Saturday, December 20, 2008
Party Debriefing - We had a wonderful party, bringing in the holidays last Monday! Jennifer's home is beautiful and gave us a lovely background for visiting, eating, and discussing My Name is Red! The recipes people brought were delicious! If you want any of the recipes, you might try posting an inquiry here on the blog and see what happens! Sometimes I think I'll bring a card listing info about what I bring to a party; but more often than not, by the time I prepare the dish and get myself and my stuff ready, it's just too late. That's the main reason I don't send out a message before the party asking everyone to list the ingredients/recipe for what they bring. If I did that, though, I'd list mine, too, and probably it wouldn't be all that difficult...maybe next year.
My Name is Red discussion - This book was a little different for our group...a little hard to read, probably because of the foreign setting and voice, possibly because of the historical detail, maybe because this author is a Nobel Literature prize winner rather than someone hoping for a film script from his works (NOT to belittle other wonderful things we have read), and maybe even because of the translation (?). IMHO, this was a book that was better for discussion than for reading. By that, I mean that I wouldn't have read it had I not read it for book club; and I heard others voice that same sentiment. Putting together the experience of reading the book and discussing it last Monday, it was a positive experience for me. Without the promise of the discussion and the discussion itself, I probably would have been neutral to negative about spending the time I did on the book. Several members were more enthusiastic about liking the book a lot. Others didn't like it. I think the majority of us finished it. We had a p0ll as to how many "liked" the book, and it came out to about 50% of us. I think that sometimes "liking" a book is less important than gaining something from it; and I think our group helps a lot of us to enjoy the opportunity of broadening our horizons when we read something a little outside our normal taste and discuss it with the group. We don't poll as to how many "finished" the book. Some perhaps some might enjoy the discussion without having finished the book and may not feel like advertising that - which is your prerogative. We don't want to make anyone relive that old feeling of going to class the day after the dog chewed up your homework.
My experience was that I had to struggle with the beginning of the book, as I had previously mentioned via email. I did get into some plot aspects and enjoy reading much of the middle and end of the book, with that anticipatory feeling of wondering what would happen. BUT, there continued to be a lot of tedious reading for me throughout this book. The tangents about miniaturists and their art seemed repetitive and overly detailed. Yet it took me a while to "get" the relationship between Islam and the idea that both drawing something realistically and demonstrating a personal style were considered an affront to Allah, as if trying to emulate Him or outdo Him; and also it took me some time to realize the importance of these concepts as the backbone of the story. Although I usually take license to read what I want from a book and gloss over parts that are of little interest, I felt obliged to read this book carefully. I will say that even though I tried, I failed at focusing closely on the differences in the personalities of Stork, Butterfly, and Olive. I was much more interested in just about all the other characters, so I had inadvertently glossed over the 3 miniaturists more than I should have; and because of this, I missed some of the best of the experience of reading this book...as I found out during our discussion.
A good point that came out at the discussion and that had been missed by many of us was that the Dog, the Coin, and the Tree were all actually the Storyteller. Another point was that the author's use of all the different perspectives enabled the author to show that different versions of the truth emerge based on the different viewpoints. Another idea that we discussed was that the religious taboos are backward and had (have) held back the Muslim cultures, destroying any originality and progress that might have arisen...but at the same time, the people became jealous of Western advances. This was demonstrated by the destruction of the modern, seemingly fantastic clock that the Queen sent - you can read into that the people's jealousy and anger feeding into that destruction. And then there's what is going on now in our world...was this perhaps a hidden theme in this book? We also discussed our feelings for some of the characters. Shekure brought the most comments and the three miniaturists the fewest.
Special thanks to new member, Dennis, who brought several printouts of illustrations of the kind the book was all about. A picture is worth a thousand words - it was interesting to see that these different illustrations had very similar styles for the horses and yet that there were differences in interpretations of the story depicted(there were 2 illustrations of the same story, one of the ones from the book), and also some stylistic individualities seemed to be unable to be hidden. I had visited the Chicago Museum of Art in November and had looked for some of these illuminated manuscript pictures and found none. I think since a lot of these were in books and a lot of books were destroyed, they are relatively rare.
Thanks also to Pat Cronk, who brought cute homemade ornaments for everyone. Mine is on our tree!
And of course, thank you to Jennifer for hostessing our party, even though she isn't yet fully recovered from surgery. Continued wishes for progress, Jennifer!You are welcome to add your comments about the book here by clicking on "comments." Remember that I need to OK you as a contributor; please let me know if you try to comment and can't, and I will add your email address to the list. I'm working on this!
Posted by Claudia