Dec 12, 2007

Dan IS the Man!

Last night Dan officially violated Rule One in the MBC Protocol Handbook, which reads: “Thou Shalt Not Discourage Thy Successor Host.” With his extensive German menu—replete with spatzle, sauerbraten, bratwurst (which tasted deliciously free of those tasteless meal byproducts acceptable in Europe), and “German” chocolate cake—and his revised home décor (Steinbeck’s Rocinante was a poor relation to Dan’s side-entry ManLand), Dan has set an impossible standard for all who follow. (Tom, start preparing!) Thanks to Dan’s zealousness, Rule Two has now been enacted and reads: “He Who Violates Rule One Shall Immediately Repeat as Host.”

We thank Dan for his hospitality and his generosity. Our visions of Rocinante will forever include two TV screens, a bar, and two sets of rocking loge seats. And we thank Dean for helping with the preparations after Dan speared his left orbital bone on a tomato post.

We also acknowledge the arrival of Armando, who admitted to knowing Tom’s wife more than 30 years ago, which is about when our other newbie, Jeff, was born. Welcome to you both! (And note to you both: at Man Book Club, we don’t mention other men’s wives during our meetings because for 2-3 hours each month, in the fullness of our fellowship, we pretend they don’t exist.)

The Book:
Our run around the table produced a wide variety of commentary on Travels With Charley. There were those who found it refreshing, prophetic, nostalgic, and generally enjoyable; there were also those (slightly in the majority) who felt a little cheated by Steinbeck. With his immense talents, he used this travelogue to share more rants than insights. He was preoccupied with the Bomb, trash, migration, uncommunicative Yankees, and his inability to read a map when entering cities of any size. (And, according to Roy, he was a complete misanthrope all the way to Chicago…at which point Roy put down the book. Way to give a Nobel Prize winner your attention, Roy!) But, as several of us noted, his final 30 pages set aside the ramblings of an older Steinbeck and eloquently attacked the racist tumult he encountered on his trip through the South. We rated this work a 6.1, a figure that would have been slightly lower had Stan not shamefacedly admitted to giving “any” book at least a 5. (And Stan had the nerve to criticize the integrity of our rating system!)

The Book Exchange:
Thanks to all who brought books to exchange and special thanks to Dan for tossing in a couple extras to fill the gaps. There were some wonderful titles on display and if it weren’t so chaotic we might have agreed with Garth’s suggestion that we simply read our newfound treasures and share the results in January. (Actually, on principle, we would never have agreed with Garth, but his suggestion was certainly novel…and, yes, pun intended.)

Next Up:
Tom proposed both of Krakauer’s “Into…” books, which unfortunately had been read by a solid majority of those present. He also proposed Of Mice and Men and The Kite Runner. The former was too much Steinbeck too soon, and the latter had also been read by many. When Tortilla Curtain was unwrapped by Larry, a consensus emerged that it was time for T.C. Boyle, the 1988 PEN/Faulkner winner and a favorite of book groups across the country ever since he stopped using his impossible middle name.


  1. First of all, thanks to everyone that attended the last meeting. I always enjoy listening to everyones opinions,rants & raves about the book selections. The wines and camaraderie are always entertaining. Which leads me to my .02 opinion. I don't know what happened between me calling Andrew a control freak and leaving the room to prepare dessert, but when returning I was informed that we were reading a book that wasn't one of the 4 selections. It is my understanding that the next host brings 2-3 books and we make a selection. It shouldn't matter who has or has not read the book. None of those books have been discussed in this group so I don't see the problem. Look at it this way: it saves you from reading the book and gives you time to read your new book.

    Hosting takes work so suck it up and pick a book from the selection.

    This is a big group--some avid readers, some not (I being the latter). So you avid readers need to find another hobby, like build a bird house, better yet a bird mansion, or spend 5-6 hrs on a public golf course wondering if the beercart chick is hot.

    Here are some suggestions to alleviate this problem in the future:

    Bring one book (take or leave it)
    Submit your selections through the blog prior to the next meeting(Andrew must restrain from any opinion)
    Instead of a book select an author (I'll be sure to keep Dr. Suess & E B White in the closet)
    Listen to Garth & enjoy Roys homemade spirits (thanks for the Applejack)

    Bottom line, I go to these meetings to get a break and hang out with a bunch of guys that crack me up.

    Thanks for the good time and looking forward to next month
    Tom, let me be the first to RSVP.


  2. Dan (and Others),
    Thanks for the early RSVP for the next bookclub on January 15 at my house. As usual, I will have a tough act to follow and hope to match your culinary talents, lovely home and fine hospitality. I will already concede that I have no match for your garage with 3 TVs, sportsroom, bar, tools, etc, what a guys place!! Again, thanks for hosting us.

    You are right that my booklist got cannonballed. My feelings are a little hurt but, on the good side, it resolves my menu selection dilemma if "Into the Wild" got selected. You see I was thinking of starving you guys or poison roots! Anyway, my 2 cents on the book selection process is:

    Let the host select a short list and the group pick from it. Everyone gets a turn to (host) prepare their list of books they would like the group to read and thereby generating stimulating discussions on matters that may interest that person. It's a lot of work for the host so this is his reward.

    I very much enjoy everyone and look forward to many future bookclub events with a superb group of guys.


  3. After reading Dan's comment, and then Tom's follow-up, I now feel we treated Tom a little shabbily. Just because many had read the Krakauer books, that shouldn't have caused their disqualification.

    I agree that, so long as the host-to-be proposes books that generally meet our selection criteria (and Tom's did), we should honor those titles and vote for one, even if many have read it.

    Sorry Tom. We'll do better by you next time.

  4. You guys are doing great! Love the back and forth about the books and the selection process. It'll smooth out over time, or not! You couldn't go wrong w/ either Krakauer title, but for the most thought provoking (and maybe his least read) go for Under the Banner of Heaven. What a researcher who can spin a tale too. Plenty to talk about in that book too . . .don't know if it won any of the prizes you guys use to select from though . . .remember Dan's "bottom line" and keep reading, eating, drinking, and cracking each other up.

    Jeff in IL via CO!