Vol. 9 No. 1
Spring-Summer 2004

Reading Matters


Serving Northern California

Letter from the President:

United States of the San Francisco Great Books Council, 2004

Dear Reader,

You have created the space for our existence.  So first, we shall focus on our State of Being.  We have over fifty reading groups throughout Northern California.  But, we are not everywhere.  One place that I have been asked about local groups is in the San Mateo and Burlingame area.  There has to be at least one creative, gifted and literary person willing to organize people living on this part of the Pacific plate into a cohesive group before floating to the Northwest Territories to discuss great books.  Your Council is more than willing to offer suggestions and training to start a group.

The Council works hard sponsoring events during the year: the Asilomar Conference, the Long Novel Weekend, the Poetry Weekend and Mini Retreats during the year.  I urge you to register early for the Long Novel event.  The book, Anna Karenina,  by LeoTolstoy, is long (817 pages) and it definitely will sustain a weekend of discussion.  I have completed my first reading and written four questions that I want to ask about the first sentence alone. In fact, I have a question on the epigram before the first sentence.  This event is going to sell out.

Second, we shall focus on our State of Art.  I was overwhelmed by the quality of the discussions at Asilomar this year. The poetry was fun, the essays by Emerson were difficult, the Trial by Kafka was timely and Henry IV, Part I was delightful.  But, the participants that attended this conference are such careful readers that I walked away wondering if they needed leaders at all!  Kudos go to Barbara McConnell and Kay White who worked diligently to find and assist the best leaders ever.  There’s no question that what we do best is lead book discussions.

Third, we need to focus on our State of Union.  Our attendance at Asilomar was marred severely by the Holiday weekend.  Financially, we did not go into the red on the event, but we did not make enough to cover our modest annual operating expenses.  Profit from Asilomar is supposed to do that.  We have savings to get us through rough spots, but we do not want to make a habit of consuming our resources.  We will need to make some difficult decisions about whether and what cuts to make in our expenses.

One proposal will be to limit publication of Reading Matters to one issue next year.  I do not want to see this happen, but this leads us to ask a tougher question: is Reading Matters the right medium to advertise our events?  Will advertising in newspapers or magazines offer better coverage to a larger audience?  Do we need to search harder for a volunteer to act as a publicity chairperson?

Other suggestions: to limit the Asilomar weekend to Saturday and Sunday; this would save the cost of lodging and two meals, making the event more reasonable for those on fixed incomes; to search out a less expensive venue for Asilomar; to offer more mini retreats; and to charge a higher fee for our other events. We are asking our readers to contact your executive committee members and enable us to make the best decisions for the San Francisco Great Books Council.  Please send me your ideas at brianmahoney55@comcast.net.

Dear Reader, now is the time to take responsibility for what you have created.  You have created the space to allow the San Francisco Great Book Council to exist.  Enable us to unite these three states into an organization that works for all.

        -- Brian W. Mahoney

Theme Argument Rages On!

Brent Browning in Denial

By Rick White

Asilomar 2004 was no exception.  Once again, in spite of the obviousness of a predetermined theme in the readings, SFGB officials deny the existence of a theme committee.  The latest in the long procession of creative defenses of this stubbornly maintained position is from Brent Browning, Asilomar chairman.  “Man is a theme-finding animal,” insists Browning.  “It is only natural that someone will find a theme in any set of readings.”  Browning’s vigorous denial brings to mind a passage from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Learning of Browning’s desperate attempt to explain away the theme, John Doe [not his real name] opined that we have finally discovered the identity of one of the theme committee members.  “It is no accident,” Doe said, “that this important SFGB leader is so insistent.  How could he possibly know what he claims to know were he not on the theme committee?”  Jane Roe [also not her real name] [also not the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade] suggested there might be no theme committee per se but that the book selection committee picks a theme that its members pledge themselves to deny.  Anyone who violates this pledge will be thrown off the selection committee, “a plum assignment.” These are people who decide “what hundreds of Great Books participants read.  Power like this is rare in a complex society such as ours.”  Fearing retribution, neither Doe nor Roe would let us identify them in this story.

Ellen Ward, a Chicago visitor thereby beyond the reach of the long arm of intimidation, explained the theme this spring as “You’re not in charge.”  Positively-stated, this theme is “self-determination.”   “Forward, forward, forward,” is another version that was offered of the same dynamic.

In the readings, R. W. Emerson (no known relation to R. W. White) calls the self-determining individual “Thinking Man.”  In 1 Henry IV, Wm. Shakespeare’s famous character Sir John “Plump Jack” Falstaff makes up his own mind.  He does, grabs, eats, and drinks, whatever he wants; Prince Hal in the play takes charge of his own life, triumphs in battle and achieves reconciliation with his father, the king.  Joseph K, in The Trial, exemplifies the negation of the theme: he fails to exercise adequate self-determination and it costs him his life.  In the poem, “The Subway Platform,” by Laurie Sheck, we read  “DO NOT STEP ACROSS THE YELLOW LINE.”  In “The Continuous Life,” the poet Mark Strand writes of “being adrift on the swell....”  In “At Barstow,” Charles Tomlinson sites the “dustless, undishonored Stetson” of Roy Rogers, never passive in the face of danger.   The title of Thom Gunn’s poem is “Man, you gotta Go,” and he declares that “Choosing it…The self-defined…burst away….”  In “The Caged Skylark,”Gerard Manley Hopkins writes that “Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound…but unencumbered….”  And in the sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, we read that he “knew one who had lifted” the “painted veil which those who live Call life….”  [In an outside reference, an Asilomar participant disclosed that Shelley was referring to John Keats; for Shelley this was an inside reference.]

Manifestly, there is a theme and there is a theme committee and whoever knows its secret handshake is not telling us.  We SFGB leaders not in the know intend to go on participating in Asilomar, Poetry Weekend, and the other special events, in spite of our hurt feelings.  But some of us also will go to Colby for the summer Great Books program (always the first full week in August).  There they announce the theme in advance (see page 8 below). 

Kafka Notes Discovered, Explain Mystery of “The Trial”

By James R. Stabenau, MD, FAPA

Ed: Dr. Stabenau, a psychiatrist, occasionally explains difficult  works in these pages. Here he draws upon material that he discovered during a recent visit to archives in Prague folded into an old newspaper.

A meeting between Franz Kafka and his editor, Ein Zwei Geldmacher, took place during the Great War.  Kafka was suffering from tuberculosis.  He handed his editor a book proposal based on his experiences in the health care system.

Geldmacher told him that the book he proposed to write was too transparent and suggested that it be done instead as an allegory.  Here I paraphrase Kafka’s original book proposal and add some description of what must have taken place in conversations with his editor.  Page numbers refer to related passages in the translation recently discussed at Asilomar.

“Someone must have been checking into Joseph K’s medical file, for without notice he was accosted in his rooms one fine morning ( p.1).”  On K’s 30th birthday two interns from the city hospital appeared in his apartment, telling him that his recent skin test for tuberculosis was positive.  Joseph cried out, “Why me?  What have I done to deserve this?”  On account of contagion, the law required that his case be treated.  They told Joseph to get out of his Jammies because they were taking him to the hospital for a chest x-ray.  (Medicine was advanced in Prague.)

Later that day Joseph’s uncle Karl took Kafka and  his flourogram to the office of Dr. Drei Vier Huld, a renowned pulmonologist.  While Karl and Dr. Huld were engrossed in reading the film, Leni, the nurse, a statuesque ravenhaired beauty, led Joseph into a broom closet and began to  provide all-body physical therapy calculated temporarily to relieve his anxiety. Hearing loud breathing, Dr. Held rapidly concluded that treatment outside Plan was being provided. He pulled Joseph out and demanded to see his National Health Card. Presenting  a booklet that he referred to with a small chuckle as the “Plan Scriptures,”he read aloud a  section on doorkeeping. If Joseph wanted the type of treatment that had been successful for Thomas Mann at Magic Mountain, he would have to wait, no telling how long.  “The Plan wants nothing from you.  It receives your money when you come to it and dismisses you when you go (p.222).”  The Plan had no medication benefits.        Dr. Huld then described a new generic therapy, a therapy to cure anything.  It had a much lower co-payment than the Magic Mountain option.  Called the “pneumo-thorax perforation,” this method was quicker but also riskier.  A surgical incision into the chest wall was to be made to deflate one lung.  Huld reassured Joseph, “Why does anyone need two lungs?  One should be almost as good as two and even better than none.”

Joseph left the office mentally troubled and physically unsatisfied.  He obsessed endlessly, making his work at the bank impossible.  He repeatedly sought out others for advice and/or satisfaction – his attractive  neighbor Fraulein Bürstner, a washerwoman, a petty flogging lawyer, others.

Time passed.  On the evening before his 31st birthday, the two interns, now pallid and plump, came again to his lodging in white jackets, this time wearing masks that apparently were irremovable (p.223).  “So you were meant for me?” he asked.  “Why did they send you, of all people?”  It was more a cry than a question (p.225).  “The gentlemen stood waiting with their free arms hanging like sick room (sic) attendants waiting while their patient takes a rest (ibid).  Upon his realizing the futility of resisting, Joseph reflected, “Are people to say of me after I am gone that at the beginning of my case I wanted to finish it, and at the end of it I wanted to begin it again? (p.226).

At the hospital, the interns took him down a series of corridors into an operating room.  “One of them came up to K and removed his coat, his waistcoat, and finally his shirt (p.227).”  The two laid K on the operating table.  One opened his gown and retrieved a long double-wing edged lancet.  Joseph’s glance rose to the gallery above the operating room.  Light flickered, a human figure with arms outstretched (p.228) called out to one of the interns, “Otto, have you ever done this before?”  The one called Otto shrugged his shoulders and plunged the knife in.  “With failing eyes K could still see the two of them immediately before him, cheek leaning against cheek, watching the final act (p.229).  Suddenly the second  intern yelled, “Otto you fool you got the heart!”  Joseph weakly commented, “Like a dog, I need a second opinion (ibid),” and expired.

The editor Geldmacher, tears in his eyes, said “We’ve got to make some changes.  It won’t sell.  It is too straightforward.  You can turn the doctors into lawyers and the T.B. into some unrecognizable guilt thing inside Joseph that drives him to seek Huld’s counsel.  You can throw in a bunch of unrelated characters in a series of disjointed subplots and end with a bizarre parable revealed by a priest in a cathedral.

Kafka took his editor’s advice and gave him a new book proposal in which K, the client, “ceased to be a client and became the lawyer’s dog (p.193).  The last sentence, sufficiently enigmatic, remained as in the original proposal. “Like a dog!” he said; it was as if the shame of it must outlive him (p.229).”

Geldmacher embraced the author warmly. “You’ve done it!” he exclaimed.  “Only the Mensa folk will figure it out.  The Austro-Hungarian book-of-the-month club will surely take it.  And best of all, it will make the list of Great Books!”


By Mary Wood

Another view of The Trial

I had approached this book with terror, because I was sure it would lead to a major depression.  What I had expected was something like “The Prisoner” TV series where the protagonist is indefinitely jailed with a long trail and anonymous judges.   I was surprised that after the protagonist K.  is arrested he is released to his daily life. The death at the end startled me, because I had thought the Trial was a metaphor for life, and he would just get sick and die or the book would end like a horror movie where your savior turns out to just another monster.   But death by stabbing and strangulation is highly personal---more so than a masked hangman or a firing squad.  I think that somehow he hasn’t played the game; if he just kept playing the game he would be ok.  Which someone in our discussion pointed out is “blaming the victim.”

It was like being stuck in a maze you don’t remember entering.  Sort of like identify theft but it turns out it really IS you. I thought maybe we were dealing with Man and God  here based primarily on one passage:   The painter says:  “For the Judges of the lowest grade, to whom my acquaintances belong, haven’t the power to grant a final acquittal, that power is reserved for the highest Court of all, which is quite inaccessible to you to me, and to all of us.  What the prospects are up there we do not know and, I may say in passing, do not even want to know.  The great privilege, them if absolving from guilt our Judges do not possess, but they do have the right to take the burden of the charge off your shoulders.”   This sounded like Original Sin to me.  “That is to say, when you are acquitted in this fashion the charge is lifted from your shoulders for the time being, but it continues to hover above you and can, as soon as an order comes from on high, be laid upon you again.”   To me this feels like Being a Good Girl:  I’m not saying this in jest:  I had a friend who had a long painful dying recently ended who said at one point, “Why is God punishing me like this?  I’ve always been a good girl.”  Life sometimes seems like an endless task that you can fail at any time.  Or as Aristotle said, count no man happy until he dies.

The progression of the protagonist’s search for answers--law, art (the painter) and lastly to the church (with a sidebar for women in his conversation with the priest), leads me to believe the story is something about searching for answers—which aren’t there.  But writing a book saying there is no answer is to me an answer itself.  It is an act of connection with other people.  Some people contend that the act of creation itself is the artist’s goal.    My local group was just reading “The Antheap” by Doris Lessing in the “Clashes of Culture” series.  In this story, the young sculptor is not angry when his sculpture is burned because he has no interest in his work once he has finished it.   But if you write a book, you are addressing an audience.   The content of the message doesn’t have to be clear: James Joyce laughed as he wrote “Finnegan’s Wake.” I believe that he enjoyed being obtuse.   But unless you burn the book up yourself after writing it, you are creating a connection.

Henry IV, Part I

I picked this play up with dread -- history play, struggle, struggle.  But it is a fine read and full of great speeches. And famous they are, one may have forgotten where they come from:  My favorite is the chat among Owen The Magician, Glendower, and Hotspur.

    Glendower: “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.” 

    Hotspur:  Why, so can I , or so can any man, But will they come when you do call for them?” 

Another little surprise was to find that Sherlock Holmes “The Game’s Afoot” derives from this play  (Act I, sc iii, 288).

The story is that Henry IV—all of him, not just one part--has seized the throne and is having parental problems.  His son Prince Hal is dissolute and hanging out with bad characters, chiefly the unknightly Sir John Falstaff, a liar, braggart, drunk, and thief who hangs around with loose women.  This is a comic part, mind you, as we know because he is a fat man.    Meanwhile, Henry’s former allies Northumberland and Northumberland’s rash but heroic son Hotspur are stirring up trouble.   The introduction  by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine say that there are three contrasting pairs of father-sons in the play, among which they include Falstaff and Hal as a quasi-relationship.  I think that’s stretching it, because Hal consistently treats Falstaff as a joke.  There is, however, a scene where Falstaff plays Henry chewing out Hal.

The question of the play to me is Hal.  He states he has been leading a dissolute life so that when he stops he will really look good.  If this is true, then he is a cunning person who is using Falstaff and making a fool of his father with his pretended conversion.  Falstaff by comparison is an out and out liar.  He is so outrageous that I don’t think anyone believes him.  I find this refreshing compared to Hal.

Hotspur, in some things cynical, is easily fooled.   He is fooled by  uncle Worcester and Sir Richard Vernon  who don’t tell him that Henry has offered amnesty.   They have two reasons, one is that they don’t trust Henry to keep this promise.  The other is that they think that Henry might punish them but  let  Hotspur off  because he is harebrained and full of spleen.  I see Hotspur as  a hotheaded person who acts from emotion, and Hal as cunning and playing a part.  Hotheaded people who live from their emotions are often more likeable, or more trusted, especially by Shakespearean characters.

Depending on the actor, another interpretation of Hal could be that he is a fun guy who is trying to shape up and has come up with a clever rationalization for his prior behavior.   He certainly has a good model for this in Falstaff.   The supreme example is Falstaff’s  false claim that he killed Hotspur.   When he tells Hal, who was the one who had killed Hotspur, the Prince says, “wait, wait,  I killed him.”  Falstaff replies,  “Didst thou?  Lord, Lord, how this world is given to lying.  I grant you, I was down and out of breath, and so was he, but we rose both at an instant and fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock.”   Poor Hotspur.  Even his death becomes a joke.

Emerson’s Essays

I approached Emerson with the idea, “I read this in college, it should be a snap”, and oh, it wasn’t. I forgot what we were supposed to read and started with “Nature”, which I found to be  mystical and religious and almost incomprehensible.  But having read that, I was aware in the “American Scholar: and “Self-reliance” that  infusing all that Emerson wrote was a profoundly religious spirit. For example, in  Self-Reliance he writes,

This is the ultimate fact which we so quickly reach on this, as on every topic, the resolution of all into the every blessed ONE.  Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms.

And further,

“Thus all concentrates: let us not rove; let us sit at home with the cause.  Let us stun and astonish the intruding rabble of men, and books and institutions, by a simple declaration of the divine fact.  Bid the invaders take the shoes from off their feet, for God is here within.”  

In the “American Scholar” Emerson argues that each age of the European world has a different character--classic, romantic, etc.  For an American scholar to focus on the European tradition is to miss the character of this age--which he identifies as Introversion and Revolution.  “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do.”

Asilomar Great Books Poetry 2004

By Theda Firschein

At Asilomar ’04, I was privileged to lead one of the evening poetry sessions.  While   we came up with meaningful and innovative interpretations of the poems, I know from later social discussions that the ideas of other groups were equally spirited.  Here are some of the concepts that were explored.

The Subway Platform, by Laurie Sheck, describes the poet’s subterranean world as a “shore stripped of all promised softness or repose.”  The initial isolation of the poet conceals from her the humanity of the others waiting for the train.

All around me were briefcases, cell phones, baseball caps,

folded umbrellas forlorn and still glistening

with rain.  Who owned them? Each face

possessed a hiddenness


The rails become the final harbingers of light, “treacherous, almost maniacal, yet somehow full of promise.”

Birds appear as wings of sorrow and grief, but a gray bird gives way to the coming of the train, an epiphany, a “forward illumination of the tunnel’s dark insides.”  The hems of women’s dresses billow and sway and leap “as if a seamstress had loosed them with laughter from her hands--”

In The Continuous Life, by Mark Strand, the poet ponders how to instruct the next generation about existence between the “two great darks” of life and death.  In this didactic exercise, the children must “come inside” and partake of the “family album,” where the mundane lessons of household chores give way to the deeper issues of being.

…each of you tries

to keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear

The careless breathing of earth and feel its available

Languor come over you, …sending

Small tremors of love … into your days and beyond.

At Barstow, by  Charles Tomlinson, paints an unflattering picture of an American town, as perhaps only an Englishman (Sorry for the outside reference!) can.  It is perhaps his outlander’s view that inspires the poet to invoke Belsen and Gotterdammerung in his stereotypical description of an American “placeless place,” where he reports “a faint flavor of Mexico in the tacos tasting of gasoline.”

Thus does this Brit invoke the Roy Rogers of Hollywood westerns, who, he writes, once tarried in Barstow, but did not ride.  There, at the joining of gasoline and desert air, his “dustless undishonoured stetson rode beside the bed,” suggestively glowing “in the pulsating, never-final twilight….”  “He was spent.  He was content.” That’s as good as it gets in Barstow.

On the Move, by Thom Gunn, evokes the frenzied movement of motorcyclists, who “almost hear a meaning in their noise.”  “They strap in doubt -- by hiding it” in   costumed impersonality. The poet compares the riders with highway birds who, along with saints, “complete their purposes…reaching no absolute….One is always nearer by not keeping still.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in The Caged Skylark, also compares Man to birds.  While Man’s spirit is caged in his skeletal bones, the skylark abides in “his own nest, wild nest, no prison.”  But Man’s spirit, though “fleshbound,” is free, for at the end his bones are risen.

Finally, we decoded a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which begins,

Lift not the painted veil which those who live

Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,

And it but mimic all we would believe…

This poem was best accessed through the questions it provoked: 

  1. Why are Hope and Fear, which are seeming opposites, “twin destinies” behind the veil?
  2. Who in the sonnet is the speaker and who is the seeker?
  3. Why does the seeker unsuccessfully seek first “things to love,” and then later (in life?) make Truth the object of his futile search?

It is interesting to see how strongly “birds” impact such poems as The Subway Platform, On the Move, and The Caged Skylark. Also, while two of the other poems, At Barstow and On the Move, deal with supposed “low life” themes, there is no lack of transcendental consideration in these plebian subjects of motorcycles and the placelessness of a particular American place.

Downturn in Tourism Creates Great Books Bargains in Canada

Prescription drugs not the only good deal north of the border

Classical Pursuits hopes to recover from an international slump in tourism by offering participants a “2 for 1” deal in its summer seminar program.  This program of discussions is held each July in cooperation with the Great Books Foundation.  The 2004 dates are July 18-23.  A dozen seminar options will be provided on a serene and shady campus amidst this cosmopolitan city at the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College.

Seminars will discuss Bleak House, by Charles Dickens; Words with Power, Northrup  Frye, The Iliad, Homer; The Metamorphoses, Ovid;  Job; Russian Short Stories; The Decalogue, Krzysztof Kieslowski; The Play’s the Thing; Gotterdammerung, Richard Wagner; Mass in B-Minor,  J.S. Bach; A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Poetics of Space.  Director Ann Kirkland suggests we consider finding someone in our circle to join in the Classical Pursuits experience and thereby benefit by having our fees reduced fifty percent.  Generally, this special offer extends to those registering before May 1st.  However, for readers of “Reading Matters” this is extended to June 15th.

Please contact:

Ann Kirkland

Classical Pursuits Inc.

349 Palmerson Blvd.

Toronto ON M6G 2N5, Canada

416-892-3580 / 1-877-633-2555


Tilden Park Picnic to Feature Bestseller, Life of Pi

Are you ready for an unforgettable ocean voyage?  Then mark your calendar for Sunday, June 13th, the date for our annual Great Books triple pleasure: picnic, brief annual meeting, and book discussion.

Location: Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, Padre Picnic Area

(South Park Drive, about half a mile up from Wildcat Canyon and just east of the golf course)

Time: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

For the reading, the Picnic Committee chose the riveting Man Booker Prize novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  The paperback version is published by Harvest Book/Harcourt, Inc. and costs $14.00 at Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc.

Pi Patel is a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper.  He has a fervent love of stories and practices not only  his native Hinduism , but also Christianity and Islam.  When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animals emigrate from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo boat.  Alas, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450 pound tiger.  Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi.  Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land?  Can Pi’s fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do? 

This “outrageous scenario…has been invested with plausible life” is how the New York Times describes the novel which has been on the top of their bestseller lists ever since it was published two years ago.  Readers have called “Life of Pi” brutal, tender, magical, fantastic, and hilarious.  Above all, it is a gripping adventure story.

Picnic etiquette:  it is pot luck.  Please bring your own food and beverage, a dish to share with four other people, utensils, paper plates, and a tablecloth if desired.  Barbecue grills will be available.  The very wise also will bring a wide-brimmed sun hat and a folding chair.

Picnic committee members are Rob Calvert, Gary Geltemeyer, Dorothy Jansizian, Bob McConnell, Vince Scardina, and Tom and Jan Vargo.  Consultant is Tom Cox.  Chair Kathleen Conneely would like to thank the picnic committee for its generous efforts in making this annual picnic special. -- Kathleen Conneely, Chairperson. 

“That Was a Good Discussion!”

by Kay C. White, Chair, Leader Training

Do you tune in when you overhear, “That was a good discussion!”?  On Saturday, March 6th, 27 gathered to describe qualities they want in their book discussions:

How does a Great Books leader promote good discussion?

The answer is not “blowing in the wind” but by the leader asking an interpretive question then listening.  It may take a few minutes for participants to digest the question.  Ride with the silence.  Brains are working.   Give them a chance to form thoughtful answers.  Ask follow-up questions that are stimulated by their ideas.  The conversation belongs to the group, not the leader.

Share leadership responsibility with the participants.  They’ll help the group stay on track.  Give everyone a chance.  Watch for signs of interest or the lack of it: for body language, breath intake, eye contact, dozing.  Keep questions provocative. Search for the author’s intent.  As leader, you should keep out your opinion.  Encourage participants to restrain theirs until the end of the discussion period.  The book least liked may provoke the best discussion.

Contact me if you want to have a mentor, or would like to mentor GB leaders.  kaycleveland@aol.com


The 48th annual Wachs Great Books Summer Institute, Colby College, Waterville, ME: August 3-9. This year's Wachs Great Books Summer Institute will convene at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, on Aug. 1-7, 2004. Featured readings on the theme No Ordinary Time include works by James Agee & Walker Evans, Hannah Arendt, Emma Goldman, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, and Elie Wiesel. For more information, write to Tom or Carol Beam, Colby Summer Institute, 824 Thomas Road, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444-1107, or call them at 215-836-2380, or fax 215-836-7158. E-mail: agreatbook@aol.com


Classical Pursuits International seminar, Andalucía Province, Spain: September 28-October 10. Submerge yourself in the sights and sounds of southern Spain. Explore a culture of diverse social and religious influences with readings in medieval Muslim, Christian, and Jewish poetry, as well as works by the modern poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. Contact: Ann Kirkland, 877-633-2555 (toll free) or ann.kirkland@classicalpursuits.com. Visit the Classical Pursuits Web site to read more about this event.


June 13 (Sunday) Picnic, Election of Officers & Book Discussion, Tilden Park, Berkeley – Life of Pi, Kathleen Conneely (510) 530-2344

August 28-29 (Sat & Sun) Long Novel – Anna Karenina, Walker Creek Ranch, Marin County, Gary Geltemeyer, Chair (510) 654-0235, Mary Stuart, Registrar (707) 575-1984

Nov. 13-14 (Sat & Sun) Poetry Weekend, Westminster Retreat, Alamo, CA, Contact:  Mary Wood (510) 865-3481


Serving Northern California

Brian Mahoney, President

Lou Alanko, Vice-President

Gary Geltemeyer, Secretary

Grace Apple Dennison, Treasurer

Barbara McConnell & Louise DiMattio, Past Presidents

Reading Matters

Publisher, Rick White

Editor, Paul Ortega and Lucy Whybrow-Ortega

Letters to the editor or story contributions to marylwood@prodigy.net

SF Website: www.greatbooks-sf.com

GB Foundation: www.greatbooks.org