Writer Dave’s Book Club

Because of the influence of the “Writer’s Corner” wine bar, with all the portraits of classic authors on the walls, I had an idea!

I would start up “Writer Dave’s Classic Book Club”. I wanted to get back into the classics, many of which I’ve heard of, but haven’t read. If I did read one, I didn’t uncover the hidden meanings of the book.

I would hold meetings at my house once a month to discuss a classic book that the members would read before the meeting.

I put an advert in the local paper and got back four replies, two men and two women:

LLC-a man that only went by his initials! He said he was retired and had done many things in his life.

Tom-an elderly gent, who said he was an amateur actor.

Linda-a middle-aged lady, who reads to escape her routine.

Marla-a young woman, just graduated from university. She was not sure what to do with her life, but she loved books.

A good group to discuss the classics intelligently. I told them our first book to discuss would be “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Our first meeting would be in a month’s time.




We were all seated in a semi-circle around the fire in my lounge. Everyone had a cup of coffee and the discussion began.

“I’d like to start with a little background on the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896 to 1940. He lived only 44 years. He coined the phrase, “The Jazz Age” to describe the 1920’s. He and his wife, Zelda, were great party-goers until she got mentally ill. He was one of the American writers who were dubbed, “The Lost Generation”, along with Hemingway and Dos Passos.”

I was holding their attention, that was good!

“I am Writer Dave and I am as interested in the classics as you people are. I hope we will learn about and enjoy these books together. I first read “The Great Gatsby” many years ago, when I was in High School. I was 17 years old and it was required reading. We all have heard about these books, and maybe we’ve read a few, but most of us probably didn’t really understand them completely. There are lots of hidden insights to be extracted from the classics.”

“What is the definition of a classic?’ said LLC.

“That’s a good question. I like to think of a classic as a written work that is both “TIMELESS” and  “TIMELY”.  They have been read through the years but they have insights that are relevant even today!”

I took a sip of my coffee.

“Can someone give me a summary of the book in less than 100 words?”

LLC spoke up, “Poor Gatsby needs to obtain wealth to marry Daisy, his love. He becomes wealthy, gives lavish parties and finds her again, but she is married. They have an affair but Daisy finds out about his mysterious business dealings. She stays with her husband. Gatsby takes Daisy home from N.Y. in his car, but she drives. Daisy hits her husband’s mistress and kills her. The mistress’s husband finds out it was Gatsby’s car and shoots Gatsby and himself. Only Nick, the narrator, and Gatsby’s father attend the funeral. Complete disillusionment at the end.”

“Very good, LLC” The club members broke out in applause!

“Anything to add to that description?”

“The book was about the “American Dream” and Gatsby was a self-made man but by questionable means,” said Marla.

“Good answer. Now, what drove him on?”

“Greed and love, an explosive combination,” said Tom.

“Did you find yourself lost in the book, was it a page turner?”

“Oh yes, I was living the characters, second hand,” said Linda.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it, Linda. This story gives us a portrait of 1920’s wealth, parties, dreams and tragedy.”

I warmed everyone’s coffee up and continued:

“Was the book autobiographical? Yes, it was to a degree,” I answered my own question. “Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, lived a wild party life until the novelty wore out and Zelda got ill. She liked the good life so Fitzgerald needed to make money with his books.”

“I think all writer’s work is autobiographical to an extent. It’s like a map of their mind. You can understand what their concerns are, what their obsessions are, and what interests them,” said Marla.

“Marla, that is very true.”

“So, did you get any insights from The Great Gatsby?”

“The message I got was that we all hope we can free ourselves from our origins. In other words throw  off the shackles of “Class’’. We want to invent ourselves and shape ourselves through hard work. We are NOT measured by our parent’s background and class but what we make of ourselves,” said Tom.

“Well said, Tom.”

LLC spoke up, “I’d like to live the party life and dive into swimming pools with my whiskey on the rocks!”

We all laughed.

“Well, that lightened this discussion up,” I smiled.

“It was a story of flawed people pursuing happiness,” said Linda.

I warmed my coffee up and took a sip.

“I’d like to play the part of Gatsby,” said Tom smiling.

“The green light was mentioned in the novel, what was that all about?

“It was not just a green light that Gatsby saw across the bay, but a “GO” signal to meet the fulfillment of his dream with Daisy,” said LLC.

I continued the thought, “Also, I think Gatsby knew he would have to act fast and met the green light, which was the future, but year by year it recedes before us, less and less future!”

“So, to sum up, Gatsby didn’t get his gratification of the love of Daisy. The book is about the excesses of capitalism in the 1920’s. The “Dream” never measures up to the reality. The gratification never measures up to the dream!”

Linda got up and said, “I liked the story, I’m going to buy the DVD!”

From Nobody To Somebody!

I had just finished a chapter in my present, in process book. So, I thought I’d take a break.

I found myself in the “Writer’s Corner” wine bar. The other day I met a man that knew a lot about Benjamin Franklin in this place, filled with authors portraits.

I climbed up on a stool opposite the picture of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I ordered a large glass of red wine and studied the portrait. It was a very imposing picture of a man with sharp, structured facial features, and long dark hair flowing around his ears. Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864.

“Hello, do you come here often?”

It was the fellow sitting on the next stool. He sort of resembled the portrait of Hawthorne! He was dressed impeccably in a dark suit, white starched shirt and a dark bow tie.

“This is only my second time here,” I replied.

“Have you read much of Hawthorne’s work?” The fella said, pointing to the portrait.

“I’ve only read “The Scarlet Letter.”

“You should read his best short story, “Wakefield,” my drinking partner commented.

“I’ve never heard of it. What makes it so good?”

“It’s one of the strangest stories you will ever read. Also it has a hidden meaning in it!”

“Sometimes, when I finish a book, I don’t get the meaning. It’s a riddle to me.”

We both took long sips of our wine.

“There are times I wish I could call the author up on the phone and get his explanation.”

“You won’t have to do that, I’ll tell you about “Wakefield.”

“Please tell me, I’m all ears.”

I glanced up at Hawthorne’s picture, it was like it came alive! His eyes were boring through to my soul. It was weird!

My drinking partner continued, “Wakefield” is an odd story about a fellow walking out on his wife after 10 years of marriage. He felt he was a nobody.”

“Was adultery involved?” I said, smiling.

“No, nothing of the kind. This man settled down in a flat one block away in order to observe-for 20 years-the effect he was having and then he returned to his wife!”

“Wow! That is strange!”

“You bet it’s strange. This is not your standard mystery: there are no secrets, no corpses, no ghosts, not even a romance! Just an exit, a vigil, and a return!”

“Bartender, give us a bottle of this wine, this explanation is going to take a while,” I said, “We will share.”

My partner smiled. “Thank you, very much.”

“So, what have we got so far? An ordinary man, a Mr. Nobody, leaves his spouse, for 20 years, to spy on her. He wanted to see the impact of his absence!”

I re-filled both of our glasses and said, “Now, I want to know, WHY DOES WAKEFIELD LEAVE HIS WIFE?”

“That’s a good question, why do you think?”

“Well, 10 years of marriage, maybe a mid-life crisis! Maybe he is a sadist and wants to play a nasty trick on his wife.”

“It could be those reasons, but I don’t think so.”

“Why then?” I said, wanting to know badly.

“He leaves to UNDERSTAND himself!”

“We all want to understand ourselves.”

“That’s right, but in life we can’t really do that. Who can tell us who we are? YOU are always in the way of that understanding.”

I sipped my wine and pondered that thought.

“So, that is probably why Wakefield left, so he wouldn’t be in the way!”

“I think you’ve got it!” said my bar stool mate.

“When he returns home after 20 years, he felt he had found himself. By removing himself from the picture, he saw how people reacted when they thought he was gone and then presumed dead.”

We both stared up at Hawthorne’s portrait.

“So, Wakefield was no more a Mr. Nobody. He was a Somebody, in his mind.

“We all should go on a visionary project to find ourselves, to look beyond and see things we don’t know, living so close to one’s self!”

“So my friend, that is the hidden meaning in “Wakefield”, Hawthorne’s brilliant short story.”

I sipped my wine and thought about my conversation with this man I had just met.

“I want to understand myself also. So this odd story leaves me asking:


The Writer’s Corner

I saw an advert in my local newspaper for a new wine bar that also served food. It was opening up not far from me. It was called, “The Writer’s Corner”. Since I am a writer, the name intrigued me.

The next day I visited “The Writer’s Corner”. I walked into a large room with a long bar with 20 stools along one wall. The rest of the room was filled with booths along another wall and tables and chairs in the middle. There was a luxurious red carpet throughout and the walls were wood paneled. There was low ceiling lighting. But what really struck me were all the pictures of writers lining the walls. There were at least 50 pictures, ranging from Franklin, Emerson, and Poe to Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Don DeLillo!

I sat at the bar opposite a large picture of Ben Franklin. I ordered a glass of red wine. Franklin was not only one of the Founding Fathers of America but an accomplished writer also.

The fellow next to me was heavy-set with an oval face, thin wire spectacles and long brown hair down to the top of his shoulders. He was dressed in a black suit.

“Nice place they opened up here?” I remarked.

“Yes, it is. It makes you feel like you are among the literary greats.”

“We’re sitting by Franklin’s picture, have you read any of his work?”

“Oh yes, all of it! From the “Autobiography” to “Poor Richards Almanac” through to the “13 Virtues.”

“Boy, you’re a student of Ben Franklin!”

“You could say that,” he smiled.

“I think Franklin believed in the “self-made man,” I ventured, trying to show my knowledge.

“Yes, he did. He was a self-made man. He was a man coming from humble beginnings and he achieved success through his own hard work and ingenuity. He had accomplished many achievements during his lifetime.”

I took a sip of my wine and savored it while I studied the Franklin picture. He had the look of a wise man.

“I like his proverbs in the Almanac.”

“Which ones do you like?”

“I like, “There are no gains without pains”, and “One today  is worth two tomorrows,” I said, enthusiastically.

“Yes, I like those too,” he said, smiling.

“I believe Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”

“Yes, he not only signed them, he actually wrote parts of them. He was a true “Yankee.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that!”

I took a sip of my wine.

“He believed in the virtuous life, didn’t he?”

“Yes, that’s why he wrote the 13 Virtues for people to follow.”

My friend drank the last of his wine.

“I have to leave now. I’ve had my two glasses of wine.”

“Oh yes, one of the virtues was “Temperance.”

“That’s right, my friend, “Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.”

With that statement he left.

I finished my wine staring at Franklin’s picture and I thought:


The Meeting Place 2- A Sequel

It was foggy that day, but suddenly the fog lifted and the sun came out. I was on that strange street I encountered the other day! Down the road was that tavern, “The Meeting Place”. I went in.

I scanned the room, the bar was empty, but I had a feeling I wasn’t alone! Where was the “lady in the mirror? My heart sank.

There was a song playing on the jukebox. “We’ll Meet Again” with Vera Lynn singing.

Then I spotted her, in a far corner, at a table for two. She was dressed in red not black like the time before. She was staring into a mirror that flanked the table on two sides.

I slowly approached her and she saw me coming in the mirror. I saw her expressive face smiling at me!

“Remember me?” I said, sitting next to her so we were both facing the mirror.

“Oh yes, I remember you, that’s why I’m here!”

The bartender came over. I ordered two glasses of red wine.

“Why did you come back?”

“I said we would meet again and I would help you with your problems!”

She put her hand on mine. It was an electric moment! Her eyes in the mirror were smoldering.

“You were into meditation, right?” I said, taking a sip of wine.

“Yes,  meditation for the body, mind, and soul! Now, what’s your problem?” she whispered, her face close to mine!

“Well, I get frustrated and anxious when I wonder what’s my purpose in life, what’s meaningful to me, and what’s the point of it all?”

“What you need to do, my friend, is open your chakras!”

“ What are chakras?”

She squeezed my hand and I felt a tingling sensation in my fingers!

“Chakras are centers of energy, located on the midline of your body. They govern your psychological properties. Instinctual and High Mental.”

I signaled the bartender to bring us a bottle of wine. He came and re-filled our glasses.

“If you can open your crown chakra, you will release the wisdom to figure out your problem. But you must meditate hard and look for the answer, it will come.”

“What should I do?”

“We will hold hands and close our eyes and be still. You think about the answer to your problem.”

She whispered into my ear, “Be still, be still,” and then brushed her lips on my cheek!

A few minutes of silence followed. She broke the silence and said:

“It was not into your ear, I whispered, but into your heart.

It was not my lips that kissed you, but my soul!”

She kept holding my hand.

“Did you come up with an answer to your problem?”

Her eyes were burning me through the mirror.

“Yes, I think I have come up with my purpose and meaning. I’m a writer, and through my writing, my readers might come to a better understanding of themselves and the world. There is truth in fiction! Through my writing, things will become clearer to me too!”

She smiled.

“I’m so glad I met you, I feel better in my skin now. I don’t want to lose you. I need your support.”

She touched my cheek with her warm hand and said:

“Just think of me and I will always be walking with you through life!”

I looked in the mirror and the only person I saw was myself! She was gone!

The bartender came over and said, “You owe me $10 for the wine!”

The Meeting Place

I was out for a walk one afternoon and I turned down a street that I have never been on before! I was in unfamiliar territory, or was I? There was a tavern at the end of the road called, “The Meeting Place”.  I was intrigued, so I went in.

There was a long bar with stools and a few tables and chairs and an old jukebox. The walls were full of pictures of past historical events and past famous people!

There were some people talking at the tables. But there only was one lady sitting at the bar. She was staring seriously at herself in the huge mirror behind the bar.

I sat next to her and ordered a beer. The bartender served me my beer and eyed me up and down! I took a sip of my beer and I stared at the lady in the mirror.

She was an attractive mature lady dressed in black, with grey hair cut short, framing her face. She had an interesting face, like she had seen and experienced many things!

“Hello, my name is Dave, do you come here often?”

“No, this is my first time. I got lost on this street and wandered in here for a drink.”

“Same here, I don’t think I’ve been on this street before.”

We both looked at each other’s eyes in the mirror.”

“What do you do when you’re not getting lost?” I smiled.

“I’m into meditation,” said the lady, still looking into the foggy mirror.

“That’s interesting, when I turned down this street my mind was drifting. I felt like I was in a special state, about halfway between being awake and sleeping. After being in this daze, I felt I had been down this street before but I didn’t know when!”

The lady in the mirror smiled at me.

“Has any strange things happened to you?”

“Oh yes, one time, at midnight, I got a phone call from someone asking me out on a date! I asked him what a young man, like him, was doing asking me out. He asked me, how I knew he was young. So I described his looks on the phone. He hung up and never called again!”

“That’s sort of scary! Maybe the young man thought you were some kind of witch!”

My lady in the mirror laughed!

“No, I’m not a witch. I just am able to see things. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do and I find you very interesting. You could probably help me with some of my problems!”

“I believe I could help you. We all experience what we believe!”

She got up to leave and touched my hand.

“I have to go but I’m sure we will meet again. If you think of me hard enough when you are meditating, I will help you with you problems.”

Then she was gone! I looked into the mirror again and closed my eyes and I saw her in my minds eye.

“Hey, buddy, are you alright?”

It was the bartender shaking me.

“Yes, I’m alright. I was just meditating.”

“Oh, it looked like you were doing nothing but dozing.”

I said, “The great thing about meditation is that it makes doing nothing RESPECTABLE!”