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John W.
user 13256333
Group Organizer
Minneapolis, MN
Everyone who responded to my request about dates for "Crime and Punishment" said that they can attend on July 26, so we'll stay with that date.

Our discussion for "Of Human Bondage" went very well, and it was the group consensus that Maugham was an outstanding writer - deep thinking in accessible language.  As I mentioned, the only references to Maugham that I've ever come across have been in conservative-leaning publications, particularly National Review, which was founded by the late William F. Buckley.  Maybe that's just coincidence, because Maugham was not overtly conservative, and he eventually became exclusively gay.  An advantage Maugham had over most writers was that he had a practical, grounded view of life, especially when it came to the need for money; his head stayed out of the clouds even in the midst of profound thought.

A little about group dynamics.  I first became discussion leader of the group on an informal basis before I became the organizer.  During the first few meetings I attended, what happened was what always happens in a group like this without someone moderating the discussion: we sometimes had long pauses, we looked at each other wondering what was next, and discussion often lagged.  I started throwing out questions to keep things going.  When our group's founder, Pam, asked me to take over as organizer, she recommended that I also keep leading the discussions.

I'm always open to suggestions on how I can improve, so if I ever get into a bad groove or go off on tangents, speak up, or email me anonymously from a friend's email address.  I'm not easily offended: I was a bank regulator for a long time, and I've been married for 20 years, so whatever you might say to me I've already had worse things said about, and to, me.


A former member
Post #: 6
Having just led my first discussion group (­ ), I know how challenging it is to keep the discussion going and yet focussed on the work itself. You are doing a superb job, John, and I look forward to each and every meeting.

It helps, of course, that we are reading some of the greatest works of literature. Given the wealth of ideas and the depth of character development contained in these works, the books almost discuss themselves.

I also have to compliment the group itself. The members think about what they've read and are eager to share their thoughts, but they are also open to the opinions of others. Although our primary focus is on what the author has written, it is fun to hear people relate the material to their personal lives. This makes for some lively and engaging discussions!
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