Nov 26, 2007

Travels with Stan

just back from Mexico...another boring adventure. Need copy of new book now.

Nov 11, 2007

Extra Credit Reading

Hi Guys,

Following up on our last book, if anybody really liked the Civil War theme, I'd recommend that you read The March, by E.L. Doctorow, which gives the same treatment to Sherman's march on Atlanta that The Killer Angels gives to Gettysburg. The March won a great deal of major awards and is very well written. For anybody who wants to do some extra Thanksgiving-themed reading, I'd really recommend Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. Its a great story of the Pilgrim's crossing and first 50 years in America. It also won a number of major awards. Its very readable. Finally, for anybody who wants to read something pretty funny, check out two new books: Not That you Asked by Steve Almond or The Braindead Microphone by George Saunders. Both are very funny, slightly polemical essays about things going on in politics and the authors' lives. They are two of the funnier books I've read in a while.


Nov 6, 2007

Verisimilitude, thy name is Larry

Like the general officers of the Union army, our performance improves with good field rations and modern killing technology. We had both at Larry’s tonight. With his cornbread and beef stew, combined with Roy’s homemade corn liquor and a functioning 1859 “repeater” revolver, we might have assaulted Peacock Gap had we not been afraid of the self-inflicted casualties. (Garth, save your rye whiskey for a Faulkner/Percy evening.)

We all enjoyed reading—and finishing (well, except Jack)—Shaara’s The Killer Angels, but some of us had reservations. Shaara brought us to Gettysburg and captured a moment in the Civil War that proved pivotal. The weapons and the tactics were nicely displayed, but the characters were hopelessly one-dimensional (Pickett=eager; Longstreet=inarticulate; Lee=painfully decisive; Chamberlain=inspiring; Jeb Stuart=MIA). Maybe that's the problem with fictionalizing real people while also staying true to history.

Peter captured my frustration when he likened it to a well-executed script or screenplay. It had the detail but not the richness of, say, Andersonville (another Civil War Pulitzer winner that none of us brought up but which I couldn’t get out of my head all the time I was reading The Killer Angels).

Nevertheless, Shaara brought the battle at Gettysburg (if not the participants) home to us and, gulp, induced Tom to research Civil War casualties (120,000 killed, plus another 60,000 dead from wounds and infections…did you make that up, Tom?). Doug’s details from the Ken Burns series and George’s observations from the film he helped produce gave us further context for this gruesome battle.

While we reflected back to Vietnam and forward to the Gulf War, it was notable that none of us has served in the military. (Roy never explained why he was ineligible for the draft, but clearly it had to do with his sobriety at Cornell, as opposed to Tom and Larry whose obvious intellect got them 2S deferments.)

Looking ahead, Dan proposed Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Nick Hornby’s memoir Fever Pitch, and Kurlansky’s Cod: A Biography…, which I’m sure is a fascinating expose on cod fishing (yawn!). He also threw in A Confederacy of Dunces, but since we’re all out of college and can’t impress anyone by saying we’re reading it, that choice fell by the wayside. We selected Steinbeck, despite Doug’s warning that it may feel dated as a travel piece.

We also agreed to do a book exchange at the next meeting. Bring a book you really like (appropriately wrapped in brown paper, of course), and we’ll have fun dodging the obvious white elephant (aka, Dean’s Among the Thugs).

PS: I don't know why/how, but we did veer away to discuss whether men or women are better killers, the Bronze Bow controversy at DMS, drive-ins as "passion pits" (thanks, Tom--George and I will advise our marketing departments), horse meat in California and Gettysburg, etc. Don't hesitate to weigh in on what I've missed or purposely misrepresented.

Nov 4, 2007

RSVP to Larry

Well gentle(book)men times grows nigh for our next meeting. Thanks to Andrew for reminding everyone and thanks to those of you who have already responded.

The menu is not set yet, but in keeping with our unofficial food/book themes, something to keep the bookmen army on the march -- maybe a stew, cornbread, and pie. To keep us from wavering from our task, I will have some libations, but of course your own contributions to this cause are always welcome. In keeping with our Civil War theme, I will have some sipp'in Whiskey for our discussion and one reb among us may be distilling his own white light'in. One libation NOT provided by the host will be C'gars (ok, so technically not a libation, but well what do you expect from a commercial banker). You are welcome to BYO, BUT house rules require that they be smoked outside -- (and to that, torches will available for anyone who wants to "scout" out the newly renovated but not yet open golf course out the back gate).

Again, for those laggards and malingerers among us, RSVP to "serve your book club". See you all Tuesday.