Monday, August 29, 2016

Existential Fear

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my next book group title At the Existentialist Cafe.   Not sure what I have gotten myself into with this one, but I am up for the challenge.  On Saturday, I met up with a number of people I haven't seen in a while and one thing we had in common was books and book groups. That got me thinking and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the realization that I am now in three book groups.

My first group began way back in the 20th century, when LaDeDa was still on Washington Street.  A couple customers got the group going, but we eventually disbanded after being infiltrated by an offensive human who, despite being told to go away, would not.  He had moved to Manitowoc from Whitefish Bay because, in his words, "those people" were taking over all the nice neighborhoods.  He also was unable to attend any theatre functions because the shows were all run by and acted by Jews.  Month after month we listened and were sickened by his bigotry, and month after month one or more member told him those attitudes were unacceptable.  I even had several discussions with him one on one; still he continued to show up whether he had read the book or not.  Eventually, we just decided to fade away for a while.

When the group came up for air, LDD had moved to its present location and here we remain.  We read 6-8 books a year and supplement with a movie here or there - mainly foreign titles.  The group is smart, friendly and very social.  Everyone knows and respects the fact that that last characteristic often frustrates me....but not enough to leave.  I enjoy our meetings, and I enjoy and respect each of our members.

One Tuesday, I walked into my piano teacher's living room for a lesson and had hardly taken off my jacket before she blurted "I just read the best book ever.  Peter says I need to join a book group".  On that day, group two was born.  We decided to keep this group small.  There are only four of us.  Our plan is for each of us in turn, to choose a book.  We have no specific schedule, no deadlines, and we meet whenever the book picker can find a common date to pull us together.

Then there was the visit from Mary which began with a brief overview of our shared love/lust relationship with Hemingway.  Because of her job, Mary is not able to commit to a discussion group that meets with any regularity.  Viola!  Group three.  We're a cyber group, still in our infancy and are about to plunge into our second book.  We have nine members and I am sure that at times we will each take a pass on a book.  What I like about the FB format is that we can comment and ask questions as we go.  

5:05 - UPS finally arrived and from skimming page 1, I have learned there is nothing to fear from Sarah Bakewell's book.  After all, this philosophy - or a mood as sentence one suggests - found its way into some rather provocative pieces of literature, and most definitely into theatre.  

I'll be OK with this one and will report on the accuracy of my prediction in two weeks.  No post next Monday...Labor Day.