Help up choose a book as the August 2011 eBook for the Mobile Read Book Club. The poll will be open for 5 days. We will start the discussion thread for this book on August 20th. Select from the following books.
Official choices each with three nominations:
Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse [Hamlet53, HomeInMyShoes, colinsky]
(translated into English by John Bester) Inkmesh search
Subjects: Contemporary Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Historical Fiction
Description: .]"This painful and very beautiful book gives two powerful messages-of drastic warning, yet also of affirmation of life." - John Hersey "The most successful book yet written about the greatest single horror inflicted by one group of men upon another." -Sunday Times "Immensely effective.... This is a book which must be read." -Books and Bookmen "I would recommend Black Rain to every reader, … more »even the squeamish." -Spectator "Its subtle ironies and noble, unsentimental pity are a reminder of the strengths of Japanese fiction." -New Statesman |Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected. lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story. (from Amazon.com)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurk Vonnegut [WT Sharpe, vxf, sun surfer] Inkmesh search
.....Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. A second description:
Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain's assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history—the fire bombing of Dresden. After the war Billy makes a great deal of money as an optometrist, and on his wedding night he is kidnapped by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore. So begins a modern classic by a master storyteller.
Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres [vxf, Hamlet53, Ea] Inkmesh search
In his first novel since Corelli’s Mandolin , Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment. From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com)
The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton [GA Russell, fbrII, Ea]
MR's Patricia Clark Memorial Library - Mobi/PRC and BBeB/LRF uploaded by Patricia | Inkmesh search
Subjects: Fiction, Kindle Ebooks, Literature, Fiction Classics, Classics
Description: In an article published the day before his death, G.K. Chesterton called The Man Who Was Thursday "a very melodramatic sort of moonshine." Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that weren't enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a … more »hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from "the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon." But Chesterton is also concerned with more serious questions of honor and truth (and less serious ones, perhaps, of duels and dualism). Our hero is Gabriel Syme, a policeman who cannot reveal that his fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. In Chesterton's agile, antic hands, Syme is the virtual embodiment of paradox: He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realization; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike.... Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left--sanity. Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from any bombings in the offing. As Thursday (each anarchist takes the name of a weekday--the only quotidian thing about this fantasia) does his best to undo his new colleagues, the masks multiply. The question then becomes: Do they reveal or conceal? And who, not to mention what, can be believed? As The Man Who Was Thursday proceeds, it becomes a hilarious numbers game with a more serious undertone--what happens if most members of the council actually turn out to be on the side of right? Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy. --Kerry Fried "A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe." --C. S. Lewis From the Trade Paperback edition. (from Amazon.com
Life of Pi by Yann Marte [VioletVal, WT Sharpe, jgaiser] Inkmesh search
Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."
An award winner in Canada (and winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize), Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, "My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time." It's safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. --Brad Thomas Parsons
Ask the Dust (1939) by John Fante [beppe, Ea, issybird] Inkmesh search
How Ask the Dust nearly missed greatness
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 January 2009 08.00 GMT
Almost forgotten ... John Fante
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ask the Dust, by John Fante. Today it's widely regarded as a classic of American literature; many have declared it the finest novel ever to emerge from Los Angeles. In addition to critical praise, the book has also found popular success, appearing on bestseller lists in both the US and Europe. In 2006 it was even made into a Hollywood film, starring Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell. But Fante's masterpiece has not always enjoyed such prominence. In fact, its journey to its current status has been long and highly unusual.
The novel tells the story of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American from Boulder, Colorado who moves to LA to try and make it as a writer. Penniless but hopeful, Bandini soon finds himself locked in an intense battle with his insanely demanding muse as well as the City of Angels itself, which he sees as a maddening mix of smug wealth and heartbreaking poverty. Mirroring these themes and driving much of the novel's action is Bandini's wildly destructive relationship with Camilla Lopez, an unstable young Mexican waitress, whose beauty represents much of what Arturo craves, but whose ethnicity (in the context of 1930s America) forces him to confront his own ancestry and the pain that drives so much of his life.
At the time of Ask the Dust's release in 1939, Fante appeared to be a writer on the rise. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, was well received; his short stories were appearing in prominent publications such as the American Mercury, and he had a long-distance mentor in HL Mencken, at that time one of America's most influential men of letters. With all these things going for him, Fante was poised to take his place alongside Steinbeck as one of the era's most important Californian writers when his incendiary sophomore novel hit the stands. However, Ask the Dust received mixed reviews, sold very poorly, and quickly fell out of print. And that's how things stayed for the next four decades.
This failure drove Fante into a chequered career as a Hollywood screenwriter, and largely spelled the end of his career as a novelist. By the late 1970s, when Fante was nearing the end of life, he had been almost completely forgotten by the general public and most of the literary establishment as well. However, he had his admirers - and so did Ask the Dust. While writing the screenplay for Chinatown in the early 1970s, Robert Towne (who later directed and wrote the film of Ask the Dust) turned to Fante's by then very obscure novel in search of a template for authentic 1930s-era dialogue. By the late 1970s LA poet-playwright-journalist Ben Pleasants had begun a series of interviews with a declining Fante and published an important overview of his life and work in the LA Times Book Review in 1979. However, it was Pleasants's friend, the now famous poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, who played the most important role in bringing Fante and his great novel back into public view.
As a struggling young writer haunting the streets of Los Angeles, al la Arturo Bandini, Bukowski had stumbled upon a copy of Ask the Dust in the public library. Fante immediately became a huge influence on the younger man's writing, to the point where Bukowski would later declare that "Fante was my god." Much later Bukowski introduced Ask the Dust to his publisher, John Martin. Martin recognised the novel as a classic and Fante as a major writer, and soon republished it from his Black Sparrow Press where, over the next three-plus decades it would slowly gather a large, adoring audience, while reaping seemingly endless critical praise.
Several years ago, Martin sold Black Sparrow Press. At this point Ask the Dust (along with most of Fante's oeuvre, which Black Sparrow also now published) found its way to Echo Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, where it has garnered an even larger audience. It's amazing to think, though, that if a young Charles Bukowski had missed Ask the Dust during his time in the LA library, the book's later success might never have come about: it likely would have stayed out of print and Fante would probably be remembered, if he was remembered at all, as another burned-out old screenwriter and failed novelist. Instead, he's seen today as a powerful pre-Beat writer who wrote one of the most influential and important novels of the last, well, 70 years.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett [JSWolf, Nyssa, VioletVal] Inkmesh search
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-- mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.
It is World War II and Captain Charles Ryder reflects upon his time at Oxford during the '20s and a world now changed. As a lonely student, Charles was captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastien Flyte, and invited to spend time at the family home: Brideshead. Charles becomes infatuated with its eccentric, aristocratic occupants, especially Sebastien's remote and distant sister, Julia. However, he begins to realise his own spiritual and social distance, and in turn discovers a crueler world, where duty and desire, faith and happiness can only ever be conflicting forces.
The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer [JSWolf, Asawi, pilotbob] Inkmesh search
In six minutes, one of us would be dead. None of us knew it was coming...
So says Wes Holloway, a once-cocky and ambitious presidential aide, about the day that changed his life forever. On that Fourth of July, Wes put Ron Boyle, the chief executive's oldest friend, into the presidential limousine. By the time the trip came to an end, Wes was permanently disfigured, and Boyle was dead, the victim of a crazed assassin.
Eight years later, Boyle is spotted, alive and well, in Malaysia. In that moment, Wes has the chance to undo the worst day of his life. Trying to figure out what really happened takes Wes back to a decade old presidential crossword puzzle, mysterious facts buried in Masonic history, and a two-hundred-year-old code invented by Thomas Jefferson.
But what Wes doesn't realize is that The Book of Fate holds everyone's secrets. Especially the ones worth dying for. The Book of Fate. What does it say about you?
Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old - when in actuality, he's twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power - plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish - to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
The following link is to a review. May contain spoilers.
Planned to read Slaughterhouse Five soon anyway. So it got my vote.
(I also planned to read "The Help", started it and put it down after less than 20 pages. Just couldn't stand the way it was written in spoken language. Maybe if had kept going I would have been able to see past that, but I have a long enough TBR anyway...)
Slaughterhouse Five is a great book by a great writer. I wish I hadn't read it already and hadn't lent my copy to someone living in another city now. I might try and nab a copy from the library so I can participate without having to purchase it again.
I know this topic has been going round and round. But I'd like to make a suggestion before any more votes are cast. Please do not look at the current voting results and vote for what you want to read most. Forget any messages here saying who voted for what. Just vote your mind. Make this as close to a blind vote as possible. Let's see what happens.