Attending these discussions has been a mind-expanding experience on how people make meaning through their reading. For example, at a book club, an attendee may make a comment on a situation or character in my novel, and then look at me as if to confirm that his or her answer was “correct.” When that happens, I just shrug and laugh and say something along the lines of “your guess is as good as mine.” Writing a book is like starting a conversation blindfolded and hoping someone will respond, but my intent and the reader’s interpretation don’t necessarily have to match perfectly, because the reader brings his or her own life experience and opinions to the pages. It’s like trying to state that there is a definitive meaning to a piece of poetry; you can’t, no matter what the most learned English professor may say. The writer may “mean” one thing; the reader may “get” something along the writer’s lines or something entirely different.
And either way, it’s okay.
Again, many thanks to Greta Ulrich of the Niles Library and Barb and Bonnie of the Birdies for inviting me to these events. I had a blast!
BTW: Red, White and Read is a reference to the liquid refreshments served that drive the lively conversation!