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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Assigned Reading: Bits and Pieces

Somehow I became responsible for two different reading group assignments that have discussions within a week of each other, so what with the groups and making preparations for the Jerry Dennis book launch and Fall Festival, it's a busy time. No pictures today. Sorry!

For the small group reading Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, I sent these questions:

I suggest we focus for this work on the poet's voice. What do you think of the way Whitman portrays America? How does the poet come across as a man? What did you like and/or dislike about Whitman based on this book? Do you feel that his poetry was sincere?

To another small group meeting to discuss Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, I suggested we begin with these:

(1) The twin theme opens and closes the story. What did you think of the way it was developed? What did it add to the novel? Did any aspects of the author's development of the twin theme delight/surprise/disappoint you? Why?

(2) Who was your favorite character and why?

(3) The cultures of Ethiopia, America and India take distant second place to the culture of medicine as presented in this novel. Do you think this is true for surgeons? What other groups might it also be true of? [Obviously I was too lazy to rewrite this sentence to avoid the preposition at the end!]

(4) Some people think this book would have been stronger or better if it had been shorter. What do you think? If you were the editor, would you have asked the novelist to make cuts--and, if so, where?

Years ago one of these groups chose to read read Wangeri Maathai’s memoir, Unbowed. Now I see that Nobel Peace Prize winner Maathai has died, age 71. One thing is certain: while alive, she did her work. What is your most important life's work? What is mine? Are we doing it?

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