I’m not the biggest fan of book clubs. I’m always really hopeful in the beginning, and it’s usually pretty good in the beginning: we read, we discuss, sometimes crackers are eaten. But, as is often the case, schedules conflict, dedication wanes, and thirst increases. Every book club I have participated in routinely turns into a glorified excuse to drink with people I like, the book is read less and less, and I fall into a guilt spiral. We’ve abandoned the book! The culprit partly to blame is some kind of social anxiety to sound really smart (maybe just mine?), and have a discussion rather than a conversation. The other culprit is, well, who doesn’t like an excuse to hang out?
But in Bushwick, literary couple Giovanni Serrano and Ruth Reader (ha!) are doing things a bit differently with their Long Hard Book Club. The whole thing is about hanging out. Serrano recently spoke with DNAInfo about the project, and emphasized the fact that LHBC is heavy on conversation and “gossip” before heady, intellectual discussion. Which seems counter-intuitive for their first challenge, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and its future menu, which includes David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Roberto Bolano’s 2666. I mean, a part of me feels like a boozy conversation over such masterful literary works would be a kind of betrayal, but another part of me is really excited about the LHBC. It seems like everyone in attendance, ironically, will actually care about the book.
Reading a book is like being in a relationship, and reading a long, difficult book can often feel like a trapped marriage whose eventual divorce will be met with exhausted relief, and makes you feel very, very lonely once lost inside of it. You kind of just want to give up halfway through War and Peace, as I’ve done, or quit Finnegan’s Wake before page five. It’s easy to forget that masterful literary works bind communities and cultures together, which is what I think LHBC is trying to foreground. Sometimes, you need other people while reading a book. You might not have enough time to read the first 200 or so pages of Moby Dick for their first meeting on the 18th, but you can get a leg up on Infinite Jest in the meantime.
Long Hard Book Club; 950 Hart Street, Bushwick