A&F Book Club
Posted 10 February 2005 - 03:08 PM
Please, somebody tell me this is not the case. OíConnor HAS to be available in audio format, right? SOMETHING by her, even if itís not the book we choose.
Hey, that reminds me: Keep Tom Wolfeís I Am Charlotte Simmons in mind down the road. Iím only a third of the way through it, but itís outstanding (so far). The reviews of the book have been, for the most part, unduly harsh, if not downright unfair.
Posted 10 February 2005 - 03:40 PM
That would be nothing short of a crime. Hmm. Maybe I should start making my own recordings? I've got the accent for it.
Posted 10 February 2005 - 03:42 PM
I am also reading I am Charlotte Simmons, and am about halfway through it, so I would be up for discussing it at some point. I agree with Christian, it is very good. The characters are interesting, and the descriptions of university life are quite vivid.
Posted 10 February 2005 - 03:48 PM
Re: Tom Wolfe. I'm looking forward to reading Charlotte Simmons at some point, too. Don't have time right now to search for the link, but Elisabeth Bumiller of the NY Times did a really silly column this week about President Bush secretly devouring Charlotte Simmons but leaving it off his official reading list. It was like a leering, high-school newspaper gossip column, speculating that Bush is reliving his frat boy days through Wolfe's book but doesn't want middle America to find out.
Also includes the rather stunning revelation (to me, anyway, although maybe I haven't been paying attention) that Wolfe is a big Bush supporter.
I picked up a copy of Wolfe's A Man in Full at a book sale recently; I'll throw that out there as another possibility for down the line. I suppose at some point (once we've posted all the Heartbreaking Work chapters?) we'll have to narrow the field of nominees and decide how to choose the next book.
Posted 10 February 2005 - 06:07 PM
I also want to say that I didn't mean to cut in line with these recommendations, especially since Alan's already recommended a book. Again, this is just for future consideration.
Thanks Diane. On the basis of those, I'd be edging towards Wise Blood or the short stories. I am pretty easy when it comes to recomendations though, and would similarly be willing to read whatever is voted on. I have to say though, following the Tom Wolfe discussion, I do dislike his writing quite intensely. I've read a few of his works and I find it a struggle to get to the end.
As for a process: how about everyone interested in participating submits a suggestion & short description and we vote accordingly? If there is nothing in particular that you want to nominate, you don't nominate but are free to vote and participate. Democratic enough? Practically feasible?
Posted 11 February 2005 - 09:53 AM
Posted 13 February 2005 - 11:15 PM
Posted 14 February 2005 - 10:19 AM
Seems like a good idea to me, too. The other day I forgot this was under HWoSG subheading, and had a hard time finding it.
Posted 24 February 2005 - 09:01 AM
Posted 24 February 2005 - 09:48 AM
Posted 24 February 2005 - 11:23 AM
What do I need to do to create a poll?
Posted 27 February 2005 - 03:09 PM
For upcoming books, may I recommend some "The Dispossessed", by Ursula K. LeGuin.
Posted 03 March 2005 - 11:57 AM
Posted 03 March 2005 - 12:12 PM
You know, I think part of the reason I liked it a lot better than expected was because of the personal stuff I've been going through lately. Very suspicious timing that I'd be reading this book right now. I have a feeling if I go back to it in a few years, it won't mean nearly as much. It's pretty easy to get tired of Eggers' writing style if you're not relating to some of the emotional stuff he's going through.
BTW, today I should be posting those summaries of the books previously mentioned, and we can start a discussion to see which ones we want to vote on for the next round.
Posted 03 March 2005 - 03:34 PM
American Jesus by Stephen Prothero (376 pages; 2003) -
"The United States (it is often pointed out) is one of the most religious countries on earth, and most Americans belong to one Christian church or another. But as Stephen Prothero argues in American Jesus, many of the most interesting appraisals of Jesus have emerged outside the churches: in music, film, and popular culture; and among Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of no religion at all.
"Popular revisions of Jesus are nothing new: Thomas Jefferson famously took scissors to the New Testament to produce a Jesus he could call his own. In Prothero's incisive chronicle, the emergence of a cult of Jesus--as folk hero and commercial icon--is America's most distinctive contribution to Western religion. Prothero describes how Jesus was enlisted by abolitionists and Klansmen, by Teddy Roosevelt and Marcus Garvey. He explains how, in our own time, the proliferation of Jesus' image on Broadway stages and bumper stickers, on the cover of Time and on the Internet, in a Holy Land theme park and on a hot-air balloon, expresses the strange mix of the secular and the sacred in contemporary America.
"American Jesus is a lively and often witty work of history. As an account of the ways Americans have cast the carpenter from Nazareth in their own image, it is also an examination, through the looking glass, of the American character."
The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor (256 pages; 1955) -
"First published in 1955, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousins, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle--that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues: Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.
"O'Connor observes all this with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos. The result is a novel whose range and depth reveal a brilliant and innovative writers acutely alert to where the sacred lives and to where it does not."
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor (232 pages, 1952) -
"Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a "blind" street preacher names Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Lily Sabbath. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds the The Church Without Christ, but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with "wise blood," who leads him to a mummified holy child, and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel's existential struggles. This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, blindings, and wisdom gives us one of the most consuming characters in modern fiction."
Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey (433 pages, 1988) -
"This sweeping, irrepressibly inventive novel, is a romance of the sort that could only take place in 19th-century Australia. For only on that sprawling continent, a haven for misfits of both the animal and human kingdoms, could a nervous Anglican minister who gambles on the instructions of the Divine becomes allied with a teenaged heiress who buys a glassworks to help liberate her sex. And only the prodigious imagination of Peter Carey could implicate Oscar and Lucinda in a narrative of love and commerce, religion and colonialism that culminates in a demented scheme to transport a glass church across the Outback. "
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (688 pages, 2004) -
"Dupont University--the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition . . . Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the uppercrust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.
"As Charlotte encounters Dupont's privileged elite--her roommate, Beverly, a Groton-educated Brahmin in lusty pursuit of lacrosse players; Jojo Johanssen, the only white starting player on Dupont's godlike basketball team, whose position is threatened by a hotshot black freshman from the projects; the Young Turk of Saint Ray fraternity, Hoyt Thorpe, whose heady sense of entitlement and social domination is clinched by his accidental brawl with a bodyguard for the governor of California; and Adam Geller, one of the Millennial Mutants who run the university's "independent" newspaper and who consider themselves the last bastion of intellectual endeavor on the sex-crazed, jock-obsessed campus--she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of her difference and of her very innocence, but little does she realize that she will act as a catalyst in all of their lives.
"With his signature eye for detail, Tom Wolfe draws on extensive observation of campuses across the country to immortalize college life in the '00s. I Am Charlotte Simmons is the much-anticipated triumph of America's master chronicler."
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe (742 pages, 1998) -
"Big men. Big money. Big games. Big libidos. Big trouble.
"A decade ago, The Bonfire of the Vanities defined an era--and established Tom Wolfe as our prime fictional chronicler of America at its most outrageous and alive. This time the setting is Atlanta, Georgia--a racially mixed late-century boomtown full of fresh wealth, avid speculators, and worldly-wise politicians. The protagonist is Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta real-estate entrepreneur turned conglomerate king, whose expansionist ambitions and outsize ego have at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 28,000-acre quail-shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife--and a half-empty office tower with a staggering load of debt. When star running back Fareek Fanon--the pride of one of Atlanta's grimmest slums--is accused of raping an Atlanta blueblood's daughter, the city's delicate racial balance is shattered overnight. Networks of illegal Asian immigrants crisscrossing the continent, daily life behind bars, shady real-estate syndicates, cast-off first wives of the corporate elite, the racially charged politics of college sports--Wolfe shows us the disparate worlds of contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made him our most phenomenal, most admired contemporary novelist."
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (320 pages, 2001) -
"Katie Carr is a good person. She recycles. She's against racism. She's a good doctor, a good mom, a good wife....well, maybe not that last one, considering she's having an affair and has just requested a divorce via cell phone. But who could blame her? For years her husband's been selfish, sarcastic, and underemployed, writing the "Angriest Man in Holloway" column for their local paper.
"But now David's changed. He's become a good person, too-really good. He's found a spiritual leader. He has become kind, soft-spoken, and earnest. He's even got a homeless kid set up in the spare room. Katie isn't sure if this is a deeply-felt conversion, a brain tumor-or David's most brilliantly vicious manipulation yet. Because she's finding it more and more difficult to live with David-and with herself."
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (384 pages; 2003) -
"An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
"The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
"The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject-the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut."
Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole (237 pages; 2000) -
(Recently re-issued as Million Dollar Baby: Stories from the Corner)
"Seventy-year-old F.X. Toole has exploded onto the literary scene with this astonishing first collection of stories drawn from his own experiences in boxing. In these powerful and moving tales, he reveals a complex web of athletes, trainers, and promoters and their extended families, all players in an unforgiving business where victory, like defeat, comes at a dark and painful price.
"F. X. Toole breathes life into vivid, compelling characters who radiate the fierce intensity of the worlds they inhabit. In "The Monkey Look," an aging cut man with an incorrigible sweet tooth works the corner for Hoolie, a featherweight "bleeder" with attitude. "Black Jew" brings Reggie Valentine Love and his camp to a brutal elimination bout in Atlantic City, where they are treated like second-class citizens by a promoter. In "Million $$$ Baby," seasoned trainer Frankie Dunn faces the most daunting challenge of his life when he agrees to aid the fearless Maggie Fitzgerald in her quest to become a champion boxer. "Fightin' in Philly" and "Frozen Water" are stories in which youthful dreams of glory and celebrity are threatened by the harsh realities that suffuse both of these narratives. The novella "Rope Burns" is the crowning achievement of the collection, offering a gritty, heartrending account of the indestructible bond that develops between a devoted fighter and his trainer."
"In Rope Burns F.X. Toole exhibits the skill of a miniaturist: in precise and exquisite detail, he peoples a world rich in unforgettable characters, like SeŮora Cabrera, the owner of the Acapulco cafť, who makes low-fat refried beans to keep a local fighter in top form, and an anonymous museum guard with a soft spot for Michelangelo. Toole's faithful dialogue crackles and bites, and the flawed characters he creates cannot help but remind us of our own too fragile humanity. He brings a new understanding to the violence and purity of the sweet science and the world it engenders, opening a window into the fighter's soul that can never he closed. "
Silence by Shusaku Endo (284 pages, 1966) -
(NO AMAZON DESCRIPTION - THIS IS FROM CATHOLIC INFORMATION CENTER)
"In his historical novel Silence , leading Japanese novelist Shusako Endo describes the life of a seventeenth-century Portuguese missionary priest who ministers to the beleaguered Christian community in Japan as it suffers as intense religious persecution by Japanese authorities. Though Endoís style is succinct and restrained, his subtle and varied narrative reveals penetrating insight into manís fallen nature and his desire for the divine. Like British novelist Graham Greene, to whom he has been compared, Endo explores through his brilliant characters the fundamental questions of faith and despair, martyrdom and apostasy, sin and redemption."
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin (400 pages; 1974) -
"Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change."
Posted 03 March 2005 - 03:57 PM
What are the conditions for voting? In other words, if I think I wonít be able to read the book, should I vote? Especially since I probably wonít be reading it.
Posted 03 March 2005 - 04:31 PM
Posted 03 March 2005 - 05:25 PM
UPDATE: I feel guilty about this post. I pushed for the Eggers book last time -- and ended up not caring for it -- so I encourage others to lobby hard for their own choices this time around.