Refuge Book Club: Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Date TBD

For our next book club, we should all read Kafka’s The Trial, and then do a deep dive comparison to my soon-to-be written narrative of my travel golf bag that is still within the bowels of American Airlines’ baggage system since my flight home from Hawaii on June 6. Then we can talk about the similarities between rights of the individual in an oppressive, impossible to navigate nation-state criminal justice apparatus, and the position of customers within “efficient” workings of $10bn cap companies in a “market” economy that operate via algorithms and Interactive Voice Response technology without any apparent human oversight.

I’ll be happy to moderate the discussion. It will be cathartic.


Her Antenna Is Tuned to the Quietest Voices - The New York Times (

A Ghost Haunts the Tokyo Olympics - Electric Literature

Fun talk last night - even if maybe this book didn’t have THAT many different topics to discuss, always good to see and chat with this gang!

Putting up a poll for our next book:

  • The Candy House - Jennifer Egan
  • Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout (sponsored by @kvv)
  • Another book (please leave a reply with that title)

0 voters


Ok, I’m going on a gut feeling here, playing with the idea of a “summer” read that also seems to use some narrative styles this group is familiar with, but is also a little off the beaten path considering a lot of the stuff we’ve read over the past year and half or so. If not this month, we could still try it in August.

FantasticLand: A Novel


Love the idea of a summer read :smiley:. Not everything needs to be a booker award!

Only four votes in the poll, making me wonder if we should just take @rkris’s suggestion or leave the poll open a bit longer?

My thought has become “why not all three?”

  • love the idea of a “summer read” style book.

  • love the idea of revisiting a group favorite with a follow up visit to the same characters in a sequel.

  • Olive K is one of my favorite literary characters of all time.

Seems like Refuge Book Club is still thriving based on pretty solid attendance last week—-though perhaps our willingness to toss a selection out there has waned?

Inking a “three book selection” to take us deep into the year might not be a bad route? All solid picks in my mind, too.


This sounds great. I’d throw my vote for FantasticLand, Candy House, and Olive Kitteridge to round out the summer/early fall.


I’m all in on this but confused how we do it - one after another, yes? What’s up first?

Let’s just start with Olive K because I just got a copy :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:



So are we doing the original OK, or Olive, Again?


Original- august 3rd?


Ok I’ve been wanting to #getinvolved here but if y’all seriously reading Olive K…I have to make a point to do it. I have Olive, Again too. Frances Mcdormand was so good in the adaptation.


Didn’t realize there was an adaptation. Definitely going to check that out and please do join us to chat!

HBO she’s perfectly Olive. I need to for sure looking forward to it.

1 Like

Planning to pick up my copy of the book at my #local bookstore this afternoon and join the book club for the first time. I have lurked long enough.


Can someone update the title with the new book and date?

Olive Kittredge August 3, yes?

1 Like

I think the trick is to @Double_Bogey_Dave or at @OffTheDole among others for the title update?

August 3 is next date for Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

Sarah, I hope you are getting some reading time in amidst your extreme commitment to golf?! Shooting par for 9 and all…… (NEVER apologize for the yardage or tees when that magic comes).

Did Catch-22 with my local book club and absolutely loved the mini series for that. Think I will break my TV stance again and check Olive out along w a quick reread.


Finished this afternoon. Not entirely sure what I thought. Need some time to ruminate

Found some questions for thinking through


Discussion Questions

  1. Do you sympathize with Olive Kitteridge as a character?

  2. Have you ever met anyone like Olive Kitteridge, and if so, what similarities do you see between that person and Olive?

  3. How would you say Olive changed as a person during the course of the book?

  4. Discuss the theme of suicide. Which characters are most affected (or fascinated) by the idea of killing themselves?

  5. What freedoms do the residents of Crosby, Maine, experience in contrast with those who flee the town for bigger “ponds” (California, New York)? Does anyone feel trapped in Crosby, and if so, who? What outlets for escape are available to them?

  6. Why does Henry tolerate Olive as much as he does, catering to her, agreeing with her, staying even-keeled when she rants and raves? Is there anyone that you tolerate despite their sometimes overbearing behavior? If so, why?

  7. How does Kevin (in “Incoming Tide”) typify a child craving his father’s approval? Are his behaviors and mannerisms any way like those of Christopher Kitteridge? Do you think Olive reminds Kevin more of his mother or of his father?

  8. In “A Little Burst,” why do you think Olive is so keen on having a positive relationship with Suzanne, whom she obviously dislikes? How is this a reflection of how she treats other people in town?

  9. Does it seem fitting to you that Olive would not respond while others ridiculed her body and her choice of clothing at Christopher and Suzanne’s wedding?

  10. How do you think Olive perceives boundaries and possessiveness, especially in regard to relationships?

  11. Elizabeth Strout writes, “The appetites of the body were private battles” (“Starving,” page 89). In what ways is this true? Are there “appetites” that could be described as battles waged in public? Which ones, and why?

  12. Why does Nina elicit such a strong reaction from Olive in “Starving”? What does Olive notice that moves her to tears in public? Why did witnessing this scene turn Harmon away from Bonnie?

  13. In “A Different Road,” Strout writes about Olive and Henry: “No, they would never get over that night because they had said things that altered how they saw each other” (p. 124). What is it that Olive and Henry say to each other while being held hostage in the hospital bathroom that has this effect? Have you experienced a moment like this in one of your close relationships?

  14. In “Tulips” and in “Basket of Trips,” Olive visits people in difficult circumstances (Henry in the convalescent home, and Marlene Bonney at her husband’s funeral) in hopes that “in the presence of someone else’s sorrow, a tiny crack of light would somehow come through her own dark encasement” (p. 172). In what ways do the tragedies of others shine light on Olive’s trials with Christopher’s departure and Henry’s illness? How do those experiences change Olive’s interactions with others? Is she more compassionate or more indifferent? Is she more approachable or more guarded? Is she more hopeful or more pessimistic?

  15. In “Ship in a Bottle,” Julie is jilted by her fiancé, Bruce, on her wedding day. Julie’s mother, Anita, furious at Bruce’s betrayal, shoots at him soon after. Julie quotes Olive Kitteridge as having told her seventh-grade class, “Don’t be scared of your hunger. If you’re scared of your hunger, you’ll just be one more ninny like everyone else” (p. 195). What do you think Olive means by this phrase? How does Olive’s life reflect this idea? Who is afraid of his or her hunger in these stories?

  16. In “Security,” do you get the impression that Olive likes Ann, Christopher’s new wife? Why does she excuse Ann’s smoking and drinking while pregnant with Christopher’s first child (and Henry’s first grandchild)? Why does she seem so accepting initially, and what makes her less so as the story goes on?

  17. Was Christopher justified in his fight with Olive in “Security”? Did he kick her out, or did she voluntarily leave? Do you think he and Ann are cruel to Olive?

  18. Do you think Olive is really oblivious to how others see her– especially Christopher? Do you think she found Christopher’s accusations in “Security” shocking or just unexpected?

  19. What’s happened to Rebecca at the end of “Criminal”? Where do you think she goes, and why do you think she feels compelled to go? Do you think she’s satisfied with her life with David? What do you think are the reasons she can’t hold down a job?

  20. What elements of Olive’s personality are revealed in her relationship with Jack Kennison in “River”? How does their interaction reflect changes in her perspective on her son? On the way she treated Henry? On the way she sees the world?
    (Questions issued by publisher.)


Oh these are good. I really liked the Hulu miniseries and it helped fill in some spots for me.

Will @KVV be joining us to discuss his favorite novel?

1 Like