No dinner out and The Dinner by Herman Koch

Last night we made plans to take the girls to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant. I grew up on Mexican food, and moving to Ohio has not provided us with many great chances for good Mexican food-except in our little town. We have a great little hole in the wall with  good chimichangas, decent burritos and great Margaritas. They are inexpensive and Tuesday is kids eat free night. And it means I don’t have to cook or do the dishes. But we didn’t make it.

Now, I am a lucky woman because my husband can cook and does cook. He went to culinary school and worked as a chef for many years. He left the profession a couple of years ago, so he likes to cook at home. I know I am lucky–it is one less thing I have to worry about during my work day. But I actually enjoy cooking, and I hate doing dishes. And our deal is whomever cooks does not do the dishes. This has never worked in my favor, because when I did cook it was because he wasn’t home, so I did the dishes any how.

So, tonight I really wanted to get out of the house, get away from our four walls and check out the world away from our neighborhood, the Y and any sports event featuring 8-10 year old girls. BUT the hubs decided he could make better Mexican, and he made really good enchiladas. Really good. But we didn’t get out of the house AND I had to do the dishes. Very depressing. The hubs needs to get this mama out of the house before I lose my mind. I think he got the message, though.

On to what takes my mind away from these four walls–BOOKS.

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“… technically, just like with the rings of a tree or Carbon-14, it had to be possible to measure the passage of time by the melting of vanilla ice cream.”

This week I finished a book I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. I was disappointed, and I wasn’t. The characters are awful people, but the book sets up a great moral dilemma. And it raised some interesting questions in my mind about what is really going on. I can’t discuss my ideas without giving the book away, but when you finish let me know and I will let YOU know my weird, wacky thoughts.

When I started this book I could not put it down. You know it’s building to something big, and I read and read, wondering when it’s going to get there. And slowly but surely it did, but only after I realized all the characters are horrid and I didn’t want anyone to be the good guy. It’s a book without heroes.

The story takes place in Holland and narrated by Paul, a man with an unknown illness, or syndrome, which makes him prone to fits of temper and makes him unemployable. The story centers around he and his wife Claire and their dinner with his brother, Serge, a famous politician that is on the verge of becoming the Dutch Prime Minister, and Serge’s wife Babette.

We learn quickly that Paul does not like, actually really resents, his brother. He hates everything about him, to his seemingly limited intelligence to his summer house in France. In fact, it seems that Paul really pretty much dislikes everyone except his wife, his son, and Serge’s wife, Babette (he’s torn here, because sometimes Babette doesn’t like Serge, so that’s when he likes her).

The dinner is in a very high end, exclusive restaurant at which Serge has an ‘in’, allowing him to get great service and an instant good table without a reservation. The story is divided into courses, and by the main course I was ready for dinner to be OVER! Slowly, though, we are building to the point of the dinner—the kids.

The three boys—one for Paul and Claire, two for Serge and Babette—have gotten into trouble. Serious, psychopathic trouble. And it is the way that everyone reacts that makes you wonder about them. And I guess that is why I kept reading the story. I can’t really say more without blowing the story.

I would recommend this book, but I would add a caveat—it’s a book worth reading, but you’re not going to love it. It will start conversations, and I would add that I want you to read it so that I have someone to talk to about this book. I have some strange theories, and I need someone to discuss them with someone!!!

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