Frank McCourt's `Angela's Ashes' is the choice for the month

Book club

September 05, 2002

An interview with Lita Schabra Parke, founder of the Breakfast Club book club.

Why do you call yourselves "the Breakfast Club"? We're actually looking for a new name, but we met for the first time in July for breakfast - [at] Bob Evans - but because of the makeup of the group we have been moving the time around to meet everyone's schedule, and now we meet in the evening.

How did you get started? Was there some spark? I read a book called Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt, and that book spurred me to take action. It just really encourages us to read books and gives a lot of book lists.

What book are members reading this month? Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes.

How do you choose what to read? Everyone comes with their own suggestions, and they are in charge of a month, and I go through their list and usually choose the top one. We'll get to them all eventually, but ... I try to keep a lighter book in between a more difficult read, just to kind of balance it out.

With the two books that you've read, did either one get a strong reaction in the discussion? Yes, the book that we all enjoyed, for the most part, was The Poisonwood Bible. The writing was beautiful, and the descriptions were lush, and all of us really enjoyed being transported to a world like the Congo. And it was all very stimulating. And so we enjoyed, mostly, delving into the voices of the mother and the four daughters, discussing what motivated each character. ... And some of the members remembered stories from their own childhoods, and they shared them. ... We all agreed that we didn't like the last 100 pages or so. We thought it was didactic. The author is basically expressing her political views and using the novel to espouse them [in those pages].

What was the other book you read? Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. It was reviewed on NPR [National Public Radio]. ... It is like an autobiographical musing of an author's unorthodox conversion to Christianity, and she has a very dysfunctional life. She expresses humor and truth that really draws you in, and some parts were shocking and other parts were laugh-out-loud funny. It was surprising who liked the book. One of our members is very conservative, and this woman, Anne Lamott, totally bashes Republicans, but she loved the book. But some members that may have had dysfunctional childhoods, they didn't like the book. ... But overall [the author] has such nuggets of truth that you mine through. She just pegs human nature.

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