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View Poll Results: ccowie Vote • August 2015, Multiple Choice
The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo 5 41.67%
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 1 8.33%
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos 4 33.33%
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 4 33.33%
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler 3 25.00%
Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson 7 58.33%
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe 2 16.67%
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein 4 33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-01-2015, 12:01 AM   #1
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ccowie Vote • August 2015

Help choose the August 2015 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days and a discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.

The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like. If you vote for the winner it is hoped that you will read the selection with the club and join in the discussion.

NEW - When the poll ends, bonus votes will be manually added before determining final results. Basically, anyone who has commented in two out of the last six discussion threads is eligible for bonus votes, and everyone eligible will have any votes cast doubled. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to vote if interested in participating in the literary club whether eligible for bonus votes or not, and anyone interested in bonus votes is encouraged to become eligible as it doesn’t take much. Currently eligible:
Spoiler:
BelleZora, bfisher, Bookpossum, Bookworm_Girl, caleb72, ccowie, desertblues, fantasyfan, Hamlet53, HomeInMyShoes, Lynx-lynx, paola, sun surfer, Synamon

This includes posts in the February to July discussion threads.
*There are a few caveats to eligibility as outlined in this post.
**If anyone feels there is any mistake in eligibility, please let me know before the poll is over. Once the poll ends and the tally with bonus votes added is announced, the results will be final.

The rotating nominator (this month - ccowie) may not vote in the poll. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll where the rotating nominator again may not vote. If the run-off also ends in a tie then the tie will be resolved by the rotating nominator.


Select from the following "fish-out-of-the-water" works (comments in spoilers by ccowie):


The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo
Spoiler:
I’ve included some comments from Wikipedia here as well to support my rationale for considering a Puzo book “literary” enough to qualify.

From Wikipedia:
Until his dying day, Mario Puzo considered the novel his finest, most poetic, and literary work. In one of his last interviews he stated that he was saddened by the fact that The Godfather, a fiction he never liked, outshone the novel of his mother's honest immigrant struggle for respectability in America and her courage and filial love, as portrayed in The Fortunate Pilgrim, 1965.
The Fortunate Pilgrim, though it won much literary praise from established American novelists, never earned Puzo a living. It was only when he opted for what Hollywood sold well to America, the stereotype of Italian immigrants as mobsters, that Puzo acquired fame and fortune commensurate with his stature as a writer.
The Fortunate Pilgrim is the real birthplace of The Godfather. As Puzo says, the book's hero, Lucia Santa, is based on his own mother: "Whenever the Godfather opened his mouth, in my own mind I heard the voice of my mother. I heard her wisdom, her ruthlessness, and her unconquerable love for her family and for life itself. … The Don's courage and loyalty came from her; his humanity came from her… and so, I know now, without Lucia Santa, I could not have written The Godfather."

From Goodreads:
Before The Godfather and The Last Don, there was Puzo's classic story about the loves, crimes and struggles confronted by one family of New York City immigrants living in Hell's Kitchen. Fresh from the farms in Italy, Lucia Santa struggles to hold her family together in a strange land. At turns poignant, comic and violent, and with a new preface by the author, The Fortunate Pilgrim is Italian-American fiction at its very best.


The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Spoiler:
I’ve chosen the description here from Wikipedia because there are many versions of this book out there (sure to cause lots of additional discussion if selected) and so I wanted to pass along the most generic. If chosen, I would likely be reading the Penguin “Enriched Ebook” edition because it’s available on Overdrive.
From Wikipedia:
is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968 The Jungle).Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. However, most readers were more concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper.
The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, "the Uncle Tom's Cabin of wage slavery".
Sinclair was considered a muckraker, or journalist who exposed corruption in government and business. He first published the novel in serial form in 1905, in the Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, between February 25, 1905 and November 4, 1905. In 1904, Sinclair had spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards for the newspaper. It was published as a book on February 26, 1906, by Doubleday and in a subscribers' edition.
A film version of the novel was made in 1914, but it has since become lost.


The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
Spoiler:
From Amazon:
Inspired by their heroes Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz, brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo come to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with designs on becoming mambo stars. Eventually they do--performing with Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" in 1955 and recording 78s with their own band, the Mambo Kings. In his second novel, Hijuelos traces the lives of the flashy, guitar-strumming Cesar and the timid, lovelorn Nestor as they cruise the East Coast club circuit in a flamingo-pink bus. Enriching the story are the brothers' friends and family members--all driven by their own private dreams. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

From Publishers Weekly:
The Mambo Kings are two brothers, Cesar and Nestor Castillo, Cuban-born musicians who emigrate to New York City in 1949. They form a band and enjoy modest success, playing dance halls, nightclubs and quince parties in New York's Latin neighborhoods. Their popularity peaks in 1956 with a guest appearance on the I Love Lucy show, playing Ricky Ricardo's Cuban cousins and performing their only hit song in a bittersweet event that both frames the novel and serves as its emblematic heart. Hijuelos's first novel, Our House in the Last World , was justly praised for its tender vignettes of emigre Cuban life; here, he tells of the triumphs and tragedies that befall two men blessed with gigantic appetites and profoundly melancholic hearts--Cesar, the elder, and the bandleader, committed to the pursuit of life's pleasures, and Nestor, he of the "dark, soulful countenance," forever plunging through a dark, Latin gloom. In a performance that deepens the canon of American ethnic literature, Hijuelos evokes, by day, a New York of crowded Harlem apartments made cheery by Cuban hospitality, and by night, a raucous club scene of stiletto heels and waxy pompadours--all set against a backdrop of a square, 1950s America that thinks worldliness means knowing the cha-cha. With an unerring ear for period idioms ("Hello you big lug") and a comic generosity that renders even Cesar's sexual bravado forgivable if not quite believable, Hijuelos has depicted a world as enchanting (yet much closer to home) as that in Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera . The lyricism of Hijuelos's language is wonderfully restrained, conveying with equal facility ribald comedy and heartfelt pathos. Despite a questionable choice of narrative conceit (Cesar recollects the novel from a seedy "Hotel Splendour" in 1980), Hijuelos's pure storytelling skills commission every incident with a life and breath of its own.


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.


The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
From Mordecai Richler, one of our greatest satirists, comes one of literature's most delightful characters, Duddy Kravitz -- in a novel that belongs in the pantheon of seminal twentieth century books.
Duddy -- the third generation of a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal -- is combative, amoral, scheming, a liar, and totally hilarious. From his street days tormenting teachers at the Jewish academy to his time hustling four jobs at once in a grand plan to "be somebody," Duddy learns about living -- and the lesson is an outrageous roller-coaster ride through the human comedy. As Richler turns his blistering commentary on love, money, and politics, The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz becomes a lesson for us all...in laughter and in life.


Tirra Lirra by the River by Jessica Anderson
Spoiler:
From Wikipedia:
Tirra Lirra by the River is a Miles Franklin Award winning novel by Australian author Jessica Anderson. Though written some years before, it was first published in 1978. It is included in Carmen Callil and Colm Tóibín's collection The Modern Library: The Best 200 Novels in English since 1950
For Nora Porteous, life is a series of escapes. To escape her tightly knit small-town family, she marries, only to find herself confined again, this time in a stifling Sydney suburb with a selfish, sanctimonious husband. With a courage born of desperation and sustained by a spirited sense of humor, Nora travels to London, and it is there that she becomes the woman she wants to be. Or does she?
Quotes: "Finely honed structurally and tightly textured, it's a wry, romantic story that should make Anderson's American reputation and create a demand for her other work." - The Washington Post "There may be a better novel than Tirra Lirra by the River this year, but I doubt it." - Cleveland Plain Dealer "Subtle, rich, and seductive, this beautifully written novels casts a spell of delight upon the reader." Library Journal


Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Spoiler:
From Amazon:
Even for those who have never read the actual novel, the premise of Robinson Crusoe is well known. In the late 17th century, the title character, while on a voyage from Brazil to Africa, is shipwrecked alone on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean. While various movie adaptations and condensed children's versions of the story have tried to make this book out to be an adventure novel, that label really only applies to the last few chapters. The majority of the book actually more closely resembles a tropical-island take on Henry David Thoreau's Walden. The overall tone of the novel is one of contemplation rather than action. There is a strong Christian message to the book. At first Crusoe sees his isolation as a punishment from God for disregarding his father's wishes. To the 21st-century audience, who don't necessarily believe it is a son's duty to follow his parents' choice of career, this seems like an awfully harsh sentence. Over time, however, Crusoe renews and strengthens his relationship with God. He comes to tolerate and at times even to enjoy his solitude. He learns to count his blessings, resign himself to what fate hands him, and give thanks to providence for what he's got. Though Defoe expresses these thoughts in blatantly Protestant terms, even Atheists of a Stoic persuasion can appreciate the book's message. Truth be told, the novel does contain some profound thoughts, which would explain why it's still being read three centuries after its initial publication. The modern reader, however, ends up wishing they would have been expressed in a less tedious manner.

After his arrival on the island, Crusoe is able to recover an amazing amount of stuff from the wrecked ship, to the point where he's really wanting for nothing but companionship. For decades he makes no attempt to get off the island, and industriously applies his time and effort to the contrivance of various desert-island technologies to make his stay more comfortable. He sets about building houses, fences, even shelves; plants barley; and domesticates livestock; with each process described in minute detail by Defoe. This how-to narrative, coupled with Crusoe's reflections on his lot in life, makes up the bulk of the text.

Although the book was first published in 1719, the prose has a conversational feel that is remarkably contemporary. The plotting, on the other hand, is hopelessly antiquated and frustratingly slow. The first three chapters leave the reader screaming, "Get to the damn island, already!" Soon afterwards there are a couple of chapters reproducing excerpts from Crusoe's diary, which agonizingly repeat everything which took place in a preceding chapter. The soul searching discussed above occupies about two-thirds of the book, followed by a few chapters of action which at times defy belief. Defoe then unforgivably wraps up the entire book with a chapter that is almost totally unrelated to everything that came before, and is therefore quite unnecessary.

While reading Robinson Crusoe, one can't help thinking, "What would I do if I were in his place?" After reading the novel, one realizes that pondering that question is more fun than reading the actual narrative that Defoe delivers. Though the book was no doubt ground breaking for its time, and has been extremely influential in subsequent literature, 21st-century readers may find it difficult to enjoy. The book does have its merits, but if you are expecting an adventure novel, prepare to be disappointed.


Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Spoiler:
From Amazon:
Stranger in a Strange Land, winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars. Michael is raised by Martians, and he arrives on Earth as a true innocent: he has never seen a woman and has no knowledge of Earth's cultures or religions. But he brings turmoil with him, as he is the legal heir to an enormous financial empire, not to mention de facto owner of the planet Mars. With the irascible popular author Jubal Harshaw to protect him, Michael explores human morality and the meanings of love. He founds his own church, preaching free love and disseminating the psychic talents taught him by the Martians. Ultimately, he confronts the fate reserved for all messiahs.
The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leading many children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael's water-brother nests. Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths of his characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook the occasional sour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault."). That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the master's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be. Can you grok it? --Brooks Peck

From Library Journal:
In 1939 Heinlein published his first sf short story and became one of the most prolific and influential authors in the genre. Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) is an international best seller and a landmark in more ways than one: it opened the trade best sellers lists to sf writers, breaking down longstanding barriers that will never be seen again. At the same time Stranger became an emblem of the 1960s generation in its iconoclasm and free-love themes. Telling the story of an Earth baby raised by an existing, ancient Martian civilization, the novel often reads as if it were the "Playboy Philosophy" in dialog form. The man/ Martian comes to Earth and broadcasts his ideas by forming his own Church. Heinlein has been rightly criticized for presenting as facts his opinions, which state that organized religion is a sham, authority is generally stupid, young women are all the same, and the common individual is alternately an independent, Ayn Randian-producing genius and the dull-witted part of an ignorant and will-less mob. Yet the book is hard to put down; in its early pages it is a truly masterful sf story. Every library with a fiction collection should have it.

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Old 08-01-2015, 04:38 AM   #2
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I only voted for two as unfortunately most of the books are not available from my library.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:02 AM   #3
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I've already read three on this list (including Heinlein ) and believe that I've seen a film version of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (starring Richard Dreyfus). When I saw the name Puzo my immediate reaction was by the guy who wrote The Godfather ? I went with the unfamiliar.

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Old 08-01-2015, 02:33 PM   #4
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What a fantastic selection! It was really tough to decide. Looking forward to whatever wins.
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Old 08-01-2015, 03:10 PM   #5
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I don't know why I don't always do this but I read a preview of all of the nominees; Goodreads makes it really easy. The only one I had to search on Amazon instead was Tirra Lirra by the Rirra...er, I mean River .

Crusoe was out. I love desert island settings and this is one of my all-time favourite books but I've already read it.

I really like Cubano culture and music (and I love I Love Lucy ) but the preview swayed me away from The Mambo Kings. However, I wasn't initially planning to support The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz but the preview swayed me towards it.

I thought the same as Hamlet about the Puzo. By the bye, I lived in Hell's Kitchen for awhile so that interests me. It's (of course) very different now, and basically completely gentrified.
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Old 08-01-2015, 04:07 PM   #6
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I typically send free samples to my Kindle from Amazon to help me select my votes. I create "empty book" records in calibre for the ones that sound most interesting under a collection called "MobileRead Nominations". That way in the process I also am creating a good TBR list from our club that's easy to find later! I download the metadata which provides a summary of the books. Then I use the Overdrive plug-in. It tells me whether the book is at one of my libraries or available for purchase on Amazon. It also tells me if there are audiobook options.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:02 PM   #7
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Which countries are selling Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River?

Wouldn't you think that as Anderson is an Aus author that it would be available for sale in at least ebook format in Aus - nope!!!
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynx-lynx View Post
Which countries are selling Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River?

Wouldn't you think that as Anderson is an Aus author that it would be available for sale in at least ebook format in Aus - nope!!!
It's available at Kobo Canada for $CDN 13.59
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/eb...by-the-river-1

and at amazon.ca for $CDN 9.99
http://www.amazon.ca/Tirra-Lirra-Riv.../dp/B00KUQAF7C

It's also available on Overdrive; although, alas, not through my local library. It might be available at yours.

Publisher: Melville House; Reprint edition (Jan. 27 2015)

My most recent experience with that was Bernard Cornwell's Waterloo being available in Canada in ebook in French translation, but not as an ebook in the original English

BTW, I'm glad to see your posts again.

Last edited by bfisher; 08-01-2015 at 07:54 PM. Reason: added Overdrive info.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lynx-lynx View Post
Which countries are selling Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River?

Wouldn't you think that as Anderson is an Aus author that it would be available for sale in at least ebook format in Aus - nope!!!
It's available in the US and UK.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:10 PM   #10
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A definite vote for Tirra Lirra by the River from me.
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Old 08-02-2015, 07:33 PM   #11
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Hmmm . . . two are very much in my comfot zone but are no-hopers; I'll think carefully about some of the attractive alternatives. Price and availability are factors in some cases.

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Old 08-03-2015, 01:46 AM   #12
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Kicked one in for the stranger.
'D like to have more people to discuss it.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:19 AM   #13
fantasyfan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynx-lynx View Post
Which countries are selling Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River?

Wouldn't you think that as Anderson is an Aus author that it would be available for sale in at least ebook format in Aus - nope!!!
It's a bit on the pricey side but Feedbooks has an epub edition which is available for € 10.93. Amazon UK has the Kindle version for £10.81. If it wins, this is the edition I'll probably get as it is the most convenient for me. Kobo has it for an equivalent price but with no coupon available. iBooks, amazingly, does not carry it. If you wish to use a pb then Book Depository will get it out to you world-wide postage free for €11.55.

After conversion, the Feedbooks edition is the least expensive. I don't know how much the American editions cost. They often provide good value.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:19 AM   #14
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The result is the same with or without bonus votes so the winner is Tirra Lirra by the River! I'll have the discussion thread up within a day or so.

I already have the book in anticipation and though I'm not starting right away (I need to finish up another first) it'll be the first book I read on a Kindle. I've used a tablet for the last few years and I'm excited to return to eink.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:32 AM   #15
caleb72
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Yay for the Australian Author!
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