Book club

September 21, 2013

So I was asked to run an adult book club at work, aside from my “regular job” that’s teens and e-resources. I said yes, hoping it would expose me to the sorts of books I’ve been too lazy to pick up (literary fiction, which can be uneven…so I’ve been sticking with a lot of non-fiction, which is more predictable) and get me back to the kind of attentive reading I did as a lit student.

And the first book (I can’t speak to the first meeting, that comes on Monday) was a great success. Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter. Not a perfect book…sometimes the interior lives of the characters are a bit heavy-handed, for instance. But she builds up patterns in a way that’s just subtle enough, and she’s content with a realistic ending, instead of the perfect one so many novelists seem to go for. I’m looking forward to the discussion, and hope I can regain some of the facilitation skills I once had. Time to get nimble again, brain!

Waiting for Godot

September 7, 2013

This may have been the most perfect piece of theatre I’ve ever seen.

The acting was stunning. Tom Rooney and Stephen Ouimette were fabulously balanced; Brian Dennehy was, well, Brian Dennehy; Randy Hughson was heartbreaking and terrifying as Lucky (what a name!) and even the boy(s?) stood their test well.

In the program the director talks about silence and space, and these things are all, in Waiting. How to pass the time while waiting leads to the question of how to exist in time and space when you don’t have any effect…on anything…even to the extent of not knowing where one was the day before.

And what to say about Beckett? It’s as though, in its spareness, the play contains multitudes. The other line to strike me from the program was that “Godot is a comedy whose actions take place in the field of tragedy.” I think this is what we were getting at at intermission as we discussed cruelty/evil in the play. Pozzo’s treatment of Lucky is a scandal, as Vladimir exclaims, but he may not be innately cruel. The world they live in has treated all of them very cruelly, though (if Vladimir and Estragon were to “drop” Godot, he’d punish them, Didi says).

It’s levels upon levels upon levels. There’s the social/class commentary of Pozzo/Lucky and the situation of V. and E., tied up in postwar concerns. There’s meta-theatrical commentary (“But nothing happens!”). These lead to the existential problem — the centre cannot hold; how to find meaning in a world in stasis, with no reaction to (and barely any memory of) your presence.

It’s so spare that every line is endowed with an incredible amount of meaning. And the people who brought it to life were masters, all.