Come Join Us!–An Update on Cereus Readers Book Club for Eudora Welty

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 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.


Written by Lemuria

3 thoughts on “Come Join Us!–An Update on Cereus Readers Book Club for Eudora Welty

  1. Linda Lambeth

    I am excited about the book club. I had wanted to take the course with Suzanne Marrs and could not as having some eye issues. Thought I could keep up with one time a month.
    Carolyn, I am Sarah Frances Hardy’s mother and met you at Square Books in Oxford at your signing.
    Linda Lambeth

  2. Sharon Truelove

    If only there were a way to participate online. I would enjoy this study immensely, but I’m much too far from Jackson to attend.

  3. Beverly

    The Optimist’s Daughter is my favorite book, and has been since I discovered it in 1985 after reading an article about EW in Time or Business Week on the occasion of her 75th? Birthday. A friend gave me the unabridged Random House recording of EW reading the novel and I have listened to it over and over in addition to reading the novel so often that I have parts of it memorized. I even typed the novel once to ‘feel’ the worlds. I am also a huge fan of Barbara Pym, a novelist EW admired, and am an active member of the BP Society. Alas, I do not live in Jackson, but one day I hope to visit. Meanwhile I came to your web site in a funny way: my sister down in Florida has a night blooming cereus and sent me pictures of it on the night it bloomed. Something clicked for me, and I suddenly recalled that EW had written about that flower…so Google brought me to your lovely site. Tonight after work, I will bring out my Optimist’s Daughter cassettes (i made several copies of them back in the days of those dual-cassette boom boxes) and, once again, listen to EW herself read my favorite novel. Beverly (New York City)


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