Timmy wrote this discussion notes! Thanks.
Raj, being the regular Sipsey that he is, appropriately served fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and ribs, to go along with the discussion. Aaron was back to his regular hot seat moderating the event, with attendees Alexius, Javin, Glenn, Timmy and Raj animatedly dissecting the book. Special thanks to new member Joshua for lending us his support.
Most of us loved the book, with the exception of Javin and Alexius, who found it confusing. Glenn partly agreed, though he did find the book interesting. Raj was the most enthusiastic, having read the book twice on top of watching the movie adaptation.
Timmy asked why the book was titled so. Raj said it perfectly described the South, with Javin adding the cafe was the life of the area. Aaron mentioned the title appropriately highlighted the book’s locality and settings. “When the cafe closed down, so did life in the South,” Javin succinctly summed up.
Timmy, Glenn and Raj enjoyed the fact that the book wasn’t chronologically arranged. Glenn thought it made the book more interesting, with Raj adding, “don’t expect the book to run in order.” Logical thinker Javin disagreed with that notion, stating that “if arranged, (it) would have been a 100-page book.” Joshua shared that the book is a way of making the reader to work harder and think a little bit more. Timmy theorized that the book may have been written chronologically before it was rearranged.
“Why so many narrators?” Aaron asked. Raj explained that the different voices are representations of the women of those respective time settings. He also implied that certain readers may relate to certain narrations.
“Is this book dated? Is it an artistic book?”
With regards to the first question, Javin and Alexius vehemently said yes, while Raj and Timmy said no. Javin thought that the book is not current and compared it to an old woman’s ramblings. Glenn said the book teaches about acceptance, and brings about the larger message of that as well as love.
As for the second question, Raj, the fervent supporter of the book, said yes and also said the book is emotional. Everyone else is in agreement that the book, while it may not be artistic and superior, is very simplistic and has a lot of heart.
Aaron questioned the significance of food being featured prominently throughout the novel. The book made Javin hungry, while Glenn went the opposite route and could not recall any mention of food (Ed’s note: He must be on an extreme diet). Alexius thought that the author might have been an avid foodie. Aaron brought up Evelyn’s tendency to binge eating as well as Naughty Bird’s battle with anorexia. Both Raj and Javin agreed that there was a sense of empowerment through food.
The novel brings forth the concept of “non-traditional families”, completely redefining familial roles. Raj said it was all about unconditional love. Javin summed up that this is the heart of the book.
Alexius commented that no black person is a bad person in the book, before being shut down by Raj and Aaron, who cited Artis and Clarissa as examples. Raj further declared that Idgie as an anomaly because of her fair treatment to them despite their skin colour. “Not all white people are bad,” he said.
When the question of how and why Evelyn ended up being in a church filled with black people, Alexius’ answer was “because of McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and all, that’s why she can blend in with them,” hence inciting that she and the black have something in common (i.e. being fat). Every other answer for this question was rendered useless.
Aaron brought up the plenty of cross-dressing moments in the book. Javin thought that this aspect was common in regards to the book’s setting. Raj surmised that it was done purely for comic relief and literary humour, nothing more.
Aging, dignity and memories
“At the end of the day, everybody is alone,” Javin melancholically said, ever the Debbie Downer. Vesta Adcock reminded everyone that there is still a humorous side to aging. Aaron said the novel was useful in highlighting menopause and the experiences of being a woman.
Raj’s favourite character; he loved the way she writes and how she injected her own life into the news snippet she posted out. Together with Aaron and Timmy, the three of them viewed her as the “Gossip Girl of the book”, seeing as no one has ever talked to nor seen her.
Alexius’ favourite, who found Buddy’s bravado – going ahead despite being confronted with danger – hot. Aaron asked why Fannie had to kill him off so early in the novel. Timmy deduced that it could be due to character progression. Javin added on that his death was useful in bringing Ruth and Idgie together.
Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode
Javin’s favourite, because of her certainty in her love for Ruth. Aaron touched on the topic of misogyny and sexism, finding Idgie similar to Buddy. Raj speculated that perhaps because he was too powerful a character, hence the author had to off him.
Glenn was impressed with the fact that he loved Ninny wholeheartedly, “Even though she’s fat!” as per Aaron’s interjection.
Virginia “Ninny” Threadgoode
Timmy described her as a combination of old Rose from Titanic and the evergreen Betty White.
Aaron’s pick for favourite, describing him as a complex character, a man trapped in unpleasant situations.
Frank Bennett’s killer
Everyone was caught off-guard except for Alexius, who thought the book was predictable and didn’t bat an eyelid with the revealing of the killer. “Why did she do it? And why was Idgie prepared to take the blame for it?” Aaron asked. Javin said that because she is white, thus the sentence would probably be a lighter one as opposed to a coloured person declaring themselves the killer. Raj summed up that because Idgie accepted them as part of her family, and did it out of goodwill.
Timmy joked that she is the slutty Aunt Agony of the book. “Even if you’re promiscuous, you’re not a bad person,” someone profoundly said. Aaron found her complex.
Aaron found him to be a strange inclusion to the book. Raj said that even though he is white, he seemed to be worse off compared to the blacks. We all questioned if he had homosexual tendencies but didn’t come to any conclusion.
Raj called him controversial, as he was willing to lie on behalf of Idgie. Javin thought he was radical in his ways, seeing as he was accepting of Ruth and Idgie, which Timmy agreed as well.
By the end of the discussion, everyone is still separated into two camps – the ones who don’t necessarily like the book (Javin, Alexius) and the one(s) who do (Raj). Simple was the word that Timmy said best described the book, and everyone agreed to that.