Monday, April 21, 2008

A Thread of Grace

Three or four pages took my breath away. A wonderful Sunday spent reading is such a gift and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is particularly true because I'm reading Mary Doria Russell's book 'A Thread of Grace' which is set in Italy during WW2. This may be the best 'war' book I've ever read because it, more than most, gets the complexity of Nazi hate and in doing so sees the connection between the slaughter of those with disabilities and the Holocaust.

Disability is a small part of this book but arguably the most powerful scene in the book is about a mother's reaction to a Doctor's pronouncement that death is preferable to disability. I read that scene, which comes late in the book, over and over again impressed by the vivid writing, the authenticity of the mother's love, the drama in the conflict. It made me want to immediately sit and talk with other people about how they saw the scene, how they interpreted the main message of the book, how disability helped Doria Russell make her point.

An idea formed. At Vita Community Living Services we have a book club. We choose a book that has a disability theme and after having read it several of us from across the agency get together and have a chat about the book and what it had to say. We've had two meetings thus far and, interestingly, we've made changes to how we do things in the agency based on those discussions. The book club was formed to 1) collapse hierarchy in the agency 2) promote a sense of convivial relationships 3) engage a different part of our minds when considering disability 4) support disability culture. I think we've acheived that. Oddly, I bought two books recently because they had main characters with disabilities 'October' and 'Lottery' and was planning to read them next. The disability theme (again minor but important) in A Thread of Grace took my by surprise.

So, I'm wondering, anyone up for an on-line book club through Chewing the Fat? If somewhere near ten people sign up, I think we should go ahead an do it. I suggest this book as a good place to start. The book isn't 'about' disability but it's enriched by including disability history and disability sub-themes. The book will appeal to those who are interested in WW2 or Italian history, parents of children with disabilities (particularly Down Syndrome) and those who just like a ripping good read.

From the back of the book:



Hauntingly beautiful, utterly unforgettable - San Francisco Chronicle



... packs an emotional punch - People



An addictive page turner ... - The Washington Post

So, I'm not alone in my feelings for the book. If you are up to it and in to it, just sign up and if we get between 7 and 10 (or even more) we'll set a date and then have a discussion here on Fat. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have people in a variety of countries talking about a book together, supporting work that is inclusive of the disability experience and sharing thoughts together.

I'm in are you?

30 comments:

Heike said...

I'm soooo in!
I love reading, and try to look for books with disabled characters wherever I can (partially because i'm writing a book myself).
I'm off to go and find the book tomorrow, and must add "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" to the list of possible books. Also, Jodi Picoult's latest will be good (about a mother suing her doctor for the birth of her disabled child).
Can't wait!

Susan said...

I'm in.

Andrea S. said...

Alas, I will have no time for ANYthing before May 12. So I probably won't be able to help for this particular book.

But I might want to join in the discussion from time to time for future books, especially over the summer when I tend to have more time for things.

qw88nb88 said...

I'm with andrea s. -- we academic types won't have any time until after mid-May, but then count me in!

andrea

FAB said...

I am so in! I'll get the book right away! I'm so glad to learn about it. I have always been interested in WWII and understanding how these things happen, I've also studied the T-4 program and often share with people that Hitler killed people with disabilities before anyone else, and a lot of that was based on the work we doing in the U.S. and U.K. Our social Darwinism was a big inspiration for the "death Doctors."

OOPS, I got carried away, I was just writing to say I'd love to join the book club!

Tera said...

Count me in!

(And "A Thread of Grace" is even at our library...woot!)

lina said...

I'm in, I'm in, ooh and I'm excited!

theknapper said...

Greetings from SNOWY Vancouver island.
I'm up for it. Sign me in.

Shan said...

All right, listen. I HATE WORLD WAR II. I learned enough about it while doing my Euro History major to sicken me for the subject for the remainder of my days.

But I will do your book club, because I firmly believe it's important to do things we don't want to do, in order to inform ourselves. Just as, when in Munich, I went to Dachau though my skin was crawling and my stomach was churning, I will read "Thread of Grace" with you all.

Dorian & Monte said...

Absolutely count me in!!! I've never been in a book club before, so you might need to hold my hand a bit. But I would LOVE it!!!

Ettina said...

I can't really do this, because most of the time I probably won't be able to get ahold of the book. Is it OK if I only participate when I can get the book?
I nominate Moorchild (can't remember the author). The star character isn't disabled (she's half elf) but the theme is very relevant to disability. Or else Changeling, by Delia Sherman, one of the major characters is autistic (and a changeling).

RusW said...

I'm not sure I can keep up the pace ... but I'll give it a try. I just downloaded the book to my Kindle and will start reading tomorrow.

Lori said...

Count me in! I don't know if I will have time for this book, but I am interested in a book club. I, too, have never done this before so may need some guidance.

Great idea!

Dave Hingsburger said...

OK, so we've certainly got enough ... we're on! Just get the book and start reading. How about we aim for having the book read in one month ... May 22. I've not done one on line before, but I'll publish something on that date and then everyone just respond with reactions to the book in the comment section. We can 'chat' there. I am so looking forward to this!!

Emma said...

I am so in. How about people with blogs can also post about the books on their blogs if they want?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Emma, I think that's a tremendous idea, then we can 'blog hop' to look at people's reviews. So we can either respond in comment section or write a blog. The more we get the word out about books (or film) that address disability issues, the better. Great idea.

Defying gravity said...

I'm in too, although I'm going away for 3 weeks from next weekend so I don't know if I'll be able to participate with this book. I'll try and get hold of it to take away with me though.

Nicole said...

I'm in and I can't wait! :)

Dorian & Monte said...

I picked up the book last night!!! I got a quick start on it before I had to do the kiddo bedtime routine, but I can't wait to really get into it!!!

Tamara said...

I'm in! I love to read. Sounds like a great story. We're doing something similar here in Rochester, NY. We've started a book club that will meet in person and offer an opportunity for those unable to gather to blog about the book as well. We're reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Tamara

Anonymous said...

I'm in!

Colleen

Gün Osborn said...

Hi,

What a great idea, I would so like to be in. Is there any chance that we know the list of the books in advance for the next 3 months? It might not be possible for me to find the chosen book in the local bookstore and delivery from Amazon does take some considereable time. This way, people like me can plan ahead?
Thanks
Guen

Deb said...

Count me in, Dave!

Gina said...

A bit late - but I'm in too. Book is on the way and I'm looking forward to this very much...

Anonymous said...

opps I'm running late - off to look for the book on Amazon. I might not be able to do every book but I will try.

Myr

athenivanidx said...

hey this is a really cool idea.......we're going to move back home soon though so we don't have time.....to read right now. maybe once or twice over the summer.......then next semester we'll most likely be in school again so we won't have time.......

best of luck with this project

Ivan of athenivanidx

Suelle said...

Yes yes yes! I'm in!

Karen said...

I'd like to join in if I can get the book in time.

Anonymous said...

Dave,
I've always loved to read. I take time out to to try to read all the books you reccomend. I'm trying to get a book started with our agency, so far everyone says they are too busy. I can see how the themes in these books could work to change perspectives around here so I won't give up the fight yet. Needless to say I'm in too!

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