January 05, 2012

January 2012

We started the book club meeting much the same way many of us start the new year:  by looking at our diet and promising to eat better.  From there we wound our way to e-readers, dead poets and cranky chefs.  The biggest meeting to date, we covered a lot:

Forks over Knives – Campbell and Esselstyn
The China Study – Campbell
The Red Hat Club Rides Again – Haywood Smith
Zero Day – David Baldacci
Harry Potter books
Nook vs. Kindle
Reamde – Neal Stephenson
Race Against the Machine – Erik Brynjolfsson
Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs’ sister is Mona Simpson.  She dedicated Anywhere But Here to her mother and brother.
Snuff – Terry Pratchett
11/22/63 – Stephen King
Teacher Superheroes
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
The Sins of the Fathers – Lawrence Block
State of Wonder – Ann Patchett
Shatterday – Harlan Ellison
The Swerve – Stephen Greenblatt
White Truffles in Winter – N. M. Kelby
Mysterious Island – Jules Verne
Samuel Pepys, The Unequal Self – Claire Tomalin
What would Samuel Pepys think of us today?
Running Out of Water – Peter Rogers
Who Owns the Water? – Klaus Lanz
Million Little Pieces – James Frey
The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls
Mistress Shakespeare – Karen Harper
Galway Bay – Mary Pat Kelly
A Secret Kept – Tatiana de Rosnay
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Dorothy Parker – What Fresh Hell is This? – Marion Meade
Burnt Mountain – Anne Rivers Siddons
Blood, Bones & Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton
You Might as Well Live, The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker – John Keats
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle movie
Explosive Eighteen – Janet Evanovich
Katherine Heigl to play Stephanie Plum in “One for the Money”
Little Gale Gumbo – Erika Marks
Empire Falls – Richard Russo
Straight Man – Richard Russo
Pulitzer:  A Life in Politics, Print and Power – James McGrath Morris
The Fiddler in the Subway – Gene Weingarten
Pier 21 – Linda Granfield
No Higher Honor – Condoleezza Rice
Jesus of Nazareth – Pope Benedict XVI
The Litigators – John Grisham
We’ll Always Have Cleveland – Les Roberts
Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
Service Included – Phoebe Damrosch

From our sister group in Oklahoma:

Lawton Book Bunch
December 8, 2011 meeting

Books

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Runaway: Stories by Alice Monro
Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie
Kinnan Rawlings by Anna Lillios
A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer
Whiplash by Catherine Coulter
Wallender (Swedish detective series) by Henning Mankell
Ladies’ Paradise by Emile Zola
Marshall Field’s: The Store that Helped Build Chicago by Gayle Soucek
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
1491 by Charles C. Mann

Scherrey’s memoir research: Further discussion of Scherrey’s memoir of growing up in assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and his resignation from the priesthood and marriage.

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Smoke Signals
The Gods Must Be Crazy

Discussions:
1.) Censorship of school and library books. Case in point: Eisenhower High School’s refusal to allow the junior English class to read East of Eden.
2.) Hollywood remakes of foreign films (We will all have to go to see the movie of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and have further discussion.


January 12, 2012  meeting

Big Read Discussion


Participation and cooperation between community and schools. If you have a favorite – let Dory Thomas at the Lawton Public Library (581-3450 x3)  know. The committee will meet, Wednesday afternoon, January 18, 2012.
The Big Read Book Selection
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town by Thornton Wilder
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (We did in 2007)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Old School by Tobias Wolff
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers
The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
Sun, Stone, and Shadows edited by Jorge F. Hernandez
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (We did in 2010)
Washington Square by Henry James Books
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin


Books

Girl with …… all 3 titles by Stieg Larsson
Wallander (series) by Henning Mankell
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Twilight (series) by Stephanie Meyers (negative comments)
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2011 Pulitzer for Non-Fiction)
Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books edited by Jo Steffens featuring an essay by Walter Benjamin: “Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting”
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Harold Bloom on Blood Meridian:
Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Insomnia
The Strange Case if Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Jack Palance, 1968. Made for TV. DVD on Amazon, but not available at Netflicks. Youtube has segments.

Discussions:
Hollywood remakes of foreign films. Those who saw the American version of the movie of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” liked it and thought it possibly was even more true to the novel than the Swedish version. They also liked Rooney Mara’s and Daniel Craig’s portrayals.






From Mary Lou in Maryland:

David Baldacci, Simple Genius (2007).  Ex-Secret Service agent Sean King and his ex-cop partner Michelle Maxwell once again pit their wits against the nefarious world of the Washington, DC spy industry, both governmental and free-lance. The setting is along the York River in Virginia and includes a secret CIA training camp, a former Navy Base, and the mysterious Babbage Town where the resident scientists are engaged in some very secret research.  Murders and mayhem ensue.


Leon Uris, QB VII (1970).  The title refers to Queen’s Bench Courtroom Number Seven, located in London.  Two prominent barristers are trying a libel case involving a prominent American novelist and a knighted doctor.  At issue is the author’s passing reference to the doctor’s role in Nazi concentration camps in Poland.  The story is shocking and unpleasant right up to the end.


Brian Jan Corrigan, The Poet of Loch Ness (2005).  Marine biologist and professor Perry Miggs and his wife Perdita leave their Michigan college town to spend a summer in a small town on Loch Ness.  Perry hires a boat captain and guide who happens to be Perdita’s lover from her college days at St Andrews.  He is now a poet and a recluse and a very colorful character.  Equally intriguing are the sisters who run the B&B where the Miggs are staying.  This is a fine tale of love triangles, local myths, and a very elusive sea monster.  


Christopher Moore, Lamb, A Novel:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (2002).  Biff and Joshua (Jesus is the Greek translation) meet at the town well in Nazareth when they are six years old.  Soon thereafter they meet the very intriguing Maggie Magdalene.  They have the propensity for mischief and misadventures of normal children but then there are Joshua’s abnormal powers.  Biff is a politically savvy and amusing character who is always trying to keep his brilliant but na├»ve friend out of trouble with the authorities.  Eventually Biff’s mission is doomed to failure, as we know, but there are many adventures along the way as Joshua seeks out the wisemen from the East and studies their various religious teachings.  If you remember your history of philosophy and religion courses, you will be highly amused.  Moore certainly did his research and his wit is highly creative and delightful.  As Biff says at the beginning, “You think you know how this story is going to end, but you don’t. Trust me, I was there.  I know.”   


Lorna Landvik, Oh My Stars (2005).  Violet Mathers is raised by an abusive father in rural Kentucky in the Depression.  She finds work in the local thread factory, but suffers an injury.  She sets off for San Francisco on a bus but ends up stranded in North Dakota where she is taken in by a local family with a strikingly handsome son, Kjel.  Although Violet believes herself to be worthless, she finds herself embarked on a musical career with Kjel and two Black musicians from Memphis.  We are convinced of Violet’s innate worthiness from the beginning and gradually the other characters come to share our perspective. The novel has the strong and compelling characters we expect from Landvik and it provides a fascinating depiction of the life of traveling musicians in the Great Depression.


Santa Montefiore, The Gypsy Madonna (2006).  Like Montefiore’s other novels, this is a mystery and a love story with a fine sense of history.  One mystery concerns the sudden appearance of an unknown painting by Titian, another concerns how a young boy lost his voice, and a third concerns guitar-playing, cowboy-hatted Coyote Magellan.  The love story revolves around the boy’s mother. The history concerns events of World War II in a small town in Bordeaux.  The story shifts narrators and timeframes, from the 6-year-old boy in France in the late 1940s to the grown may in New York in the 1980s.   The suspense holds all the way to the end of the novel. 

Alafair Burke, Judgment CALLS (2003). James Lee Burke’s daughter has become a novelist. Her perspective is not quite a dark as her father’s and her writing is not as poetic, but this novel is a very respectable effort in the crime-solving vein. Samantha Kincaid is a deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon. She is prosecuting her first major crimes case, a vicious rape and attempted murder of a 13-yer old runaway. Nothing is as it seems. The surprises just keep coming. This is a gritty, fast-paced novel.

Lorna Landvik, The View from Mount Joy (2007). The narrator and central character in this novel is a teenage hockey player, Joe Andreson. His widowed mother moves to Minneapolis to live with her sister for Joe’s senior year in high school. Joe’s mother and aunt are the strong female characters we expect from Landvik, as are several of his female classmates. To help the family finances, Joe finds a part-time job at Haughland Foods, a unique local grocery and the store becomes another major influence in Joe’s life as he moves through adulthood. The male narrator hinders Landvik not at all.

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (1989). I have started this novel several times over the years and finally gave it enough attention to finish it. It tells the stories of four mothers, who grew up in much hardship in China before emigrating to California, and their four daughters, born and raised in San Francisco. The narrator shifts about among these eight characters as the daughters gradually learn about their mothers’ lives. The novel requires concentration but I’m glad I finally read it through.

Alexander McCall Smith, 44 Scotland Street (2005), Espresso Tales (2005), The World According to Bertie (2007). These are volumes 1, 2 and 4 of a serial novel that Smith created in daily increments for the newspaper The Scotsman. The serial focuses on the lives of the residents of the flats at 44 Scotland Street, Edinburgh. These are the 20-something spectacularly narcissistic Bruce, his new flatmate Pat, the flamboyant older woman, Domenica, inhabiting the flat across the hall, and the unwilling young musician and linguistic prodigy Bertie who lives downstairs with his quintessentially domineering mother and nonassertive father. An art gallery, its ineffectual young owner, and familiar parts of central Edinburgh also appear in the chronicle. The series enjoys the gentle, wry humor and satirically overdrawn characters we admire in Smith’s fiction.

Michael Connelly, Angels Flight (1999), The Narrows (2004), The Closers (2005), The Overlook (2006, 2007, 2008). What fan of the mystery genre could resist a seasoned senior police detective named Hieronymus Bosch? His young partners call him Harry and are sometimes uncomfortable with his disregard (and occasional contempt) for the bureaucratic politics of LAPD. The plots are intricate and engaging and Harry’s tenacity on the trail of villainy is scarily admirable.


Thank you for a truly wonderful evening, and see you next time February 1!