Monday, December 8, 2008

Interesting careers

Should your book group fall, as so many seem to, into acrimony and factionalism, you can now hire a professional "book group facilitator" to smooth things over, or to take over running the group altogether:
Today there are perhaps four million to five million book groups in the United States, and the number is thought to be rising. . . . And more clubs means more acrimony. Sometimes there is a rambler in the group, whose opinion far outlasts the natural interest of others, or a pedant, who never met a literary reference she did not yearn to sling. The most common cause of dissatisfaction and departures?

“It’s because there’s an ayatollah,” said Esther Bushell, a professional book-group facilitator who leads a dozen suburban New York groups and charges $250 to $300 a member annually for her services. “This person expects to choose all the books and to take over all the discussions. And when I come on board, the ayatollah is threatened and doesn’t say anything.” Like other facilitators, she is hired for the express purpose of bringing long-winded types in line.

Ah, life among the social primates; we can't live without each other, but we also can't stand each other.

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