'Long Hard Book Club' Baits Bushwick to Tackle 'Moby Dick' With Booze

By Meredith Hoffman on July 15, 2013 6:55am 

BUSHWICK — To all apprehensive "Moby Dick" virgins, a couple of fervid literary crusaders have one message: "It's time to actually tackle the long hard whale head on."

So Giovanni Serrano and his fiancée, Ruth Reader, founded the "Long Hard Book Club," a booze-inclusive "slightly dirtily-named" group, to pave the way through the Herman Melville classic and then through other arduous texts.

"Literature is supposed to be pleasurable," Serrano, who is hosting sessions at his dining room table, said. "I imagine back in the Jane Austen's day, people read long hard books and then sat around gossiping about them, much the way we do with long hard TV shows." 

Serrano, who earned his MFA in creative writing at Columbia University, said even he was "only marginally familiar with most long hard books," which he and his friends were made to read in school but then never revisited as adults.

"My idea was that if we set up a casual enough timeline, and flipped the forum from boring adolescent classroom to boozy adult living room, then the texts would come alive," he said.

The group reads one book every three months and meets once a month.

"Everyone actually has time to get into the text," Serrano said. "And we get to check in with each other three times to discuss."

The group has a Facebook page, which gives Serrano the space to post motivational quotes about lengthy pieces of literature.

"Let others boast about the number of words they've written," is one example from Jorge Borges. "I'd rather boast about the ones I've read."

But Serrano warned that the chosen literature would never be easy.

"This isn't a knitting circle. We're tackling tough material," he said. "The criteria for selecting books is in the name. Long — upwards of around 600 pages — and hard, a reputation for difficulty."

Potential books after "Moby Dick" include "War and Peace," "Infinite Jest," and "2666."

The first meeting is Thursday at 950 Hart St.

Neighborhood Sponsors

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement