Several new members hadn’t read it so we needed to negotiate the discussion around this – making them feel welcome but still managing to keep to keep on topic. However, one new member was a young man who was not used to reading but even so had managed to finish the book. A good start.
Though most of the group didn’t find it very funny, one member reported that his cellmate could not stop laughing as he read it. T was characteristically vehement and accused the author of making light of a terrible situation (the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s). This led to an interesting discussion about whether one is ever entitled to poke fun at serious events or other cultures. S said that laughing at negative experiences – including prison – was a tried-and-tested way to cope with them.
This is from a group for emergent readers who aren’t yet fully confident but are making great strides.
As we move deeper into the story the group are becoming more engaged – laughing sympathetically at Lennie’s efforts to do what George says, and beginning to appreciate the bad vibes from Curley. However, the men are looking forward to finishing. Maybe I was a bit too ambitious with this one. The words and language are still alien, and we are reading more slowly so I can explain. C is still not the easiest of the group. He minds a lot when he makes mistakes, and sometimes pretends he hasn’t. But we’re getting there.