Second Saturday Book Club
Meets at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza on the 2nd Saturday of every month at 10:30 AM. and discusses literary fiction ranging from classics to contemporary.
Books Inc. in Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness
March 2017 Selection: The Assistant, Bernard Malamud's second novel, originally published in 1957, is the story of Morris Bober, a grocer in postwar Brooklyn, who "wants better" for himself and his family. First two robbers appear and hold him up; then things take a turn for the better when broken-nosed Frank Alpine becomes his assistant. But there are complications: Frank, whose reaction to Jews is ambivalent, falls in love with Helen Bober; at the same time he begins to steal from the store.
Like Malamud's best stories, this novel unerringly evokes an immigrant world of cramped circumstances and great expectations. Malamud defined the immigrant experience in a way that has proven vital for several generations of writers.
February 2017 Selection: In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand troops through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces, demolished cities, and accumulated a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the dispossessed and the triumphant. In E. L. Doctorow s hands the great march becomes a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.
January 2017 Selection: In Vendela Vida's taut and mesmerizing novel of ideas, a woman travels to Casablanca, Morocco, on mysterious business. While checking into her hotel, the woman is robbed of her wallet and passport all of her money and identification. Stripped of her identity, she feels burdened by the crime yet strangely liberated by her sudden freedom to be anyone she wants to be.
Told with vibrant, lush detail and a wicked sense of humor, The Diver s Clothes Lie Empty is part literary mystery, part psychological thriller an unforgettable novel that explores free will, power, and a woman s right to choose not her past, perhaps not her present, but certainly her future. This is Vendela Vida s most assured and ambitious novel yet.
December 2016 Selection: This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. "Austerlitz" is the story of a man s search for the answer to his life s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a "Kindertransport" in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion
November 2016 Selection: When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny... and the birth of a new faith.
October 2016 Selection: It Can t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called a message to thinking Americans by the Springfield Republicanwhen it was published in 1935, It Can t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today s news.
With an Introduction by Michael Meyer and a New Afterword"
September 2016 Selection: In post-Arthurian Britain, the wars that once raged between the Saxons and the Britons have finally ceased. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple, set off to visit their son, whom they haven t seen in years. And, because a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, they can scarcely remember anything about him.
As they are joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight, Axl and Beatrice slowly begin to remember the dark and troubled past they all share. By turns savage, suspenseful, and intensely moving, "The Buried Giant" is a luminous meditation on the act of forgetting and the power of memory, an extraordinary tale of love, vengeance, and war."
August 2016 Selection: Rich and slim, the celebrated author Nancy Hawkins takes us in hand and leads us back to her threadbare years in postwar London, where she spends her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher ( of very good books ) and her nights dispensing advice at her small South Kensington rooming house. Everywhere Mrs. Hawkins finds evil: with aplomb, however, she confidently sets about putting things to order, to terrible effect.
July 2016 Selection:Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's brilliant new novel poses the question -- what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death?On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of coursecauses consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots.
Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small "d, " became human and were to fall in love? "
June 2016 Selection: In 1919 Thomas Mann hailedEffi Briest(1895) as one of "the six most significant novels ever written." Set in Bismarck's Germany, Fontane's luminous tale of a socially suitable but emotionally disastrous match between the enchanting seventeen-year-old Effi and an austere, workaholic civil servant twice her age, is at once touching and unsettling. Fontane's taut, ironic narrative depicts a world where sexuality and the enjoyment of life are stifled by narrow-mindedness and circumstance. Considered by many to be the pinnacle of the nineteenth-century German novel, Effi Briestis a tale of adultery that ranks withMadame BovaryandAnna Kareninaand brilliantly demonstrates the truth of the author's comment and "women's stories are generally far more interesting."
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust theseries to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-datetranslations by award-winning translators."
May 2016 Selection: Set in postwar Paris, it follows an amnesiac now known as Guy Roland, employed for the past decade by a kindly private investigator. When the PI retires, Roland sets out to lift the veil on his past. As he ably conducts this most personal of investigations, Roland begins to suspect that he may have employed multiple identities, leading a mysteriously compartmentalized existence. He may even have been fleeing the German occupation when his memory was wiped away. Roland's explorations bring home his mentor's observation that we all live in a world where "the sand keeps the traces of our footsteps only a few moments." Even as it opens the door to new mysteries, the enigmatic ending underscores the human drive to preserve those footsteps for as long as we draw breath.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2005, American Library Association.)
April 2016 Selection:
The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning novel
A "New York Times "Top-Ten Book of 2004
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
Nearly 25 years after "Housekeeping," Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the 20th century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. In the words of "Kirkus," it is a novel "as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering." GILEAD tells the story of America and will break your heart.The wellsprings of desire and the impediments to love come brilliantly into focus in Evelyn Waugh's masterpiece-a novel that immerses us in the glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire.Through the story of Charles Ryder's entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh's early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.- See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/evelyn-waugh/brideshead-revisite...The wellsprings of desire and the impediments to love come brilliantly into focus in Evelyn Waugh's masterpiece-a novel that immerses us in the glittering and seductive world of English aristocracy in the waning days of the empire.Through the story of Charles Ryder's entanglement with the Flytes, a great Catholic family, Evelyn Waugh charts the passing of the privileged world he knew in his own youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities. At once romantic, sensuous, comic, and somber, Brideshead Revisited transcends Waugh's early satiric explorations and reveals him to be an elegiac, lyrical novelist of the utmost feeling and lucidity.- See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/evelyn-waugh/brideshead-revisite...
March 2016 Selection:In The Road to Lichfield, Penelope Lively explores the nature of history and memory as it is embodied in the life of a forty-year-old woman, Anne Linton, who unexpectedly learns that her father had a mistress. With this new knowledge, Linton must now examine the realities of her own life - of her childhood, her husband - and ask, What do they really know of her? Deeply felt, beautifully controlled, The Road to Lichfield is a subtle exploration of memory and identity, of chance and consequence, of the intricate weave of generations across a past never fully known, a future never fully anticipated.
February 2016 Selection: Here is the haunting story of a California housewife's affair with a "gigantic frog-like creature" who has escaped from a sadistic institute for oceanic research. Ingalls magically portrays their affectionate ralationship in this novel hailed by critics everywhere.
January 2016 Selection:
One of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most intricate and ambitious works, The Autumn of the Patriarch is a brilliant tale of a Caribbean tyrant andthe corruption of power.
From charity to deceit, benevolence to violence, fear of God to extreme cruelty, the dictator of The Autumn of the Patriarch embodies the best and the worst of human nature. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the renowned master of magical realism, vividly portrays the dying tyrant caught in the prison of his own dictator-ship. Employing an innovative, dreamlike style, and overflowing with symbolic descriptions, the novel transports the reader to a world that is at once fanciful and real."
November 2015 Selection:he Good Soldier is Ford Madox Ford's masterpiece, a riveting story and one of the most compelling examples of early Modernism: a virtuoso performance of how to use an "unreliable narrator." Wealthy American John Dowell tells what he calls "the saddest story," about a secret affair between his wife and another man that is finally revealed in a crescendo of death and madness. Ford's novel reflects contemporary interests in psychology, sexuality, and the New Woman, and it treats Henry James's "transatlantic theme" with an existential horror comparable to Joseph Conrad's. Its portrayal of the destruction of a civilized elite anticipates the cataclysm of the First World War, which erupted while Ford was finishing the book.
October 2015 Selection:An enduring testament and prophecy. "Chicago Sun-Times"
Mr. Artur Sammler, Holocaust survivor, intellectual, and occasional lecturer at Columbia University in 1960s New York City, is a registrar of madness, a refined and civilized being caught among people crazy with the promises of the future (moon landings, endless possibilities). His Cyclopean gaze reflects on the degradations of city life while looking deep into the sufferings of the human soul. Sorry for all and sore at heart, he observes how greater luxury and leisure have only led to more human suffering. To Mr. Sammler who by the end of this ferociously unsentimental novel has found the compassionate consciousness necessary to bridge the gap between himself and his fellow beings a good life is one in which a person does what is required of him. To know and to meet the terms of the contract was as true a life as one could live. At its heart, this novel is quintessential Bellow: moral, urbane, sublimely humane.
September 2015 Selection: Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction
"The Echo Maker" is "a remarkable novel, from one of our greatest novelists, and a book that will change all who read it" ("Booklist, " starred review).
On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, twenty-seven-year-old Mark Schluter has a near-fatal car accident. His older sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when Mark emerges from a coma, he believes that this woman--who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister--is really an imposter. When Karin contacts the famous cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber for help, he diagnoses Mark as having Capgras syndrome. The mysterious nature of the disease, combined with the strange circumstances surrounding Mark's accident, threatens to change all of their lives beyond recognition. In "The Echo Maker, " Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our boldest and most entertaining novelists.
July 2015 Selection: Short-listed for the Booker Prize
A beautiful book, a perfect little gem. BBC "Kaleidoscope"
A marvelously piercing fiction. "Times Literary Supplement"
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop the only bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence's warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn t always a town that wants one.
This new edition features an introduction by David Nicholls, author of "One Day," along with new cover art.
June 2015 Selection: Here is the most inclusive anthology of verse ever published at so low a price. It contains not only the best-known works of the British and American masters but also the verse of the most brillant poets of our own day. Oscar Williams, who compiled "Immortal Poems, " was a distinguished editor and poet in his own right, of whom Robert Lowell wrote in the "Sewanee Review: " "Mr. Williams is probably the best anthologist in America today."
May 2015 Selection: This compact novel, completed in 1900, as with so many of the great novels of the time, is at its baseline a book of the sea. An English boy in a simple town has dreams bigger than the outdoors and embarks at an early age into the sailor's life. The waters he travels reward him with the ability to explore the human spirit, while Joseph Conrad launches the story into both an exercise of his technical prowess and a delicately crafted picture of a character who reaches the status of a literary hero.
April 2015 Selection: An ordinary life--its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion--lived by an ordinary, but unforgettable woman: this is the subject of "Someone," Alice McDermott's extraordinary seventh novel.
We first glimpse Marie Commeford as a child: a girl in thick glasses observing her pre-Depression world from a Brooklyn stoop. Through her first heartbreak and eventual marriage; her delicate brother's brief stint as a Catholic priest and his emotional breakdown; her career as a funeral director's "consoling angel"; the deaths of her parents and the births of her children--we follow Marie through the changing world of the twentieth century and her Irish-American enclave. Rendered with remarkable empathy and insight, "Someone" is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived, with passion and heartbreak, a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.