Endsleigh Salon book evening this week and, having missed the last two, it was lovely to head back to heaven on earth and talk around this month's theme of books and America.
The themes are working supremely well and we all agreed at the end of the evening that we'd had a fantastic discussion about a great range of books when so often the debate about one and the same book read by all can often dry up worryingly fast. Then book groups can go way off topic and end up discussing who has got planning permission for that plot of land down the road and have the old folks had their sit-in protest about the demolition of their town centre Over 60's Rest Room yet?
Does every town have one of these? Entry forbidden unless you are over 60 and the Tinker says as he's over 80 that rules him out. It is the standard dare when anyone hits the big 6-0, they just have to go and sit in there because they can.Well ours is to be demolished to make way for flats/ houses/ skyscrapers/shops, who knows and the old folk are not happy.
Hell really hath no fury like the elderly of a traditional rural market town when rankled.We rely on them to protest about everything, neon signs, scaffolding outside shops, smelly drains, rogue trading stalls in The Square, they are invaluable.The eyes and ears for the rest of us who are too busy keeping the place working to notice.
Taking away their Rest Room is not a smart move, though quite how a sit-in has helped the cause I'm not sure because surely that's what they do in there anyway? I think a Zimmer March would have had more impact.
Anyway we had a sit-in of our own at Hotel Endsleigh, the salon room with the listed wallpaper (in case you'd forgotten that detail, we love it) pots of tea and coffee brought in and we settled down to American books and found we had covered a good range of authors between us. Anne Tyler, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest J.Gaines, Mark Twain, Alison Lurie, J.D.Salinger and everything else inbetween.
The discussion ranged all over the place, UK versus US culture, how do we see them, how do they see us, how are the books in any way different from UK reads and now we need to know just how acceptable is Huckleberry Finn as a text for children in the US now?
Our reader had found it surprising and wondered whether it might be slightly frowned upon now so perhaps some US visitors here could enlighten us.Is Mark Twain your Charles Dickens? We thought possibly so if it's not treachery to suggest such a thing to all Dickensites.
Anne Tyler got a great thumbs up as did F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Catcher in the Rye we had down as the US equivalent of our Lord of the Flies, the didactic classroom text that is supposed to convey a message and make teenagers better people.
Were we right?
Next month, back by popular demand, our favourite topic, History for the Stupid.