April 24, 2012

All Over Tigana

A few Mondays ago, I facilitated the All Over the Page book club at the main library. (The word “facilitate” sounds delightfully evil to me right now.) We discussed Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, the club’s first fantasy pick—really, it’s first genre pick at all. (The club is pretty new, but its intention is to read across the board, or “all over the page,” as its name suggests.) My friends (and stellar reference librarians) Jamie and Anna Leah asked me to be the “facilitator from the Knox-area community” because they know I read fantasy and because the discussion was scheduled right around Tennessee Library Workers’ Day. (They wanted an actual library person for this one and chose me of all people!)

When they approached me months ago, they asked me to pick a book that was a classic or somewhat representative of the fantasy genre, and they said they preferred a stand-alone to a series book. It took me a while, but I settled on Tigana—a leap of faith since I’d never read the book, myself.

Well, I ended up loving the book, and as far as I could tell, everyone else did too, although I’m afraid I might have maimed the club (just a bit) by picking such a long book. (I think it will grow back. One day. When someone else is facilitating.) Only one of the club’s regulars showed up. The rest of us were new and relatively few, and only two of us had actually finished the book in time for the discussion. Never fear; we had a great talk, which is often the case when a group is smaller rather than larger. And it is a testament to Tigana that readers can talk quite a bit about it without having to read to the end. (A few of the people have since gotten in touch with me to say that they have now finished reading and love the book.)

Anyway, I’m posting about the club for two reasons. One is that I worry it was the genre of the novel that kept some of the regular attendees at bay, even though the book club plans to read across genres. It could also have been the long length of the book, like I mention above, or the fact that our system only owns eight or so copies, or even that this particular discussion took place on the Monday after Easter. But if the genre of the book kept some people from trying to read it, I’m disappointed. (I haven’t cried though. Not yet.)

It feels a smidgen like being the weird kid who stirs the interest of some of the other kids but who is just weird enough that those interested but nervous other kids keep their distance …just in case. (I’m not sure that sentence is entirely readable. I’m sorry.) Actually, when I was a kid, I was one of those interested but nervous other kids. I kept pretty normal myself, but I was always secretly enamored of people who lived outside the box like it didn’t matter. And now, looking back, I wish I had let myself out more. Truthfully, I wish I got out more now. Maybe that’s why I chose to launch my Year of Reading at Your Mercy—a sort of year long celebration of getting out in bookland. (I had to cheat on the challenge to read Tigana. The things I do for library love.)

The second reason I’m posting about the club is that I want to share the basics of the discussion I led, because, trust me, it’s hard to find book club “cheat sheets” for books that aren’t often read by book clubs, like Tigana. Maybe this post will help someone someday, but by no means do I cover everything Tigana has to offer. (It’s a dense book. We only had an hour, and my brain can’t hold much at all.)

So, if you’re interested, click here for a summary of our discussion.

Tigana is such a beautiful and brave novel. I’m glad I picked it, and I’m glad I had to think about it hard enough to help other people talk out loud about it. Even though I am kind of whiny above, leading the club was a huge pleasure.