques of them is that this was a lot more bound by the traditional panel-by-panel storytelling than some things I've read. I wonder if that's a reflection of how things have changed in the 20+ years since it was published. There were certainly times when this broke away briefly from the panels, and I had the feeling (whether true or not) that I was seeing the early forms of that kind of experimentation.

It was my turn to bring suggestions, and I brought these:

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco

Plus one nonfiction book because I think some in the group tend to be intimated by the fiction I like, My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan, and that's the one they chose. It's a re-read for me (as the VanderMeer and Helprin books would have been), a bunch of essays on environmentalism and the natural world and spirituality. It came down to this, this Eco and Sedia books, so I'm a bit disappointed as I would have loved to read this with the group and discuss them, but I'm hoping to read both of them soon as well.

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