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Book Club Bash Choices: September 2009

The store was packed for our September '09 Book Club Bash programs. Have fun discussing our suggestions.


THE BOOK OF EBENEZER LE PAGE, G.B. Edwards, pb $16.95
One of my all-time favorites--a fictional memoir of a life-long resident of Guernsey; Ebenezer is "cantankerous, opinionated, and charming,...one of the most compelling literary creations of the late twentieth century." From a customer: "As I read about his daily life, thoughts, experiences, his life became so real that I felt I was observing it from the island itself. Although nothing much happens, everything happens. It is truly an amazing book." (Nancy)

DRIFTLESS, David Rhodes, pb $16.
After two decades of drifting, July Montgomery settles in a small Wisconsin town whose ordinary residents' lives are illuminated in the style of Wendell Berry. "In vividly realized scenes involving family secrets, legal battles, gambling, and miracle cures, Rhodes illuminates the wisdom acquired through hard work, the ancient covenant of farming, and the balm of kindness. Encompassing and incisive, comedic and profound, this is a radiant novel of community and courage." (Booklist) (Nancy)

GO WITH ME: A NOVEL, Castle Freman, Jr., pb $12.99.
Lillian needs help with the local hard case, Blackway. She goes from the sheriff to ol' Whizzer at the sawmill and finally on a ride with grizzled Lester and youngish Nate to confront the villain. But the dialog is the true hero of this piece, spare, fast and shrewd. (Warren)

HOME, Marilynne Robinson, pb $14.00.
Here is a new visit to Gilead, Iowa, and the return of the prodigal son, Jack, who has been gone for 20 years. Is forgiveness possible for someone who has hurt so many people while also being loved by them? This is not a sequel, but a book that intertwines with the award-winning GILEAD. (Sandra)

I, CLAUDIUS, Robert Graves, pb $15.95
I'm kind of a nut for Roman history (I see weighty parallels between their society and ours), and this amazing novel by the poet Robert Graves transports you to the dead center of Roman civic life. Yes, this is a novel about politics, but the intrigue, clear narrative voice, image patterns and glut of purely brilliant writing is likely to put you more in mind of, say, Robert Penn Warren than any lesser novelist with a similar bent. And what's more, ah, there's a sequel. (Ryan)

IN HOVERING FLIGHT, Joyce Hinnefeld, pb $15.95.
A beautifully written debut novel that recounts the life of a bird-watching environmentalist. The book begins with Addie's death, and her burial wish, blatantly illegal, which reflects her growing eco-outrage, and which affects her relationships with her family and friends. Her complicated relationship with her daughter, who is trying to find her own wings, is particularly moving. This is complex novel is compelling throughout. (Nancy)

LOVE BEGINS IN WINTER, Simon Van Booy, pb $14.95.
These extraordinary stories are about lonely, isolated people who, when they do find love, believe it's miraculous. Tender, moving and ultimately hopeful, these are the finest stories I've read this year. (Nancy)

NETHERLAND, Joseph O'Niell, pb $14.95.
Hans, the novel's narrator, speaks in guarded tones about New York, the decline of his family and, arrestingly, his youth on the Hague in the Netherlands. Ultimately, it's a story about knowing what constitutes home, with the game of cricket as a masterfully deployed controlling metaphor. (Ryan)

SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM, Uwem Akpan, pb $14.99.
Each of these five (long) short stories by a Nigerian Jesuit priest takes place in a different African country and is told, beautifully, from a child’s point of view. The children are tough, tender, funny, innocent, manipulative and wise, and their stories are both compelling and heartbreaking. (Sarah)

SERENA, Ron Rash, pb $14.99 (due 10/09)
The mountains of western NC may be Eden, but Serena is no gentle Eve. This logger baron's wife is ambitious and the Devil herself. You'll be transported to the 1930s Asheville area, as mountain folks trying to survive, conservationists out to establish a national park, and the not-to-be-denied Serena conflict. What she is capable of will astound you. (Rosemary)

STILL ALICE, Lisa Genova, pb $15
A beautiful and scary story of a Harvard linguistics professor who receives a crushing diagnosis. This novel will have you cherishing your family and friends. (Sandra)

SWEEPING UP GLASS, Carolyn Wall, pb $14
Told in the 1st person, this Depression-era tale of family, racial prejudice, and survival brings TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to mind. The always strong, practical Olivia has withstood much. But when her beloved grandson and the wolves on her mountain are threatened, she'll shake up the town's status quo to protect those she loves. (Rosemary)


Does each event have a definite cause? Or might random factors be a more likely explanation than conspiracies? Few equations, but lots of anecdotes, similes and short biographies help improve our intuition about life's uncertainties. (Warren)

HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE, Michael Greenberg, pb $14.95.
A gem of a book: wonderful, frightful, remarkable in its honesty. Greenberg chronicled the year his 15-year-old daughter suddenly began having psychotic episodes. Like Joan Didion in A Year of Magical Thinking, the author transformed a terrible year in the life of his family into a gift of wisdom and insight. (Sarah)

IN DEFENSE OF FOOD, Michael Pollan, pb $15.
I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few books on sustainable eating, growing, and living, and this gets my vote as the best synthesis of the many complex issues. All that, plus Pollan relates it all in an enjoyable, memorable way. Good for lots of discusion, too. (Sarah)

LITTLE HEATHENS, Mildred Armstgrong Kalish, pb $14.
Neither the Great Depression nor their stern grandparents could dampen the enthusiasm of the author and her siblings, the "Little Heathens", for the joy and excitement of rural living in Iowa in the ‘30s. (Warren)

THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD, Fareed Zakaria, pb $15.95
Fareed Zakaria was born in India, lives in New York and writes for Newsweek. He’s been almost everywhere and seen nearly every cut of the world's cloth. I found myself astonished and amazed at his delineation of the present and future state of world relations. Turns out, America will keep its place at the front of the pack, but it'll no longer be the milepost against which the rest of the world measures itself. Concise, provocative and insightful. (Ryan)

Young Adult

ALABAMA MOON, Watt Key, pb $6.99.
Raised by a survivalist father, now-orphaned Moon can survive in the woods, but is that where he’s meant to be? You’ll love this boy, isolated from society, who’s slowly discovering a whole new world. For ages 10 and up. (Rosemary)

IMPOSSIBLE, Nancy Werlin, pb $9.99.
Lucy discovers the women in her family have been cursed for centuries: Perform three impossible tasks before the birth of a daughter, or go mad. Lucy is practical, determined, and also pregnant. The clock is ticking – can she break the curse? Just maybe, she has something the other women in her line have not. Be sure to have Scarborough Fair playing in the background as you read. For ages 14 and up. (Rosemary)

TRUE GRIT, Charles Portis, pb $14.95
After 40 years, the adventure of young and stubborn Mattie Ross’s pursuit of her father’s killer will still grip you. Here’s the original feminist, both in the book’s setting (the old West) and when it was written. For ages 12 and up. (Rosemary)

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