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East Bay Book Club Message Board › Meeting Recap: April 2012 Classic Book Discussion (A Death in the Family by

Meeting Recap: April 2012 Classic Book Discussion (A Death in the Family by James Agee)

Group Organizer
Union City, CA
Post #: 16
Well, another book discussion meeting has taken place, so it's time again for me to post a recap of the meeting.

First off, we got an interesting glimpse into who the author was. Aside from writing A Death in the family, James Agee was also a film critic for TIME magainze and The Nation magazine. Plus, he was a screenplay writer. Pretty interesting resume for a writer.

So the first discussion question presented by Pam Norton was this: How do past events presented in the novel impact one's reaction to Jay's death? Some answers:
- The death and subsequent events in this story cover a timespan of only 24 to 48 hours. It was necessary for past events to be inserted in the middle of the narrative.
- It shows that the family really loved Jay.
- Even so, there were people who weren't fond of Jay, particulary having to do with his drinking habits.

Later, Pam said that she liked the opening italicized passage of the novel describing things in detail, like lawn sprinklers and accompanying sounds. I added that it went well with how the story presents detail of a slice of life surrounding a family member's death.

Other discussion topics centered on Rufus, the child in the story, and on the author's attitude toward religion. Then Pam asked us all a simple question about what our favorite scene was. Responses:
- Katherine: The anxiety of waiting for a phone call
- Pam: Three scenes - Grief and constantly figuring out who or what to blame, eating pancakes, and starting the car (written in onomatopoeia)
- Marty: The passage with the lawn sprinklers
- Kristin: Rufus and his father on a rock
- Christina: Funeral procession with casket being carried
- Ken: Simple and pure love through little actions, like making the wife's bed
- Ling: Rufus's interactions with bigger kids
- Michal: Loved the book so much that she refused to pick a favorite scene
- Don: Didn't pick a scene but commented that this book transcended works such as William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

With all of this, every single person who attended the meeting loved the book. During the roundup of final thoughts, we all described the book with a variety of words: poetic, classic, a gift, great discussion loved the book, simple language, intimate, rich in texture, great book, lyrical, fun to read. In addition, five people said that they would not have read the book if it weren't for this book club: User 902789, Deb D., Julianne, Christina Tinga, and... me, the Organizer.

All in all, another great book. Another great discussion. Another great recap. :-)
Charlie K.
user 10225405
Oakland, CA
Post #: 14
Thanks Anthony.
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