Along with dessert, Carol Shields' `Unless'

Book club

April 17, 2003

An interview with Phyllis Kepner, founding member of B.A.D. book club.

How did your club get started? Some of us belonged to a federated garden club ... and we joined together with some friends and neighbors and co-workers and decided to read a book a month. ... We needed a name, so since we were D.I.G., Discoveries in Gardening, and it's easy to remember and we have dessert for our book discussion, we decided we would be B.A.D., Books and Desserts.

What book are members reading this month? We are reading Carol Shields' Unless. It's about a woman who has a daughter who dropped out of society, and [the woman] is also a writer, so [the author] intertwines the experience of the novel [the woman] is writing with the experience of [the woman's] life and the daughter who's breaking her heart.

How did you come to choose that book? That was suggested by the [Howard County] library. ... We don't sit around and discuss character development and foreshadowing and things like that. We're not that pretentious. We're just eight intelligent women discussing their views, talking about what we read and how it relates to us.

Is there a book that led to an especially dynamic discussion? We read The Corrections [by Jonathan Franzen], which is about three adult children who are so different, and the parents are ill, and they want to get their children back together for one last Christmas dinner. And the children are all estranged. ... It's a very complex sort of story, but we could relate to it. ... It's very involved to read. The family is sort of bizarre. ...

We tend to read a certain kind of book because we are in the 50-something-into-early-60s age group and have experienced the changes that come with that. Two of the members have been teachers, two psyche nurses, some that have really traveled a lot and one that is really tuned in to the human condition. ... A lot of our books have had very interesting women in them. ... That's the fun of fiction. You can see other sides or points of view and come away with some little bit of wisdom that maybe you never thought of before.

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