Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Flipside of Joining a Book Club

I joined a book club a year ago when I first moved to Palm Springs. The group consists of fifteen retired gay men who are well read.  We meet once per month at a member’s house—we all take turns hosting—and the host that month offers up three selections for the next month, which we vote on to select one of the three.

There are a number of benefits; the most obvious is the social opportunities to hang out with a number of gay men my own age who also love books. And because other people offer up what they think are good reads, I have the opportunity to read at least one book per month that I normally would not have known about. It’s a great way to broaden one’s literary horizon.

Of course, the flip side of at opportunity is that occasionally we end up reading something that is a waste of time. Tonight we are meeting at my house to discuss such a book.

The book is a series of vignettes depicting one gay man’s sexual experience from boyhood until he finally accepts, and is comfortable with, his sexuality. The problem I had with this book is not that it’s not well written in terms of sentence structure and word selection. It reads well. The problem is that there is no conflict. Each story is a positive experience, start to finish, with no hurtles to over come. In short, it was repetitive and boring as dirt.

The book reads like an erotica novel, only the author chose not to describe the sex scenes. But it wasn’t boring from lack of sex (I normally detest explicit sex in novels) but rather from lack of conflict, which means lack of drama.

The problem that I’m now chewing on is how to convey that to the group tonight without looking like some A-hole writer ragging on another author’s work. Perhaps I’ll just sit quietly and stay the hell off my soapbox.

My three options for the group to vote on:
Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
Wool by Hugh Howey
YU by Joy Shayne Laughter

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