Our MSL Book Club got a bit delayed at the end of October after Sandy hit. A delayed meeting was the least of our worries, and we are so happy that most of the East Coast is settling back down. Our office was closed for 7 days, but when we got back in, we found that a food drive had already been set up to benefit Food Bank of NYC. Much recovery work is still needed and if you are nearby or able, check out this list of ways to help.
Now! back to our regularly scheduled book club programming: First of all, congratulations to Junot Diaz on his nomination for a National Book Award. Diaz has had quite the autumn, and we were so excited to see him get this recognition. In honor of Diaz’s collection of short stories that center around love (in all forms), we got together this week over lunch to discuss the book, and celebrate things “short and sweet.”
A few of us brought in mini baked goods (little cookies, small rugelach, and bite-sized brownies) to kick off the theme, and we set to work discussing all the small print. See after the jump for some of our thoughts and to find out who won our giveaway!
Be careful, and read on ONLY if you’ve read the book…
- We really liked how each story stood on its own, but that they were all connected through Yunior. The one story he wasn’t featured in, “Otravida, Otravez,” was also the only story that came from a female point of view. It felt like a nice breather for the collection, something to give us a woman’s perspective before coming back to the misogyny of Yunior and his family, but it almost came a moment too soon. It struck the perfect note, I just wish it had appeared a little later in the book.
- Yunior’s adult life was clearly shaped by his relationships in childhood with his father (omnipresent even in abandonment) and his brother, Rafa. He hates the way they treated women but following Rafa’s death, he begins to act in a similar manner. He is introspective to a fault, no doubt encouraged by his otherness in a predominantly white world, but can’t turn that self-analysis into action, repeatedly making the same mistakes and feeling hurt by them.
- We loved Diaz’s use of Spanglish throughout the book: It grounded us in an environment that could have easily been exclusive and instead of making the reader feel out of the loop, we felt part of Yunior’s world. It also helped to seamlessly transition us, along with Yunior, from his family life to the life he was making for himself.
Congratulations to Kim S for winning our giveaway! Your copy of the book is winging its way to you (with a mini-care package from us at MSL) right now! Let us know what you think as you read!
Check back in next week to find out what we’re reading in November and December …