by michael on March 20, 2011

It was about six years ago when a group of serious readers formed a book club called the Phoenix.  The name was apropos, as the club arose from the ashes of a previous organization which went astray.

The pledge of Phoenix members was to select only serious literature—fiction and poetry—from American, English, (Gaelic) and Russian writers.  We pledged that none of the genre we designated  “heaving bosoms across seven continents” would ever be considered  So far both pledges have been maintained.

We did detour, only slightly from our mission, by writing and performing a skit about Robert Service’s Dangerous Dan McGrew.  It was great fun.  The senior citizen audience clapped enthusiastically as well they should considering the hours we spent concocting this masterpiece. The unanimous vote was no more plays—readings yes, but no stretching the scope.  Our group of community do-gooders has respected this vote—Satanic temptation but still on the wagon.

As an English major (a way through college with no serious life commitment) my assignment was to develop the annual book lists.  Relying on luck only, with modestly some occasional brilliance, I’ve only selected two turkeys—one was a reflection that my colleagues don’t appreciate the quality of real British English.  The other book was truly a gobbler and I wondered how I could have thought otherwise when read during the Eisenhower years.  Oh well, seventy for seventy-two isn’t too bad.

Another esteemed member of the club was “voluntized”  to present the biographies of writers studied.  He was erudite on the craft of Shelby Foote, novelist and historian.  No negative reflection on Mr. Foote, but the group came to the conclusion that the life of a writer is not pleasant (excepting at advance time) as alcohol, multiple marriages,  and dying young are common in the occupational journey. If you’ll indulge me, I will submit in the future for your entertainment more scribbling about some books we’ve read.

Michael Keyser


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