The chianti begins flowing promptly at 7:30 p.m., accompanied by a spread of submarine sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies.
So, too, does a lively dissection of David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. The nonfiction narrative details the New Yorker scribe's quest to trace the path of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who in 1925 disappeared while surveying the Brazilian jungle.
A 90-minute conversation, peppered with laughs and jabs at the self-admitted urbanite author ("too much of a professional" and "utterly contrived"), stretches well past sunset in the Dublin backyard of Rich King, chief operating officer of a Downtown law firm.
Just as prevalent as the banter -- and a few drink refills -- are plenty of deep thoughts: Why do we explore? What makes us obsess? Does a real pioneer use a GPS?
The group -- which includes professors, doctors, lawyers and businessmen -- is hardly a casual klatch (although some participants arrive sporting dress shirts with cuff links, others opt for T-shirts and flip-flops). They've read 121 more titles, each graded collectively on an academic scale -- from the excellent (Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible earned an "A") to the so-so (Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a "B"). It's an all-male book club -- the only one in Columbus, OH, members think -- into its 11th year.