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

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