For the first time ever, a boy is picking the next selection for our book club. This is not as big a deal as you might think, as our book club has only met five times in about nine months.
But still. Guys do think differently than girls do. It's really exciting. That's why sometimes we (me, just me) treat the lone boy in our ranks as some sort of circus animal who will do tricks for us (again me). We (I) insist on pausing about half an hour into the discussion and turning on him. "What is the male perspective?" Suddenly, he is thrust into the position of speaking on behalf of men everywhere. (My fault. All mine. No other women in the group are responsible for this.)
Poor guy. Of course, not a lot of guys without English degrees have had to read Persuasion, so really he's not having to speak on behalf of that many people.
Anyway, one way men and women think differently about book club is that women have a tendency to send out the uber-nice "anyone have suggestions?" e-mail. This e-mail is an invitation to passive aggression, since the woman who next hosts book club will just pick what she wants to read, or what she thinks the majority of people will take the time to read. Responses to the e-mail really just serve to stress her out, and make her worry someone might be offended she didn't select their book.
Our man in book club has bypassed this, but to be honest he was unlikely to feel that bizarre guilt anyway.
So here is his discussion of a short list (edited for brevity):
"Catcher in the Rye
My theory behind this one is that it is probably the quintessential masculine book and up until this point the books have leaned toward the girly....
War Reporting for Cowards
OK this book would be different for the group because it is non-fiction, but it also touches on the form of literary non-fiction or new journalism, which would be a good topic of discussion.... but not along our usual vein of what does he mean by this?....
Nick Hornby, who wrote High Fidelity and About a Boy, both books I thoroughly enjoy, also wrote Fever Pitch, which I have always meant to read.
There is a TV show I like that is allegedly based on this book. The show is very smart and amusing and I am working under the assumption the book might also be. This one is fairly low down the shortlist on account of I know nothing about it really, but I am thinking about it mostly out of curiosity.
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
I was thinking about this one because it is so tragic and vivid. To the point where it is really hard to read and at the same time hard to put down. It is the kind of book where at the end you just want to blow your brains out or drink heavily or drink heavily and blow your brains out, so we'll see.
I was also thinking about another Stephen King (I am not sure Different Seasons was the best way to open up to him) or a John Grisham book...."
See what I mean? Men and women approach book club in completely different ways. I say this mostly because I would never choose any of these books, so a more accurate statement would be that this man and I approach things very differently.
Except Love Monkey, which of course I'm excited about because the man selecting the books is least excited about it. I'm contrary that way, but I love the description, from one of the reviews, of a man calling his interest in a woman a once-in-a-lifetime thing, like cleaning behind his fridge.