We call ourselves the Cereus Readers in honor of Jackson writer Eudora Welty and her friends who gathered for the annual blooming of the night-blooming cereus flower and called themselves “The Night-Blooming Cereus Club.” In this same spirit of friendship and fellowship, this new book club is launched.
The goal of the Cereus Readers is to introduce readers to the writing of Eudora Welty–her short stories, essays, and novels–and then to read books and authors she enjoyed herself or were influenced by her.
As an introduction to the writer we will start with my biography of Eudora Welty, A Daring Life, and pair it with Eudora’s essay “A Sweet Devouring,” found in her collection of essays The Eye of the Story. We will then read her Pulitzer prize-winning novella The Optimist’s Daughter followed by her collection of short stories The Golden Apples.
After reading these works by Welty, we will read authors and works she herself enjoyed: Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Chekhov, and mysteries. Finally, we thought we would read authors who have acknowledged Welty as an influence and inspiration such as Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler, and Clyde Edgerton. It’s a bold undertaking, but we plan to be meeting for a while!
Here is the schedule for Cereus Readers:
Thursday, January 24: A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty & “A Sweet Devouring” from The Eye of the Story (led by Carolyn Brown)
Thursday, February 28: The Optimist’s Daughter (led by Jan Taylor)
Thursday, March 28: The Golden Apples, Part 1 (led by Lee Anne Bryan)
Thursday, April 25: The Golden Apples, Part 2 (led by Lee Anne Bryan)
Thursday, May 23:
Two short stories: “Where Is the Voice Coming from?” & “The Demonstrators”
An essay by Miss Welty: “Must the Novelist Crusade?”
Thursday, June 27:
We will be listening to a 1975 audio recording of Miss Welty reading selected short stories.
Thursday, July 25: The Ponder Heart
Thursday, August 22: The Robber Bridegroom
Thursday, September 26: Short Stories, “Asphodel” & “A Still Moment”
We meet at noon in the dot.com building adjacent to Banner Hall. Feel free to bring your lunch. All books are available at Lemuria, and be sure to ask for the “Cereus Reader” 10% discount when making your purchase for the book club. Please e-mail lisa if you plan on attending or if you have any questions: lisa at lemuriabooks dot com.
This is a reading group open to all level of readers–anyone interested in learning about Jackson’s most important writer. Eudora Welty considered Lemuria her bookstore, and we want to honor her by discussing her books and authors she loved–meeting in the store where she shopped and signed her books.