Monthly Archives: February 2009

Cafe Parlez for February

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re discussing Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.  We have Magic Bars, Mystery Mocha Cake, Pumpkin Bread, pink 7-Up, and the usual tea and water.   Jen is giving the announcements.  The packet contains the “also-reads”, two biographies, a bibliography of her writings, and the questions. 

Jen asked people for their family superstitions.  HJ just mentioned the one about a bird flying into your window means someone in the house is going to die.  Then there’s the wishing chip, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, paying the wind if you’re sailing, saying the alphabet while twisting the stem on an apple to find the initial of the one you’ll marry, not saying “MacBeth” backstage.

Did anyone like the book?  Every one did.  M says that Sally acted out of character a couple of times.  Maybe it was because of the stress, but she wouldn’t have thrown the spaghetti sauce down the sink.  There were more times when things didn’t add up.  TD thinks it was out of character for her to bury her sister’s boyfriend!  Now there’s discussion about the difference between the movie and the book, especially when it concerns the boyfriend.  T says the lilacs were him because they used their beauty and scent to lure people to his evil.

Why did the aunts only have names at the end?  Maybe because that was when they became real people to the sisters.  The women always kept the name of Owen, because they were the strength of the family. 

Where in MA did the aunts live?  People think it’s Salem, the author’s from that area.  But in the movie, they talk about an island, maybe Martha’s Vineyard.  TD wonders why they change the story so much, when the book is so good.  It wasn’t necessary to change it so much. 

Everyone (except the aunts) were regular people in regular houses on regular streets.  Does this demonstrate that mystery and enchantment are everywhere?  We’re losing it in our modern society.  Some kids that don’t play with video games or watch too much tv still have that sense of fantasy.  Why do some kids read and some don’t?  Again, it’s the influence of technology.

Free will – is it subservient to destiny?  MD thinks they went hand-in-hand in this book.  Is there a curse on the women

Inner and outer realms?  What are they?  The magic, in the house, extra-ordinary life makes up the inner realm.  Ordinary life make up the outer realm.  The aunts are symbolic of the inner realm.  Why did the little girls not want to leave the house when they went to visit?  The house was a cool place to hang out in, and the aunts were cool people. 

Next month’s book is The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, and we’ll meet on March 26.  Books are available at the desk, so come on over.

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Nonfiction Book Group

Those of you reading The Soiling of Old Glory by Louis Masur might be interested in the essay in the Boston Globe of January 31. Written by Ted Landsmark, the African-American businessman in the book, it is titled “It’s Time to End Busing in Boston”.    Since the city’s demographics have changed, Mr. Landmark is stating that busing no longer achieves its purpose, it’s too costly , and the “two-way adversarial dialogue has been replaced by nuanced conversations about how to improve learning…”.  I’ll have a copy of the essay at the book group’s next meeting on February 17 at 6:30.  Hope to see you there!

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