Feb 23, 2009

Reading choices for March.

I have finally settled on the book choices for March. I started out with about ten and have narrowed it down to four. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your culinary tastes, there are no books on cannibalism. Also, much to our great leader's chagrin, I do not have anything by Updike. But I do have an interesting mix of books that we can select next month's reading.

Fool: A Novel, by Christopher Moore, 336 pages.

I am a big Christopher Moore fan. Ever since Blood Sucking Fiends I have read all of his books whenever I needed something light and fun to read. This book is currently #4 on the national bestseller list and would be a very fun book to read. Here is a synopsis from Publishers Weekly.

Starred Review. Here's the Cliff Notes you wished you'd had for King Lear—the mad royal, his devious daughters, rhyming ghosts and a castle full of hot intrigue—in a cheeky and ribald romp that both channels and chides the Bard and all Fate's bastards. It's 1288, and the king's fool, Pocket, and his dimwit apprentice, Drool, set out to clean up the mess Lear has made of his kingdom, his family and his fortune—only to discover the truth about their own heritage. There's more murder, mayhem, mistaken identities and scene changes than you can remember, but bestselling Moore (You Suck) turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto. Moore confesses he borrows from at least a dozen of the Bard's plays for this buffet of tragedy, comedy and medieval porn action. It's a manic, masterly mix—winning, wild and something today's groundlings will applaud. (Feb.)
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Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson, 224 pages

I have had this book for a while and I have seen the movie. It is an incredible tale of survival that talks a lot about an individual's will to live. Here is a synopsis review from Amazon.com:

Concise and yet packed with detail, Touching the Void, Joe Simpson's harrowing account of near-death in the Peruvian Andes, is a compact tour de force that wrestles with issues of bravery, friendship, physical endurance, the code of the mountains, and the will to live. Simpson dedicates the book to his climbing partner, Simon Yates, and to "those friends who have gone to the mountains and have not returned." What is it that compels certain individuals to willingly seek out the most inhospitable climate on earth? To risk their lives in an attempt to leave footprints where few or none have gone before? Simpson's vivid narrative of a dangerous climbing expedition will convince even the most die-hard couch potato that such pursuits fall within the realm of the sane. As the author struggles ever higher, readers learn of the mountain's awesome power, the beautiful--and sometimes deadly--sheets of blue glacial ice, and the accomplishment of a successful ascent. And then catastrophe: the second half of Touching the Void sees Simpson at his darkest moment. With a smashed, useless leg, he and his partner must struggle down a near-vertical face--and that's only the beginning of their troubles.

The Power of the Dog : A Novel by Thomas Savage, 304 pages.

I came across this book by accident and was surprised by the intensity of the comments in praise of this book. It seems like an interesting book from a relatively unknown author. Here is a brief synopsis from Library Journal and some reviewers comments:

Set in 1920s Montana, Savage's 1967 novel introduces the Burbank brothers, whose lives are permanently altered when one falls in love with a widow and brings the woman and her son to live on their isolated ranch. LJ's reviewer praised the novel, saying, Savage is a writer who can really write, and who never lets his style get in the way of his plot (LJ 2/15/67).
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"...a writer of the first order, and he possesses in abundance the novelist's highest art--the ability to illuminate and move..." -- The New Yorker

"...offers so many pleasures...Put simply, The Power of the Dog is a masterpiece..." -- Larry Watson, author of Montana 1948 and Justice

"A fine novel...studded with fleeting insights, and reverberating for some time after it is laid down." -- Jack McClintock, Chicago Tribune

"Gripping and tense...a work of literary art..." -- Annie Proulx

"Thomas Savage is a writer of real consequence...a masterful novelist..." -- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

All the Pretty Horses By Cormac Mccarthy, 304 pages.

Yes, I can't not have a Cormac Mccarthy in my selection. I think he is one of the greatest living American authors. This book is the only one of my selections that has won an award ( National Book Award, 1992). Here is a short review from Amazon.com:

Part bildungsroman, part horse opera, part meditation on courage and loyalty, this beautifully crafted novel won the National Book Award in 1992. The plot is simple enough. John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old dispossessed Texan, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, accompanied by his pal Lacey Rawlins. The two precocious horsemen pick up a sidekick--a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins--encounter various adventures on their way south and finally arrive at a paradisiacal hacienda where Cole falls into an ill-fated romance. Readers familiar with McCarthy's Faulknerian prose will find the writing more restrained than in Suttree and Blood Meridian. Newcomers will be mesmerized by the tragic tale of John Grady Cole's coming of age.


  1. These are all terrific choices, John! I will make one correction to your commentary: Cormac McCarthy is not the only award winner/nominee among these 4 authors. Joe Simpson won the UK's NCR/Samuel Johnson Award for Non-Fiction. And Thomas Savage was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for a later novel.

  2. Looking forward to your March pick . . .can't go wrong with any of those possibilities!

    I hope your Edgar Sawtelle discussion was a worthwhile one last night. Maybe my January meeting notes/comments were helpful?

    I'll check in again later on to read Andrew's meeting notes and to learn the title of your next read.