Friday, December 24, 2010

December 2010 Book Club Meeting

Summary: In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth.

Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal. -- Random House

I almost forgot to write a recap of our December meeting. I'm telling you things are just crazy right now! For December, we read LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann. I thought it was a great choice because I had been wanting to read it -- and it had won some pretty major awards. And ultimately, I still think it was a great pick; however, not everyone loved it. In fact, some of our group didn't like it at all.

I still plan on writing a review in the very near future so I don't want to give away too much of what I thought. Suffice it to say that I probably enjoyed the book more than anyone, but it wasn't an easy read for me. I haven't confirmed this, but  my impressions from our meeting were that everyone thought it warranted further discussion and touched on some great topics, but that it wasn't their favorite book to actually read. All of us did agree that there were some sections of the book that were pretty amazing and then there were a few others that we didn't totally get! My hope is that everyone at least appreciated the book a little more after our discussion.

Since it was our December meeting, it was also our annual Holiday Book Swap. Each of us brought a wrapped book (it could be new or used) and we did a traditional Yankee Swap -- with stealing. Obviously I'm the "mean" one of the group because I was the first to steal a book. I ended up taking home Emma' Donoghue's LIFE MASK -- I loved ROOM and want to read more of her books. One of our members also brought a big freebie bag and I immediately snatched up Randy Susan Meyers THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS. I thought it was a pretty good haul!

Next month, we will be reading THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom. I absolutely loved this book (my review), and it was probably one of my favorite reads for 2010. (Of course, I've yet to figure out how to come up with a final list!) I can't wait to hear what all of my friends think about this book because I have been recommending it to everyone I know this year!

Summary: When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail. -- Touchstone


Beth F said...

I couldn't even finish Great World -- I tried print and audio. I found too many errors and I just didn't really care about the story.

I have the Kitchen House on my list.

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like a book you need a reading guide for. Enjoy your new books.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

How fun to have a book swap at your December meeting. We fall to a cookie swap :)

I liked LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, but a few factual errors threw me; would love to discuss it with a group.