Session #23 of the Fost County Book Club

June 25, 2008
By
SESSION #23 OF THE FOST COUNTY BOOK CLUB
6/24/2008
ASSIGNED BOOK: HABITS OF A SHALLOW MAN BY JOSEPH INTEGREW

MEMBERS PRESENT:
RACHEL ARROZ
MICHEAL CHRISTOPHER
JEAN CISPO (VICE PRESIDENT)
LAUREL GODFREY
JOHN GOTT
FRANK HOOVER
ZACHARY KLEIN
STEVEN MYERS, JR.
LEONARD OSSENBURG (STENOGRAPHER)
LOLA PESTON
ELLIOT REISINGER (PRESIDENT)
VIVIAN RILEY
GEORGE TAYLOR
ANGELA WILLIAMS
MAN IN A GRAY SUIT

ELLIOT: Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. Excuse me. Is anyone listening? I’d like to start the session now. We’re four minutes behind schedule. Hamilton County’s book club starts right on time. We’re a disgrace. Please, this is a very important session.

JOHN: Everyone! Hey! Quiet down!

ELLIOT: Be quiet, John. I’m the president - I can handle this. Excuse me, I’d like to start now. Excuse me.

RACHEL: Quiet! Everyone be quiet. Elliot is starting.

ELLIOT: Thank you, Rachel. You’re very considerate. And you look magnificent today, Rachel. Your blouse-

VIVIAN: Wait a minute. John just tried to get everyone’s attention and you scolded him. Then Rachel with her breasts hanging out gets complimented? That doesn’t seem -

RACHEL: I beg your pardon! What are you implying?

VIVIAN: That you’re winning Elliot over, one low cut shirt at a time.

RACHEL: What!? You’re an awful, dirty scamp. I -

JOHN: Stop it. I’m alright. There’s no reason to get into a fight about me.

ELLIOT: No one's getting into a fight about you, moron. It’s me they‘re squawking over.

JOHN: Then stop them! We’re wasting time.

ELLIOT: Don’t you tell me what to do. Ladies, please discontinue. This is a very important meeting and we’re all civil adults. Vivian, if you have another outburst of that nature again you will be expelled. We will begin with the reading of the statement. Please join me.

EVERYONE: We, members of the Fost County Book Club, have congregated to discuss literature and its influence. Through reading and discussion we strive to maintain our seats at the top of society. Our pride comes from our nobility and intellectuality. Our goal is to achieve enlightenment.

VIVIAN: Amen.

ELLIOT: Quiet. Every word you say knocks us down a tier in society. So just be quiet.

VIVIAN: You got it.

ELLIOT: This is the 23rd session of the Book Club. Next month’s meeting will mark our second anniversary. We will be hosting a community ball in honor of the occasion and to raise some extra funds. Everyone in the community is invited. All ages. Admission will be $5. Fliers will go up around town sometime next week.

GEORGE: Are we still going to have a normal session next month too then?

ELLIOT: Yes.

JOHN: Will anyone come? I mean, a ball hosted by a book club. Will anyone come except us?

ELLIOT: Of course people will come! Who wouldn’t want to attend a ball hosted by us?

JOHN: Well, you know, normal people.

ELLIOT: Simpletons! They’ll be overjoyed at a chance to join us socialites. Don’t you worry, John. Any other questions? No? Ok then. This month we decided to read Habits of a Shallow Man by literary genius, Joseph Integrew. It is a fairly modern book. It was written 5 years ago. On the surface it depicts a corrupt world full of dishonesty and, in the words of JD Salinger, “goddamn phonies.” If you examine the novel a little closer, however, as I’m sure you all did, you will notice that Integrew adopted an Ayn Randian state of mind. He seems to be a staunch believer in objectivism. He also delicately slips symbolism between his brogueish, simple sentences rather like an Irish William Golding. I personally found this book charming.

JEAN: I agree. He is a very witty man. I’m going to dare to compare him to Shakespeare. His main character, Arthur, goes on an epic journey reminiscent of the Odyssey. However, there are faults with Arthur that lead to his downfall, but are still amusing. Much like a modern day Romeo whose Juliet is a perfect society that can only be attained through mistakes.

STEVEN: Well said, Jean. Perhaps Arthur represents the grand King Arthur, hm? I personally found Arthur’s mother to be much more of a “Romeo” than Arthur though. She yearned for so much, though that is not actually stated in the novel. She acts cold and uncaring, but if one is familiar with Herring’s character personality trait cycle, you will know that Mrs. Kelting indeed is a soft one.

JEAN: Ah yes, Herring’s cycle is most usable in this situation.

ANGELA: Did anyone else pick up on the symbolism of the pinky finger in this novel?

FRANK: Oh, I did, Angela.

RACHEL: I didn’t. Would you please explain, Angela?

ANGELA: Certainly. Arthur wears a ring on his pinky finger representing the importance placed on the nubs of society.

STEVEN: That is amazing. I can’t believe I didn’t notice that. Where does it mention the ring?

ANGELA: Only once on page 12 when it speaks of Arthur washing his hands. I believe the washing represented not only trying to cleanse society, but to rid it of it’s coldness. Arthur used hot water.

FRANK: And no soap. This indicates that Arthur wanted simplicity.

ANGELA: Exactly!

RACHEL: What of Arthur’s bedroom window?

ELLIOT: Did it ever mention his window?

ZACHARY: I don’t think it did.

RACHEL: It didn’t. But I assume he had one.

ZACHARY: Why is that?

RACHEL: He’s the type to have a bedroom window. I believe it represented his view on society and his feelings toward Fran.

ZACHARY: Ah, I see.

LAUREL: And his lack of pets obviously shows he is not a young man.

ELLIOT: Clearly.

JEAN: Yes.

RACHEL: Why didn’t Arthur ever brush his teeth in this novel?

VIVIAN: Why in the world would that matter?

ELLIOT: Quiet, Vivian. We appreciate literature here.

FRANK: It obviously deals with his own self confidence. It decays throughout the novel. Much like George Orwell’s Winston’s confidence.

LAUREL: I found this novel to be much more like Orwell’s Animal Farm.

JEAN: And Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

STEVEN: I agree.

ELLIOT: Despite all of these lovely comparisons, I had trouble finding the real meaning of this book. The theme. The moral. The lesson.

JEAN: I did too.

LAUREL: Same.

FRANK: I picked up hints, but I’m not too sure myself.

RACHEL: This is a stumping one.

LOLA: What is the meaning of this book?

LEONARD: Perhaps it has to do with seashells.

JEAN: Oh! Perhaps!

FRANK: Or hygiene.

STEVEN: Or farming.

ELLIOT: It could be anything!

VIVIAN: Why don’t you just ask him?

ELLIOT: What do you mean? Just ask him? It would be impossible to contact Integrew unless we were members of the press and even then he is in such high demand right now -

VIVIAN: No. Why don’t you just ask him?

ELLIOT: You stupid woman, he’s Joseph Integrew. That’s why.

VIVIAN: You stupid man, he’s sitting right there.

JEAN: No!

VIVIAN: Yes, you morons. Mr. Integrew, please tell these people what your book is about.

MAN IN A GREY SUIT: No... They should read it first…

FRANK: We have read it though.

MAN IN A GREY SUIT: No.

VIVIAN: Tell me what the book is about, Joseph.

ELLIOT: Do tell.

MAN IN A GREY SUIT: It is about a man… who is sad.

JEAN: It can’t be!

MAN IN A GREY SUIT: Goodbye. I must be going now. Goodbye.

FRANK: That makes no sense at all! Arthur’s tears were symbolizing the end of a drought, not sadness!

STEVEN: And his suicide represented the ocean.

ANGELA: Exactly!

ELLIOT: We’ve run out of time. Everyone pick up a copy of Aesop’s Fables as they leave. You’ll find them to be a series of love stories based on Delphi’s charms, terrain, and climate.

SESSION #23 CONCLUDES





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