Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Reading group aftermath

I went to the reading group last night to discuss 'An Instance of the Fingerpost'. I was a bit disappointed, and I'm thinking that next time I will have to be prepared to take some personal responsibility over the discussion, because nobody took the lead, and it sort of petered out.

The first problem was that of 10 people there, only three had managed to finish the book, and some of the ones who hadn't finished it were putting their hands over their ears and going 'No spoilers', which kind of put a damper on things. But I think the most serious problem was that nobody took responsibility. Including me. The woman who had convened the group is a quiet person, who hadn't managed to finish the book, and she just didn't do what was needed to control the conversation.

One woman, Helen, completely dominated the proceedings. I actually walked with her to the car park, and she said to me 'I had hoped there would be more discussion'. It is unfortunate that her style is to talk at length, and not to throw out 'baits' to other people to engage them in the conversation. I think she is a very robust person, who could stand being challenged - you know, being argued with, being spoken over - without being upset at all - but I just didn't feel I could come on that heavy in a group where I didn't know everyone that well.

The other person besides me who had read the book was a very quiet guy called Liam. I could, I should, have taken focus away from Helen (after a while) and said 'What did you think, Liam?'. But I didn't want to act that dominant, or perhaps I didn't want to take responsibility. However, in retrospect I think not taking charge is as much a choice as taking charge, and it was the wrong choice.

The other interesting contribution was from a young law student, whom I put immediately on my list of 'brainy people'. He listened to our comments on the book, and although he hadn't read it he made some pertinent observations. For instance he drew a parallel between my complaint that the fourth section of the novel 'closed down' the ambiguity of the narrative, and the politics of the Restoration, which was all about closing down religious and political debate, because the nation was tired and wanted compromise and peace (this is just one example).

The other people were very silent, and if it happens next time I will try and help them into the discussion. If Happytune or other friends can be persuaded to come along I won't have to do that quite so strongly, because we will do it together.

This month we are reading Shadow Without a Name by Ignacio Padilla.
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