Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Seniors Book Club will meet on October 15th (in the 2nd floor Training Room) to discuss Digging to America by Anne Tyler.
Two families arrive at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport in August 1997 to claim the Korean infants they have adopted. Strangers until that evening, they are destined to begin a friendship that will span their adoptive daughters' childhoods. Bitsy and Brad Donaldson are the quintessential middle-class, white American couple. Sami and Ziba Yazdan are Iranian Americans. From the beginning, the differences in the ways they will raise their daughters are obvious: Bitsy's well-meaning but overzealous efforts to retain her child's Korean heritage are evident in the chosen name–Jin-Ho–and in the Korean costumes that she dresses the girl in every year as they mark the anniversary of the adoption date. The Yazdans are comfortable with their daughter Susan's assimilation into their own Iranian-American culture. When Bitsy's widowed father begins to show romantic interest in Susan's grandmother, cultural differences are brought to a head. Tyler weaves a story that speaks to how we come to terms with our identity in multicultural America, and how we form friendships that move beyond the unease of differences. She does not dwell on the September 11 attacks, but subtly portrays the distrust that the Yazdans have to endure in the following months. Tyler's gift, as in her other novels, is her ability to infuse the commonplace with meaning and grace. (Source: School Library Journal)
The Monday Evening Book Club will meet on October 20th in the Program Room. We will be discussing the Governor General's Award winner of 2006:
The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens.
Here are some reviews:
Inspired by his own family history, Behrens has fashioned a paean to the strength of the human spirit that illuminates a piece of history. Fergus O'Brien is still in his teens in 1846 when blight strikes his potatoes and typhus his family, whose cabin is set aflame with his younger sisters dead and his parents lying ill inside. Famine, fever, and deprivation are his constant companions, from the workhouse to which he is sent, through his time with an outlaw band, an attack on the farm on which his father was a tenant, respite in a Liverpool bordello, and work in Wales, where he takes a fancy to his shanty-owner's "railroad wife," red-haired Molly, with whom he sets sail for the New World. The law of dreams is to keep moving, and that's what Fergus does, taking advantage of opportunities even as he is haunted by dreams and hurt by betrayal. Behrens tells this story in spare prose that distills ideas to their essence, making this absorbing historical fiction. Michele Leber
". . . Behrens has fashioned a beautiful idiom for his book, studded with slippery archaisms and mournful, musical refrains . . . the language and the things it describes seem to be spun out of a single material. And we move through it as willingly, or compulsively, as the protagonist, the wind of love and hate at our backs."
New York Times Review of Books, Dec 10, 2006
The habit among too many contemporary American writers of historical fiction is to throw all sorts of magical nonsense into their stories because they feel the past is only a literary device anyway; an unreal place, where any old notion can be indulged. What Behrens knows, what he teaches us again in this masterly novel, is that the past was indeed wondrous, and terrible and strange, but that it was a very real place, lived by real men and women, and that it sits over us still.
For more information, visit the author's website.