Book Club: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

The summer break is over and book club met once more. Our list for August (Gloria’s choices) was wonderful and when you read my monthly reviews you will see that I read all the other books on the list as well.

The Portable Veblen (a strange title as I had no idea what in the world it meant) is the story of a young woman named Veblen. Yes, it is a name and not some sort of electronic vacuum cleaner as the word brought to my mind. She is named after Thorstein Veblen, the “restless, brilliant economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption.” (Yes, he’s real!) Anyway, Veblen is on the cusp of marriage to a young research doctor, but she’s not sure this is the right direction for her life.

I loved this book. It was one of those stories that hooked me with its subtle and not-so-subtle humor. McKenzie does what all books should do…make me believe this story is about me. Veblen’s decisions became my decisions, I was in her shoes, feeling her confusion and her indecision. How wonderful is that?

As for the rest of the book club….mixed reviews. Some fell into the “humor” immediately, and viewed it as I did—as a humor driven story—and enjoyed it. Others started off with the idea in mind that this was a more serious read and grew frustrated with how annoying the main character (as well as the other characters) could be. Certain scenes range true to all…even the most ridiculous thing, such as food on the plate being sad when it isn’t eaten, rang true to some of our own crazy thinking. Stars ranged from 2.5 to 4.0.