Location of After Party varies - determined at time of meeting.
Readings for 2013
Jan 3 - NO MEETING THIS MONTH! [holiday week]
This gives us time to start reading next month's LONG book early!
Feb 7 -ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren [publ 1946] 600 pages
Pulitzer Prize winner. Rated the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library and one of 100 best novels since 1923 by TIME magazine. Pronounced by Sinclair Lewis as "one of our few national galleries of character."
Story traces career of a demagogue - loosely based on Governor Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana. An idealistic man of the people soon becomes corrupted by success and is caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power.
[LONG BOOK CATEGORY - have more time to read if you use extra time from January]
--Marcella leading discussion
Mar 7NEUROMANCER by William Gibson [publ 1984] 288 pages
First winner of the science-fiction "triple crown": the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.
The novel tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack.
--Wendy leading discussion
Apr 4SATURDAY by Ian McEwan [pub 2006] 304 pages
James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner in 2005. Author has been nominated for the Man Booker prize six times to date, winning the Prize for Amsterdam in 1998.
The Times featured the author on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Story is set in London during a large demonstration against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The reader follows Perowne, a London neurosurgeon, mainly via an interior monologue, through his day which is disrupted by an encounter with a violent, troubled man.
-- Charles leading discussion
May 2A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes (publ 1929) 279 pages
Included as number 71 in the Modern Library's 100 Best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Story is a reckoning with the secret reasons and otherworldly realities of childhood. Action begins among the decayed plantation houses of late nineteenth-century Jamaica, before moving out onto the high seas, as Hughes tells the story of a group of children thrown upon the mercy of a crew of down-at-the-heel pirates
--Will leading discussion
Jun 6BELOVED by Toni Morrison - [publ 1987] 352 pages
Author is winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1993. Pulitzer Prize winner in 1988 for BELOVED which was also selected as single best work of American fiction in past 25 years as determined by a New York Times poll of 200 prominent writers, critics and editors.
Book examines both the mental and physical trauma caused by brutal effects of slavery. Sethe struggles to survive in the aftermath of slavery, haunted by her dead daughter. The author has said "Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another."
--Nicole leading discussion
Jul 4 Our book club will not meet on this holiday. (Conveniently providing more time to read next month's selection). Alternative recommendation is for everyone to attend the 11th Annual Independence Day discussion being organized by the Houston Great Books Council. Usually an excerpt of the U.S. Constitution is discussed but details are not available yet to confirm so please stay tuned.
Aug 1THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner (publ 1929) 350 pages
Notoriously "difficult," this novel is actually one of Faulkner's more accessible works once you get past the abrupt, unannounced time shifts--and certainly the most powerful emotionally according to some reviews. One of the greatest novels for those who appreciate classic literature.
This story of the fall of the Compson family, an aristocratic Southern family, mirrors the fall of the Old South after the Civil War.
--David leading discussion
Sep 5THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka (publ 1925) 300 pages
(Breon Mitchell translation recommended and available HERE on Amazon)
The terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers.
--Marcella leading discussion
Oct 3 -Two short stories by Graham Greene
1.) THE DESTRUCTORS [publ 1954] 10 pages
Available online at http://www.houstonbookclubs.org/Montrose/stories/Greene_TheDestructors.pdf
Despite its setting in post-World War II England, the story is universal in its reflection of human nature...includes many hallmarks of the author, most importantly that of placing people who have the capacity for good and evil in situations where they must make a choice between the two.
Nov 7 -GERMINAL by Emile Zola (publ 1885) 525 pages
Often considered Zola's masterpiece and one of the most significant novels in the French tradition, the novel – an uncompromisingly harsh and realistic story of a coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860s – has been published and translated in over one hundred countries as well as inspiring five film adaptations and two television productions.
--Ruthie Leading Discussion
Dec 5 -Two short stories by Scott Fitzgerald
BABYLON REVISITED (short story) by F Scott Fitzgerald (publ 1931) 20 pages
Available online at: http://www.houstonbookclubs.org/stories/Firzgerald_BabylonRevisited20.pdf
According to THE TELEGRAPH, one of the finest short stories in the English language. Written after the Great Crash, it is an intensely personal portrait of a man who has squandered his life. A tale of boom and bust, about the debts one has to pay when the party comes to an end.
January 2nd - will not meet because of holiday week
Feb 6 -MIDDLEMARCH by George Elliot [pub 1874] 832 pages
Set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during the period 1830 through 1832. It has multiple plots with a large cast of characters, and in addition to its distinct though interlocking narratives it pursues a number of underlying themes, including the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism and self-interest, religion and hypocrisy, political reform, and education.
[VERY LONG BOOK CATEGORY - Please take advantage of shorter reading during previous months and begin this book well in advance]
--Marcella Leading Discussion
Mar 6 -THE STREET OF CROCODILES by Bruno Schulz (publ 1934) 160 pages
The novel is split into thirteen chapters or stories, each of which focuses on a different part of the Polish city of Drogobych, or on an aspect of the authors childhood home life. Through a child's eyes, events, sensations, ideas and thoughts are conveyed with brilliant, dazzling imagery. Vivid, almost too-bright pictures are painted with words in a way that is both surreal, magical and ordinary.
--Will Leading Discussion
Apr 3 -HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow (publ 1959) 352 pages
A hilarious, often ribald story, it is also a profound look at the forces that drive a man through life. A grumpy, spoiled, acerbic, rich American in his 50's seeks to discover meaning and wisdom and fulfillment by leaving New York and traveling to Africa to live and commune with a primitive African tribe.
--Will Leading Discussion
May 1 -THE SWIMMER (short story) by Cheever (publ 1964) 12 pages
Available online at: http://www.houstonbookclubs.org/stories/Cheever_TheSwimmer.pdf
The story is highly praised for its blend of realism and surrealism, the thematic exploration of suburban America, especially the relationship between wealth and happiness, as well as his use of myth and symbolism.
--Alice Leading Discussion
Jun 5 -LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner (publ 1932) 480 pages
In a loose, unstructured modernist narrative style that draws from Christian allegory and oral storytelling, Faulkner explores themes of race, sex, class and religion in the American South. By focusing on characters that are misfits and outcasts, he portrays the clash of alienated individuals against a Puritanical, prejudiced rural society
--Ruthie Leading Discussion
Jul 3 -A GOOD SCENT FROM A STRANGE MOUNTAIN by Robert Olin Butler (publ 2001) 288 pages
1993 Pulitzer Prize Winner
With fifteen short stories, this book takes you into the ordeals about being a Vietnamese transplant to the US, specifically to New Orleans,
The voices are young, old, and have a diverse background. The mix brings alive and humanizes this often misunderstood period of our nation's history.
--Claudia Leading Discussion