August 15, 2013

July 2013

We had the pleasure of Susanna from our Oklahoma sister club and her friend Nancy from Wooster join us at our July meeting.  Monica even made it from Granville.  It was a festive occasion and I'd like to thank everyone for bringing delicious dishes for the potluck.

Here's what we discussed:

Little Chapel on the River - Gwendolyn Bounds
Works by JoAnna Carl and her Chocolate Mystery series
Karl Rove
Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky - Nicholas Von Hoffman
Mrs. Woolf and the Servants - Alison Light
Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
Middle C - William Gass
Family - Ian Frazier
Dangerous Inheritance - Alison Weir
Unintended Consequences - Stuart Wood
Ocean Beach - Wendy Wax
The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
Seven Houses in France - Bernard Atxaga
The United States of Paranoia - Jesse Walker
Light from a Lone Star - Jack Vance
The View from Penthouse B - Elinor Lipman
Inferno - Max Hastings
Dubliners - James Joyce
Chamber Music - James Joyce
Tiger - John Vaillant
The Golden Spruce - John Vaillant
Happier Endings - Erica Brown
Pearl in a Storm - Tori Murden McClure
Nothing Daunted - Dorothy Wickenden
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
America's Hidden History - Kenneth Davis
The Girls from Ames - Jeffrey Zaslow
The News from Paraguay - Lily Tuck
The Heist - Janet Evanovich
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - Ayana Mathis
Summer Girls - Mary Alice Monroe
Beautiful Day - Elin Hilderbrand

 From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book                                                                   
August 8, 2013
Next meeting will be Wednesday, September 11th, 2013.
Thursday, September 12th Oklahoma Poet Laureate, Nathan Brown, will speak at the CU Library at 7:00 p.m.

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey
Baldacci, David: Total Control
Barker, Pat: Regeneration Trilogy
Bezos, MacKenzie: The Testing of Luther Albright; Traps
Bettelheim, Bruno: The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy                            Tales
Brooks, Geraldine: March
Cary, Joyce: Horse’s Mouth; Herself Surprised
Connelly, Michael: The Black Box
Fowler, H.W.: Modern English Usage
Horowitz, Alexandra: Inside of a Dog
Hossieni, Khalad: And the Mountains Echoed
LaVere, David: Looting the Spiro Mounds: An American King Tut’s Tomb
Le Carre, John: Honorable Schoolboy
McCormick, George: Salton Sea*
McCourt, Frank: Angela’s Ashes
McMorris, Jenny: Warden of English: The Life of H.W. Fowler
Pollan, Michael: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Todd, Charles: A Lonely Death; Test of Wills
Turow, Scott: The Laws of Our Fathers
Vailllant, John: The Golden Spruce: The True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
Winchester, Simon: Professor and the Madman; Meaning of Everything

*Salton Sea: a shallow, saline rift lake locate on the San Andreas Fault



 The Pope: Scherrey Cardwell talked about the new Pope and how his Jesuit affiliation effects his viewpoint. And he explained the various types of papal pronouncements. The question was raised in terms of his economic views and his statement about gays.

Omni Book Club: Susanna talked about her July 24th visit to the Omni Book Club in Huron, OH, and reported that they are very much like we are – an interesting, interested and terrific group! Please be sure to check their blog for reading ideas and links.

From Mary Lou in MD:

Georgette Heyer, My Lord John (1975).  This is the first and only volume of a planned trilogy intended to cover the House of Lancaster during the period of 1393 to 1435.  The central character is John, Duke of Bedford, younger brother to Henry V.  This novel begins with the childhood years of John and the other children of Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV).  It covers roughly the period of Shakespeare’s Richard II and Henry IV Parts I and II.  The volume remained incomplete at Heyer’s death.  She stopped writing it after the crowning of Henry V, with his trusted brother John Duke of Bedford engaged in peacekeeping along the Scottish Border.  The book has a preface by the author’s husband, a comprehensive and much needed list of the multitude of characters by family (Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Mortimer, Percy, etc.), and the Plantagenet family tree.  Even for a reader familiar with the Shakespeare history plays, the story is a bit difficult to follow.  Like Raoul in Heyer’s The Conqueror, John provides the ethical perspective on a world of clever but amoral characters motivated chiefly by power and political intrigue.

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003).  This is indeed a curious novel.  Christopher is a 15-year old autistic boy who undertakes to write a murder mystery novel about the grotesque slaying of a neighborhood dog with a pitchfork.  Christopher cannot lie, so this is a true story.  He cannot stand to be touched and does not understand human behavior or emotions, but he knows that his humming, screaming and other unusual behavior upsets people.  He knows all the prime numbers up to 2062 and chants them to calm himself when upset.  He is gifted in science and mathematics but he does not understand the events he is narrating.  He does nevertheless eventually solve the mystery of the dog’s murder while also revealing to the reader the solutions to other mysteries as well.  This is a fascinating novel.

Shelby Foote, Shiloh (1952).  I would have done better to read a brief history of this Civil War battle before diving into Foote’s novel, but the frontispiece map of the battlefield is quite helpful.  The events of 6 and 7 April, 1862, are narrated by a half-dozen participants in this appallingly bloody battle, both Union and Confederate.  Foote’s Civil War knowledge is of course unparalleled, but excerpts from letters home, recruiting posters, and contemporary publications help bring the characters to life.  The accounts of Forrest’s Cavalry are especially detailed.  The shifting narration is an unusual and effective technique for illustrating how this terrible war was experienced by the soldiers. This one had me singing with The Band, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Carl Hiaasen, Bad Monkey (2013).  Like Hiaasen’s other knights errant, Andrew Yancy is provoked to various bizarre, spectacular acts in opposition to the forces of greed, corruption, and exploitation that threaten his paradise that is Florida.  One such act forced him to leave the Miami PD and now another has propelled the Monroe County Sherriff’s Department to transfer him to restaurant inspector.  His disgust with endemic lax sanitation in the food preparation industry makes him lose weight and his diligent enforcement of the code instead of taking the customary bribes increases his disfavor with the County powers that be.  His refusal to accept an accidental death ruling based on a deep sea fisherman tourist’s catch of a severed arm exasperates the Sherriff and it seems unlikely that Yancy will succeed in recovering his job.  Nevertheless he keeps detecting, and leads eventually take him to the Bahamas where yet more greed, corruption and exploitation threaten paradise.  The Bad Monkey of the title is a refugee from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie and assists Yancy in delivering justice to the wrongdoers in Hiaasen’s uniquely hilarious, scatological, improbable and appropriate fashion. 


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