U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Company to Keep: First Selection

Well, voting for our first USIH book club choice was relatively inconclusive: we had equal numbers supporting Norman Rush’s Mortals and Mary McCarthy’s The Group, with assorted other votes. However, there was also a snarky comment trying to mock The Group as a possible choice and, since I’m sure McCarthy would only have taken that as encouragement, we’ll count it as a vote in her favor and declare the vote untied.

(If you are interested, my vote would have been for the highly acclaimed In the Light of What We Know, by Zia Haider Rahman, or for A. M. Homes’s May We Be Forgiven, which is about a Nixon scholar under fire–a great choice, given what Rick Perlstein’s been going through, though I wouldn’t want to carry the comparison any further–but alas, no one voted for either. Give them a look, though!)

Here is a schedule for our reading, with the novel segmented into what I hope are reasonably-sized chunks. We’ll take a week break so people can get a copy of The Group, but because I want to make sure we have plenty to talk about in the first installment, the reading will also be a little longer to take advantage of the two weeks.

So this is what the calendar could (and without objections will) look like:

  • August 22: Chapters 1-5 (in my copy, pages 1-149)
  • August 29: Chapters 6 and 7 (pages 150-230)
  • September 5: Chapters 8-10 (pages 231-316)
  • September 12: Chapters 11 and 12 (pages 317-393)
  • September 19: Chapters 13-15 (pages 394-487)

This schedule can be spread out a bit if we find the start of the school year is making it difficult for some readers to keep up, but I think the novel (which I haven’t read) likely zips along, if McCarthy’s criticism is any indication.

But as you can see, this schedule also gives us some time before the S-USIH conference (October 9-12), so if any of you are interested in trying to squeeze in another novel and getting together some time during the conference to discuss it (as Matt Linton suggested). Find me on twitter or leave a comment here if you’re interested.

At any rate, I’m really looking forward to reading The Group with you. I think it will be entertaining, and I’m hopeful it will spark some excellent discussions here.