November and December 2010 were tough months for book club. Like a box of chocolate covered pretzels left to the devices of a lonely woman with no supervision, the holidays did some damage to the success of many of our members (HCG included; I must shamefully admit I completed neither of the books discussed in this post). Even though fewer members than usual were able to finish the books, we still had highly attended meetings full of new experiences, great food and lots of lady gossip.
Jenny hosted our November meeting and choose one of her favorite books: the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Despite the creepy cover showing a John Candy looking guy holding a hot dog and a sword, most of our members who read this book really enjoyed it and found it hilarious (especially Karen). Sadly, HCG cannot offer any additional insight on the book. Really. I bought the book but never cracked it open, and I remember only scarfing down pizza and dessert at our meeting, touring Jenny's adorable house, quizzing JTS and HAF about how lady parts recover from delivering a baby and laughing a lot.
Jenny won major points for her ingenious suggestion that we switch up our ordinary book club rhythm with a new idea. In November, instead of each guest bringing the typical bottle of wine or snack, Jenny asked that we each bring a book for a child in first through third grades. The books were donated to children who attend the school where Jenny's mom teaches, which was in serious need of new books. How great is that?
Kim was our hostess for the December meeting - a Christmas-themed gathering! - and chose Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag. Kim's home was a beautifully decorated Christmas wonderland, and we tackled yet another new book club feat upon Kim's suggestion: a cookie exchange. Yes, some of us may have buckled at the last minute and bought our contributions instead of baking them, but we all walked away with delicious baked treats.
I actually gave Snowblind a shot, so here's a synopsis from Good Reads:
An all-out, nonstop, and now classic look at the cocaine trade through the eyes of smuggler Zachary Swan who served an elegant clientele, traveling between Bogota and the nightclubs of New York, inventing intricate scams to outmaneuver the feds. Creating diversions that were characteristically baroque, surviving on ingenuity and idiot's luck, he discovered in the process a hip, dangerous, high-velocity world that Robert Sabbag evokes with extraordinary power and humor. A flat-out ballbuster.
A huge fan of the drug trade and any movies/books involving it, I had high hopes for Snowblind. One review called the book "one of the best books ever written about the cocaine trade" and the synopsis above even referred to as a "ballbuster" (a strong term even for HCG). I basically expected to read the film "Blow" and tried to envision Johnny Depp as Zachary Swan. It didn't work.
I read about the first 50 pages of Snowblind and then ran out of time/gave up. Balls just weren't busted as quickly as I would've liked and, according to my book club, the balls never really got busted. The members who did read the entire thing expected more excitement; after all, shouldn't a book about the cocaine trade be pretty f-ing crazy? Also, the book was set in the 1970s, and we struggled to adjust the money references for inflation. Many of us kept forgetting the time period wasn't current and failed to understand the significance. In the words of HAF, we thought "Why are these people selling drugs for so little money?" Or "Why is this guy bragging about buying a $50 pair of shoes?" A great part about book club is realizing other people sometimes think like you do.
BIG congrats are in order to JTS who, as alluded above, gave birth in early November to her first child (and the second baby born during our book club's tenure): Andrew Toll Schulman. We wonder if JTS will Google her baby like HAF did and end up at Here Comes Gina.