December 3, 2015 – Notes

 In attendance: Liz Clarke, Janice Loschiavo, Meta Pitrelli, Cathy Quinn, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi.

Absent: Vivian Krone, Lois Pagnozzi, Joan Swensen

Emeritus: Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl.

Book & Author: The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett.

The members gathered in Marilyn’s beautifully redecorated living room and began discussing the book while munching on delightful appetizers. Cathy had brought a disc of the movie The Thing Man (William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora; Maureen O’Sullivan as Dorothy; Cesar Romero in the role of Chris Jorgenson) along with a player. Many of us had seen the film and often there was confusion about whether something happened in the book, the movie, or both.

Questions and notes regarding The Thin Man:

  • In contrast to the situation of most people in 1933 when the book was written, the characters have money. It was pointed out, however, that there is much discussion about the stock market and economics. Also noted is the amount of alcohol consumed in the novel!
  • What was the purpose of the drinking? Nora drank as much as Nick but she did suggest he try being sober for a day.
  • The novel, written during the depression, offered escapist entertainment much as the Busby Berkeley films did.
  • Nick and Nora have no money worries and her aristocratic background has enabled him to stop detective work. Nick is someone who is attractive to both men and women, as the author was. What makes him so cool? The couple is said to be based on the author and his lover Lillian Hellman.
  • Was Dorothy after Nick? Oh, yah! Part of Nora’s appeal to Nick is the fact that she doesn’t get jealous. She seems quite confident that she appeals to Nick more than any other woman does.
  • Murder mysteries in general were discussed, along with authors Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Andrea Camilleri.
  • Why are murder mysteries so popular? Perhaps one of the reasons is that there is always a solution at the end.
  • The detective is moral and wants order. We are either the detective or the murderer.
  • Barbara would have liked to see more murder in the book! After all, only 2 characters died.
  • Some felt that reading the book was too much work; too many characters to keep track of. Sharon pointed out that in The Maltese Falcon it was easier to follow the action and the characters.

The book earned a 3.0 rating. The general feeling was that it was entertaining, but rather lightweight. The 3.0 was given in part because with this book, Hammett changed the way crime novels were written. Marilyn presented an irresistible dinner. Credit must be given to Matt, who prepared the delicious chicken, but Marilyn was responsible for everything else. As usual, there were too many desserts.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 13, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Place and food assignments TBA. February’s meeting will be held at Barbara’s house.

Next book: The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante, chosen by Tina. If you finish early, you might want to start February’s book, selected by Marilyn: Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.

Submitted by Tina Segali

December 11, 2015