Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Beauty, The Anatomy Lesson

In preparation for the final chat, I want to know who is able to make the chat as it is currently scheduled:
on beauty and being wrong
chat: Saturday August 7 at 11am

Please comment with a yes or no.

Below is the transcript for our last chat.

iamslai: okay so how do these things work
me: ok
3:12 PM carla.r.christ: I am here
iamslai: hi carla
carla.r.christ: hi
3:13 PM me: ok, so Carla before you got here Steph and I were talking about Kiki and Howard. Here is what we had...
C:ok, when Howard said "I didn't marry a large black woman" I wanted to slap him through the text
iamslai: oh for real
there is probably more behind it all though...not to diminish what howard did, but i'm sure the marriage has been unraveling for a long, long time
Cynthia: yeah. I think they grew too complaisant
iamslai: yes
is there a place somewhere in this section when they talk about why the two of them married in the first place? because that's interesting
Cynthia: I am not sure there is much history. Just when Claire talks about how Kiki was a nursing student in the city when she and Howard met
3:14 PM what are your thoughts? Carla, do you remember if they share more about the two and how the marriage got to a point where Howard felt he had to cheat
3:15 PM carla.r.christ: I don't think so. It kind of sounded like a quick thing
I have 20 pages that I haven
't finished
me: It's weird that the only information I remember us getting comes from the mistress.
3:16 PM carla.r.christ: There was the first time they had sex it sounded like it may have been a new couple
they talked about how the door was open and howard's feet were out the door and it was really hot.
3:17 PM me: and Kiki talked about how the re-telling wasn't an accurate telling
carla.r.christ: oh yeah I forgot about that
me: how the story has changed to become what they wanted it to be
iamslai: ah yes
3:18 PM carla.r.christ: I think that is telling we change our past to forget the hurt
or anything we don't like
or to make it more glamerous
me: yeah, to make it a better story share
to share*
3:19 PM What do you two think of Claire?
carla.r.christ: I like her
iamslai: she resembles a comp lit prof I had at cal
carla.r.christ: besides the whole ruining her own life and those around her
me: hahaha. I don't like her
what do you like about her?
3:20 PM iamslai: i think she genuinely enjoys teaching and can see the potential in her students
3:21 PM carla.r.christ: I feel like she is a strong woman. Also she wants to foster students and doesn't care about their smarts but is a talent coach
me: I think she is a fake. I think it's all this show for her. I don't think she actually knows anything.
carla.r.christ: I agree with Steph
me: man, I completely disagree
3:22 PM iamslai: innnteresting
me: I think she is weak. She goes on to describe Kiki as this new kind of woman, and talks about how she admired her for that when she and Howard first started dating. And then she goes and ruins this woman
carla.r.christ: Cindy why do you think she takes Carl into her class?
3:23 PM me: I think she takes Carl because she thinks she is doing some service. He killed it at the Bus Stop and she wanted some of that for herself.
carla.r.christ: She recongnizes her self destruction and her patterns which I think makes her stronger
3:24 PM iamslai: partly. I also think Carl wields some weird magnetism that makes everyone around him think he's amazing...which, arguably, he is quite unique.
me: she doesn't though. She says this is not the first time she has been the mistress and gotten attention for that role
3:25 PM so she has done this before, who is to say she won't do it again?
carla.r.christ: But wasn't this time different? with howard
me: why is she now a great person because she goes to a doctor who tells her that this is all because she is a victim of her childhood?
3:26 PM she is shameless "Not that she minded the shame; she had been the mistress on other occasions and had not been especially cowed by it then" why is it different now?
3:27 PM carla.r.christ: I see your point Cindy
me: she says she did this with so little "desire or will" and so she shouldn't be punished for it. but that's ridiculous. She came to Howard's office and seduced him.
3:28 PM carla.r.christ: It takes two to tumble
me: He took the bait, so he is guilty too. But for her to act like this affair was different because she didn't want it, but for her to be the one who initiated it is contradictory
3:31 PM carla.r.christ: I think she has a strong influence on her students and that is why I like her. I kind of wish I had a teacher like her in college
3:32 PM iamslai: i think it's still unclear to me why she chooses to partake in affair after affair, but nevertheless her behavior in that sphere of her life seems at odds with her professional life, where she wants to advocate for the people who need it.
carla.r.christ: I also like her way of thinking the fitingness and becoming fully ourselves (pg214 in my addition)
3:34 PM iamslai: i like that too
carla.r.christ: I think she was thrown in to the public early as a child prodige
me: I don't like her. I just think she is a big phony, and a has-been
carla.r.christ: I can see your point Cindy she was great and is now in the class room and wants to d o

me: maybe I am just biased, I also really didn't get her poem On Beauty.
3:37 PM carla.r.christ: oh, Yeah I didn't really get it but I wonder the importance of it
3:38 PM iamslai: maybe things will come together in the third part? i am having trouble seeing how the people are fitting together in this book
3:39 PM me: introducing Katie is weird...
iamslai: i didn't understand that.
carla.r.christ: in the story line it is just her past and she only has it for an example of a kind of poem. But I think it is good to note how she says is a broken pantoum anyway maybe linking to her past.
me: So, what about Victoria...will Howard have an affair with her?
3:40 PM carla.r.christ: I just got to that chapter
iamslai: who even knows
that Kipps family...hmmmm
3:41 PM me: what is with Carlene?
carla.r.christ: who?
3:42 PM me: I don't get her. On the one hand I think Monty keeps her looked up, on the other I think she is just really old-fashioned
Carlene Kipps
iamslai: she's just an oddball
3:43 PM me: and I don't know if she is actually trying to be friends with Kiki, or if she is just being "proper" and really doesn't like her or the Belsey's
iamslai: I think it's interesting how Kiki is fascinated with Carlene, and how Howard is really interested in Vee (although in a gross way)...Jerome was fascinated with the whole family when he was in London with them but that ended. Yet Howard hates hates Monty with the passion of five trillion suns
carla.r.christ: I think she has some health problems and is very conservative
I think she likes Kiki
3:45 PM iamslai: she does
but she has a really odd way of expresing it
me: I know she has health problems, but they never say what they are. And Kiki works at a hospital and hasn't been able to diagnose her based on their encounters...I feel like she is maybe two-faced. She seems too loyal to her husband to truly befriend the wife of his arch nemesis
3:46 PM iamslai: hm, i never considered her intentions as malicious...but that's def something to think about
3:47 PM carla.r.christ: Just because Kiki works at a hospital doesn't mean she should know what is up, and I think Kiki know not to ask
3:48 PM Does Monty hate Howard? or just disagree with his ideas
me: Kiki is always proplexed as to the meaning of what Carlene says to her, she is even uncertain as to who Carlene really is. Just saying...i think there is something going on and when it all comes out in part three I'm gonna be like "see! the clues were there, why didn't you believe me!?"
carla.r.christ: haha
3:49 PM iamslai: will do
me: I think Monty dislikes Howard
carla.r.christ: have we had a Monty voice yet I am not sure?
me: the comment that he made regarding Howard's comment on his text is proof enough to me
no, I don't think so
3:50 PM he seems so pompous and arrogant, I wouldn't want to hear what's going on his mind.
iamslai: haha
3:51 PM if that staff meeting is recorded, that should be very revealing
carla.r.christ: I think there is more to Monty than what we know
3:52 PM My favorite part of this book so far was the meeting of all three Belsey children
3:53 PM iamslai: yeah, they're really cute when they're not fighting
carla.r.christ: It made me like all of them at that moment. The love and descriptions of what life was like as children "they were just love"
3:55 PM me: I agree, I have liked getting to know the three different belsey kids. I kind of dislike Zora though
she is blaming Kiki for the affair, and I don't like that
3:56 PM iamslai: aw
yeah, she has strong opinions on many, many

3:59 PM iamslai: Here's a Q: What do you think "the anatomy lesson" is referring to?
carla.r.christ: the interactions between people
me: She does have a lot of strong opinions, she also has high opinions of herself. I think it's funny when Claire refuses to let her into her group and then Zora goes to the administration. What would she have done if the affair hadn't just comeout?
4:00 PM good question! Let me think...
4:02 PM It could be symbolic in that family is a single body and each member has a different purpose/role. We are kind of watching the family fall apart as they each deal with the situation differently.
iamslai: yes
carla.r.christ: Zora has a lot of power in the class room but is really a sad case at one point she says she has no true face
4:03 PM yeah cindy
iamslai: also, maybe as we receive more insights into the internal life of each person, it refers to their internal workings
carla.r.christ: ah
iamslai: Zora....I feel affectionate toward her for some reason
4:04 PM me: I do in the sense that she is obviously trying to deal with a lot of self-hate she has
she is so insecure about her body
iamslai: as many 19 year olds are
4:05 PM me: and I think her harsh attitude is a result of her trying to show strength and confidence while secretly she is battling with herself
true story, Steph
carla.r.christ: yeah I think she is very much your typical young adult, and maybe part of my dislike for her
4:06 PM me: even Claire says this, when they are at the bus stop, she describes the young women "still starving themselves, still reading women's magazines that explicitly hate women, still cutting themselves..."
4:07 PM she describes girs/women in general
4:08 PM carla.r.christ: it is all so true though and sad, I try to think I am not part of that crowd but really I am. Granted I did just eat at Chipotle and finished my burito
4:09 PM iamslai: claire commits her own type of self-hate when she sleeps with husbands...
me: hahaha, I do that too and then I hate myself afterwards. But they are so good!
4:10 PM carla.r.christ: I thought it was kind of funny how Claire is commenting on all the food the girls are ordering then herself orders just a salad
me: the same thing she has ordered for the last how many years?
carla.r.christ: yup
4:11 PM me: 30, dang
iamslai: oh, claire
4:12 PM me: I keep thinking she is younger than she is, too. I think she acts younger than she is. Maybe that's another reason why I don't like Claire
4:13 PM carla.r.christ: She is old and has been "independent" for so long I think that is why I like her
me: independently destroying relationship after relationship...
4:14 PM hahaha, man, she really bothers me! I am going to stop talking about her
carla.r.christ: "independent" not getting married, not being tied down. Yeah that too Cindy
me: ok, what about Vee. I think it's funny how Vee totally seems uninterested her dad, meanwhile the son (Michael?) is like his biggest fan/supporter. Vee is the black sheep, which is kind of what Jerome is in the Belsey family. She is taking Howard's class!
4:16 PM iamslai: but somehow she is still comfortable with her own family
4:17 PM me: she really? She is always on the outside of them. When they go to the Belsey party she kind of gives her dad attitude and then she disappears to the inside away from the crowd
4:18 PM carla.r.christ: I am not sure about her I think I am missing some detail in that last part of this section. She is challenging the environment that she grew up in?
4:19 PM me: with the exception of the first part, it seems like she is always mentioned wo her family
4:20 PM yeah, I think she is challenging the environment. I think she is a closet liberal in a family of out-spoken conservatives
iamslai: at the very end of section 2 when carlene happens upon her family at the station, victoria "was looking over at Kiki like a jealous lover"...
me: so she likes Howard...?
4:21 PM carla.r.christ: or she likes Kiki as a role model?
iamslai: no, it's that she is possessive of her mom, still
4:22 PM carla.r.christ: mmm
4:24 PM me: hmmm....are you sure? I still like the theory of Victoria and Howard
4:25 PM carla.r.christ: I think it is a very good possibility but yuck, especially since his son already was there
iamslai: major yuck
4:26 PM me: indeed.
iamslai: i am hoping that the 3rd section will bring the still disparate parts all together
me: like what? What do you two want to see in part three?
4:27 PM iamslai: oh man, so much
me: I want to see Kiki kick Howard out of her house. Or at least have them have a civilized discussion about their problems without the constant yelling and crying.
4:28 PM iamslai: I would like to see something interesting happen to Levi
and Carl. And Zora???
me: I thought Levi and Carl would be friends
4:29 PM but they aren't. Do you think Zora and Carl will get together? She obviously likes him. He did kiss her at the bus stop, but I don't know...
4:30 PM carla.r.christ: decision between Kiki and Howard. Levi getting a life. Carl opening Zora up and her becoming a real person instead of what everyone wants her to be and for Jerome to come to terms with his family and forgive them all. I think there is going to be some self discovery because of the "being wrong" part of the title
iamslai: maybe EVERYONE will discover how they're wrong. nah, that's too neat
4:31 PM me: "Levi getting a life." hahaha
4:32 PM iamslai: Howard letting go of all the ish he is holding onto
carla.r.christ: yeah my ending is the ending of a romantic comedy and I don't think it is Smith's style even though this is the first book I have read by her
me: He's selling counterfeit goods on the street, so funny. I bet his crew will discover he's really a suburbanite and not from the street
4:33 PM carla.r.christ: yeah I think the guy he was selling with already picked that one out. Also I think he might realize that his gansta ways aren't really what everyone in the hood is about.
me: agree, I think that guy sees right through his lies
4:34 PM Maybe Carl will have a positive influence on him
carla.r.christ: hopefully, it is the same thing I am hoping for with my cousin.
4:35 PM me: you have a cousin who thinks he/she is from the hood?
carla.r.christ: yeah and she has been spoiled her whole life
4:36 PM iamslai: ah
me: those crazy suburban kids, this younger generation is so spoiled.
4:38 PM my sister was like that. all emo and stuff like she had anything in her life to complain?
carla.r.christ: sounds familliar
4:40 PM me: anyways, to bring back to the book, I think Levi's character is real in that sense. He represents that generation. One thing I like about Smith's characters is that they have that realness about them. Like how Zora represents females...
4:42 PM carla.r.christ: I think it took some getting used to for me because the dialog was to close to what I hear daily but I am able to zone out all the likes and poor grammar but when it is written it is glaring at me and I cringe
4:43 PM iamslai: mmk, i have to run
but it was good to talk with yous
4:44 PM me: hahaha. I like her style. It is easy to read and relate to. It's not like Sapphire, if you think this is hard to read Push and you're opinion will change
hard in the sense of cringing at errors*
bye steph
4:45 PM iamslai: byeee
me: bye stephers!
carla.r.christ: talk to you later
me: bye!


  1. I don't think I can, so no :(

  2. Finished the book last night... Looking forward to our discussion!