September 10, 2014 – Notes

 In attendance:

Liz Clarke, Vivian Krone, Janice Loschiavo, Lois Pagnozzi, Meta Pitrelli, Cathy Quinn, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi, Jeri Stangl, Joan Swensen.

Absent:  Sharon Rome, Donna Sabetta

Book & Author: Waiting for Snow in Havana, by Carlos Eire

Since this month’s selection was a memoir, Barbara opened the discussion by citing some points from a book by Abigail Thomas entitled Thinking of Memoir. When writing a memoir, the author suggests a few “prompts”: a fading memory; physical memories; memories of the senses (the smell of Noxzema); the softest thing you can remember; the wrong reaction you received from someone you wanted to impress; memories of holidays; the thing you wanted to be. These suggestions immediately prompted memories from many, who shared snapshots from their past.

Speaking of St. Therese… Lois mentioned the details of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the parish of St. Therese. Food, fun and music (plus zeppole!) will be available on Friday, October 3, 5:00-10:00 p.m., with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. Saturday hours are 3:00-10:00 p.m. There will be a special mass on October 11 at 5:00 p.m. To confirm these details or for more information, please contact Lois.

Notes on Waiting for Snow in Havana

  • Overall, the book received a warm and positive reaction from members.
  • There was a question about whether the boys’ mischievousness was particularly Cuban or if American boys would have acted the same. This lead to the question of whether boys abuse/taunt each other in this way all over the world.
  • It was noted that Carlos’ father contributed to the boys’ daring and craziness, with antics like the fireworks and car surfing along the Malecon. Indeed, the father was himself crazy.
  • The author’s many recollections involving lizards was noted. Lizards are viewed as instruments of evil and also recipients of evil.
  • Was writing this memoir a catharsis for the author? Yes, the group felt, leading him to come to terms with his father as well as his neer-do –well brother.
  • The issue of the dad bringing into the family a bad seed such as Ernesto seemed incomprehensible. He would have been bad enough but the molestation takes his wretchedness up a notch.
  • Janice mentioned that one person in four is said to meet with this type of situation in the course of their life. They don’t say anything because they believe in some way they are at fault.
  • Some members felt the book should have been darker but the consensus reached was that he was writing it from a child’s perspective. Had he been there as an adult, his view would have been more stark.
  • Others felt it was dark enough, with a young boy leaving his parents, his family, friends, his language – everything he had known up to that point – and starting alone in a land of strangers
  • Some felt that the author should have provided more historical context so that events would have been clearer.
  • Jeri read a moving passage from a book written by a former Memorial student who went on to be a doctor: Undocumented, by Harold Fernandez, M.D. The author writes fondly and with gratitude for the kindness and attention he received from teachers and coaches like Jeri and Franco Sabetta.

The book was awarded a 3.5 rating.

Next Meeting: Thursday, October 2, 5:00 p.m., at Joan’s house. Joan made the selection for the 75th book: The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty. The group discussed various menu ideas and decided that we would cater the meal ourselves.   Here are the assignments:

Vivian, antipasto;

Marilyn, champagne;

Cathy and Meta, dessert;

Barbara, cannoli and one sfogliatella;

Liz and Tina, quiches and breads;

Jeri, camera;

Janice, appetizer;

Lois, cheese and crackers;

others are invited to bring wine or beer.

To add to the festivities, each member will bring a book, valued at around $25, for her secret recipient.

Planning ahead, the group set these dates for the final two meetings of the year: Thursday, November 20, and Wednesday, December 3. If Donna will be here for the November meeting, she will choose the book for that month. If she won’t attend, then the group will read Barbara’s choice, The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham. Cathy will choose for December and Tina for January. If Donna will attend any of those meetings, she will then choose the book for that month.

Submitted by Tina Segali

September 12, 2014