Thursday, August 18, 2011

Questions on What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Stimulate Your Mind Book Club Meeting
September 8, 2011

Questions on What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

1. Both Ava and Joyce are at crisis points in their lives. How does each cope with her heartaches? What works...and what doesn't? Compare the fighting spirit of both women at the beginning of the book and how it evolves. How does the fighting spirit effect the reader’s feelings upon completing the book?

2. Ava and Joyce aren't the only women facing tough challenges in this novel. Joyce says of the girls in the Sewing Circus, "These girls haven't got a chance. There aren't jobs and there aren't going to be any. They're stuck up here in the middle of the damn woods, watching talk shows, smoking crack, collecting welfare, and having babies. What kind of life is that?" (p. 39) Ava's answer is "City life." Do you agree that the same problems confront urban and rural young women? What do you think are the greatest ones? Whose responsibility is it to help young people overcome them?

3. In the chapter called "August," Joyce makes up a list of "Ten Things Every Free Woman Should Know." First define "free woman" -- then make up your own list.

4. The church in this novel shows both its sides: the good it can do; the harm it can do. How do you feel about the church's handling of the Reverend's sexual abuse? What do you feel should be the response of a church organization-whether a black church or the Roman Catholic Church-to this problem?

5. At the center of this novel, however, is the tragedy of HIV. Discuss the community's reaction to Ava. Then discuss her response to a new relationship. How would you interpret her dream in Chapter 18...and the very last line of the book?

6. What is the symbolism of the word “crazy” in the book? What does the title What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day mean to you?

7. What hints of hope does Pearl Cleage offer?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time and Location of Meeting in September......

Greetings to all,

Discussion on the book "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day" by Pearl Cleage will take place on Thursday, September 8th at 7:00 p.m. at McAlister's!

McAlister's is located:
2706 W. Mallard Creek Church Rd, Charlotte NC 28262

Questions on this book to follow in the upcoming weeks

Thank you,
Stimulate My Mind Book Club

Book for September 2011

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day seems pretty heavy going: HIV, suicide, sudden infant death syndrome, and drunk driving all figure prominently in the lives of narrator Ava Johnson and her older sister Joyce. It isn't long before crack addiction, domestic violence, and unwed motherhood have joined the list--so, where's the pleasure? The answer lies in the sharp and funny attitude Cleage brings to her depiction of one African American community in the troubled '90s. Ava Johnson, for example, might be HIV-positive, but she's refreshingly forthright about it: "Most of us got it from the boys. Which is, when you think about it, a pretty good argument for cutting men loose, but if I could work up a strong physical reaction to women, I would already be having sex with them. I'm not knocking it. I'm just saying I can't be a witness. Too many titties in one place to suit me."
Ada has spent the last 10 years living in Atlanta. When she discovers she's infected, she sells her hairdressing business and heads back to her childhood home of Idlewild, Michigan, to spend the summer with her recently widowed sister before moving on to San Francisco. Once there, however, she finds herself embroiled in big-city problems--drugs, violence, teen pregnancy, and an abandoned crack-addicted baby, to name just a few--in a small-town setting. Ava also meets Eddie Jefferson, a man with a past who just might change her mind about the imprudence of falling in love.
In less assured hands, such a catalog of disasters would make for maudlin, melodramatic reading indeed. But Cleage, an accomplished playwright, has a way both with characters and with language that lifts this tale above its movie-of-the-week tendencies. In Ava she has created a character who not only effortlessly carries the weight of the story but also provides entertaining commentary on African American life as she goes. Discussing the insular nature of the black community in Atlanta, she recalls, "I'd walk into a reception room and there'd be a room full of brothers, power-brokering their asses off, and I'd realize I'd seen them all naked. I'd watch them striding around, talking to each other in those phony-ass voices men use when they want to make it clear they got juice, and it was so depressing, all I'd want to do was go home and get drunk." Later, she describes the preacher's wife's hair as "pressed and hot-curled within an inch of its life.... Hardly anybody asks for that kind of hard press anymore. Sister seems to have missed the moment when we decided it was okay for the hair to move."
As the trials and tribulations pile on, the experiences of Cleage's characters prove to be universal: death, love, second chances. Ava's acerbic, smart-mouthed narrative keeps the story buoyant; by the time this endearingly imperfect heroine and her cohorts have negotiated the rocky road to a happy ending, readers will be sorry to see her go, even as they wish her well.

Books read over the past few months

Greetings to all,
The list below are the books our book club has read thus far:

1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood -August 2011
2. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez- July 2011
3. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly - June 2011
4. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella- May 2011
5. April - OFF
6. Them by Nathan McCall - March 2011
7. My Husband's Girlfriend by Cydney Rax - February 2011
8. January 2011 - OFF
9. Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan -  December 2010