March 24, 2014 by Reader's Connection
March came in like a lion and is going out like a grizzly bear. April will be here, soon, though, and the city will experience a blizzard of book discussions rather than the other kind of blizzard.
The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps Tarkington’s best novel. [It is] a typical story of an American family and town–the great family that locally ruled the roost and vanished virtually in a day as the town spread and darkened into a city. This novel no doubt was a permanent page in the social history of the United States, so admirably conceived and written was the tale of the Ambersons, their house, their fate and the growth of the community in which they were submerged in the end. — Van Wyck Brooks
Dashiell Hammett’s third novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930), set the standard by which all subsequent detective fiction would be judged. Hammett’s clean prose and sharp ear for dialogue produced an exceedingly readable novel with enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages in search of clues. Set in San Francisco, the story takes place over a six-day period, beginning Wednesday, December 5, and ending Monday morning, December 10, 1928. A tough, independent detective, Samuel Spade is hired by the beautiful and mysterious “Miss Wonderly,” who walks into his office pleading desperately for help finding her sister. This bogus job gets Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, and a thug named Thursby killed that same night. Though he disliked Archer, Spade’s personal moral code dictates that “when a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it.” — The Big Read
The group plans to meet every Friday, the 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th, from 10:00 to 11:30. No preparation is required, but if you want to read aloud you’ll probably get the chance.
Refreshments are served, and as a veteran of the group I can say that they are usually superb.
The human yearning for love–“to give it and to receive it in that familiar battle that all of us fight with loneliness”–is at the heart of McCall Smith’s wistful stand-alone novel, as four strangers on an Edinburgh-to-London rail journey share stories of romance both thwarted and fulfilled. Art history student Andrew tells how he fell for the daughter of a disapproving business magnate. Hugh thinks his schoolteacher girlfriend might have an assumed identity. David recalls his unrequited affection for another man during summers spent in rural Maine. And in the book’s most affecting tale, Kay recounts her Scottish father’s emigration to the desolate Australian outback and pen pal courtship of her mother. VERDICT Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden–the hallmarks of McCall Smith’s storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes. — Library Journal
This book came about because I’d been thinking a lot about growing older, about what is going to happen to us all. The population is ageing – for the first time the over 50s outnumber the rest of us – and it’s getting older. Where are we all going to live? Care homes are closing, pensions are dwindling, and life expectancy is rising. Then I had a brainwave. We live in a global age – the internet, cheap travel, satellite TV…when it comes to goods and services it hardly matters where we live. “Geography is history.” Our healthcare is sourced from the developing countries; how about turning the tables and outsourcing the elderly? How about setting up retirement homes in developing countries where it’s sunny and labour is cheap? So I created an Indian whizz-kid called Sonny who sets up a retirement home in Bangalore and fills it with Brits. – Author’s website.
Three years after his wife’s accidental death, Trond Sander, 67, settles into an isolated cabin near Norway’s southeastern border with Sweden. It’s where he last saw his father at the end of summer 1948. Then 15 and full grown, Trond helped harvest the timber . . . He also suddenly lost his local best friend, Jon, when, after an early morning spent “stealing horses”–that is, taking an equine joyride–Jon inadvertently allowed a gun accident that killed one of his 10-year-old twin brothers and guiltily ran away to sea. When that summer was over, Trond went back to Oslo, but his father stayed with Jon’s mother, his lover since they met in the Resistance during World War II. . . . The novel’s incidents and lush but precise descriptions of forest and river, rain and snow, sunlight and night skies are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too. — Booklist
Soon after his retirement from a brewery in a quiet English village, Harold Fry receives a surprising letter. It’s from beloved friend and colleague Queenie Hennessy, whom he hasn’t heard from in 20 years, writing from a distant terminal cancer ward to say good-bye. This letter returns Harold to a horrifically painful part of his past, threatens his already troubled marriage, and ultimately leads to a crisis that casts into doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself. He decides to embark on a 600-mile walk to say goodbye to Queenie in person. Joyce, a former actress and acclaimed BBC scriptwriter here publishing her first novel, depicts Harold’s personal crisis and the extraordinary pilgrimage it generates in masterly fashion, exploring psychological complexities with compassion and insight. The result is a novel of deep beauty and wisdom about the human condition; Harold, a deeply sympathetic protagonist, has much to teach us. — Library Journal
Airing Dirty Linen is a story about 4 cousins who live together in an Inn which they manage in Indianapolis. There’s 27 year old twin brothers, Philip and Pharis, 17 year-old Eternity, and 31 year old Nairobi Dobson, our POV character (who also has a needy friend, Colleen). The Dobsons’ parents, now deceased were often involved in scandals and now it seems the sins of the fathers have returned. Nairobi prays for strength and does all she can to hold this clan together, then she meets a man who asks her to do something she’s never done, put herself first! — from the synopsis on the author’s website.
Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean have been close friends since girlhood, growing up in the 1960s in the southern Indiana town of Plainview. Their personalities and cool good looks earned them the name the Supremes when they’d meet regularly to eat at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, with Big Earl keeping a watchful eye on them. Now in middle age, the Supremes meet regularly with their husbands for dinner at Earl’s, now managed by his son. The aging Supremes and Earl’s are institutions in a black community that has seen much progress since the 1950s, when the restaurant became the first black-owned business in a racially divided town. But the town as well as the women have also seen much trouble. Odette makes time in her busy life for the regular visitations of her dead mother, Clarice copes with the humiliation of an unfaithful husband, and Barbara Jean struggles to hide her drinking to assuage the death of her child. Moore intersperses episodes from the past with their current lives, showing their enduring friendship through good times and bad. — Booklist
The Lawrence Library will host a discussion of Susan Cain’s Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking on Tuesday, April 15th at 10:15 a.m.
It’s hard to believe, in this world of social media and reality TV, that one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts. Yet being an introvert has become a social stigma. The rise of what the author dubs the Extrovert Ideal (in which the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight) began with Dale Carnegie and his wildly popular self-help book . . . Today, pitchmen like Tony Robbins sell the idea of extroversion as the key to greatness. But–and this is key to the author’s thesis–personal space and privacy are absolutely vital to creativity and invention, as is freedom from peer pressure. Cain also explores the fundamental differences in psychology and physiology between extroverts and introverts, showing how being an introvert or an extrovert is really a biological imperative. No slick self-help book, this is an intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are. — Booklist
Abandoned as an infant, Victoria grew up as a ward of the California foster-care system Diffenbaugh’s debut novel opens on Victoria Jones’s 18th birthday, which coincides with her emancipation from California’s foster care system. Abandoned at birth, Victoria has grown up in a string of bad foster homes, except for the one year she spent with Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who taught her the meaning of flowers. Alternating between Victoria’s brief time with Elizabeth and her unsteady attempt to face life as an adult with little education and less experience, Diffenbaugh weaves together the two narratives using the Victorian language of flowers that ultimately helps shape Victoria’s future as she grapples with a painful decision from her past. VERDICT Victoria might be her own worst enemy, but her defensiveness and self-doubt as a foster child and her desire to live beyond what she was thought capable of will sway readers toward her favor. — Library Journal
On Tuesday, April 22nd, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., the Eastside Readers Youth Book Club will discuss Darkness Before Dawn, the third book in Sharon Draper’s Hazelwood High Trilogy, at the East 38th Street Library.
Check out the reviews on Goodreads.
Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption will be discussed at the Spades Park Library on Wednesdday, April 23rd at 6:00 p.m.
A second book by the author of Seabiscuit would get noticed, even if it weren’t the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys’ camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author’s skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. — Booklist
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, April 27th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The theme this month: “How Much Is That Doggie in the Spaceship?” (Animals in fantasy & science fiction, from talking horses to uplifted dolphins and from telepathic cats to mutant mutts.)
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. — Barnes and Noble
On Tuesday, April 29th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., the Poetry Reading Program at Spades Park Library will have its third reading. Call the branch at 275-4520 to find out which poet is going to be read this month.