Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Club Exchange: Yona Zeldis McDonough

I am so glad to welcome author Yona Zeldis McDonough to Book Club Exchange. Yesterday, I reviewed her latest novel  A WEDDING IN GREAT NECK, and I'm happy to say that it was an entertaining novel about one very messed-up family.

When Ms. McDonough offered to write a guest post for me, I immediately knew what to ask her for -- one about book clubs. Here's a fun essay about her love affair with book clubs. Personally, I just adore it!

Why do I love book clubs? Let me count the ways! A writer’s life is a very solitary one: it’s just you, the blank page and the frantically blinking cursor. (In my case, you can add the occasional presence of my three dogs, any one of which is apt to be snoozing nearby, hoping for a belly rub or a biscuit). I sit and type for a little, stare into space for a longer while, type some more, get up and make a cup of coffee...I think you get the idea. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I love my life as a writer, the stringing of words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into stories that possess the fierce and unalloyed power to move people—including me if I’m lucky—to pity, terror and everything else in between. But sometimes it does get a tad lonely, dogs notwithstanding.

Enter the book club. Here’s my chance to see what all those words, sentences, paragraphs and stories are actually doing, once I’ve signed off and sent them out into the wider world. I love to interact with readers, hear their reactions, listen to their comments, and respond to their questions. It’s a privilege and gift to engage with people on this level, and I appreciate it every single time.

That’s the personal reason I love book clubs. But there’s a larger reason too and it is this: I find it enormously uplifting to think that with all the myriad distractions of work, family and other entertainment options, people still find it important to gather together for the main purpose of discussing books. It gives me hope as an author and as a human being to know that words and stories matter to the scores of people who assemble each week or month to discuss them.

I remember a book club I was invited to on Staten Island a few years back. I did not know anyone in the group; the leader had read one of my books in the library, tracked me down and invited me to visit. I was so touched I had to say yes, though I imagined it would be a small group at best. Was I ever wrong! When I arrived at the appointed place, I found almost forty women, many of who had been librarians or teachers. They had read my book with such care and attention; they had so much to say, to ask, to note, to discuss. It was an honor to be in their presence and I told them so. They have invited me back since then, and I will be going back yet again, to join in their conversation about A Wedding in Great Neck. A writer could ask for no better response or tribute.

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of three previous novels and the editor of two essay collections. Her fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in Bride's, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Harper's Bazaar, Lilith, Metropolitan Home, More, The New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, the Paris Review, and Redbook. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.

A huge thanks to Ms. McDonough for participating in Book Club Exchange!

If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.  


bermudaonion said...

Having an author visit a book club is always extra special. I imagine it's nerve wracking for the author, though.

Beth F said...

Great guest post. And what a book club! Most clubs fall apart because only one or two people show up. I can't imagine how wonderful it most have been to see so many engaged readers.