October 17, 2015

September 2015

If summer is for beach reads, fall is for cozy cushions.

Here's what we discussed:

Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance.
Pause, Play: A Higher Consciousness Handbook - K.P. van der Tempel
Goodbye to All That - Robert Graves
Information Doesn't Want to Be Free - Cory Doctorow
Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson
We Believe the Children - Richard Beck
Stone mouth - Iain Banks
The Dark Forest - Cixin Liu
Armada - Ernest Cline
The Island Worlds - Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts
Now Wait For Last Year - Philip K. Dick
The Girl in the Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz
Burning Down George Orwell's House - Andrew Ervin
The Naked Eye - Iris Johansen
Friction - Sandra Brown
The Festival of Insignificance - Milan Kundera
West of Sunset - Stewart O'Nan
The Vacationers - Emma Straub
Books by Thomas Disch
Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Tortilla Curtain - T.C. Boyle
San Miguel - T.C. Boyle
The Nightingale - Kristen Hannah
The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling
Top Secret Twenty-One - Janet Evanovich
Fire in the Hole - Elmore Leonard
X - Sue Grafton
Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles - A.L. Herbert
The Cavendon Women - Barbara Taylor Bradford
Words Onscreen - Naomi S. Baron
Butterflies in November - Auour Ava Olafsdottir
Second Street Station - Lawrence Levy
Library of Babel (a project of a universal library)
One Righteous Man - Arthur Browne
Doc - Mary Doria Russell

From our sister club in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015


Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War
Gillon, Steven M. American Paradox: A History of the United States Since 1945
Hughes, Terry. I Am Pilgrim
Kyle, Aryn. The God of Animals
Rappaport, Helen. The Romanov Sisters
Pearlman, Edith. Binocular Vision
Pietila, Antero. Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City
Sedaris, David. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls
Smith, Tom Rob. Child 44
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States


The Gift
Iris (Iris Apfel)
Leviathan (Russian. 2014)
The Painting (French: La Tableau. 2011)
Straight Outta Compton
A Walk in the Woods
Witches of Eastwick


Great Performances: Twilight (Anna Devere Smith)


Luther (BBC with Idris Elba)
The Wire


James Bond actors. Idris Elba as the next James Bond. 

From Mary Lou in MD:

September 2015

Len Deighton, Faith (1994), Hope (1995), Charity (1996). Here is another dark, convoluted, espionage trilogy by the master. Bernard Samson’s special instincts about the Cold War stem from his boyhood in Berlin, where his father was Resident for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), (MI-6). The first three books of the series, Game, Set and Match, are set in 1982 -1984. The second trilogy, Hook, Line, and Sinker, are set in 1987. This most recent trilogy is set in 1988 – 1989. All the novels are narrated by Bernie, except Sinker, a third-person narrative focusing on Bernie’s wife Fiona and revealing things Bernard does not know (yet). The lack of understanding between Bernard and Fiona are a secondary source of tension in these novels. All of Bernard’s colleagues and superiors are untrustworthy and he knows it. His immediate supervisor Dicky Cruyer is a vain, fantasy-spinning, power-craving London bureaucrat with bountiful, unjustified confidence in his spy-craft. Frank Harrington, Berlin Resident for many hears, is crafty and competent, but committed first and foremost to maintaining his position as he approaches retirement. Bret Rensselaer, an Anglophile American, eventually rises to Deputy Director General in the course of this trilogy. He understands and respects Bernard more than the others, but still objects to the agent’s tendencies to follow his instincts more than his orders and to withhold as much information as possible as a matter of principle. The chief delights of these novels are Bernard’s narrow and often brutal and bloody escapes from the Bad Guys (Stasi, KGB, etc.), his insights into his superior’s thoughts and motivations, and his evasions of the traps set by the SIS bureaucracy. Even his best friend since childhood, Werner Volkman, keeps secrets from Bernard when London Central orders him to do so. In this culminating trilogy of the series, Bernard works against orders and with great determination to solve mysteries relating to his wife and fellow-spy Fiona, his sister-in-law Tessa, and his brother-in-law George Kosinski. Only the instincts developed in a lifetime in and around Berlin and 20-some years of spying for SIS enable Bernard to survive his missions (official and free-lance) into East Germany and Poland. His superiors neither understand nor approve the violent, often deadly acts by which he survives. The enemy agents and agencies don’t much like them either, and would happily take advantage of any opportunity for revenge. Bernard’s life is equally threatened by Stasi/KGB agents and London Central’s ignorance and incompetence. The suspense is intense.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables (1851; 2010). The Salem house of the title and the family that inhabits it was cursed a century ago by a man tried and hanged for witchcraft. Hawthorne, in his preface, deems the work a romance rather than a novel because it is given more to fantasy than to realism. The narrator is discursive, judgmental, and intrusive and all of the characters are bizarre. The Pyncheons believe themselves to be gentry and proper owners of a vast tract of land outside Salem, but the papers documenting their claim was lost long ago. Now the house has become decrepit and it is inhabited only by an elderly, reclusive spinster, Hepzibah Pyncheon. She has decided she has no alternative but to open a Cent Shop in the house, but she dreads contact with the public. Her young, cheerful cousin Phoebe arrives unexpectedly from the country and proves a very helpful housemate and storekeeper. Hepzibah’s cousin the Judge is wealthy and well regarded by the town, but Hepzibah believes him to be thoroughly evil. One of the gables of the house is rented to a mysterious young photographer who believes his photo has captured the Judge’s true evil nature. Eventually the overlapping mysteries are solved and right prevails in a most unconvincing manner. As Hawthorne told us, this is a romance.