November 20, 2015

Butcher's Crossing, John Williams - November 23, 2015

We'll meet November 23 at Karen's house to discuss Butcher's Crossing by John Williams.

Supplemental materials:
  • Guardian review
  • The Independent review - notes that Williams once said regarding the myth of the West, "The West' does not, did not ever, exist. It's a dream of the East."
  • The Conversation essay on the ideology of nature
  • Spectator review

Book club member questions:

1) (From Steph) I'm interested in the treatment of Nature as woman. The Conversation essay, linked above, describes a traditional (male) view of Nature like this:
Also linked to the ideology of nature is its representation in terms of femininity, with mankind attempting to dominate and oppress, ravage and romanticise nature and women as objects of conquest and penetration. No better example of the ideology of nature would be needed than Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Nature (1836) wherein it is stated: a nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty. It is with these such phrases in his mind, delivered in a lecture room at Harvard College in Boston, that Will Andrews sets off for the rolling landscape, distant horizon, and the infinite space of the west to behold its beauty as part of his own “undiscovered nature”.
Is Williams invested in that viewpoint or is he just exposing it and inviting us to consider/reject it? How does Andrew's "relationship" with Francine parallel the hunting party's relationship to Nature? Compare/contrast Andrew's relationship with Francine to Stoner's relationship with his wife and the woman he had the affair with.

2) (From Steph) I haven't read Moby Dick, but I see some parallels in Butcher's Crossing to what little I know of it. (And Williams offers a Melville quote in the Foreword.) Obsessed leader set upon the destruction of great beast(s), a journey into a remote natural environment to accomplish this destruction, a crew including a newbie, struggle against Nature to survive, destruction of humanity that accompanies successful destruction of Nature. I'd be curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who's read Moby Dick. (Suzanne, I'm betting on you, for one.)

3) (From Katherine) We're accustomed to coming of age stories for boys.  What are some coming of age stories about girls?

November 1, 2015

Our Slate for 2015-2016 (and all pitches)

Here are our selections for the 2015-2016 year:

November 23 - Butcher's Crossing, John Williams - at Karen's house

January 4 - The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

January 25 - The Children Act, Ian McEwen

February 22 - Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

March 28 - My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

April 25 - All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

May 23 - This Side of Brightness, Colum McCann

June 27 - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

July 25 - Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

August 22 - Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry

September 26- As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner



Classics Slot (Classic ballot/First regular ballot)

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (21) - Kathy
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo - (11/0) - Karen
Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley - (17/4) - Julie
Giants of the Earth, Ole Rolvaag - (12/0) - Steph
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner - (16/24) - Kerry
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier - (12/14) - Kerry

Regular Slots

How to Be Both, Ali Smith - 8 - Ruth
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr - 24 - Connie
Nightingale, Kristin Hannah - 31 - Susan
Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner - 18 - Suzanne
Butcher's Crossing, John Williams- 39 - Steph
The Children Act, Ian McEwen - 42 - Katherine
This Side of Brightness, Colum McCann - 21 - Kerry
Being Mortal, Atol Gawande - 19 - Kathy
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs - 30 - Karen
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert - 9 - Suzanne
Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner - 21 - Steph
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante - 27 - Katherine
Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry - 25 - Kerry
The Map of Love, Ahdaf Soueif - 4 - Kathy
Stone Diaries, Carol Shield - 2 - Karen
Missoula, Jon Krakauer - 8 - Katherine

Runoff voting
This Side of Brightness - 26
Rebecca - 20
Leaving the Atocha Station - 18
Bring Mortal - 16
Crossing to Safety - 10