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Book Discussion for "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semples

  • Apr 13, 2014 · 3:00 PM
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I'm placing this book in between Nabokov and Faulkner this quarter in the hopes that it will be a slightly lighter repast to give us a breather - we'll see how it goes! I look forward to reading and discussing this one with you!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
*Maria Semple wrote for the television shows Arrested Development, Ellen and Mad About You. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times. She lives in Seattle.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” leaves convention behind. Instead, it plays to Ms. Semple’s strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy.
The tightly constructed “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is written in many formats — e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple’s storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first. *excerpted from Janet Maslin review, NY Times


Now let's get to readin'!

Suggested Donation: $2/attendee

As stated in my profile, I'm a broke-ass grad student, and Meetup groups cost money to run (surprise!), so... if you can contribute a buck or two, please do! This increases the likelihood that I can continue this group despite my rotten budget. If you can't, don't sweat it - it wouldn't really be fair to exclude other broke-asses. If there are extra funds from donations over the year (i.e., if the amount collected exceeds the cost of the Meetup, which is $144/year), then I will use the remaining funds for something fun for the group, like drinks/snacks for a holiday get together at the year's end.

A little note on RSVPs:

If you have to cancel (life happens sometimes), please do so at least 24 hours in advance. That way space can be freed up for others who may wish to attend, but for whom there wasn't enough room. RSVPs cannot be changed after 9:00am on the day of the event, so be sure to change your RSVP well in advance of this! Also, if you are on the waiting list and other's change their RSVP to "no", you will be bumped up on the list, so make sure to check your status the day of the event. If you RSVP "yes" and don't show up 3 times (yes, I will be counting!), you will be excluded from future attendance. This is only fair for others who want to attend the meetings.

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  • peter r.

    Wonderful discussion and group

    April 30, 2014

  • Martha

    I was too late for this one. I've never read much Faulkner, so I'm really looking forward to reading Light in August.

    April 14, 2014

  • Valerie F.

    Sorry I had to jet early yesterday, but I'm so glad it sounded like a good discussion! :)

    April 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great group of people with a good dynamic. Had a lot of fun.

    1 · April 14, 2014

  • Dee

    It was a great group today! Thank you all.

    1 · April 13, 2014

  • Robin

    Very enjoyable. Great group and it was an engaging discussion.

    1 · April 13, 2014

  • Jeni

    Not feeling well, will have to miss this

    April 13, 2014

  • peter r.

    Not he kind of book i would normally think of, but maybe that is why I found it refreshing.

    April 11, 2014

  • Dee

    Here is a funny book trailer by Maria Semple for this book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H4g6Ks3p-k

    April 8, 2014

  • Dee

    Tidbit about a past book: I just saw the movie Le Weekend, and the actress, Lindsey Duncan, was reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog on the Eurostar train to Paris.

    1 · March 31, 2014

  • Regan M.

    Hi Val, I'm new to this, but the fly in the ointment for me around the wait list and exclusion if you don't show up three times is that I'm not necessarily going to read the book unless I know for sure that I'm being included. So the wait list could work for me, but not last minute... Sorry, if I'm not clear, but I'm at work and need to focus on other things.

    Thanks!

    March 25, 2014

  • Susan R.

    Sorry to miss this discussion on a book I enjoyed very much because of another commitment. See everyone for the Faulkner in May.

    March 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd been so looking forward to discussing this one, but unfortunately I've got other commitments on the 13th. :(

    March 12, 2014

  • Gabrielle L.

    I'm so glad you picked this book! It is my favorite of the last two years, and I've read it twice in that time for the sheer fun of it!

    1 · March 10, 2014

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