Maybe There’s Some Kind of Something?

I’m in two book clubs because I love and require deadlines, especially for things I enjoy doing. Actually, in one of these book clubs, out of ten or fifteen women I only really know one of them — since the woman who initially introduced me to said book club stopped going almost immediately after said introduction.

Meanwhile, I became irked with said book club for a while. With few exceptions, it consisted mainly of a bunch of former English majors who never read the books.

So! Did you read it?” I would charge each woman as she entered some living room. Not “what is your name, again” or “so you say you work in natural dentistry” or “hey, nice pants!” They were all just good friends who liked making good food together. At one point I overheard someone whisper, don’t tell Adrianne you didn’t read the book; you’ll make her really angry.

But lately we’ve been having some really lively conversations, and I’ve gotten to know some of the other awesome people in the group: farmers, yoga instructors, natural dentistry marketers. Our last meeting covered the first book of The Brothers Karamazov. We started by summing up the general glum plot-line of eternally drunk and essentially dislikable characters: the rape of the village idiot, the wife beatings, the cognac and vodka. And so far so good.

“So . . . am I the only one who found this really hilarious, or what?” I chirped brazenly. I searched the room for someone to meet my high-five. “Eh? Am I right? Hoo!”

Complete silence.

“Wait, what book are you talking about?” someone piped up, cautiously. “This book?”

“But still, tell me: is there a God or not? But seriously. I want to be serious now.”

“No, there is no God.”

“Alyoshka, is there a God?”

“There is.”

“And is there immortality, Ivan? At least some kind, at least a little, a teeny-tiny one?”

“There is no immortality either.”

“Not of any kind?”

“Not of any kind.”

“Complete zero? Or is there something? Maybe there’s some kind of something? At least not nothing!”

“Complete zero.”

“Alyoshka, is there immortality?”

“There is.”

“Both God and immortality?”

“Both God and immortality. Immortality is in God.”

“Hm. More likely Ivan is right. Lord, just think how much faith, how much energy of all kinds man has spent on this dream, and for so many thousands of years! Who could be laughing at man like that? Ivan? For the last time, definitely: is there a God or not? It’s the last time I’ll ask.”

“For the last time — no.”

“Then who is laughing at mankind, Ivan?”

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  1. What is the fucken point of reading one of these dense books if the characters don’t become your friends halfway through? “Ohmygod, that is soooo like Alyoshka! right girls?”


    Crickets chirp.

  2. I just joined a book club last month, but I’m broke and have been waiting on my library card and the book club is today. Oops. Maybe next month!

  3. We came to the conclusion that it may be an issue of translation: mine being awesome and theirs being not. (For example, my “Stinking Lizavetta” is simply their “Lizavetta.”)

  4. That book is hilarious, but it took me forever to read. Have you read Only We Who Guard The Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, by Tony Kushner? It’s about Laura Bush reading The Grand Inquisitor part of The Brothers Karamosov to dead Iraqi children. It’s really funny too, in a horrifying kind of way.

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