October 18, 2012

October 2012

Since we didn’t meet last month we had a lot to cover:  Cornwell in Cornwall, ancient philosophy and beat poetry, and getting signs from the other side.  

Here are the books we discussed:

Gods and Generals – Jeff Shaara
Killer Angels – Jeff Shaara
The Shell Seekers – Rosamunde Pilcher
And A Bottle of Rum:  A History of the New World – Wayne Curtis
The Science Fiction Megapack
Bed of Sphinxes – Philip Lamantia
The Golden Age – Gore Vidal
Savage Continent – Keith Lowe
The Darkening Dream – Andy Gavin
The Quicken Tree – Dora Hagemeyer
Aerial photography of the Katyn Forest Massacre on the CIA’s website
Jefferson’s Monticello – William Howard Adams
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary – Susan Elia MacNeal
Portrait of a Killer:  Jack the Ripper – Patricia Cornwell
Josheph Anton:  A Memoir  - Salman Rushdie
The Swerve:  How the World Became Modern – Stephen Greenblatt
What we Believe But Cannot Prove – John Brockman
Will in the World:  How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare – Stephen Greenblatt
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Report From Engine Co. 82 – Dennis Smith
Kon Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl
Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Insanely Simple – Ken Segall
The Emperor’s Handbook:  A New Translation of The Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
The Long Road Out of Hell – Marilyn Manson and Neil Strauss
A Coney Island of the Mind – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

From our sister club in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch
September 6, 2012

Wilson, A.N.: The Elizabethans
Best, Nicholas: Five Days that Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II
Kessler-Harris, Alice: A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman
Ephron, Nora: Imaginary Friends
McPherson, James: Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam
Mantel, Hilary: Wolf Hall
Deresiewicz, William: A Jane Austen Education

Robot and Frank

Discussions and Lectures
1.     Making Sense of the American Civil War, “Session 1: Imagining War.” August 9, 2012. Discussion led by Lance Janda, PhD.
2.     Dodd, Jerry, PhD. Series of three lectures about climate change in a course on environmental studies at Cameron University. September 2012.


3.     Miller, Peter. “Weather Gone Wild,” National Geographic Sept. 2012, p.30.
4.     Potter, Mark. “Experts to Area Officials: Be Prepared for More Droughts.” Lawton Constitution, August 27, 2012, p. 1A.
5.     Oklahoma Humanities. Vol. V. Issue No. 3. Fall 2012. Ethics: Conflict, Character, Consequences. This issue consists of five articles about ethics accompanied by artwork by Oklahoma artists.

Lawton Book Bunch
October 4, 2012

Gilbert, Bil: In God’s Countries
Hubbell, Sue: A Country Year
Hubbell, Sue: A Book of Bees and How to Keep Them
Fabre, J. Henri: Life of the Spider
Baldacci, David: The Collectors
Baldacci, David: Stone Cold
The Book of Revelation
Hemer, Colin J.: Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia
Barreveld, Dirk: The Dutch Discovery of Japan
Clavell, James: Shogun
Fromer, Eric: The Fiery Trial
Kessler-Harris: A Difficult Woman
Ephron, Nora: Imaginary Friends
Momaday, N. Scott: The Way to Rainy Mountain
Franklin, Benjamin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Learning to hold a pen/pencil, to print, and to write in cursive in today’s schools.

 Mann, Charles C. “The Birth of Religion,” National Geographic June 2011, p.34.

From Mary Lou in MD:

Booknotes Laura Sept 2012

Catherine Coulter, Blow Out (2004).  This is one of a series of FBI detective novels featuring husband and wife team Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock.  It begins with a tire explosion and ends with a gun battle. A subplot of romantic comedy is provided by a Metropolitan police detective and a Washington Post investigative reporter.  A murder within the Supreme Court keeps the reader guessing along with the detectives in an entertaining and suspenseful tale.

Gore Vidal, Dark Green Bright Red (1950).  Peter Nelson is a West Point graduate and a World War II veteran who left the service following a court marshal that is never explained.  He joins his army friend Jose as a military advisor to Jose’s father General Alvarez in his campaign to regain the presidency of a Central American banana republic.  The general’s daughter Elena provides the romantic subplot to this military tale.  The power of American capitalism is represented by the Green father and son and the country’s military by General Rojas.  Father Miguel represents the Church.  All factions and characters motivated by lust for power.  Peter merely seeks adventure without the emotional peril of commitment. Although he distinguishes himself in battle, he somehow remains above the treachery that characterizes the others. 

Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler, Black Wind (2004).  Dirk Pitt has become the head of NUMA but he and his partner Al Giordino still find themselves involved in the nautical action all over the Pacific.  The primary protagonists, though, are Dirk’s daughter Summer and his son also named Dirk.  The bad guys are North Koreans.  The underwater challenge centers on a Japanese submarine sunk off the West Coast in 1944 and its deadly armaments.  There’s enough detailed description of sophisticated technology and machinery to satisfy any engineer.  If the plot weren’t so suspenseful it would put the rest of us to sleep.  For us recovering English teachers, the grammatical errors also are anti-soporific. 

Helen MacInnes, The Saltzburg Connection (1968).  This old fashioned cold war thriller is set in the Austrian mountains in the 1960s with a few side excursions to New York and Zurich.  Our hero is a WW II veteran turned New York City lawyer.  He is retained by a publishing company to investigate a mysterious book contract.  That urns out to be the least significant of the mysteries he must solve to stay alive.  Most of the Europeans he encounters have dark secrets going back to the war years.  The bad guys are Nazis and KGB agents.  The FBI, CIA and MI-6 also get into the act.  Some aspects of the plot are a bit obvious, but there are still enough mysteries to keep us guessing to the end. 

Jim Crace, The Gift of Stones (1988).  A stone-age village near the sea does a brisk business trading the flint tools the villagers craft from local stone.  A boy is injured and thus unable to work in the local craft.  As he grows up he rambles farther and farther away along the sea, has adventures, and then returns to his village to become a storyteller based on his experiences.  This poetic little novel vividly portrays of the role of arts and crafts in a prehistoric society.   

Booknotes Laura Oct 2012

David Adams Richards, For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (1993).  This is the third book in the trilogy set in the small northern New Brunswick town.  Some of the major characters and events from the earlier two novels make minor appearances.  Like many of the earlier characters, Jerry Bines suffers a great deal from his perception of himself and how he believes others see him. When he is aware of himself as a “hunter of the wounded,” he struggles to escape this behavior.  In turn, he becomes the object of a pseudo-psycho-sociological study of someone “wounded” by his experiences.  He tries so hard to be good to other people and gain their trust, but it never works.  We are frustrated by his lack of understanding but ultimately admiring of his perseverance. 

Roger Welsch, It’s Not the End of the Earth But You Can See It from Here: Tales of the Great Plains (1990).  Welsch resigned his full professorship of English and Anthropology at the University of Nebraska and moved with his wife to a farm near the little town of Centralia, Bleaker County, Nebraska.  This is a collection of chatty essays about the people and customs of Centralia.  The gentle humor is similar to Garrison Keillor’s.  The characters are fictionalized composites of ordinary folks, including waitresses, plumbers, farmers, clergymen and Omaha and Lakota Indians.  With Welsch’s incisive portrayals they are not ordinary at all.  This is a delightful little book, wiser than it seems. 

Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat (2000).  In 1953 Ewen Montagu published The Man Who Never Was, the story of the deception plan he masterminded in 1943 as a Naval Intelligence officer with MI-5.  In a later book in 1977, Beyond Top Secret, Montagu referred to some secret papers he was allowed to keep.  After Montagu died in 1985, Macintyre obtained a trunk-full of papers from Montagu’s son.  From these papers, additional research of recently declassified materials, and interviews with veterans of WW-II intelligence, Macintyre constructed the full story of how a uniquely talented and creative group of characters fashioned the successful plot to fool the Nazis into believing that Sicily was NOT the Allies’ next target of invasion.  The participants on all sides – British, American, Spanish, Free French, Italian and German, are portrayed in fascinating detail.  The book contains pictures of many of them. 

Dorothea Benton Frank, Isle of Palms (2003).  Anna is a garrulous hairstylist who delights in telling us the zany story of her life.  Her early childhood years were spent happily on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast.  Then her mother dies and her stern grandmother moves Anna and her father to Charleston and takes over their lives.  Decades later, Anna returns to Isle of Palms and recaptures the happiness of her youth.  The novel is filled with hilariously colorful characters, including Anna’s ditzy blonde neighbor, her Goth daughter, and her gay ex-husband.  The unattractive characters get just what they deserve in highly amusing fashion.   This is a very amusing book.    

John Sanford, The Devil’s Code (2000).  Kidd describes himself as an artist and professional criminal.  He earns a decent living in St. Paul, MN as a painter, but he finds Robin Hood-ish cyber-theft more intriguing and lucrative.  An associate is killed and leaves word with his wife to go to Kidd if anything happens to him.  Thus begins a highly intricate tale of the worlds of talented computer hackers, an unscrupulous high-tech corporation, and an alphabet soup of government security agencies.  Kidd enlists the aid of the mysterious and beautiful LuEllen and off they go to Texas to find out what about the high-tech corporation got Kidd’s buddy killed and made Kidd and his hacker buddies targets of the FBI, CIA and NSA.   

From Dwight in FL:


Absolutely wonderful to find by total accident a book on the Hemingway/Pfeiffer marriage called UNBELIEVABLE HAPPINESS AND FINAL SORROW by Ruth A. Hawkins.  I just finished a long overdue appreciation reading of Reynolds Price midlife memoir.  and I must confess I will never stop reading D. H. Lawrence, onto some of his poems at the moment..


BY THE IOWA SEA by Joe Blair
 and, of course, I emailed you (while you were across the pond unbeknownst to me) my enthusiasm over THE RECEPTIONIST, a window into the rooms of the NYorker in the 1950's and 60's.

And DEARIE, the biography to end all, of JULIA CHILDS by a man named Spitz.

From Monica in OH: 

I listened to a book this past week called A Man and His Dog by Anthony Richardson. Just wonderful. One of those that stick with you afterward, plus it's a true story to boot.

From Amazon:
When Czech airman Jan Bozdech adopts an abandoned Alsatian puppy in the midst of war in 1940, little does he know that this small act of kindness will change his life. Antis, the Alsatian, becomes a constant companion and source of strength for Jan and his fellow airmen during the remainder of the war and long after Jan returns to his native Czechoslovakia. Never sentimental, this moving and true tale of love and faithfulness is reminiscent of Sheila Burnford's excellent Bel Ria. Dunbobbin handles accents, personalities and emotions with aplomb, always keeping the focus on Jan and Antis's determination to survive by relying on each other's strength. This story crosses age, nationality and gender lines with its universal message. Dog-lovers and non-animal fans alike will be moved to tears. E.E.L. An AUDIOFILE Earphones Award winner (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Thank you all for a wonderful evening, and see you next time November 7 with special guest Michael Heaton.

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