About ten years ago, Stuart Walzer dropped by my office and introduced himself to me. A retired attorney, who had recently resettled in Carmel, he told me that he had founded the L.A. County Bar Association’s Lawyer’s Literary Society, and he was now interested in volunteering to facilitate a regular group book discussion at the Library. I was overjoyed, because this was a frequently requested program that I had hoped to put in place in the Library for nearly two decades, but never had quite the right person to help put it all together.
At the time, I had belonged to a private “living room” book discussion group comprised of girlfriends and like-minded friends of friends for several years, so I knew how these things operated. But facilitating discussions that are open to the public, where there are likely to be people of various ages and backgrounds, with a diversity of ideas, temperaments, and opinions, there is potential for conversational detours that could become tricky to navigate. But here was Stuart Walzer, not only a brilliant, well-read man, but a specialist in matrimonial law – a highly tolerant, diplomatic person with vast skills in getting conflicting parties to come to terms. There are a great many things that I do not know, but when a good opportunity knocks, I know enough to open the door.
For a full decade, Stuart and often his wife Paula, facilitated 172 book discussions at the Library, cultivating a devoted group of readers who enjoyed lively, congenial discussion of mid-to-high level literary fiction, including both contemporary works and classics. I have participated in many of these sessions and always came away deeply satisfied with the shared experience of discussing literature that I had enjoyed in private. Wearing my library hat, I always recognized the value of building community around books and reading.
Stuart passed away at age 88 on May 8. This kind, wise, deeply intellectual man with his vast range of interests – a Renaissance man really – will be sorely missed by many people. We at the Library will always be grateful to Stuart for founding the Library’s Literary Circle and for offering this special activity to our community. We send our heartfelt condolences to Stuart’s family, and will always remember him with fondness and gratitude.
The Library will honor the tradition of the monthly Literary Circle established by Stuart, with yours truly attempting to fill his very large shoes by facilitating the discussions. Currently on its usual summer hiatus, the Circle will meet again on Monday, August 26, at 6:30 p.m., in the Library Community Room. We’ll be discussing Adam Jonson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. I look forward to reacquainting myself with the regular Literary Circle participants and to meeting newcomers, who are always most welcome.