The Ladies Who Drink Read Termite Parade
Despite the grotesque title and cover (or perhaps because of it) the Ladies Who Drink picked Termite Parade for this month’s read. Termite Parade is author Joshua Mohr’s second novel. Book clubbers Violet and Edie previously read Some Things That Meant the World To Me and really enjoyed it. In fact, I think they liked Some Things a little more than TP, which is saying a lot because we all gave TP between three and four stars.
The story — narrated by Mired; her boyfriend, Derek; and his twin brother, Frank — explores the unexpected consequences of Mired’s drunken fall down a flight of stairs and what the events leading to and from it reveal about the three main characters. We all loved how well drawn the three main characters were. They came across as distinctive, three-dimensional, and interesting. I also thought their dialogue was smart and fun to read. We also liked grappling with the questions that the book did: Do people ever really change? If our lives are guided only by chance and randomness, why does anything we do, good or bad, matter? When a relationship gets really bad, can the couple grow and change together, or do they need to be apart to have any chance at happiness — or, if their identities are so tied to each other, will they actually be worse off on their own?
Another thing we liked was the author’s reluctance to answer these questions. Although we had mixed feelings about the ending, we appreciated the ambiguity. We were also a little confused by a certain hammer incident, as we were by Derek’s involvement in the filming of Frank’s pet project. It made sense that Frank would hide behind his lens while he tried to capture people at their worse (because that was how he acted with his friends and families too), but we weren’t sure what Derek’s motivations were. Finally—and I’m not sure if this is good or for bad –each character’s likeability seemed to be in direct proportion to the others’, so when one became somewhat agreeable another became downright nasty. Suffice it to say, it’s a wild ride of a book that will have you hating characters you thought you liked and liking characters you thought you hated until you have no idea what makes someone a good person, what actions are forgivable, and what makes a relationship worth saving.
The drink of the month was an easy pick: vodka tonic with a lime. If you read the book, you’ll know why.