I've been meaning to write about being invited to a book club recently. A friend from Temple suggested Wonderful Girl to her club and they said yes. And so on Sunday, we took the train to New Jersey and I was greeted by about eight women who really wanted to hear what I had to say about writing the stories. It was a different experience from doing a reading. At a reading, not everyone has read the book (probably most haven't) and they ask general questions about writing. At the book club, the women had specific questions and a lot to say about the stories. One lady said that she found them funny and vivid and really sad. I told her about my aunt reading the book and then immediately calling my mom because she was worried about me. I tried to explain about how writing the stories is cathartic and that I realize that I have a dark streak and do mean things to the characters. They wanted to know if everything I wrote about had happened to me. I said something about how no, not really, but my experience of the world is similar--a sense of disconnection, loss, shame, wanting to fit in. Another person mentioned that she identified with a lot of the feelings the little girls in the story experience and then someone said that they thought the stories said a lot about what it's like to be female. Someone else said that she was afraid the read "Ducklings" because she was so worried that something terrible was going to happen to the baby. When talking about "In Mem" they agreed that it pained them that Mem gave away her necklace and they cringed at the awkwardness of the birthday party scene. I said that I had written a version of the story where she takes the necklace back but that scene didn't make it into the final version. One lady said something like, The stories are so vivid. Sometimes, you can read a novel and come away remembering nothing about it, but I had to read these stories one at a time and stop in between to think about them. Someone else said it was like eating truffles; you couldn't read them all at once, but had to read one and then set it aside and think about each story before going to the next. Afterwards, an RN asked me if I knew someone who had died of cancer ("Another Cancer Story"). I said no, but that I had a friend who had to endure the slow, slow, slow death of her dad and how that struck me as one of the hardest things I could ever imagine having to take. It was so cool to be able to hear direct feedback like and they were so nice and generous. Another woman said that she was going to send the book to Oprah and tell her to put it on book list. I told her I would give her a cut of the money if that worked. It also made me realize that I really, really, really need to write more. I don't know what I'm afraid of or why I'm not motivated to do it regularly, why I can't write something when I'm not in a class with deadlines.
In other news, the kitties are still living out in the back yard with the mama kitty. Here she is in an Owen Mills portrait studio (I added the dogwood tree flowers to make it more glamorous and romantic).
Below are two photos of the loudest kitten; he actually makes a sort of hissing, spitting noise even though he can barely see. So cute and already psychotic. Their eyes are blue right now, just like babies. I am likely jinxing the situation by even writing about them. Tomorrow, she will have moved them away to Rio. I pretty much stopped picking them up so as not to upset the mom, but it's really hard because they are fuzzy and I want to squish them. But I will persevere all the way until next week when it's supposedly okay to pet them.