Dancing with Gravity Book Club

     Mentally draining, thought-provoking, and utterly fascinating are the descriptions that come to mind after reading Anene Tressler’s Dancing with Gravity.  An International Book Awards 2011 Literary Fiction Winner, Dancing with Gravity immerses the reader into the novel through rich descriptions (some of which caused giggling on my part):
     “Whiting took his ice cream and stepped over to the trash barrel to unwrap it.  The wafer stuck to the paper so that each time he lifted a piece of the wrapper, it tore.  Tiny strips stuck to his fingers.  Ice cream dripped down his hands;  he leaned over the trashcan to avoid dripping anything on his jacket.  He tasted paper and spit it out.  As he unwound the sandwich, a large chunk broke off and fell into the barrel.  He tossed the remainder into the can in disgust and looked around for a napkin or water to rinse his hands” (161) and clever use of vocabulary, “He knew the parents wanted him to respond, but his words were stillborn”  (136).
     The complex protagonist, Father Samuel Whiting, an educated man who suffered a less than stable childhood, inserts the proper anecdotes at the proper times, but remains socially and romantically immature at the age of forty-eight.  Whiting’s incessant questioning, analysis, and uncertainty invites the reader into his psyche and ultimately into the role of psychiatrist to his ramblings from the metaphorical couch (thus, naps were needed between reading “sessions” in order to process and recover).  Tressler accurately portrays the ideal that there is much more to a person than what one witnesses on the outside; even a person who acts as a spiritual advisor or counselor experiences real emotions.
     The setting of Dancing with Gravity centers around a circus specifically located in St. Louis, Missouri, so why not have your book club entertain the idea of a group outing to the circus?  Circus Flora has been thrilling St. Louis audiences for over 25 years.  If this is not possible, bring circus food to your book club discussion.  Hot dogs, flavored ice, cotton candy, popcorn, and an ice cream sandwich for the road.  In closing talks, recognize the importance of thanking a spiritual advisor, pastor, rabbi, counselor, or guru.  Trained to assist others, these often thankless professions deserve appreciation.

Anene Tressler

3 thoughts on “Dancing with Gravity Book Club

  1. An author always hopes for a connection with a reader. It doesn't always happen….but when it does, it makes EVERYTHING worthwhile. Thank you for your very sensitive and insightful reading of my book. I believe you've captured my intent…and I really love your book club suggestions! Thank you for the time and effort you've put into this review. It makes me want to dance!


  2. ms. tressler has somehow captured the inner insecurities, frailties, and doubts of a character that represents an authority figure for most of us. some of us have relied heavily on our own father whiting to guide us through our personal crisis without giving thought to the human being underneath the priest's facade. she has shown that even a priest who is at a respectable level in the catholic hierarchy not only deals with petty office issues with someone we old timers refer to as his secretary, does an over-analysis of trivial remarks of those above him that many of us office workers are expert at doing, and even has a school-boy crush on a woman with whom he has a professional relationship. perhaps ms. tressler is the pen name of someone who spent many years in the priesthood before leaving it to write a book?


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