Posts tagged ‘book club’

March 16, 2011

Bookbyte: Gods in Alabama

Our book club read Joshilyn Jackson’s gods in Alabama. Unfortunately, I had to miss the meeting, but I did read the book. So instead of a book club recap, we’ll just have a  review.

gods is a fast-paced, humorous, Southern-flavored romp. It has a killer opening line: “There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” The titular gods are lower case in the title for a reason.

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March 7, 2011

March Recommendations

For the month of March, Janet recommends drama, mystery, and romance!

A Thousand DaysA Thousand Days in Venice – Marlena de Blaisi

A memoir suffused with the beauty and mystery of Venice. A love story for grownups!

Did you know? Marlena de Blasi conducts private Italian tours twice per year. It’s hard to get a spot on one of these tours. Due to the popularity of de Blasi’s four memoirs — Venice, plus A Thousand Days in Tuscany, The Lady in the Palazzo, and That Summer in Cicily — she was inundated with requests from people who weren’t truly passionate about Italy and its culture. She took down her website and takes guests only by word of mouth.

Read more about de Blasi’s works on her Random House profile.

Cane RiverCane River – Lalita Tademy

Four generations of women draw strength and determination from their love of family. Our book club loved it!

Did you know? In June 2001, Oprah chose Cane River as her 44th book club selection. Tademy’s novel combines fact and fiction. She researched four generations of her slave-born ancestry to form the plot of the book. Learn more about Tademy and her historical novels at her website: The Book Cellar book club read Cane River in May 2010.

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March 1, 2011

Book Club Round-up: Bel Canto

Bel CantoThe Book Cellar book club discussed Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto on February 9. Bel Canto won, among others, the PEN/Faulkner award in 2002, putting Patchett in the company of John Updike (The Early Stories 1953-1975), Michael Cunningham (The Hours) and Philip Roth (The Human Stain and Everyman). High honors. (Our book club has also discussion 2010 PEN bridesmaid Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Lacuna.)

Personally, I didn’t like the book. It took an Atlas-esque feat of strength to hold up my suspension of disbelief.  I caved about 1/3 of the way into the book. In an unnamed South American country, terrorists storm the mansion of its vice-president, taking dozens of hostages. The revolutionaries soon discover that that president isn’t even there. They lack a back-up plan and scramble to come up with ideas. As the terrorists and the hostages mingle over the next four months (really, the “crisis” lasts at least a third of a year), they all realize they like life better now. If only they could stay in this mansion forever!

Part of me bought into the fact that the terrorists had it better in the mansion. They came from the jungle. Most of them are teen soldiers. In the mansion, they have running water, food, basic comforts of home that the rich hostages took for granted. But the visiting dignitaries? Why are they so content with losing their freedom? Why aren’t they plotting to escape?

A book club member brought in some interesting information: Bel Canto is loosely based on real events. In 1996, the Japanese embassy (or, more specifically, the Ambassdorial residence)  in Peru was invaded by the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. They took hostages for 126 days. At the end of the crisis, despite reports that many of the insurgents surrendered, all the revolutionaries were executed, and one hostage lost his life in the crossfire.

Click here for more information on the 1996 crisis.

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