Friday, March 31, 2006

Book Review Schedule Update!

April 25 - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
An epic on an intimate scale, Memoirs of a Geisha takes the reader behind the rice-paper screens of the geisha house to a vanished floating world of beauty and cruelty, from a poor fishing village in 1929 to the decadence of 1940s Kyoto, through the chaos of World War II to the towers of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where the gray-eyed geisha Sayuri unfolds the remarkable story of her life.

May 30 - Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
The story of one African American family fighting to stay together and strong in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the Deep South of the 1930s.

June 27 - A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
The swimming pool of the Mille-Collines hotel is a magnet for a motley group of Kigali residents: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates and prostitutes. Among these patrons is the hotel waitress, Gentille, a beautiful Hutu often mistaken for a Tutsi, who has long been admired by Bernard Valcourt, a foreign journalist.As the two slide into a love affair and prepare for their wedding, we see the world around them coming apart as the Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsi people begins. Tensions mount, friends are brutally murdered and unbridled violence takes over. Gentille and Valcourt attempt to flee the country to safety but are separated - and it will be months before Valcourt learns of Gentille's shocking fate.

July 25 - Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
As his life winds down, Rev. John Ames relates the story of his own father and grandfather, both preachers but one a pacifist and one a gun-toting abolitionist. Amazingly, just Robinson's second novel.

Call the library (461-0046) to hold a copy or the bookstore (864-2090) to buy one!

Running With Kites

Last Tuesday night found us back together again for our regularly scheduled review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini:

FROM THE PUBLISHER - The #1 National Bestseller
Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara — a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.
The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons — their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But through the devastation, Khaled Hosseini offers hope: through the novel's faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows us for redemption.

We had a great turnout and a surprising whole-hearted rating of a whopping 4.6 out of 5 stars for this book! Some felt as if a few scenarios in the book were too good to be true, such as the perfect solution to Amir and his wife's childlessness and the full circle of evil Assef makes in the book. However, The Kite Runner remained a touching and powerful book for the ECB despite these cliche's. Here's how we rated it:

Amy W. - 5

Val - 4.25

Kevin - 4.75

Sean - 4

Alycia - 4.75

Barbara - 4.75

Stephenie - 4.5

Cathie - 5

There was an interesting article about the history of kite running and what one reporter interprets it to symbolize in Afghan Magazine. I told you I would post it so here it is!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Phonin' It In with Madison Smartt Bell

Despite having to reschedule our conference call with MSB, despite our usual meeting space being unavailable, despite not having access to a speaker phone and resorting to using my cell phone, the Eclectic Book Club's first experience with interacting with the author of the book we're reviewing was wonderful. We were able to talk to him for about 45 minutes and ask him all about our featured book, Save Me, Joe Louis, his work on Haitian books, his ability to write about "criminal and whores", and his Tennessee roots. Even if all of us didn't care for the book, I think we all enjoyed having face time with the author, and might consider reading more of Mr. Bell.

Here's how we rated Save Me, Joe Louis:
Amy W. - 1.5
Alycia - 2.5
Sean - 2.75
Kevin - 3
Barbara - 2
Will - 3.75
Val - 5
Cathie - 5
Stephenie - 2.75
Anna - 4 (unofficially)

When asked Amy's excellent question of "What would you recommend us reading in the future?" MSB had these titles to suggest:
Mary Gaitskill, Veronica
Robert Stone, Flag for Sunrise or Dog Soldiers
Carolyn Chute, Beans of Egypt, Maine
Anything by Cormac McCarthy

I hope we can have the opportunity to do this again. Wouldn't it be cool if we could get Margaret Atwood or Barbara Kingsolver on the phone?!? I would love to hear your comments - feel free to leave some!

Our next meeting is later this month, March 28th and we'll read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.