and pretend we’re eating this.
I’m writing this drinking my beloved English Breakfast with a spot of milk (can you believe I couldn’t find a decent cup of tea on the internet for a visual?! and even looked for coffee. Also a no-go.) and will picture you with a beverage, all excited to talk about Fieldwork: a novel. But know that the real action happens in the comment section. This post is throwing out the first pitch and getting the ball rolling. Last week I really enjoyed our conversation on working with other expats. If you missed it, or want to go back and keep adding to the discussion, you can.
A few people asked in the comments section if we were supposed to finish the book today. Well, yes. BUT I know that life can be busy and since we are going to talk about the book for a while, this week, let’s not discuss the very ending. Anything that happens after Norma and Martiya chat and Martiya leaves is off limits! And that gives us something to look forward to next week.
On to the chat:
- What were your impression of the overall writing of the book. What do you think Berlinski did well? And what parts seemed a bit weak-sauce to you? (We said this earlier, but I’m going to repeat — it’s OK not to like some part(s), it makes for a more interesting discussion if we have varying opinions. So if you didn’t like something another person adored, please still comment.)
- Did anyone else find it a bit confusing at first that Mischa Berlinski wrote the book and fictitious Mischa Berlinski was the narrator? Thoughts on this writing technique. Any other novels you’ve seen do this?
- Berlinski (the author) weaves the story between three different groups: M’s, anthropologists, and semi-adventure seeking/wandering expats who seems a little purposeless with their lives. What did you think about the way Berlinski presents the three groups? Were any of you anthropology majors? What did you think of the portrayal of anthropology? Can an anthropologist (anyone, really), live in a community and “merely” observe without impacting the system in some way?
- Which of the M’s were you more drawn to? Any annoy you?
- How does this kind of book influence the way we approach our work?
- And the questions from a discussion guide I’m going to use: To what extent do you think David and Martiya were products of their upbringing? If each had been born into the other’s family, do you think they would’ve followed more or less the same paths?
- Do you think there is a connection between David’s devotion to the Grateful Dead and his passion for Christianity and the mission? (from discussion guide)
Feel no pressure to answer any or all of these questions :). If there is something you want to say, “go rouge” (as long as you don’t give away the ending) and also YOUR questions are welcome! This is a discussion I see us coming back to throughout the week and adding to.
Even if you haven’t read the book, welcome to join in on the discussion or ask questions of other participants.
Now, let’s pass those pastries and thanks for reading and chatting.
p.s. I looked at the calendar today and realized, hehehe, I”m not very good at reading calendars :). We have today, the 21st and the 28th to discuss the book. Next week we’ll look at the ending and the implications of the last bit. On the 28th, we’ll look at the role of locals beliefs in our work.