Friday, January 18, 2008

All the Names - Book Group Selection

I'm in a book discussion group here in Chicago at the Newberry Library. I've been in the group since June of 2002. It's a great group. We meet at lunch from September - June. I'm pretty sure that I am the youngest person in the group and one of the few still working.

That said this was an interesting book for our group to discuss. The book is about a clerk in the Registry office in an un-named city. His job is to record vital birth and death statistics, by hand, about the population of the city onto index cards. His hobby is collecting newspaper clippings about famous people from his country.

The majority of the people in the group kept saying how boring this guy's life was - his job was pointless and his hobby was silly. I'm thinking "well, his job is moving paper around all day and that's kind of like my job". I'm not doing anything vitally important. I like what I do but it's not super important to anyone's well being. And what's wrong with scrapbooking as a hobby? Plus he's not working in "Devil Wears Prada" conditions. He is a normal person who has something happen to him that he takes as a sign of a need to try something different with his life.

Visually this books is unusual. There are no dialogue breaks which a very astute person in the group pointed out limited the conversation to only two-way. This is the first Saramago book I've read to the end - I started "Blindness" but did not finish for some reason. Saramago writes so visually that I can picture his story as a movie in my head. I wouldn't say this would make a Top List of Favorite books but it was an enjoyable read about an everyman who, as someone close to me likes to say, "is just living".

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