Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brainage a Trois

Days 80, 81, and 82 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project. I promised you a three-in-one blog entry to make up for the 3 days I was off to Chicago with the brainy set. Here is a sampling of what people who like to get together and talk about books are reading and talking about:

Ann is reading Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, with her Toronto book group and having 4 dicussions of it. As it's written in 6 sections, they are reading 2 at a time, then discussing what they've read, and then meeting a final time to discuss the work as a whole.

Gary remembers this one fondly as the first great Russian novel he ever read.

Gary & Pat went to Chile, shortly after the earthquake, with other readers to read and discuss works by Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, and other writers, and to reflect on Chile's troubled history, torture in specific. They read poems, Nobel Prize acceptance speeches, various essays, excerpts from Freud's Civilization and its Discontents, and Allende's novel The House of the Spirits.

Lindsay is reading Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives, by Brad Watson, a book of short stories, because she is a short story writer herself and reads all the stories she can. She got her copy at the recent AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conference in Denver, and it is signed by the author! It is realistic literary fiction, not science fiction, despite the "aliens" in the title.

Wendy and her poetry reading group in Texas are reading Milton's Paradise Lost, the great poem. Like Ann's group, they are reading and discussing it in parts. Usually they read shorter poems, several at a time by a single poet, working their way through various time periods. Recently they read works by Thomas Campion, an English poet of the Renaissance, who also wrote songs and composed music.

And Lorel and her book group in Oak Park recently read John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, to see how that generation got through its Depression. Now they are reading Cider with Rosie, recommended by a British woman in the group who assures them this is "a beloved British book." It is a memoir by Laurie Lee, first published in 1959. Laurie Lee is a man, raised by women, and evidently beloved by women as well.

They also recently read Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, which Lorel appreciated for its beautiful writing, even though the plot frustrated her because it was dominated by a domineering woman.

And that brings us back to Angle of Repose, Stegner's famous novel of the American West, and my desire to go there, to New Mexico in specific, and to discuss it, the New Mexican landscape, and paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe in a wonderful program called The American Southwest: The Power of Place, offered by Classical Pursuits, a company specializing in travel and literature, based in Toronto. Sigh...

But, just back from visiting Chicago with this brainy set, I am too tired to plan any more travel or to say much more. I'm off to my own angle of repose.


Kathleen said...

I can! (I think...)

Anonymous said...

Testing the link to see if I can post a comment anonymously!

Kathleen said...

OK, to those of you trying to comment anonymously:

Type in your comment.
In the "Comment as:" box, click arrow and scroll down to Anonymous, and choose that.
Click "Post Comment" and...
...Type in code words that prove you are not random spam.
Click "Post Comment" again, I think...

Then, when I get the email notification, I will publish the comment here, ASAP. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Katie: for Stegner fans, I urge you to start with his Wolf Willow, about growing up in Whitemud, Saskatchewan. As a small town boy, I often think about his later encounter with a London writer who recalled his own childhood, when each Sunday afternoon was spent at a zoo, a concert, a speech, a program of some educational sort. And when Stegner admitted that Whitemud was a blank--absolute zero--the Londoner commented that there was obviously something else there. And that's what we look for in how humans develop, so wonderfully different.
-- Mark Wyman