Monday, October 31, 2005

October's Review of Club Dumas

We read Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte this past month and had a good discussion. Here's a quick synapsis from Reading Group Guides.Com:

"Rare-book sleuth Lucas Corso is hired to authenticate a manuscript chapter from Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, and to find the original copy of a manual for summoning the devil. These assignments lead him into dangerous waters as he becomes the target of devil worshipers, unscrupulous bibliophiles, and a cast of characters that seems to come straight out of Dumas's masterpiece, complete with a femme fatale and her sinister henchman. Aided by an enigmatic young beauty named for Sherlock Holmes's nemesis, Corso follows the violent trail of Dumas and the devil across Europe as he begins to uncover the dark and horrifying secret linking the two books. Arturo Pérez-Reverte has woven a brilliant intertextual puzzler, at once sophisticated and playful, in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino."

The 1999 movie, The Ninth Gate , directed by Roman Polanski was LOOSELY based on this book although it had some missing plot holes and the ending was different. But this is par for the course with Hollywood.

Born in Cartagena, Spain, Arturo Pérez-Reverte is currently one of the most successful Spanish language writers reaching best seller standards in many countries. After leaving his home country, Pérez-Reverte worked on oil tankers during the 1970s before becoming a journalist first for a Spanish newspaper, covering former Spanish African colonies in conflict (Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea), and then for television reporting from Bosnia. Following four novels that were not particularly successful, fame arrived with The Fencing Master and continued with The Flanders Panel (that won France's Grand Prize for Detective Literature), The Club Dumas (nominated for a Macavity award in 1988) and The Seville Communion. He has also written an historical series featuring Capitán Alatriste that has yet to be translated in English. Pérez-Reverte's latest translated novel is The Nautical Chart.

GROUP RATINGS (1-5, 5 being the best book ever, 1 being total rubbish)
Val - 4
Amy - 3
Cathie - 3 (no dogs)
Will - 4
Kevin - 5
Stephenie - 3.5
Total Rating = 3.75

November's Book Sparks Controversy

We'll review The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad on November 29th at 6:30, the usual place. Upon looking I see there has been some controversy as the man Seirstad stayed with in the book has sought legal action against the author. This interview with the author is interesting, as well as this article and website from Shah Muhammad Rais, the offended party.
Interesting stuff.

Author Groupie

Here are a few authors that the EBC has either read or has visited our area this year.
Jack Gantos (cute guy with the glasses) was a wonderful speaker and entertainer and his books are amazing!

David Baldacci (this guy to the left) was the public library's Vive Le Livre (Long Live the Book!) speaker at their annual gala. He wrote Absolute Power and many more.

Chris Crutcher (above with some very stoked students) came for Banned Books Week to defend his work from the Big Bad Censors. He was great.

And one of my favorites, Joshilyn Jackson, the pretty one in the corner, was reviewed by the ECB and she was so kind to pay us a visit. Book clubs, take note! Ms. Jackson is a delight and her books are delicous. She's got a new one coming out in July and her blog is hilarious - I check it out daily.

The History of the EBC...

So, if you missed the last meeting you don't know that we decided to give this blog a try. Hopefully it will help us all stay up to date with the books we review, the reviews we gave each title, and new titles to consider. But before we go forward, I thought it would be fitting to give a little history of our fabulous book club...

- It all began in 1999...
We started out as the "Great Books of the Century Book Club" at Barnes & Noble, and we met out in the open of the store. Three members from that first year are still with us now - Will, Amy, and myself. I was working at B&N at the time and leading the discussions. It was a wonder anyone came to the meetings at all... I had enthusiastically given three books a month to read! It was that year that we had the infamous Song of Solomon meeting. The book by Toni Morrison brought almost 40 people to the bookstore to discuss it, and we still refer to it today.
Other titles we read that year: Lolita by Nabokov, Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, The Bell Jar by Plath, Catch 22 by Heller, The Joy Luck Club by Tan, Maus by Speigelman, Angela's Ashes by McCourt, American Tragedy by Dreiser.

- 2000
Since the century had turned, the book club had its first theme change of many. We became the "Portable Literature Book Club" and read books from around the world. We still met at B&N and had a good attendence. Someone usually brought in food from the country we chose and that lent an exotic air to our meetings. This was the first year we started our holiday party and met at my house for a Like Water for Chocolate Party where we had Quail with Rosepetal Sauce and other dishes from the book. It was also the year that Anna made her debut in November!

January / IRELAND - Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
February / COLUMBIA - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
March / INDIA - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
April / AFRICA - Out of America by Keith Richburg
May / ITALY - Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
June / FRANCE - A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle
July / GREECE - God's Snake by Irini Spanido
August / JAPAN - Bicycle Days by John Burnham Schwartz (we had sushi!)
September / NIGERIA - Girls at War & Other Stoires by Chinua Achebe

October / AUSTRALIA - In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
November / THE REPUBLIC OF GILEAD - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
December / MEXICO - Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

- 2001
We finally became the "Eclectic Book Club" and read some really great titles this year. We met at the Townsend's house for a great holiday party & discussed Fahrenheit 451.
January - The Poisonwood Bible by Atwood
February - Holding On by Isay & Wang
March - The Wanting Seed by Burgess
April - Ishmael by Quinn
May - Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers by Dabbs
June - Slaughterhouse 5 by Vonnegut
July - Kaffir Boy by Mathabane
August - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston
September - The Stranger by Camus
October - In the Beauty of the Lilies by Updike
November - All over But the Shoutin' by Bragg
December - Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

- 2002
Marked our move to the Madison Library. Titles read included Girl With a Pearl Earring by Chevalier, In Cold Blood by Capote, Among Schoolchildren by Kidder, All the King's Men by Warren, Chang & Eng by Strauss, Gal by Bolton, A Prayer for Owen Meany by Irving, Seabiscuit by Hillenbrand, and Bee Season by Goldburg.
This was aslo the first year we started the short story swap in December!

- 2003
New faces joined and new books read!
The Sparrow by Russell, Cat's Eye by Atwood, A Girl Named Zippy by Kimmel , Life of Pi by Martel, The Jew Store by Suberman, White Teeth by Smith, Uncle Tom's Cabin by Stowe, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Nafizi.
And of course, the novel we ALL love to hate, The Corrections by Franzen.

- 2004
Many favorite titles were read this year, my own among them... A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Smith, The Color Purple by Walker, A Bend in the River by Naipaul, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Hadden, The DaVinci Code by Brown, The Secret Life of Bees by Kid, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Kidder, Bel Canto by Patchett, and the lemon of the year, Dream Catcher by Salinger (Margaret, that is).

- 2005
And that brings us back to doh-oh-oh-oh (you must sing this line!)
This year has been great and I would love to see us branch out a little and get more readers involved in our discussions. SO.... invite a friend! Ask a neighbor! We meet on the last Tuesday of the month at the Madison Public Library at 6:30 PM. You won't regret it!
January - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Sijie
February - Lying Awake by Salzman
March - The Invisible Man by Ellison
April - Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Fuller
May - The Time Traveler's Wife by Niffeneger
June - When the Emporer Was Divine by Otsuka / gods in Alabama by Jackson (met the author!
July - Ender's Game by Card
August - for the life of me I can't remember.. help!
September - The Dogs of Babel by Parkhurst
October - Club Dumas by Perez-Reverte
November - The Bookseller of Kabul by Seirstad