Turned out that the book group was tonight instead of tomorrow (thank you, Rebecca, for the reminder!) It was a terrific discussion. Snuggler didn't go, but all five of the other girls enjoyed Call of the Wild and had a lot to say about it. We also learned that Jack London was a celebrity endorser of grape juice. Who knew? He was an oyster pirate, too, a term which prompted some rather funny mental visuals before we found out what it meant.
I was really quite surprised at the enthusiasm these 10- and 11-year old girls had for the rather raw and rough writing. I enjoy Jack London, but in small doses with ample time in between readings; like Hemingway, he's too masculine for me to take in big draughts.
As I grow older I tend to prefer non-fiction to fiction, anyway. I've wondered if that's because by now I've seen enough human frailty and folly in real life that I don't need more from books. I still appreciate subtlety, the truly tragic hero or heroine, the well-drawn humorous character, the ingenious plot twist. I get bored when I'm expected to wallow in prosaic psychological stresses and sexual interests and American greed/self-centeredness/middle-class angst. What I yearn for is beauty... characters who renew my sense of hope... insight into who I want to be when I grow up. I want fresh ways of looking at problems, and inspiration to do the right thing, and the motivation to get up and keep moving when I'm worn down. Right now it's easier to get that by reading non-fiction. But if you've read any good novels lately that meet some of my criteria, let me know. I'm always up for a good read.