Friday, February 01, 2008

Choosing Between a "But" and an "And"

"Evenings, whole weeks, spent on one word, just think! Sometimes on a mere conjunction! ... I’d like you to understand, doctor. I grant you it’s easy enough to choose between a ‘but’ and an ‘and.’ It’s a bit more difficult to decide between ‘and’ and ‘then.’ But definitely the hardest thing may be to know whether one should put an ‘and’ or leave it out."
Joseph Grand to Dr. Rieux in The Plague

From time to time, I like to challenge myself with a self-awareness question: Am I primarily an atheist who has chosen to use writing as his form of expression? Or am I primarily a writer who has chosen to use atheism as his frequent subject matter? In other words: for me, which came first, the medium or the message?

I ask myself that question, rhetorically, as a “snap-out-of-it” slap when I find myself temporarily mired in atheistic rage or frustration. Because honestly? For me, the question is almost a no-brainer. I’m a writer first. I love writing about atheism more than any other subject. But I love writing about anything more than I love not writing.

I suspect that last sentence may be true of some others here in the Atheosphere. And it was very likely true of Albert Camus, as well. In his lifetime, he was labelled an existentialist, an absurdist, an anti-nihilist. His novel The Plague is a short book with dozens of ideas that could have been written by an author sporting any or all of those labels. Four of the book’s themes, by no means all, are: the physical and emotional toll of separation, the individual’s inability to control events, religion’s pathetic response to tragedy, and love as a means to both transcend existence and root oneself even more deeply in it.

Heavy stuff. But the book, to me, is above all a love letter to writers and their crazy aspirations. And some of it is hilarious.

Most of the main characters are writers of one sort or another. The narrator, whose identity is not revealed until the very end, is, of course, both a character in the novel and the teller of its story. I won’t reveal his or her identity. But here’s a list of five of the main characters and their relationship to writing:

  1. Dr. Rieux, the "hero," who corresponds with his absent wife through letters and telegrams;
  2. Raymond Rambert, a young visiting journalist, who finds himself trapped in town while on assignment for his newspaper;
  3. Father Paneloux, the priest, who writes and delivers two of the most odious sermons ever created;
  4. Jean Tarrou, a strange "tourist," who keeps a quirky journal that supplies some of the most colorful details of the narrative; and
  5. Joseph Grand, a low-level government clerk, who has secretly been writing “the perfect novel” at night.

While I, myself, am not secretly working on a novel, perfect or otherwise, it was Joseph Grand with whom I identified. About halfway through the book, I realized that I cared more about him than any of the other characters. I doubt that Camus intended Grand to be the reader’s focus, but he came alive for me. I know that guy. He’s a caricature of every writer who cares about writing, who has hopes and fears about the ultimate "worth" of his output. He's me. Maybe he's also you.

”What I really want, doctor, is this. On the day when the manuscript reachers the publisher, I want him to stand up — after he’s read it through, of course — and say to his staff: ‘Gentlemen, hats off!’” ...

I like to think of my blog audience perhaps you like to think of yours, too as having that very same reaction every single time I/you write one of my/your scathingly brilliant and perfect posts. In my case (I can't speak for you) I’d even be happy to supply the hats; I have few enough readers to keep that well within my budget.

Of course, in the real world, striving after perfection is a losing strategy for a writer. Grand's search for the ideal expression is immobilizing. After months, maybe years of working on his novel, all he has managed to get down on paper is:

One fine morning in the month of May an elegant young horsewoman might have been seen riding a handsome sorrel mare along the flowery avenues of the Bois de Bologne.

That’s it. Later, when Tarrou asks him, “How’s your young lady on horseback progressing?” Grand reveals that he has decided to replace “elegant” with “slim,” because it’s more concrete. And he has dropped “the month of” because those words “tended to rather drag out the trot.”

Next he showed some anxiety about the adjective “handsome.” In his opinion it didn’t convey enough, and he set to looking for an epithet that would promptly and clearly “photograph” the superb animal he saw with his mind’s eye. “Plump” wouldn’t do; though concrete enough, it sounded perhaps a little disparaging, also a shade vulgar. “Beautifully groomed” had tempted him for a moment, but it was cumbrous and made the rhythm limp somewhat. Then one evening he announced triumphantly that he had got it: “A black sorrel mare.” To his thinking, he explained, “black” conveyed a hint of elegance and opulence.”

“It won’t do,” Rieux said.

“Why not?”

“Because ‘sorrel’ doesn’t mean a breed of horse; it’s a color.”

“What color?”

“Well — er — a color that, anyhow, isn’t black.”

Finally, Tarrou suggests “glossy,” and Grand is once again, although only temporarily, happy. Having found the ideal word to replace "handsome," he can truly get underway with his great work.

I gotta admit that writing is often like that for me. I struggle with unimportant words, waiting for that sparkling phrase with the magical rhythm to jump into existence and dance across the page/screen. For me, every single post is a battle with the recalcitrant English language. Nothing I write ever seems to capture exactly what I was trying to say. Some of you are perhaps nodding your heads in recognition of yourselves, maybe thinking, "It's like that for other people, too?" Yeah, it is. Welcome to the club.

Near the end of The Plague, Joseph Grand manifests symptoms that may well be the titular disease, an almost certain death-sentence. Tarrou and Dr. Rieux visit him and find him in bad shape. From his deathbed, Grand holds fifty pages of manuscript out to the doctor, desperately wanting to hear his work read aloud for one last time. Rieux looks through the pages and sees hundreds of versions of the same sentence, over and over again with “small variants, simplifications or elaborations.” Finally, solemnly, he reads:

One fine morning in May, a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois, among the flowers.

Perfect, finally perfect, although, ironically, too late. Grand, “knowing” that he’s dying, orders the doctor to burn the manuscript, and, reluctantly, Rieux complies.

The next day, the sick man has rebounded. He announces happily to the doctor, "I was overhasty. I’ll make another start. You’ll see, I can remember every word."

Ah, the writer: ever the optimist. Whether it’s Albert Camus, or those of us ranting and raving in the Atheosphere, or the clerk who secretly scribbles his novel night after night after night, we must tell ourselves — delude ourselves maybe — that we can take a bunch of words, throw them onto a piece of paper or a screen, and have other people understand what we’re trying to say. Writing is unlike other learned skills that get easier with practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it, the harder writing becomes. That perfect sentence never wants to happen.

But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

[One thing I've gotta do is tell all Nonbelieving Literati that our next book is Not the End of the World by Christopher Brookmyre. Beware the Ides of March, because that's our target date.]

37 comments:

C. L. Hanson said...

True, the sub-plot about infinitely re-working that one sentence was amusing. I particularly liked the quote you cited at the top of your review. When writing my own review this morning that was precisely the focus of my finishing touches: where to cut the sentences and which conjunction to use, if any.

Still, all the death in the story was so overwhelming that it overshadowed the theme of writing for me. It's kind of odd, now that I think about it, since every time I mentally placed myself in the scenario, I imagined I'd be writing my experiences just as the characters were doing. That would be the one thing that would keep me sane. That may explain why all of the writing didn't jump out as a significant theme for me: it's such a basic, natural action that it seems no more noteworthy than the cafe scenes or the black market.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I did like Grand. I laughed out loud when he modified "sorrel" with "black" - to love a word for its sound and then discover you don't know its meaning... I have done that, I must admit.

Personally, I can knock it out pretty quickly. What I do is tinker with it after it's "done". Years later I find myself going back and changing a verb, or adding (or removing) a modifier...

Lifeguard said...

Interesting.

Grand's writing issues stuck out for me too, although I thought about his not being able to get anywhere with his novel because he was so caught up in wanting to please publishers and critics. In the end, I saw the burning of the manuscript as a realization that his writing didn't mean anything or have to measure up to anything other than his own satisfaction in a piece of work well done.

Regardless, I hadn't really thought about Camus, a writer, writing about a writer, and your take on the whole thing is really poignant. I guess it takes a professional writer to appreciate that.

I think I read somewhere that W.H. Auden said something like "My poems are never finished. I just abandon them."

Hats off, folks...

PhillyChief said...

I'd say I'm the other side of the coin from Mr. Ex. I'm an atheist who finds an outlet through writing and that 'hats off' dream, for me, is more of a hope that people will have some sort of "AH!" moment of realization maybe, tell me I'm not alone in my thinking, or tell me why I'm partly or completely off in my thinking. For me, it's not the writing itself but the things I write about that I care for more.

However, as a visual artist I can completely understand Ex's pov. First, you need to create. You can't help yourself. Next comes something to focus the energy on, and if you can find something that keeps the juices flowing and prompts more and better work, than awesome.

Grand sounds like the example of the artist left to his own devices. For what I smugly call "real" artists, no work they produce is ever good enough. Michaelangelo no doubt could point to his David and cringe at various parts he wished he would have done better or differently. The challenge, and what some say is the sign of a good artist, is knowing when to walk away, to stop working, stop adding and changing and move on. Grand, sadly, sounds like he's incapable of that. Hell, no work will ever be perfect, nor should it. I mean, if you created the perfect work, you might as well die. What else would you have to do with yourself then? So as an artist, learn to walk away and use the imperfections of your work to inspire better work, like using only two "l"s in "labeled". ;)

the chaplain said...

I had to laugh at Grand's struggle over "and" and "but" because I've done exactly that. Well, maybe I haven't struggled over it, but I've frequently found myself oscillating between the two.

I share Grand's desire to say something in just the right way. I also envy Tarrou's wonderful powers of observation and description. Mostly, I envy Camus' skill and will be reading more of his work in the future. I'll start by following Dumbya's example and perusing The Stranger.

The Exterminator said...

C.L.:
I don't know how you can distinguish sub-plot from plot in The Plague. Plot: There's a plague, and many people die, but some don't. I think anything else is subplot. All the other stories, all the characters' interconnected experiences, all their personal thoughts and deeds are merely so many sub-plots, aren't they? Maybe that's Camus' point: In life, you may feel like you can control the sub-plot, but you can never control the plot.

Ridger:
Tinkering with your writing after it's "done," still counts as striving for perfection. So you've got a touch of Joseph Grand, too -- don't you?

Lifey:
I don't think Grand was trying to please publishers or critics. Or even readers. I think he was trying to capture something ineffable about what his life might have been. It's hilarious and poignant at the same time. Like life, I guess.

Thanks for the Auden quote. I love it.

Philly:
Yeah, I thought about including visual artists, performing artists, and composers in my essay somewhere, but couldn't make the thing tight enough once I expanded it to include them. So I went back and dropped those references, but you're definitely right.

I don't consider myself, or anyone writing in the Atheosphere, an artist. I probably could make a decent argument that Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great is a work of art, but that term doesn't apply to any other present-day atheistic writing that I know of.

I think you and I may have discussed this once; I agree with you completely about "real" artists in all creative fields. They're paralyzed. Most creative types can use another non-loaded word -- writer, composer, actor -- to avoid calling themselves "artists." But visual artists, unless they specialize only in painting, sculpture, drawing, or another specific medium, are stuck having to use the word "artist" -- even if they'd rather not. I'm close to a few of these people, and they constantly have to struggle with making a decision whether they're "crafters" or "artists" every damn time they want to enter their work in a show.

As far as labelled is concerned: I suppose you're one of those upstart American modernists who writes traveled instead of travelled and shoveled instead of shovelled. I do defer to you about the look of the thing, though, so I've dropped one of those ls in labelled.

Here's what I've got now:
One fine morning in the month labeled May a slim young atheist might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

I think that's finally perfect.

EnoNomi said...

I knew it.

As I struggled through The Plague before finally giving up from utter boredom, I knew that this would be the book The Exterminator would like. I won't bother writing a review of the third I did read, since it didn't move me enough to even hate it. Dull town full of dull people with a sickness that should be interesting yet turned out to be just a dull.

Yawn.

PhillyChief said...

I just use spellchecker. If I didn't, I'd be a labeller because I often type "labelled" and then have that red squiggly line appear under the word (on Mac, you can turn spell check on and it works in all basic apps). That's why I caught the word, because I mistype it often.

My wife has trouble with that term "artist". Musicians! I think it's funny that for visual artists, the word is just a job title whereas for other creatives it's a pretentious term used solely for "greats" worthy of the esteem. I think it's the same trap as arguing what is and isn't art. Duchamp showed the fallacy of that thinking. Everything is art, therefore we're all artists. The question is only if you're any good or not, which is subjective. I'd look at the atheosphere and say it's full of artists, only some are better than others, and the best ones are the ones that have blogs that I frequent. ;)

The artist/craftsman argument I've heard in visual art as well. It's usually the argument over artist vs illustrator or designer. It's a stupid argument, imo. I think it's just done by bitter artists to feel good about themselves for not having anyone like their work as much as other artists' work. They're "keeping it real" or something. Whatever.

ordinary girl said...

One fine morning in the month labeled May a slim young atheist might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

I don't know. I think I like this a little better:

One fine morning in the month of March a smart young atheist might have been seen riding a glaring feathered owl along the avenues of Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

The Exterminator said...

Eno:
I think you should write a short post for this session of the Nonbelieving Literati telling about your approach to a boring book. At what point do you make a determination that a book is "boring" to you. A third is much further than I'd tolerate. Are you more likely to read further if the book is accepted as a "classic" than if it's clearly just a piece of junk. For me, the great boring classic that everybody else loves is Catch-22. I've started it dozens of times and can never get past the first fifty pages or so.

Anyway, that might be a fun post for you to write and for us to read.

Philly:
Man, I hate that red squiggly line. I try to kill it for good wherever I see it. If that means screwing up and occasionally typing athiest (as I did, much to my chagrin, on Evo's blog this morning) or Christain or even teh, so be it.

I'm inclined to agree with your wife about musicians. Every fucking recording star in the world likes to hear himself or herself called an artist. Rap artists, country artists, gospel artists, Christian pop artists, heavy metal artists, easy listening artists ... the list could go on and on. To me, being an artist requires some kind of intent by the creator to convey a universal message, although he or she may not know exactly what that message is, and a mastery of style that makes that person's artistic "voice" unique.

On the other hand, though, I agree with Duchamp. So for me, either there are very few genuine artists or everybody's an artist. I flip back and forth on those two extremes, but basically take both positions at once. Sometimes, even lifelong atheists aren't logical about everything.

The artist/craftsman argument among visual artists is insidious, because there's an implied caste system. It's a cop-out by "artists" who can't sell their work. "I'm better than you because I haven't succumbed to crass commericalism." That's just humbuggery. Even worse, it forces some creative types to pigeonhole their output if they want to earn a place in an art show.

The Exterminator said...

OG:

Your comment just sneaked in there before I finished publishing my response above. I think your version of the sentence is almost perfect, but not quite. How about:

One fine evening in the month of March a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a glowering feathered owl along the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

That gets to the very heart of life, doesn't it? I can already hear those hats being lifted off readers' heads.

ordinary girl said...

Ex:

It's very good, almost there. Bright works much better than smart, but I think glowing might be misplaced. How about:

One fine evening in the month of March a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a regal feathered owl along the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

John Evo said...

@ Ex - Here's a terrifying thought for you to contemplate. I ALMOST picked Catch-22 for our book! And now that I know how you feel – give me another pick?

You, Philly and others here have made me realize something - I ain't no artist (even though Philly did kindly include us all in the list of "artists"). But while I love to write and I definitely do it for feedback, I almost NEVER agonize over my wording. Is this a short-coming? I don't know (or care very much).

I'm not saying I don't re-read what I say and make a few improvements (definitely try to check my spelling) but at that point, I just toss it out there. If it wasn't very interesting or enlightening, hey, maybe the next one will be. I think it’s just my lazy nature.

I DO appreciate your noting that Camus was really focusing on writers as one of (again, you note) MANY sub-plots. I personally was torn over several directions I could have taken my post. That’s a tribute to Camus

The Exterminator said...

OG:

Wow. So near but yet so far. While I agree that "regal" is far closer to what we want to say than "glowering," I'm now troubled by the vague "fine" and that directionless word "along."

How's this?
One crisp evening in the month of March a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a regal feathered owl down the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

Can you imagine a finer, more expressive, sentence than that?

Evo:
Well, don't NOT pick Catch-22 on my account. In fact, if you really want to hit me over the head with a boring book that I've never been able to get through, why don't you select Moby Dick next time it's your turn? Of course, I don't think you'd be too popular with other NL members.

I personally was torn over several directions I could have taken my post. That’s a tribute to Camus.

You said it. There are so many levels in the book, each with its own nooks and crannies. I think the variety of viewpoints in the essays written so far is impressive. I'd really like to prepare and host a Carnival of The Plague if and when at least ten different bloggers have participated.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I've read all of them, and regret not participating, so, as a means of salving my remorse, I'll take a stab at a short Carnival. Perhaps we can attract more participants with it.

I may get it up tonight.

And for those with a dirty mind, I'm talking about a post.

Oh damn, there you go again.

John Evo said...

Huh? I personally have no idea what you're talking about, but feel sure Babs does.

The Exterminator said...

SI:
A short Carnival would be fantastic, particularly if you're not averse to shilling for more members. I'm shilled out for the time being.

Thanks.

John Evo said...

I know how you feel Ex. This was the first NBL post I have done where I didn't try to fish for new members. Someone else's turn!

Spanish Inquisitor said...

OK, I got it up.

...and quit snickering.

C. L. Hanson said...

I didn't say the other threads of the story weren't also sub-plots. I think part of the point of the novel was to show an array of different characters reacting to the situation in different ways.

The Exterminator said...

C.L.:

I think part of the point of the novel was to show an array of different characters reacting to the situation in different ways.

Yes. Maybe the individual characters' reactions to the plague are not just part of the point, but really, the only point of the novel. So I'm uncomfortable referring to any of those reactions as "sub-plot," although, like Joseph Grand, I can't find the perfect alternative term.

Perhaps The Plague can actually be thought of as a series of interwoven stories, each with a different character as its main focus. And the characters' individual reactions to the plague can be thought of as a philosophical discussion the author is having with himself, and to which the reader is invited to "contribute" his or her response.

Does that make any sense? If it doesn't, then perhaps we can at least agree on this:

One crisp evening in the month of March a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a regal feathered owl down the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

the chaplain said...

Ex said: perhaps we can at least agree on this:

One crisp evening in the month of March a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a regal feathered owl down the avenues of the Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

Sorry, it doesn't quite work for me. How about this:

One crisp evening in March, a bright young atheist might have been seen riding a regal feathered owl over the avenues of Bois on her way to the Atheosphere.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Having not read the book, my contribution would be

It was a dark and stormy night in March, when the dimwitted theist was seen riding a ATV over the muddy back roads of the Ozarks on the way to Sunday church service.

The Exterminator said...

It was a dark and stormy night in March, when the dimwitted theist was seen riding an ATV over the muddy back roads of the Ozarks on the way to Sunday church service.

Wow, SI. Your sentence is a pretty large divergence from what we'd been writing, but, amazingly, it's almost dead-on perfect. Not quite, though. Here's how I'd make a few inconsequential changes to polish it:

One stormy Sunday morning in the month of March an ignorant young theist might have been seen driving a beat-up ATV along the muddy back roads of the Ozarks on his way to church.

I ask you: Why didn't any writer ever think of that sentence before? Doesn't it exactly capture the human condition?

John Evo said...

The use of "stormy" and "beat up" in this sentence just doesn't sit right with me. Perhaps "blustery" and "rickety" would work better?

One blustery Sunday morning in the month of March an ignorant young theist might have been seen driving a rickety ATV along the muddy back roads of the Ozarks on his way to church.

Lynet said...

Actually, if you want more members, I've been thinking that pretty much every NBL post this time around deserves to be in the Humanist Symposium. So how about I email Ebonmuse and suggest that SI's round-up post be included? Then Symposium readers can go there and browse -- and maybe join, mwaahahaha!

As regards the special status accorded to being an 'artist', I have to say I have problems with both the title 'mathematician' and the title 'poet', precisely because they imply a certain greatness. Using rhyme and metre makes me feel like I have more claim to the latter without it meaning something terribly impressive, but when it comes to 'mathematician' I find myself feeling grateful for the diminutive 'mathmo' which was common at the last university I was at, and which refers (simultaneously) to one who studies maths and to one who is enthusiastic about it. (Those who studied maths but were not enthusiastic about it were, well, far from the norm. In fact, I can't think of any).

The Exterminator said...

Lynet:

I've been thinking that pretty much every NBL post this time around deserves to be in the Humanist Symposium. So how about I email Ebonmuse and suggest that SI's round-up post be included?

I like Ebonmuse's stuff a lot. And it's fantastic to get a link from him. So maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I kinda think your suggestion would be redundant, and maybe a sort of a slap at SI's effort (which was great and much appreciated, by the way). But it wouldn't really bother me if SI's OK with it.

On the other hand, maybe I could do an Exterminator Reader here at No More Hornets about all the great Symposia and Carnivals that are available, and include Ebonmuse's Humanist Symposium that would include SI's Plague Carnival that includes all the Nonbelieving Literati posts? Doesn't that sound like a good idea? In fact, maybe Evo could then publish a Round-up of Readers including my Reader that contains Ebonmuse's Symposium that contains SI's Carnival that contains all the individual Plague posts. Eventually someone -- I nominate God -- could do one really big Anthology post that could collect all the Round-ups of Readers of Symposia of Carnivals of individual posts on the entire Internet! Wouldn't that be great? And think of the extra traffic.

Lynet said...

So maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I kinda think your suggestion would be redundant, and maybe a sort of a slap at SI's effort (which was great and much appreciated, by the way).

My apologies. I simply thought that Symposium readers might be interested in the NBL, especially this time around, and that linking to SI's post would be a way of informing them about it without taking over the whole Symposium.

Truth is, when I was hosting the Symposium, I seriously considered including your post introducing the idea for the Literati on my own initiative. It is, after all, an idea that includes notions of community and philosophical discussions for atheists, and would therefore have been eminently suitable. And -- full guilty disclosure -- the main reason I didn't was because I couldn't be bothered trying to find rhymes for 'Literati' (Party? Maybe. Farty? Not going to work. But then, most Americans probably pronounce that 'a' more like I would pronounce the 'a' in 'hat', anyway, not the long ah that I would use).

The Ridger, FCD said...

Literati rhymes with "Beam me up, Scotty". FWTW...

Lynet said...

Gosh. I never would have got that one. Truly, I do not have a proper understanding of the American accent.

The Exterminator said...

Although she found no rhyme for "Literati,"
I'm betting that our friend Lynet's a hotty.
My comment, I'm afraid, was far too snotty ...
And now, excuse me, 'cause I've got to potty.

Urban Viking said...

Purely off the top of my head (my Google-fu is weak this morning), wasn't it Camus who was quoted as saying something along the lines of: "I always wear out my erasers much faster than my pencils"?

EnoNomi said...

Mr. Exterminator, you speak and I obey. Mostly. Sometimes. Well, this time anyways.

Mathew Wilder said...

I feel like I just won the lottery - the third post in two days I've stumbled upon about The Plague! I first read the book in my moral philosophy class in undergrad, and it moved me more deeply than any book ever has.

We focused quite a bit in the class, actually, on the character of Grand. I believe Rieux says something to the effect that if he had to pick a hero of the story, it would be Grand. Rieux, of course, is basically Camus' avatar in the story. So it makes sense that Grand stood out to you.

He is such a wonderful character - toiling away, with no delusions of grandeur - a simple man, with a simple goal, simply doing what he thinks is right. I love Grand deeply - he is inspiring, in a way. His innocence is so endearing.

The Exterminator said...

Viking, you point out that Camus said something like: I always wear out my erasers much faster than my pencils.

I guess I'd update that for me: I always wear out my Delete and Back Space keys much faster than my Enter key.

Eno:
Nice post. And thanks for being the one dissenting voice so far. After all, we are atheists!

Matthew:
You can "stumble on" some more thoughts about The Plague if you look at my sidebar under "Nonbelieving Literati." Every blog with an asterisk has a recent post about Camus' masterpiece.

Mathew Wilder said...

Heh, yeah, I didn't realize that at first. This post, for example, didn't mention the Nonbelieving Literati, and I didn't follow the links in the two others posts so I didn't realize it was a book club. Also, I came upon these blogs separately, not from following each others links.

Cool idea - the book club, I mean.

The Exterminator said...

Matthew:
You're welcome -- and encouraged -- to join us; we'd love to have you in our club. Go ahead and post about The Plague, or read our next book (Not the End of the World). Remember that you don't have to write specifically about the book under discussion; you can write an essay that relates in any way whatsoever to the book.