Gilead Face to Face Book Discussion Details:
- Date: April 27, 2013
- Place: Hidden Garden Resort, Las Pinas City
- Time: 3 PM to 11 PM
- Discussion Leader: Louize (and daughter)
- Attendees: Me, Aaron, Aenna (late), Alona, Beejay, Bennard, Celina (and son), Chika, Ella, JL, Mae, Maria (and husband and son), Marian (newbie), Monique, Patrick, Ranee, Tina, Tricia (late), Veronica
- Food I Ate: A lot! I even got to take home the excess food. This book discussion is also a celebration of our book club’s third anniversary, which explains why the time extended until 11 PM.
- Post-discussion Activity: Reading of the participants’ weekly journal entries (I picked Tina’s journal which has entries on her surfing experience and her resolve to be a gracious person).
- After the Book Discussion: Distribution of our folio entitled There Is a Balm in Gilead: Memories of Hope (my entry is my “coming out” story), awarding ceremony (for fun! I won Favorite Reviewer), pool party, more food (local food and pizza delivery), more drinks (carbonated and alcoholic), more singing (the good and the bad), more goofing around. A great night!
- Other Nominated Books: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Thoughts from the Members:
And as I close the book, there goes fangirling. Some Filipino phrases are reiterations of what I felt when the book ended. And being a tear-jerker of books, as usual. I cried. I cried while I tweeted. I cried while learning that this book is a new favorite. I concluded the tweet-series with the award of five stars. And with my state of being as vulnerable as I was, I was walking while crying, and simply melancholic during my stay in my workstation. This is a definite goodread. Hail to Marilynne’s work!
Wasak. In a good way.
Reading this book is like talking to a dear old friend over coffee, letting the day pass away with nary a hurry, sitting comfortably and listening intently to an unfolding life story, letting his words and memories surround your inner space, thawing unknown cold regions within you and planting seeds for some future harvest, emerging from this storytelling somehow moulded and changed. I’ve never read fiction as slowly and as fully as this, nor has fiction caused me to decelerate as much as this. I think this is part of its brilliance and beauty, that after each reading of even a tiny slice of a chapter, the sunlight entering my window is a little bit brighter and gentler, and the feel of my body, or that feeling of embodiment, sends a thrill of acknowledgement and satisfaction and I’m led to gather my thoughts about one person or another who has managed to enrich me even without them knowing it.
Gilead is a deeply melancholic book. I can feel the mix of joy, love, sadness, longing, and regret jump at me in every sentence that Reverend Ames writes and every time I attempt to re-read it, the melancholy feeling becomes even more poignant that I can’t help but be teary-eyed at times. Yes, Gilead is a book worth re-reading.
I hope I can do the same for my son. <3
Gilead spoke of relationships: father and son, husband and wife, minister and his flock, man and his namesake. While the last one undeniably does not come along very often, I found, however, that this particular relationship – the one between Rev. Ames and his namesake, John Ames “Jack” Boughton, the son of his best friend – was the most touching and meditative one highlighted in the novel. That they should be namesakes – there are so many other names that the elder Boughton could have given his son, but no, it had to be “John Ames” – is not a meaningless exercise. And their relationship demonstrated all human emotions possible: love, hate, jealousy, resentment, devotion, acceptance, generosity.
There was a little question of whether this book was a sad one before we started discussing it online, but our moderator just said that it’s a book that will make us heave deep sighs. And she was right. Deep sighs, indeed. I found myself close to tears in the end, and it made me wonder what kind of legacy would I be leaving, and if I would be ever able to say or write that same last line in the book with peace and surrender, just as Reverend Ames did for his son. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.
My write-up here.