It's hard to believe we will soon be entering the dog days of August. And speaking of dogs, our book for discussion this month features a lab-terrier mix, the very lovable Enzo, who does all that he can to pull a family together during a custody battle. And what can be more interesting than a philosophical dog? In The Art of Racing in the Rain Enzo is sure that next time around, he will return as a human being. But is he already human enough? Come join Elizabeth next Sunday in discussing this wonderful dog and his great love for his family.
For more details of this and future programs, please see below. Books Plus meets the first Sunday of each month. All are welcome. Join the discussion or simply come to listen. 2 p.m., First Sundays Read more »
If you've never taken a cruise and are considering one, this novel paints this form of travel in a good light, especially if you are thinking of a transatlantic one. Recently-widowed Violet Hetherington impulsively decides to visit a dear male friend from her youth in New York City and treats herself to a good berth with a balcony. Not only does she describe the foibles and habits of the upper classes, but she also details everyday encounters with the ship's staff. Read more »
OK, here's my technique to get through these incredibly hot days. Wet your hair--I mean really soak your mane without drying it, fill a huge glass with ice cubes and read a book about the arctic or antarctic. In five New Orleans' summers, I covered a lot of very northern and very southern territory including many of the authors represented in The Ends of the Earth. Read more »
I have to admit, even as someone who has great appreciation for short stories, I often find it hard to muster the same kind of enthusiasm for reading them as I do when approaching the pleasant immersion of a novel. But I’ve proven myself wrong so many times, as I take up a book with a sense of duty and find myself thoroughly enthralled instead. Short stories are perfect for those with a hectic schedule (or a short attention span); they offer condensed, pithy prose and plot, and they can often alert you to a new talent before everyone’s going crazy for their debut novel. I was inspired to write this post by Daniel Orozco’s Orientation, which I just read. “Officer Weeps” in particular is one my my favorite short stories ever. His characters are weird and liminal--a woman on a late-night cookie binge, an ex-dictator, a pair of officers falling in love amidst an odd vandalism streak--and he presents them with hilarious and terrible brevity. Here are a few other collections that I really enjoyed, written with a similarly strange focus and an equal blend of heartbreak and humor. Read more »
14 years ago, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in the United States. Kids who started reading that book in elementary school are now onto college, or have even graduated from college. So Harry Potter and his wizardly friends mark the end of an era on Friday, with the opening of the final film. Read more »
OK, OK Andrew O'Hagan's title snookered me in, but this lovely gem of a novel has it all: dog psychology, human philosophy, Stanislavski's Method Acting, Bloomsbury, Hollywood, Vegas, anarchists in Mexico, President Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe. Though the narrator is a tiny ball of fur, he's a true aristocrat, a fancy bichon maltais with the name of Mafia Honey. Read more »
"The report of my death was an exaggeration." Most people have heard this famous quote by one of our most beloved writers. Mark Twain: Man in White focuses on the last four years of Twain's life when his fame was at its peak, and the problems that dogged his life, including the bad health of loved ones and the stealing of his money by associates also continued.
But what a wonderful man Twain was--always up for a good practical joke, always putting his entire self into his writing and gosh, thoroughly addicted to playing pool. Not only addicted to it, but he was one of those hosts that had to beat you if only by a little. Read more »
Join us this Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 p.m. for July's Books Plus book discussion. Wendy will lead a discussion on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Scientists named a poor African-American tobacco farmer HeLA. Without her or her family’s knowledge, they removed some of Henrietta’s cells. They became the first so-called “immortal” cells grown in a laboratory and were used for many vaccines including the polio vaccine. Decades later, they also used her husband’s and children’s cells without their consent. The book brings up many interesting questions: do we own the rights to our own bodies, do scientists treat research subjects differently based on race and class, and why do scientists not always communicate what they are doing to the people most involved.
Please join us for an interesting discussion on a book that many have found fascinating. Read more »
There was a dustup not too long ago about Tim Parks’ suggestion (in the NYRB blog ) that foreign writers are adapting their prose--even if it’s still written in their native tongue--to the structure of English. He contests that it has gotten easier to translate novels because “contemporary writers [have] already performed a translation within their own languages”. Whether or not this is evidence of the English language’s unfortunate dominance and bulldozing of local culture, or a natural adaptation among writers wanting to communicate as widely as possible, is left somewhat up in the air. It's an interesting argument, but I wonder how much relevance it has to most readers. Read more »