Ok, so. I’m sitting down at the end of my wonderful 30th birthday weekend (30th birthdays are emotional, FYI. No one had informed me of that.) And thinking about what to write about the Offbeat Bride reading/APW meetup has me feeling overwhelmed with… gratitude, really.
Since she is awesome, Ariel asked me to read my little budget sidebar. As we were waiting for the reading to start, one of the Booksmith employees asked me if I’d practiced, and I said, “Five minutes ago it occurred to me that might have been a good idea. But, no, I haven’t read it since I wrote it.”
Hello all! Remember back right after the new site launched when I hosted the Offbeat Bride book reading and APW meetup and lots of you were sad that you couldn’t go? Wellllll…. it was filmed by FORA.tv, and now you can all see it in its 45 minute glory.
And while I know you are TOTALLY going to spend the next 45 minutes watching it, if you’re like me, and just want to hear what the bloggers you read all the time sound like, here are the tidbits that I’m in: the intro (see above), if you click through to the whole video they have “chapters” listed below the moving stuff. I’m in ‘Sidebar: Get Practical’ (funny how that works), and ‘Q6: Etiqutte Issues’ (where I talk some smack about mean commenters). In general though, I reccomend all of the Q&A bits. Yeah, yeah, you can’t hear the questioners, but Ariel is pretty funny off the cuff.
A huge thanks to Ariel for letting me drag her down to San Francisco. It was really great to meet a few of you guys, and hopefully one of these days, I’ll get to do this in other cities and meet more of you. Because y’all are great.
So in closing um, yes I really am that animated in front of big groups always, and yes, you can take the girl out of California but you can’t take California out of the girl (sigh).
Well. Cue me nodding my head, and writing down the name of the book. The thing was, when I got to our local bookstore, I just couldn’t do it. Not… in July. Not… heading out for vacation. I kept trying to imagine putting The Seven Principals of Making Marriage Work into a bag to take to the beach, and, um, no dice. So. I decided to shelve that for a more studious time of year, but clearly, the time was now for the APW book club.
So. The first book for the official APW book club? Get excited….. because it’s The Commitment by Dan Savage. You’re welcome! One of the quotes on the back cover (which is about The Kid, but is true for this book as well) says, “This is a book that reads like light entertainment but actually proves to be a deeply political, sensitive, and wise reordering of the entire notion of family values.” Which is kind of what we’re all about, no?
I bought The Commitment back when it first came out, and actually went to a book reading where Dan Savage was verbally insulted by a crazy person, and I have lots of good things to say about this book. Plus, I pulled it off my shelf last week to give it a look over, and am now on page 77, because I couldn’t stop re-reading, even in my over stressed brain addled state. This book is TOTALLY going to the beach with me.
What you should know about this book:
It’s about Dan Savage and his partner (and their six year old son) deciding if gay marriage was for them (and obviously I’m not going to give the answer away).
It’s about totally considering and re-considering what marriage is, and if it’s worth it, and why we do it.
It’s that time. It’s first ever APW book-club meetup time, in 32 cities around the world, tomorrow (crazy, right?) So, with your help, I’ve compiled a list of starter questions for discussing Dan Savage’sThe Commitment. Use them as ice breakers, don’t use them at all, use them for the whole party, use the book as a coaster and just drink. Do what you will. But I’m exceedingly excited to think about all the funny and smart women that you’ve always been told don’t exist, meeting up ALL OVER THE WORLD, discussing marriage equality tomorrow. Efffff. Awesome.
A few notes on the meetup. I’d love if you sent me run downs of how things went, but please put “APW Book-club meetup your city” in the title, and please try to send just one(ish) email per city (I’m just one person, after all!) If you take pictures, upload them to the brand new APW flickr group, with a note as to what city the picture was taken in. I will write up the meet-ups and start an online discussion of the book next week.
So, blah-blah-blah. Now, on to what you really want. The book club questions (linked to topical posts, for cross-reference and research purposes, of course). It will be just like your best seminar class in college, but with a lot more wine. I hope. What can I say? I’m ambitious.
Savage puts out a bunch of different arguments for and against getting married. Which did you identify with most? Was this something that factored into your decision to get married?
If you could approach marriage with a blank slate, ie, taking even monogamy and till-death-do-us-part out of the picture, what definition would you create? Why?
Savage addresses fidelity/monogamy, and the need for couples to be up front with each other about it. Is a marriage defined by monogamy? Should it be?
The book posits that successful marriages that sometimes have expiration dates. Do you agree? Why or why not?
What does the use of the terms husband and/or wife indicate? Is it good? Bad? Does it matter?
In the book, Savage grapples with how modern US society’s definition of marriage (gender prescriptive, restrictive, done by straight people) influences his desire, or rather his lack of desire, to be married. How does your personal view of marriage relate to what you see as society’s view of marriage? How does this affect the choices you make about your partnership?
To what extent does the way that your government constructs marriage make you think differently about getting married and being married? (Including but by no means limited to the issue of gay marriage.)
If the book came with an *exactly!* button, which passage would you choose?
Would you kill your partner if they insisted you take a cross country road trip with a small child or a dog?
How did the meetups go? Well. As far as I can tell from the emails and photos, they went pretty d*mn well. Here is what we learned:
More people will RSVP than show, but by and large it won’t matter because the people who show will be awesome.
If you’re having a small meetup, get each others cell phone number so you can be SURE they’ll show, and not leave you feeling sad and lonely. (Sorry Nashville!!)
Get ready to stay for four hours, since EVERY book club seems to have lasted that long. Except Dallas. They lasted six hours. No joke. They were drinking beer the whole time, and then your erstwhile moderater Alyssa had everyone sign the book, and left it for the waiter with the tip.
If you’re at a book club with me, don’t tell me lots of nice things in front of everyone. Then I’ll start blushing and hide under the couch with a glass of wine. And I NEVER blush. Though I do drink lots of wine.
APW readers like each other. Like, “I never have good girlfriends and hot damn I loved those women.”
And that we’ll be having more meetups, you DEMAND it. Next book will be, by popular demand, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed (it’s good, people, I’ve read it.) And we’ll organize those late October/ early November meetups soon!
And now for a selection of the pictures (you can see all of them at APW’s Flickr page):
San Francisco, by Emily Takes Photos. They are laughing at my jokes because they are nice.
It’s tough to figure out where to start this discussion about Dan Savage’s The Commitment. I really liked the book in 2005, when it came out. But re-reading it as a married person, I loved it. I started crying during Dan’s mothers “scene-stealing, show stopping speech about love and commitment that should be entered into the Congressional Record” (Thanks Ira Glass, for that pull-quote.) And even David, eternal critic of books that I like, stopped reading the book last night to tell me how touching a scene between Dan and his six-year-old son was. And trust me, that never happens.
I figure we’ll discuss the book this week and next, because there is so much content in it (and next week will probably just be a free for all). As the cuttingly smart AGirl said in her cheaters-early-review of the book, “From a relatively circumscribed starting point, it sweeps out to touch on all manner of entirely universal issues in the most wonderfully disarming way.”
So when I stopped to think about what topic in this book fascinated me the most, it’s not actually gay marriage. What endlessly fascinates me about this book is be summed up in this question:
In the book, Savage grapples with how modern US society’s definition of marriage (gender prescriptive, restrictive, done by straight people) influences his desire, or rather his lack of desire, to be married. How does your personal view of marriage relate to what you see as society’s view of marriage? How does this affect the choices you make about your partnership? Continue reading APW Book Club: Dan Savage’s The Commitment, Round I