ACOM Book Club News May 2019

ACOM Book Club May 2019 BookThe ACOM Book Club met on May 16, 2019, at the St. Anthony Park library in St. Paul. In attendance this month were Francis, Jim, Margaret, Azad, Joe, Peter, Andrea and me (a nice, large group). Nibbles this month included date filled pastries from Azad, fruit coated walnuts from Margaret (Sujuk? Rijok? Western Armenian? Eastern Armenian? Who knows, I'm Swedish!!!), and a mix of almonds & raisins from Andrea.

This month's book was "Three Kisses of the Cobra" by Z. T. Balian. Everyone seemed to like the book to different degrees and in different ways. Many of us had objections to different areas of the book, too.

Joe commented on how many of the romantic attachments were based on first views, such as for Lesley & Lilly. The group compared that to the way most/all Armenians of the time were in arranged marriages, but normally were introduced and knew their future partners for some time before the wedding.

Jim commented on how the book spent so much time on romantic relationships, and wondered whether it was because it was a woman writer.

I like the amount of time spent on talking about the various trade routes and the number of Armenian merchants.

Francis liked the descriptions of the city of Isfahan and how beautiful the city was. He also liked the descriptions of Erzerum and other cities.

A couple of people commented on how the book had such a nice map identifying where the various referenced locations were, but were very upset that it was at the end of the book and not earlier!

Francis liked the way that the main character in the book made use of his expertise in caligraphy.

Jim questioned how much of the book was true history and how much was fiction. He liked reading an Armenian history account from before the genocide.

We discussed the idea that the merchants went on such long trips, up to a year or so of separation from their families. Azad did a lot of traveling for work and the accounts in the book matched a lot of his experience traveling.

Andrea commented on how much she enjoyed the discussion of the lives of the Armenian merchants.

Joe and Azad thought that much of the story didn't seem true because everything seemed to work out so easily.

Azad and others commented on how it seemed like the couples weren't chaperoned as much as would be expected before they were married.

All in all, yes, we enjoyed the book. Also, yes, a couple of people talked about the scene in which the woman kissed the cobra three times. Why did she do it? We didn't really know.

For next month's book the proposals were "Mr Five Per Cent", a biography of Calouste Gulbenkian by Jonathan Conlin, or "Gallipoli" by Alan Moorehead. Other options were "Letters to Barbra" by Paul Chaderjian or "The Great Fire" by Lou Ureneck (about the burning of Smyrna in 1922). The popular choice was to read "Mr Five Per Cent" until people started checking into getting copies. Uh, Uh. It isn't in the local libraries and isn't available cheaply as a used book. The current view is to select Lou Ureneck's book "The Great Fire" because it's most easily available. We'll let you know what the final decision is.

Next month's meeting will be on Thursday, June 20th, at 6:30 at St. Anthony Park Library in St. Paul. We hope to see you there.



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