Here's the chat from last night to anyone interested.
astempson: So, shall we chat about the book?
Cynthia: we shall. So, I totally predicted the Howard-Vee hook-up. Disgusting, she has been with father and son...
astempson: Yes, I anticipated it as well.
She is just... awful.
Did you notice that Howard mainly seems to do dumb things when he's drunk?
Conversation with his dad, hooking up with Vee, embarrassing himself at the party early on in the book...
And, same for Zora at that other party.
Cynthia: And did you notice that the mistresses he keeps all sing praise about his wife?
astempson: Hmm, true.
Cynthia: Vee was all talking about how Kiki is like an African Queen, and Claire talked about how Kiki was a new kind of female, confident and independent.
astempson: Yeah, but he didn't listen.
It was interesting that Kiki moved out, not Howard.
Cynthia: When it is her house
Cynthia: I liked the tomato anecdote or analogy, or whatever it is the students use to describe courses/professors.
astempson: Yesss, that was great.
I loved the taboo of telling a professor about it.
It was an interesting moment... Like, it's okay in Vee's mind to sleep with a prof, but not tell him about silly student inside jokes?
Cynthia: I don't know what to make of her. She has had eyes for Howard, but why? I just don't picture him as this attractive professor, so what's the draw? Also, how is she so utterly different from the rest of her family.
Maybe it has to do with daddy issues....
astempson: Well, she's like Jerome in that sense. He is the lone Christian in an atheist household, and she's the lone... well, unChristian in a house of Christians.
What better way to disrespect her father than to sleep with her father's enemy?
Cynthia: Yeah, they are both black sheeps. I am liking the daddy complex, that would actually explain a lot. She is kind of tense around her dad, and speaks of him jokingly. And Howard is his greatest opponent in a sense.
Meanwhile, Zora swoops in to fight her dad's battles.
Cynthia: Zora is a daddy's girl
astempson: Up until the very end.
Everyone is so flawed. It's interesting.
This book challenged me because I wasn't in love with any of the characters, but I was captivated by them.
What about the death of Mrs. Kipps?
Oooh, and the painting drama?
Cynthia: I don't agree with the characters, but I really liked them because they were captivating.
Cynthia: yeah, Mrs. Kipps death surprised me
astempson: I thought the funeral was interesting. It was nice when Howard was able to stop judging people and just be in the moment, actually thinking about the big picture.
Cynthia: and then sleep with Monty's daughter
astempson: Oh my goodness.
But, hold on, he goes and visits his dad.
Cynthia: I was starting to think, after he visited his dad, that maybe he would reconcile things. but no
I was feeling really hopeful.
And then he messed everything up.
Cynthia: he kind of can't do anything right
astempson: Once he was a repeat offender so to speak, I was far less willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
(P.S. - Unfortunately, my family is having a late dinner in approximately ten minutes, but we can continue the conversation past this evening!)
astempson: I really thought that things were starting to get better between him and Kiki. It was such a let-down when he messed up again.
Cynthia: agreed. I guess in a way, she had to move out because they were both not making a move. She had every right to kick him out, but it's good for her to start over
astempson: Yeah. I loved how everyone vicariously gave the dog extra love.
Trying to atone.
What about Levi?
I thought it was a very honest look at people trying to be aware of world events, when Levi was trying to read that book on Haiti, but wasn't confident enough to speak on the subject for a while.
Cynthia: When they discovered the picture, and he got in it with his mom about their own cleaning lady getting paid $4, I wanted to applaud him.
astempson: Yeah, that was big for him.
Even though he was involved in the theft... But, at least it was principled.
I must say, it surprised me that he wasn't using drugs.
Cynthia: I think he still just spits out what people tell him with no real knowledge, but I think he is much more aware than the family gives him credit
astempson: Yes. He pulled out that phrase... caucasian art dealer.
Cynthia: We haven't talked about affirmative action, what do you think of Monty being so opposed to it?
astempson: I think that Kiki did a great job of defending affirmative action. That whole exchange between the two of them was very interesting.
When she talks about her philosophy, that she told her kids to work five times as hard as the white kids...
I mean, she demonstrates that it's not about entitlement.
Cynthia: I think she is like Levi in that people really underestimate her. Zora, Jerome and Howard are intellectuals, and Levi and Kiki are out of that loop but mostly bc they don't flaunt it
astempson: Yes, that is true. I think of Levi as being like Kiki.
I'm rereading the passage now...
Cynthia: they have opinions and can back them up and fight you over them, they don't step down in battle and that surpises ppl
astempson: It's interesting at the end, what Monty has to say about liberals not believing that conservatives are motivated by moral convictions as profoundly held as those that liberals hold.
Yes, they are much stronger than people expect.