March 14, 2013

February 2013

February's book discussion was wild and rambunctious right from the start!  Jane and Dean joined us for dinner where topics bold and daring were thrown about.  Our civilized nature took over when we moved our group into the Captain's room.

Here's what we covered:

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
Biography of Walter Cronkite - Douglas Brinkley
Fifty Shades of Chicken - FL Fowler
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
Outlander Series - Diana Gabaldon
Stockholm Octavo - Karen Engelmann
Little Gale Gumbo - Erika Marks
Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Diary a Novel - Chuck Palahniuk
The Art Forger - Barbara Shapiro
The Husband List - Janet Evanovich
Passing Love - Jacqueline Luckett
Elsewhere - Richard Russo
Help Thanks Wow - Anne Lamott
Tesla - Margaret Cheney
Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
Breakfast at Sally's - Richard LeMieux
The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Moveable Feast - Hemingway
Midnight in Paris movie
My Mother was Nuts - Penny Marshall

Anne read this lovely quote from Elsewhere by Richard Russo:

It was from my mother that I learned reading was not a duty but a reward, and from her that I intuited a vital truth:  most people are trapped in a solitary existence, a life circumscribed by want and failures of imagination, limitations from which readers are exempt.

From Pam:

I am reading on the iPad Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I wanted The Last Runaway but it was not available. But boy am I glad I got this one. It is fascinating. I went to the internet to find the number of pages in the actual book to compare pages to the ebook and found this youtube interview with TC.

The story is set in Dorset and is about Mary Anning who actually existed. And the story is remarkable. I sat and read far too late because I could not leave the story. Hope to finish today. I am thinking you would all like the book. (Could you guess I felt that way?)

Here's the link to the interview:
Llalan manages a bookstore in Mansfield and hopefully she can visit us one day.  Or we can take a field trip and visit her!
From Mary Lou in MD:
Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table (2011).  The cat’s table is the one farthest from the captain’s table, so this is where the least favored passengers take their meals.   Our narrator, an 11-year old boy, is seated at this table with two other boys and several adults for the voyage from Ceylon to England, where he is to attend school.   His first educators are his table companions, who include a musician, a botanist, and a ship’s engineer, as well as the two other boys with whom he explores the forbidden areas of the ship at all hours.  The experiences and incidents of the voyage lay the foundation for his adult life.  Like The English Patient, this novel is beautifully, poetically written. 
Elizabeth Peters, Naked Once More (1989). Set in the wicked world of New York publishing rather than Peters’ usual setting of Egyptian archaeology, this novel still features a flamboyant detective-heroine.  Jacqueline Kirby, a woman of a certain age, is a successful novelist, a dedicated snoop, and a skilled observer of human nature.  Selected to write the sequel to the best seller of an author who mysteriously disappeared seven years previously, Jacqueline discovers the nastiness of the author’s family and friends and becomes more interested in unraveling the mystery than completing her writing assignment.  Her mixture of unconventional behavior, piercing psychology, sharp tongue, and sound judgment make her a very entertaining detective. 
Clive Cussler, The Chase (2007).  This action novel presents a detective agency’s quest to identify and capture a murdering bank robber in the Rocky Mountain States.  Cussler, as usual, provides plenty of engineering details on the 1906 state-of-the-art machinery used by the detective and the robber – automobiles, motorcycles, and most spectacularly, steam locomotives.  The reader knows the methods and identity of the robber from the beginning and the suspense is based on the painstaking methods of the detective and his colleagues in solving the riddles, chiefly how the robber manages to vanish after each murderous heist. There is plenty of action and tension and a welcome respite from Dirk Pitt’s piercing green eyes and NUMA’s underwater machinery. 
Louis L’Amour, Sitka (1957).  This tale of adventure and romance is woven around the transition of Alaska from brutal exploitation by the Russian-America Trading Company to a Territory of the United States.  The hero, Jean LaBarge, grows up an orphan on the border of a Great Swamp near the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania.  As a teenager he journeys west as a trapper and mountain man, eventually making his way to San Francisco.  He becomes a successful businessman in the fur trade and pursues his interest in the land of Alaska in his spare time.  Eventually he buys a ship and travels there as a trader.  The heroine is a Russian princess and a niece of the Czar.  There are plenty of historical and geographical details and many colorful characters in this conventional but entertaining historical romance.   
Martha Grimes, Help the Poor Struggler (1985).  Grimes, an accomplished author or the British mystery, happens to be an American.  Each of her novels carries the title of an English pug.  This one is a grungy pub in Devon where Freddie, the elderly, arthritic owner, sings along with Elvis on the blaring juke box.  Scotland Yard’s suave superintendent Richard Jury has his first encounter with the irascible, egotistical Devon-Cornwall Division Commander Brian Macalvie.  Jury is not intimidated and his hypochondriacal Sergeant Wiggins finds a recipient for his foul Fisherman’s Friends lozenges. Macalvie, with his aggressive, hardboiled manner, styles himself as infallible but he is haunted by a bloody murder 20 years prior.  Jury’s Chief Superintendent Racer, tormented by the ginger cat Cyril, his elderly, agoraphobic neighbor Mrs. Wasserman, and his aristocratic friend Melrose Plant, who had abdicated hit title of Lord Ardry, all add colorful humor to the tale.  But it is 8-year-old Lady Jessica Mary Allan-Ashcroft who steals the show and leads the detectives to the resolution.
Martha Grimes, The Old Silent (1989).  The pub of the title is in the Yorkshire inn where Superintendent Jury has booked a room to escape briefly between assignments from the harassment of his Chief Superintendent Racer.  Unfortunately, he witnesses a shooting by a mysterious woman who attracted his attention earlier in the day.  She refuses to give any explanation for the murder of her husband to the police or even her attorney.  In searching for an answer, Jury is drawn into the world of jazz, blues, and rock concerts.  Some 8 years previously, the woman’s son was kidnapped and the infallible Macalvie of Devon-Cornwall never solved the case.  With the additions of Sergeant Wiggins, the colorful Long Piddleton contingent led by Melrose Plant, and most compellingly 8-year old Abby and her border collie Stranger, the mysteries ranging from Yorkshire to Cornwall to London eventually are solved. 
From Eva in RI:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (I would pair this with her fictionalized autobiography, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit)
Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban (this is one of my favorite books~ nominally for children, but incredibly complex and really for anyone with a pulse)
There is another by Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker, but that one is more difficult to get people to read because it is written phonetically (looks and sounds worse than it is~ about 5 pages in you adjust and then regularly written stuff starts to look a bit odd... but not for everyone!)

A lot of people are reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed~ I have that out right now but haven't started it, because I am reading her Tiny Beautiful Things (collection of advice columns she wrote for and love it!

Thanks everyone, and Happy Spring!


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