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Book Menage Day 2: Exclusively Michael Perry.

Book Menage Day 1: Starting slowly.

Hello, all, and welcome to the summer edition of our Book Menage discussion! I'm so excited to start this round of discussions, that I'm not even going to let the fact that this is Thomas Friedman's birthday get me down. Friedman, anyone who has the balls to ask for a $70,000 appearance fee does not deserve happy birthday wishes.

So our two books for this round are Michael Perry's Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, and Tom Bissell's The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam. As we did last time, we'll spread this out over the week; I'll pose some different questions each day and we'll answer in the comments. Just to shake things up a little bit, I will not be asking, on this the first day, which book you liked better and why (as I did last time); we'll save that for the end. I also will not be answering first in the comments today, because I'm worried that sometimes I overly direct the tone of our discussions (I will comment later, though). Also--if you have questions about these books, simply post them in the comments as well and I'll add them to the main posts! And remember! Anyone and everyone who comments on any day will be entered into a drawing to win the two books for the next Menage, absolutely free! So invite your friends.

All right, them's the rules and regulations. As far as the questions go, we're going to start slowly today.

1. Just looking at these books, are either one of them books you would have selected to read on your own? Why or why not?

2. Let's look at the beginnings of these books. How did you read them? Did you read Bissell's "Author's Note," or did you skip ahead to the main text? What kind of experience did you think you were in for when you read their corresponding first lines?

Perry: "We are in trouble down here. There is blood in the dirt. We have made our call for help. Now we look to the sky."

Bissell: (Depending on what you consider the beginning) "More than thirty thousand books on Vietnam are currently in print." or "It would have been spring. The neighborhood yards still yellow and concrete hard, the side panels of the cars you pass on the way home from work spattered with arcing crusts of road salt, the big oaks and elms that loom along Lake Shore Drive throwing down long pale rows of shadow."

Tomorrow's topic: Exclusively Perry.