Udall's `Edgar Mint' is the Encore choice

Book club

July 25, 2002

An interview with Herb Malveaux, leader of Encore Book Club at the east Columbia branch of the Howard County Library.

What book are members currently reading? The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall.

Do you think there's been a real favorite over the years? We read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It's a science fiction book. The book deals with the aftermath of this group that went to [another] planet. ... It's a book about what we expect from different cultures and what we find. And it's a book about God and can we have a loving God that would let catastrophes happen. ... The book is very surprising in that ... the author doesn't make the gadgetry of the world in the future an obstacle to reading the book. The book starts out in the countryside in Italy in the future, but not so far in the future, 2023 I think. ... But most of the book is an exploration, an exploration of culture, a religious exploration, an exploration of interpersonal relationships -- human to human and human to other species.

We also got a lot out of Perfume by Patrick Suskind. ... It's such an unusual book. The story is about a 19th-century gentleman whose body doesn't have a smell, but he himself had a perfect sense of smell and could sense things by his sense of smell. ... And he wanted to make the most lovely and perfect perfume until finally he wants to extract the scent of a person [for the perfume] to the point that he kills them.

About the murder, were any of the club members offended by the story? No, this story didn't generate any of that. ... It's a very graphic novel. For instance, at the beginning the author makes it seem that because the protagonist is different people don't like him. They don't like to be around him, don't want to touch him. And in the beginning, there appeared to be some sort of hex on people that had a connection with him, and it was kind of repulsive almost. ... And there are murders, and one of them is so incredibly graphic you almost think it would be hard to not have a problem with it, but the author handles it extremely well.

What are the demographics of your group? I'd say everybody is at retirement age except myself and maybe one other member. Of course, we meet at 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, so unless you work at night. ... [The group] is mostly women. We're not meeting in August, but we will meet again in September.

Information: the library information desk, 410-313-7704.

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