I don't have to be "in charge" or anything, but I'll certainly take the initiative to get it started. If it turns out to be successful down the road, an A&F administrator will of course be free and welcome to take the selection process over to give it more structure at any time. Also, I don't think the "pulp fiction" discussion was in any way related to this one and I don't see any reason to put any genre restrictions on this at all, in fact, I wouldn't even require that the book be fiction.
My only concern now is that Murakami doesn't really fit the "pulp fiction" angle a few of us were taking. But since Jeremy suggested reviving the A&F Book Club, I'm willing to let him steer the ship for our first selection. Any objections?
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore ... struck me as beautiful, haunting, surreal tales to which I'd gladly return. My sense is that either one would be an excellent place to begin for those new to Murakami, but I'm certainly open to reading his other works. Looking at the synopses on Wikipedia, Norwegian Wood sounds appealing, while Hard-Boiled Wonderland might be a bit too far off the beaten path.
I could be persuaded to go with NORWEGIAN WOOD. Regarding PLATFORM, I have to say it seems a bolder choice than Murakami, and the one thing that makes it ideal for this kind of group is that it seems certain to be the kind of book to incite passionate reactions. I wouldn't expect to like it--from what I've read about PLATFORM, it seems a bit too Palahniuk-esque for my tastes (for the record, I despise Palahniuk)--but were we to go for it, I'd certainly read along.
Were I to select something myself, my tastes would probably run to works a bit more established. Something by Nabokov, perhaps. Or Joseph Conrad's NOSTROMO, which I've had on my shelf for far too long.
And it occurs to me that, given the themes of faith running throughout his body of work, the works of Anthony Burgess might provide a fairly stirring starting point, too. Say, for example, EARTHLY POWERS.
Haruki Murakami, Michel Houellebecq, Joseph Conrad, or Vladimir Nobokov all sound like good suggestions to me. I don't see why we need to restrict our options to exclude classics "of exceptional merit" nor why we'd exclude less accepted works that are controversial. I'm personally interested in both. And this being "Arts and Faith," I'm certainly most interested in works of literature that will interact with my Christian faith. With the authors being suggested so far, I think the book we end up with will be just fine. The only limitation I can think that we might want (particularly to distinguish ourselves from other book clubs) is perhaps requiring that we occasionally read something that wasn't just written in the last 50 years. But that's only a problem to worry about for a book club that has survived long enough to establish some sort of reading pattern first.
After the damning NYT review of Platform posted earlier in this thread, I feel obliged to provide a link to Julian Barne's review in The New Yorker.
As Ryan says, Platform polarized the critics. I'd argue that's exactly why it's a such a good choice for a discussion. Whilst I don't object to re-reading a classic such as Nostromo it seems slightly pointless discussing books that are generally accepted to be of exceptional merit.
So, I say we get started. Looking at the deaths of past A&F book club attempts, it looks like starting out with the bar set low would be wise. We want a slow, steady pace. Instead of a book a month, let's try for a book every 2 months. To make things even easier, January won't count, and we'll just use February to pick and obtain our first book. Once selected, we'll give all of March and April to reading and discussing it before selecting a second one in May. At that pace, committing to this will mean you will read just 5 books in 2011 that everyone else here will also read and discuss with you.
I could see us setting up some kind of rotating list where we take turns reading each others' favorite recommendations, but beginning let's just each nominate one recommendation per person, by let's say, February 19th, at 11:59 p.m. Then I'll set up a poll of our nominations and we'll vote on it until Feb 26th, at 11:59 p.m. To make your one nomination, just post and fill out the following -
Year first published:
Brief summary of why this would make a good A&F discussion:
One final important note: Most book clubs limit their books selections to bestsellers or other books easily attainable at the local bookstore or library. I cannot emphasize enough how we should NOT necessarily follow this rule. Our Top 100 Film list doesn't limit itself to easily obtainable films (at least at places like Blockbuster or BestBuy). At least half of the best books I read each year were not books sitting on the shelves of Borders or Christian-booksellers. So, try and at least nominate something that isn't only available in used collectors' editions on Ebay, but if you nominate something that is only available on Amazon, or by asking the clerk at Borders or the library to put it on order for you, then that's just fine by me.
Edited by Persiflage, 24 July 2011 - 09:48 PM.