I decided not to delay this post as I am wont to do mainly because this is my show. Besides, I realize now that delayed posts are bereft of their magic, of their nostalgia, so I hope this isn’t too late.
This is our seventh book discussion slash KD’s birthday. Our generous moderator took it upon himself to pay for the venue and food, and he even connived with other club members to invite not one but two local authors that he enjoys reading. So before we started the book discussion, we allotted some time to get to know our guest authors and have copies of their books signed.
Manix Abrera is a local graphic novel artist. I have sampled one of his works, and he is witty. I also like the way he structures his strips. They don’t come chronologically, or maybe they do. But I didn’t find any sense of order in them, which makes reading his work feel like stream-of-consciousness comics, if there is such a thing. However, I really didn’t enjoy the graphic novel that I checked because I feel that the humor is something that I’m already beyond. Had I been younger, I might have loved his works, but being the ageing and snooty and inclined-to-drama me, I passed on getting his other works. He is really good though. It’s just that it’s no longer my cup of tea.
Mina V. Esguerra is a local women’s lit writer. She both has published and self-published works, and she’s very supportive in the latter field. She once invited our group to visit one workshop where she was a resource person but I passed on it because of schedule constraints. I know it’s a good opportunity missed, but hopefully there’ll be a next time. I haven’t tried any of her works yet, which is embarrassing because I asked her to grant us the favor of writing the introduction of our little folio, which I’ll mention later. But she is a good one, based on the introduction. I hope she could one day write something that would fall on the general fiction shelves.
After the interviews, we ate very good food. The price that KD paid for is worth it, and how I wish I could go back for second servings, which is possible but since I’m the discussion leader, I had to eat fast to keep things rolling.
I decided to present my questions for the book by showing a video clip from the film adaptation of The Remains of the Day and flashing the question afterwards. I know, some of the questions are only loosely relevant to clip, but I had to do what I can. I think this made the questions look tougher than they are because the video clips somehow present different expectations among the members.
Like that question above: how can I possibly look for a video clip that would make the reader realize that the question is about symbols and motifs in the novel? What I did is that I picked that scene where Mr Stevens senior is checking the steps near the summer house of Darlington Hall, “looking down at the ground as though he hoped to find some precious jewel he had dropped there.” I think that act is symbolic in itself, but video clips being visual, it might have appeared a little deceiving.
So let me list the questions that I prepared for the book for the benefit of book clubs everywhere that might be discussing the book in the future.
- Is Mr Stevens a reliable narrator?
- What does being a butler, as a metaphor, stand for?
- How important is nostalgia in the novel?
- Is Mr Stevens reasonable in worrying too much over the business of bantering?
- What do you think of Mr Stevens’s musings on greatness and dignity?
- What symbols and motifs have you found in the novel?
- What do you think of Mr Stevens’s relationship with his father?
- Did Lord Darlington act out of his sense of ‘moral duty?’
- Do you approve of Mr Stevens’s course of action when his father died?
- How important is social class in the novel?
- Do you agree with Lord Darlington’s opinion on democracy?
- Why did not Mr Stevens immediately reveal that he is a butler?
- Did emotional restraint alone shape Mr Stevens’s life?
- Is Lord Darlington a Nazi symphatizer?
- Is Miss Kenton as responsible as Mr Stevens in the dismissal of the Jewish maids?
- Could Miss Kenton win Mr Stevens over if she persisted and stayed at Darlington Hall?
- Do you think Mr Stevens has a misplaced sense of loyalty?
- Would it matter if Mr Stevens told Miss Kenton that he loves her?
- Is the ending hopeful?
- What is Mr Stevens’s biggest regret at the remains of his days?
After the book discussion, we held a little awarding ceremony to honor the members who actively participated in the online discussion of the book. You see, we are an online-offline book club, so the Face to Face Book Discussion is the culminating activity of the online discussions. Anyway, here’s our class valedictorian:
Atty. Monique, congratulations again! You and the other honor students (Miss Veronica, Aenna, Alexa, Josephine, Camille, Miss Louize), have showered Darlington School of Butlership and Housekeeping with pride. Carry on, Housekeepers!
And yes, coincidentally, all the honor students are women. What does this say? Hmm.
Anyway, it has become a tradition that we do some side activity that somehow relates to the book that we have just finished discussing. What I did is that I asked the members to submit personal tales that deal with any of the following: love, loss, hope, or regret, or a combination of any of the four. I know this is never an easy task, so I am just so grateful when 25 contributors took it upon themselves to search their hearts for precious memories that they wish to share with the group.
And this is what came out of those personal stories:
I called our little folio After the Birthday Party because I planned to distribute the copies after the birthday party. But really, don’t we stumble upon some persistent memories when the fun is over? Don’t we, from time to time, settle upon contemplative moods and sift through our past experiences? Don’t we find such an act healthy if done in moderation?
The stories in this folio are anonymous to protect the members’ privacy, and I think that makes the collection more powerful. You don’t know who wrote what (except me), but you feel that you know everyone because we have grown so close with each other. Indeed, more than good books, we are a family.
Again, super thanks to everyone. I love you guys! Special thanks go to Aaron (for the movie), Tina (for the bookmarks and the comments), Jzhun (for the assistance during the discussion and the comments), and KD (for contributing more than what’s necessary in making this event possible).
The Remains of the Day Book Discussion Details
- Date: July 28, 2012
- Place: Uncle Cheffy, Ruby Road, Pasig City
- Time: 6 PM to 11 PM
- Attendees: Me (discussion leader), Manix Abrera (guest author), Mina V. Esguerra (guest author), Josephine Litonjua (guest publisher), Aaron, Ace, Aenna, Aldrin, Alexa, Alona, Ariel (comeback), Ayban, Beejay, Bennard, Billy, Cary, Celina, Charles Van, Ella, Emir (comeback), Ingrid, JL, JM, Jzhun, KD, Kristel, Kwesi, Miss Louize, Maria, Marie, Milo, Atty. Monique, Patrick, Po, Rachel (newbie), Doc Ranee, Rollie, Sheryl, Shiela (newbie), Tina, Tricia, Miss Veronica, Wilfred, Will (comeback). That’s 41 members + 3 guests = 44! I’ll refer to this in my future TFG posts to make it easier for me to list everyone.
- Food I Ate: panizza, mesclun salad with assorted fruits and cashew nuts in sesame vinaigrette, roasted chicken in dill-walnut pesto, brick oven baked sole fillet with mushroom, spaghetti Alejandro, steamed plain rice, freshly brewed oolong iced tea (I just copied that from the menu since I sampled every dish).
Shirt and coat courtesy of my friend Ming-Ming. Scarf courtesy of my boss. Shoes and pants are mine. Hairstyle is inspired from Anthony Hopkins as Mr Stevens. There’s a little lost strand there, I know. I bumped my head while clambering out of the cab. And oh, my undercut has grown fast. I need a new haircut, I guess?
And like most of the after-discussion events, you just can’t leave despite the wet weather (particularly us, the unmarried ones who don’t have live far away). That’s the power of friendship and families forged in book clubs.
Here are the bookmarks that I designed. Just right-click and open the images in new tabs to view them in their original sizes.