We had our bi-monthly book club last night. A rollicking gathering, for sure.
Half-Broke Horses (Jeannette Walls) was a resounding success. Everybody had an opinion. There the obvious things like: could I be a pioneer? …. am I tough enough? Most of our group decided that their up-bringing had been too comfortable: they would not make good pioneers.
The most telling observation, however, was on the meaning of half-broke itself. There are certainly half-broke horses in the novel: not wild, but barely ride able. However, the main character might have also been half-broke: a woman who knew and understood social structure, but who was always pushing the limits, crossing the line. As opposed to a character who followed all the rules … or who did not know or understand society, and who had no intention of following rules.
We meet at the Big House, as we are wont to say. (We always do, meet at the Big House.) There was a fire in the century-and-a-half year old fire place. Not that it was cold, but the ceilings are high and the chill creeps in around the edges of the windows and doors. Just a dark a stiff breeze blew up. We had a touch of smoke along with dinner.
see the “Christmas At The Big House” posting … 22 December ’10
We always have pot luck for dinner, and usually it is pretty damn good, especially the desserts. One of our members, I might add, is chef/owner of one the restaurant’s the Obama’s chose to visit on their Christmas holiday to Asheville. … And, the wine sometimes is not as good as the food! But, there is always plenty of it.
Before we got into Half-Broke Horses we took a look at the past four years reading list. We were all surprised in some way:
why ever did we read that ? … … you mean we have never read _____ ? … … did this (author) ever write anything else, anything good?
There were six writers with local connections … from Wayne Caldwell to Thomas Wolfe.
Classically speaking, we have read, in addition to Wolfe … Robert Penn Warren, William Faulkner, Albert Camus, and Graham Greene. On the other hand, we have used up a bi-monthly cycle on A.J. Jacobs and Jeremy Leven !!
My personal favorite of the things we have read is A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean; as fine a piece of writing, I think, as has ever been put down on paper.
We decided, after some heated discussion, that, at least for us, strong and interesting characters are more important than plot or good writing.
……………………………………….. But … the real secret is to have a really good group of people!