May 28 2010

Game Poem 22: Book Club

This is a game poem for any number of players, but is probably best for somewhere around three to six, give or take. You will all be playing yourselves as you already are, so that part of the game should be fairly easy. You and the other players meet weekly for a book club meeting, where you spend the week all reading the same book, and then get together to discuss it. Since this game is an isolated incident, however, you will just have to pretend that is the case. Further, since nobody has been reading the same book over the past week, you will have to invent it.

Make some coffee or tea for everyone to drink, maybe lay out some snacks or sandwiches, and gather together in a comfortable setting to discuss your book of the week. The organizer should welcome everyone and thank them for all showing up this week. Ask if everyone managed to read the entire book – everyone should say, yes, they did. Ask if people enjoyed it – each person will express their general reaction to the book, before getting into the details. Once everyone has made their grumblings or satisfied murmurs, you may set to the meat of the matter at hand.

The organizer should pick one person and ask them to read the name of the book aloud to everyone present. The title can be anything, from a single common word, to a longer phrase with a subtitle. It can be anything, but of course, it is preferable that it not be a book that already exists, to your knowledge. Once the title is spoken, everyone nods assent, and the person who named the book should call on another person to name the author. Again, the author’s name can be anything, male or female, or a pseudonym of indeterminate gender.

Once everyone has agreed that is indeed the author of the book with the given title, the player who named the author should ask another for a brief synopsis of the plot. Build off of the title, giving the most obvious details that spring to mind. Name a character or two in the story, describe them a little bit, tell the other book club members what their goals in the story were, and what kinds of obstacles they had to overcome. Tell them what kind of resources or relationships they had at their disposal to deal with their problems, and decide whether they achieved their ambitions or not, and if their character was changed in any significant way in the process. Of course, this is all an awful lot to expect one person to invent on the spot, so if you have trouble thinking of something, or find yourself hesitating, feel free to call on another player to fill in the gaps for you. Likewise, if you see one of your fellow players faltering, do jump in and help them out with some details. The most important thing is to declare with conviction what the book was clearly about in the simplest way possible, and to all immediately agree with each other when filling in the outline of the story.

Once the basics have been laid out, the organizer may go around the circle of readers and ask them each to describe something in the book that particularly stood out to them, or spoke to them in some way. Again, if you’ve been actively engaged in the creation of the story and characters, you should be able to easily build off of what has already been established, and just say the most obvious thing about the book that would interest you the most. Talk about an especially evocative description or passage in the book, or a message that you felt the author was trying to communicate through the reader. You may have been struck by an outstanding character monologue, or an unexpected turn of events in the plot. Whatever you say will be fine, as long as it flows easily from the fiction that you have already created together. Remember that what has been said already by any player is now a true fact about the book; do your best to not contradict or argue with things that have already been established. You may express a differing opinion about something in the book, of course, and a theoretical argument may very well develop between people who came away with completely different viewpoints!

Once everyone has had their turn telling what they enjoyed or disliked about the book, the organizer may wrap up the meeting by asking if anyone else has any final comments or questions. If you wish, you may decide together what book you will all read together next time. Otherwise, after fifteen minutes or so – or after everyone has finished their drinks and snacks – the game is over, and the meeting is called to a close. Happy reading!