Bookclub Archives - Pamela Says
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Jeopardy Book Club – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

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Anyone that knows me knows that I love games, so when Marion and Carol hosted book club this month and surprised us with a fun Jeopardy game (game questions and answers included below), our group was elated!!!

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by  Ben Fountain was our latest book club selection, a wonderfully written, poignant story that is both funny and heartbreaking.  We all agreed that this was a great read.

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We started out with lots of yummy snacks and the most delicious Margarita Martinis that Marion made and then it was game time.

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We were broken into 3 teams and played the game using rules from the Jeopardy TV show.

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Team #3 won and were the first to pick from the tray of goodies, but there were enough prizes for everyone to win a little something… thank goodness because my team bet it all and lost!!!

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After we finished Jeopardy there was a meaningful discussion about the book. What an especially fun book club night!

REVEIW
by: Kelly Konrad
Fountain’s protagonist is 19-year-old Billy Lynn, a self-described Army grunt who finds himself in the middle of a national pridefest for his unit’s bravery in an Iraqi firefight. The story is told entirely from his view, which thanks to his age, is still evolving. Billy and his cohorts are on their way to their last appearance as part of their “Victory Tour” prior to being shipped back overseas to complete their tour of duty. It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, including a trip to see Billy’s family and a funeral for a friend.
It’s clear the men of Bravo are in all sorts of pain, physically and more importantly, emotionally. Their story is laid out over the course of a single day—a day that begins with Billy nursing a hangover. His headache, though, is secondary to his heartache—heartache for his mother and sisters, one of which is the reason Billy is in the army, his best friend ‘Shroom, and for himself—trying to find some realistic, romantic connection with mere hours left in the States.
The book does a fantastic job exploring the themes of family and friendship and takes a really stark look at American patriotism as its tied to financial fortunes. The devil’s in the details for poor Albert, the maybe-not-so-hard-driving movie producer trying to negotiate a deal before the boys ship out once more.

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(There were three pieces of paper the “Vanna’s” pulled off: the top-the amount to bet, the middle-the question, the bottom-the answer)

 Jeopardy Quiz
by Marion and Carol

Characters: 
1. Billy decides to do this before drinking his beer, since they’ve had no time for exercise on the Victory Tour…
What is: 50 push-ups
2. Producer Albert Ratner mentions folding two soldiers into one role and having this actress play these two soldiers…
Who is: Actress, Hillary Swank; Soldiers, Billy and Sergeant Dime
3. This Bravo team member was described as a “melanin-deficient manatee.”…
Who is: Shroom.
4. Billy joined the Army by way of this criminal prosecution maneuver…
What is: A Plea Bargain
5. While Bravo collects team autographs in the locker room on their pigskins, Dime gets only one, namely ________…
Who is: Ennis, the equipment manager.

Themes:
1. The men of the Bravo Squad have an unbreakable bond of brotherhood, after their firestorm experience in the _______________
What is: Al-Ansakar Canal
2. The Bush administration has sent the Bravo Squad on a nation wide 14 City Victory Tour, for this reason?
What is: To help invigorate public support of the war.
3. The book is a virtuoso account of combat, commerce and this American past-time.
What is: Football.
4. Fountain’s book has been compared to an Iraqi version of this popular WWII book by Joseph Heller.
What is: “Catch-22”
5. America has become one giant ______ with a country attached.
What is: A mall.

Quotes:
1. “If a bullet’s going to get you, it’s already been fired.”
Who is: Shroom  (Sgt. Breem)
2. A small gang of Iraqi boys say to the Bravos, “Mister, give me my pocket! Give me my pocket!”, they are asking for this.
What is: Money
3. “I am a self-described pacifist twerp.”
Who is: movie producer Albert Ratner.
4. Billy describing his combat rituals:  “Never cross a threshold with your
_________.”
What is: your left foot leading.
5. “I took monkey gigs,” he called them in a bitter, waspish voice, like the Tin Man pre-lubed.”
Who is: Ray Lynn, Billy’s father

Did you know?
1. Billy answers the question asked by Sgt. Dime correctly as to how long a Football Field is.
What is: 120 yards
2. Albert Ratner had previously demanded this amount for each soldier’s life story and then Norman Oglesby offers them this amount.
What are: $100,000 and $5,500
3. The author wrote “Brief Encounters with _____” this Argentinian Marxist.
Who is: Che Guevara
4. The Chapter Title “Temporary Sanity” refers to Kathryn’s wish that Billy do what.
What is: Go AWOL
5. Norm Oglesby thought Hilary Swank appeared in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “True Lies” but it was this actress.
Who is: Jamie Lee Curtis

Vocabulary:
1. Before they’d seen any action, Billy asked Sgt. Breem (Shroom) what being in a firefight was like. Shroom answered, “It’s not like anything, except maybe being raped by ___________.
What are: Angels
2. At the Thanksgiving buffet, a particular patron, How-Wayne says, “I can imagine how hard it is on you young men. To be exposed to that level of violence…” Dime interrupts, “No, we like violence, we like going lethal. If we didn’t like killing people then what’s the point? You might as well send in the __________ to fight the war.”
What is: The Peace Corps
3.  “It’s like giving a pig a Rolex, ma’am, he’s got no appreciation for the finer things in life.”
What is: A Snuggie.
4.  Billy observing the cheerleaders states:  “Their bodies were firm as steel-belted ______.”
What are: Radials.
5.  If ever there was a prime trigger for PTSD you couldn’t do better than this, straight into sound-and-light hell.
What is: The half-time program.

FINAL JEOPARDY

Metaphors:
The two words “Long Walk” in the title is a metaphor for this.
Iraq/The War
Note: This theme may be too subjective for a game that needs a right or wrong answer, you may want to come up with another final jeopardy question if you are going to use this template.

 

 

 

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Print Thursday

The Goldfinch-Book Club

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Our book club just finished reading and discussing our latest treasure, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.  I personally loved the book!  Its beautiful prose is densely layered and overflowing with richly developed characters. I know that sounds like I just lifted that from the book jacket, but honestly it’s true! Some of our group felt it was a bit long and unrealistic, but we still had some very interesting conversations about depression and anxiety and Tart’s unique writing style. We even cast the characters for the movie!  Who would you cast as Boris?

My friend, Cynthia said her book group loved it too and talked endlessly about those characters, as did we. It is those characters that drive the story and are the most fascinating part of the book.  Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to read it, it’s 700 plus pages…and a few in our group were finishing it the day of our discussion!
Below is a quick synopsis of the book, a great recipe (if you need to bring something to share) and some thought provoking discussion questions I came up with.

Book Description
Release Date: 22 Oct 2013 by Amazon

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.

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One of the highlights of book club is the delicious snacks everyone brings, here is Robin’s Cowboy Caviar, it’s so popular, it’s becoming a staple at all our gatherings!

Robin’s Cowboy Caviar
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head Boston lettuce, cleaned and separated into leaves
Tostito Scoop Chips
Combine all ingredients except lettuce and chips. Refrigerate, covered, for at lease 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve with lettuce cups and chips.

Discussion Questions

1.  Talk about the fantastic personalities depicted in the pages detailed in Theo’s journey.  It almost seems that the more minor the character, the more brilliant was the description.  What is your favorite character and why?
2.  Discuss how Theo’s character is reflected by the many personalities in the book.  From the aristocratic Barbours, his slick gambler Dad, Theo’s beautiful and kind mother, and Pippa who was also victimized by the blast.
3. Did you feel that Theo’s self-conscious narration stretched out over too many pages, especially in the last chapter? Or was it a poetic grappling with the meaning of life?
4. Like the goldfinch in the painting, is Theo similarly chained to the memory of his mother that he lost on that disastrous day at the museum?  What else is he chained to?
5. Theo believes that events follow a pattern, whereas his father, being a gambler, believes in luck.  Discuss Theo’s inability to forgive himself for his mother’s death considering those beliefs.
6. Were there any characters that you especially related to and why?
7. Tartt has told interviewers that she will fuss over a single paragraph for days, or even weeks, perhaps contemplating the placement of a comma, do you feel the result is worthy of this attention?
8.  Did you ever feel the novel was predictable only to be surprised my clever misdirects?  Although it wandered, did you ever feel like she led you astray or did the author make you feel as if she was always in control?

You can find more great discussion questions here

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Print Monday

Book Club-Her

IMG_2060I decided to include a Book Club section to my blog because we have an amazing group that makes delicious goodies, picks mostly great books and puts together a lovely presentation. We meet on an average of every six weeks and gather at our homes and sometimes we even go to beautiful vacation spots, so I thought it would be fun to chronicle the books, recipes, and fun destinations we visit.

Her: A Memoir, by Christa Parravani, was a poignant story about identical twins.  Christa and her twin, Cara are bonded from childhood.  Cara faces a devastating tragedy and her life unravels, leaving Christa to face her own downward spiral…

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Our host selects the book, prepares a few snacks, including something of substance since this is our dinner, and provides a specialty cocktail.  She leads the book discussion with questions and sometimes a hand tailored quiz.  At this particular meeting, Kimberly passed around a glass bowl with questions she had selected and we all answered the queries that we drew, leading to a discussion that was full of stories of our own digressions, the layered realities of our own relationships and the grief we have gone through with death.  I would recommend this as a book that spawned meaningful conversations.

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My lettuce wraps are always a hit, here is the recipe:

Pam’s Lettuce Cups

1 1/2 lb Ground Turkey Breast or Ground Chicken Meat
1 Red Bell Pepper 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced thinly for garnish
1 Red Onion-chopped
Cilantro-add some chopped to meat and leaves for garnish
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 t. Fresh Ginger- grated
Chopped Nuts for garnish-preferably cashews or pistachios
Scallion Onion- chopped for garnish
Salt, Pepper and Red Chili Flakes

In a wok, heat  2 tbs. oil and fry red onion and red bell pepper for a few minutes, add ginger and garlic and cook until just starting to soften and remove, about 1 minute.  Fry meat until cooked through and add the vegetables to meat.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and red chili flakes.  Add about a half cup of the sweet chili sauce and freshly chopped cilantro and mix.

Serve with either iceberg or butter lettuce cups and condiments.  I usually use peanuts or cashews but I tried pistachios this night that I roasted in a saute pan with pink salt.

 

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