Readers begin talking about ‘Mudbound’

February 4, 2011
Ben Beagle,

Not even the threat of a winter storm could keep readers away from the first book discussion for the 2011 “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.

For several weeks area residents have been reading Hillary Jordan’s acclaimed debut novel “Mudbound.”

A number of readers gathered Tuesday at Pike Library, 65 Main St., Pike, where they talked about Jordan’s use of multiple narrators and their relationships to both the story and each other. Readers also compared the experiences in the book with their own understanding of events that happened both near and far during the height of the Civil Rights movement.

Pike Library Director Tammy Hopkins said Jordan’s book was well received by those who attended, and all agreed that Jordan wove a provocative tale of post-World War II Mississippi.

Pike’s discussion was the first of 19 organized by Tale libraries. Discussion are scheduled through through March 9 at libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. Jordan will visit March 10 to 12.

Hopkins further reports:

“Everyone enjoyed hearing the tale from six different viewpoints. It created a rich multilevel experience into the lives of “Mudbound’s” characters.

“It also created a glimpse into a place and time that as Northerners we can’t understand. Racial issues were of course discussed at length. They ranged from drives down south when mules were still being used and the substandard living conditions witnessed, to the race riots and bussing children to different schools here in the ’60s, to the worry of how to make children today understand the intensity and reality of what occurred.

“To a lesser degree relationships were also discussed. Besides racial relationships, marital, family, charaters’ feelings for the land and the relationships with themselves were explored.

“Without giving away too much for those who have yet to read “Mudbound,” we covered Jamie and his relationship with his brother and subsequently Laura, Laura’s relationship with Henry, Jamie and the farm Mudbound, Ronsel’s relationships and how they shape and change his story, and everyone’s dislike of Pappy.

“Our group was split on the ending of the book. Some would’ve preferred a clear cut ending. One would’ve prefered a happier ending. And others were satisfied with the ambiguousness the novel ended with.

“For those of you who have yet to read the novel, Pike Library Book Club agreed it was a well told story that will keep you interested until the end.”


Upcoming book discussions:

• Feb. 7: 7 p.m. at Yates Community Library, 15 North Main St., Lyndonville, (585) 765-9041; Haxton Memorial Library, 3 North Pearl St., Oakfield, (585) 948-9900.

• Feb. 10: 7 p.m. Byron-Bergen Public Library, 13 South Lake Ave., Bergen, (585) 494-1120.

• Feb. 12: 1 p.m. Wyoming Free Library, 114 South Academy St., Wyoming, (585) 495-6840.

What do you think of Jordan’s use of six different narrators? How did they help you (or not) while reading “Mudbound.” Share your thoughts on this or other aspects of the book in the comment section below.

You can also discuss the book at Tale’s Facebook page.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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