For the last couple of years, I’ve only liked one out of every four or five books we’ve read at my book club, but I still like to go because I find it interesting to hear people’s opinions. It fascinates me when I think something is boring, or flat out bad, and there are people that absolutely love the book. Or vice versa. I’ve had several experiences where I thought the book was incredible and other people hated it.
Which brings me to last night.
I arrived a few minutes late to find only a couple of people at our meeting spot. Immediately the woman I sat next to asked me what I thought of the book (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), to which I replied, “I’m not really a Neil Gaiman fan.”
It was crystal clear I said the wrong thing. Oh my.
She smacked her copy of the book, which sat in front of her, and proclaimed loudly that SHE CHOSE THE BOOK. And that NEIL GAIMAN IS AMAZING. And that THE BOOK WAS AMAZING.
There was a lot of shouting, is what I’m trying to say.
I attempted to explain my opinion to the woman. It isn’t that I don’t like Gaiman, he’s a great writer capable of wonderful imagery, and while reading his books I’m always entertained. But, for me anyway, his stories all contain basically the same elements, and so even though I’ve read five of his books, they all meld into one.
Homegirl lost her shit. I quickly discovered that I inadvertently insulted Gaiman’s biggest fan. She knew everything about him – age, marital status, the fact that his second marriage really brought him out of his shell, childhood background, favorite color, and whether he wears boxers or briefs.
My second mistake of the evening was to say, in the midst of her rant, that it was only a book. Which, by the way is true. A difference of opinion about a book is not a reason to get one’s panties in a knot. Anyway, her response was this:
(Side note: Holy. Shit. Let me back up and talk about something completely unrelated to this post. I googled images for ‘a pox on you’ hand gestures, and my eyeballs were assaulted by a dozen thumbnails of yucky chicken pox pics. Blargh, I can’t get the oozing images out of my brain!!!!!)
Okay, so no picture. The point is – she flung her hands up in a ‘pox on you’ finger V, with her palm facing inward, like she was cursing me for not being in love with the book. Now, I found it funny that she couldn’t handle a difference of opinion, but I was less amused when she started making personal attacks. An unbelievable number of snarky comments and stank eyes were thrown in my direction throughout the course of the discussion. At one point during the conversation she asked if I had children, and I responded no. Several minutes later she was talking about Gaiman’s children’s books, all of which she has read, and she turned to me with an eye roll and said, “But, you know, I actually LIKE kids.”
Geezaloo honey, just because I don’t have chilluns of my own doesn’t make me a child hater.
Anyway, It was an interesting evening. I’ve had conversations in the past with people who flip the fuck out over politics/religion/environmentalism, and can’t have a rational discussion or acknowledge it’s okay for others to have opinions that differ from their own. I’ve never experienced that phenomenon with a book.
So, I want you guys to know that, in the event I vanish from the face of the earth, or my face melts off, or I turn into a chicken or a rabbit or something, it’s because someone placed a curse on me last night.