The Dangling Conversation
Last night I attended my first book club, hosted by a dear old friend, Jenny, whom I probably learned to read with in 2nd grade in Ardsley, New York. I didn't really know what to expect, riding out to Astoria, Queens on the N train, a tad nervous as I enjoyed the muted sun hanging over the NYC skyline on a humid summer's night. When I buzzed Jenny's apartment, I overheard her saying, "The author is here!" Somehow, those words put this whole experience into a new perspective for me. I felt like Bobby DeNiro in Taxi Driver. "You talking to me?"
Nearly a dozen women and men greeted me. The food spread was divine, the bar well-stocked. I have only heard about book groups for the past countless years. I have never actually attended one. Even trying to write about it brings out a fairly serious bout of shyness in me. I will say but a few things. Yes, it was thrilling to be in the catbird seat as this very well-read group spent well over an hour analyzing my novel. Yes, my jitters vanished almost instantly, because the material is so near and dear to my heart that it was a joy to hear what others had to say. And most of all, I am recharged and enthusiastic about the future of books. I know all the headlines are ringing the death knell of print, and B & N is on the ropes, and Amazon is going to take over the planet. That is what you read. But one need only sit with this group and revel in their enthusiasm for books -- not just mine -- books in general. These folks like to read! And long after we had finished our discussion of Food for Marriage, the talk continued long into the night, about the pleasures of the written word and the cathartic release that reading brings for all of us.
It was a wonderful experience and a beautiful group of people. I was grinning all the way back to Brooklyn. And on those low days when the words just won't come, or I wonder why bother at all? I will remember an evening in Queens. My first book group. Like all firsts, it is a night that will linger sweetly.