Monday, January 26, 2009

The Book That Haunts Me

You just finished THE most compelling book. Maybe you even stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it. You long to discuss it with others, but no one you know has read it. You're curious to learn what others thought of a certain character: sometimes you liked him, and sometimes you didn't know WHAT to make of him. You wonder why the hero made the choices he did. You can't get the ending out of your head--it haunts you.

Does this sound like you? Then you should definitely register to attend one or more of our book discussions! The Tuesday morning group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 10 am. The Thursday evening group meets the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. And this year, between now and May, the library is hosting a special series of book discussions on "Love and Forgiveness," featuring literary works from Shakespeare to Ian McEwan that "explore how time and experience can lead to forgiveness in the presence of wisdom--and how wisdom can emerge."

A book rich in wisdom and depth that has haunted me for years is Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and I'm very pleased to lead the Tuesday morning group in a discussion on February 3rd at 10 am. I was introduced to the play by my favorite high school English teacher, Ms. Judith Jahant, in whose class I first read it and listened to excerpts of Lee J. Cobb's explosive performance as Willy Loman. Willy Loman and Arthur Miller's other characters were unlike any I'd encountered in a book: their emotional lives and feelings for one another were as rich and complicated as life itself. Until then, I didn't know that could be captured on the page.

At the center of the story is Willy Loman, a man who worked over forty years as a salesman only to find himself tossed aside by his longtime employer at the age of 63. The play is a portrait of a flawed and misguided but ultimately sympathetic man. It's also a play that shines a harsh light on the American dream.

There is still time to sign up for the discussion and pick up a copy of the book at the Readers' Services desk on the third floor.

I'll leave you with the words of one of the characters in Death of a Salesman:

"I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person."

1 comment:

Jo said...

I studied American drama in college and this play was chosen more than any other as "the great American play." It's remarkable how relevant it still is today. For example, I remember the scene where Willy is going to get fired by his boss' son who shows Willy a new invention, the tape recorder. That theme is still so prevalent today - the fear that youth and technological advancements are replacing a more valuable way of life. I also had the great pleasure of seeing Brian Dennehy play Willy at the Goodman, and it is a performance I will never forget.

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