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Old 09-01-2017, 12:09 AM   #1
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Biographies & Memoirs Nominations & Vote • September 2017

Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read in September 2017!


The category for this month is:

Biographies & Memoirs


-Nominations will run for three days.-

You may offer up to two nominations. All nominees (so long as they are within the category) will move forward to the vote with no need for support from others.

Once nominations are complete, voting will begin and also occur in this thread.


-Voting will then run for four days.-

I will make a post in this thread to open voting. The vote will close exactly four days from that post; even if the final tally doesn't occur immediately after voting closes, no votes made after that time will count.

Votes will be made by post. You will have a number of votes to cast equal to the number of nominees minus one, which will be specified when the vote begins. You may give each nominee one or two (or no) votes. You may vote all at once in one post or vote in separate posts at different times, so long as you have more votes remaining to cast. You may use any number of your possible votes up to the maximum. Any extraneous votes per person (past their maximum or more than two for one nominee) won't count. Votes cannot be changed once they are cast.

Once voting is complete, the count will be tallied and a winner declared. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day run-off vote, also in this thread. If the run-off also ends in a tie, then the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all of its votes first.


We hope that you will read the selection with the club and join in the discussion.


What is literature for the purposes of this club? A superior work of lasting merit that enriches the mind. Often it is important, challenging, critically acclaimed. It may be from ancient times to today; it may be from anywhere in the world; it may be obscure or famous, short or long; it may be a story, a novel, a play, a poem, an essay or another written form. If you are unsure if a work would be considered literature, just ask!


The floor is now open!

*

Nominations and voting are closed. Final results-
  • The Return by Hisham Matar
    Post / Goodreads / 293 Pages / Votes- 5

  • The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waahl
    Post / Goodreads / 369 Pages / Votes- 1

  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    Post / Goodreads / 230 Pages / Votes- 3

  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
    Post / Goodreads / 335 Pages / Votes- 3

  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
    Post / Goodreads / 309 Pages / Votes- 0

Last edited by sun surfer; 09-08-2017 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:33 PM   #2
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I would like to nominate

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, by Hisham Matar

(the 2017 Pulitzer Biography prizewinner)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28007895-the-return
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Old 09-02-2017, 07:22 PM   #3
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I nominate The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waahl. Winner of the 2010 Costa Biography Award and 2011 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. It's been on my TBR list for a while.

From Goodreads:
Quote:
The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.

The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.

The netsuke—drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers—were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.

The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitler’s theorist on the “Jewish question” appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family she’d served even in their exile.

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.
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Old 09-02-2017, 07:39 PM   #4
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I also nominate When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. 2017 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

From Goodreads:
Quote:
For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.
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Old 09-03-2017, 06:49 PM   #5
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I nominate My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, and Just Kids by Patti Smith. I'll add in blurbs/links a little later.

Some hours left for nominations but I might not get to starting the vote until later so nominations will remain open until then.

ETA-

My Family and Other Animals, from Goodreads:

As a self-described "champion of small uglies," English writer Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) devoted his life to writing and the preservation of wildlife, from the Mauritius pink pigeon to the Rodriques fruit bat. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the Greek island of Corfu, but ended up as a delightful account of his family's experiences that were, according to him, "rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas."

As a 10-year-old boy, Gerry left England for Corfu with "all those items that I thought necessary to relieve the tedium of a long journey: four books on natural history, a butterfly net, a dog, and a jam-jar full of caterpillars all in imminent danger of turning into chrysalids."


Just Kids by Patti Smith, from Goodreads:

In Just Kids, Patti Smith's first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work--from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

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Old 09-04-2017, 02:07 AM   #6
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Nominations are closed and voting is now open!

Voting will close exactly four days from this post.

Each person has FOUR votes to use.

Please refer to the first post for all other information.
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:31 PM   #7
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It's a diverse group this month. They all look interesting and I would of course enjoy reading either of the two I nominated but I'll swerve and give-

2 votes to The Return
2 votes to When Breath Becomes Air
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Old 09-04-2017, 07:20 PM   #8
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I'll give 2 votes to My Family and Other Animals.
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Old 09-05-2017, 12:24 PM   #9
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I'll start with 2 votes for The Return.
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Old 09-07-2017, 11:39 AM   #10
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A little over a half day left to vote.
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Old 09-07-2017, 08:11 PM   #11
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Great choices again this month.
One vote each for:
The Return
When Breath Becomes Air
The Hare with Amber Eyes
My Family and Other Animals
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Old 09-08-2017, 02:31 AM   #12
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Voting is now closed and the winner is The Return by Hisham Matar!

The discussion thread will be up within a day or so.
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:47 AM   #13
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I just discovered that the Corfu trilogy has been made into a TV series (originally on ITV). The first season is available on Amazon Prime video in the US, and season 2 airs on PBS Masterpiece starting in mid-Oct. I watched two episodes this weekend. Brilliant! Great acting and gorgeous scenery. I'm a little slow; I didn't realize Gerald Durrell was Lawrence Durrell's younger brother.
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
I just discovered that the Corfu trilogy has been made into a TV series (originally on ITV). The first season is available on Amazon Prime video in the US, and season 2 airs on PBS Masterpiece starting in mid-Oct. I watched two episodes this weekend. Brilliant! Great acting and gorgeous scenery. I'm a little slow; I didn't realize Gerald Durrell was Lawrence Durrell's younger brother.
I'm glad you are enjoying it, Bookworm_Girl! I haven't seen the series. There have been two prior adaptations before the ITV series and I first learned about the books through the 1980's BBC series of My Family and Other Animals, and then there's also a BBC film adaptation with the same name from the mid-2000's.
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