Drink Between The Lines

Books & Bars meets monthly at Aster Café for spirited literary discussions.

Joseph Kleinschmidt

Monthly book club Books & Bars uses the Aster CaféâÄôs informal and intoxicating setting to its advantage. Every meeting, a large group of locals swarm the St. Anthony Main area bar for a helping of literature and alcohol.

âÄúIt absolutely helps loosen the tongue. It provides a bit of liquid courage that some people might not have otherwise,âÄù said Jeff Kamin, moderator of Books & Bars.

Every second Tuesday of the month, the group meets to soak up interpretations of novels like âÄúRoomâÄù by Emma Donoghue and âÄúThe Lonely PolygamistâÄù by Brady Udall.

Disagreement along gender lines invariably created lively conversation for UdallâÄôs novel that dissects a manâÄôs relationship with four women. The argument of polygamy became the core topic for the evening âÄî the inexpensive beer fueling the debate all along.

âÄúAfter that second or third Fulton or Surly, they let loose their opinion andthey have no problem letting others know if they disagree with them,âÄù Kamin said. âÄúIt gets people talking. It definitely helps.âÄù

Literally a literary happy hour, prices for locally brewed Fulton beer, which co-sponsors the club, drop to $3. Along with The Onion and Magers and Quinn, KaminâÄôs euphoric night of fiction relies on the spontaneity of a wide range of readers.

With bar-goers anywhere from 25 and 45 years old, the monthly meetings garner diverse points of view with an open format, easily accessible for non-English majors to experiment with analysis.

KaminâÄôs comedic ability keeps things open for everyone over 21. His snide reactions and quips maintain the lighthearted (hopefully not lightheaded) live experience. But the entertainment from active discussion wouldnâÄôt arise with unanimous agreement.

âÄúEven if you didnâÄôt like it, itâÄôs great to come and share your opinion, and youâÄôll hear someone elseâÄôs perspective,âÄù Kamin said.

On Oct. 4, Books & Bars will be expanding, bringing its 100th discussion to The School IIâÄôs wine bar in Chanhassen, Minn.

KaminâÄôs choices in fiction often reflect the time of year. OctoberâÄôs selection, Andrew DavidsonâÄôs âÄúThe Gargoyle,âÄù presents darker subject matter âÄî much like KaminâÄôs seasonal changes in drinking.

âÄúClear liquors in summer, brown liquors in winter,âÄù he said.

But whenever Books & Bars takes on darker brews âÄî and themes âÄî the group provides a community outlet unmatched by any other book club.

âÄúItâÄôs a hundred people getting together to talk about literature as opposed to whoever won on American Idol,âÄù Kamin said.

Upcoming books:

October âÄì âÄúThe GargoyleâÄù by Andrew Davidson

November âÄì âÄúFriday Night LightsâÄù by H.G. Bissinger

December âÄì âÄúFreedomâÄù by Jonathan Franzen