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Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION book

Assist us in selecting our upcoming FICTION book for group discussion in this forum. A minimum of 5 posts is required to participate here!
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Chris OConnor

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Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION book

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Official PollSeptember & October 2006 FICTION book selection poll!Please read these directions BEFORE you vote! How long will the poll stay open?This poll is opening on Wednesday, August 9th, 2006, and will remain open until Thursday, August 17th, 2006. This is a total of 9 days. Order your book right after the poll closes and you should have it before the reading period begins on September 1st, 2006. Who can vote?All active members are invited and encouraged to vote and participate in our book selection process, but please follow these simple rules:Only vote if you have 10 or more posts on our forums. If you don't have at least 10 you should have no problem jumping into some discussion threads and meeting this rather relaxed criterion.Do not vote if you don't plan on participating in the discussion in the event that your chosen book wins. If you vote for it and it wins you ought to participate, right? If you don't like the winning book we understand if you don't want to participate, but we sure hope you still do.How long is the September & October Fiction discussion period?Well, September is one month and October is another, so 1 + 1 = 2. So the answer is two months long. How do I vote?If you are an active member with 10 or more total posts AND you plan on participating in the discussion THEN you are permitted to cast a total of 3 votes.You can use your three votes however you see fit, which could mean assigning all three votes to just one of the book choices, or distributing the three points over the book choices according to your own interest level for each book.You should at the very least make a brief post to this thread telling everyone how you wish to distribute your three votes. Nothing further needs to be said, but you're welcome to be as verbose as you like. Just make it crystal clear how you are voting.It is inevitable that some people will either forget to cast all three votes or will not have read this entire post. They will simply vote on one book. If this happens I will be assigning all three of their votes to the one book they selected. You are permitted to change your vote during the voting period, but not after I close the poll. The poll is closed on the last day of the polling period as stated above. Usually I close the poll around 11pm or later.This thread can be used as an open discussion of the books on the poll. You're welcome to try to sell people on a particular book, or dissuade them from another. This is ENCOURAGED, so speak your mind and really sell us on your book choice. Don't assume you are being polite by keeping silent. We want to read good books and if your choice of books is worthy of our time let us know!NOTE:As always, we will need a discussion leader that is willing to be active in the reading and discussion of the winning book. If you are up to the task please let us all know in this thread.Please don't nominate yourself if you will not be active. Being active means checking the forum regularly and making posts often. It doesn't mean living in the forum and posting daily.Being a discussion leader also does not entail being an authority on the subject matter or defending the author's position. You simply need to attempt to stimulate discussion. And here are our FICTION book choices for our September and October 2006 reading period. Please read about all three before casting your votes. Think hard about which book will be the most probable to stimulate quality discussion. May the best book win!Drum roll please... Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 8/9/06 2:13 am
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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Book 1: Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut From Publishers WeeklyWhile awaiting trial for an initially unspecified crime, Vietnam vet and college professor Eugene Debs Hartke realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism. According to PW , "The cumulative power of the novel is considerable, revealing Vonnegut at his fanciful and playful best." This is the only review Amazon provides. If anyone would like to find another review please feel free. Just create a post in this thread and share the review. I'll go run a search of the web and see what I can find too. I'm shocked that a Vonnegut book would only have 1 review.Book 2: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo AbeAmazon.comThis beautiful novel by one of Japan's most important writers is also one of the most strangely terrifying and memorable books you'll ever read. The Woman in the Dunes is the story of an amateur entomologist who wanders alone into a remote seaside village in pursuit of a rare beetle he wants to add to his collection. But the townspeople take him prisoner. They lower him into the sand-pit home of a young widow, a pariah in the poor community, who the villagers have condemned to a life of shoveling back the ever-encroaching dunes that threaten to bury the town. An amazing book.The New York Times Book ReviewAbe follows with meticulous precision his hero's constantly shifting physical, emotional and psychological states. He also presents...everyday existence in a sand pit with such compelling realism that these passages serve both to heighten the credibility of the bizarre plot and subtly increase the interior tensions of the novel. Saturday ReviewSome of Kobo Abe's readers will recall Kafka's manipulation of a nightmarish tyranny of the unknown, others Beckett's selection of sites like the sand pit...as a symbol of the undignified human predicament.Book DescriptionOne of the premier Japanese novels of the twentieth century, The Women in the Dunes combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel. In a remote seaside village, Niki Jumpei, a teacher and amateur entomologist, is held captive with a young woman at the bottom of a vast sand pit where, Sisyphus-like, they are pressed into shoveling off the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten the village. Book 3: I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 by Robert GravesAmazon.comHaving never seen the famous 1970s television series based on Graves' historical novel of ancient Rome and being generally uneducated about matters both ancient and Roman, I wasn't prepared for such an engaging book. But it's a ripping good read, this fictional autobiography set in the Roman Empire's days of glory and decadence. As a history lesson, it's fabulous; as a novel it's also wonderful. Best is Claudius himself, the stutterer who let everyone think he was an idiot (to avoid getting poisoned) but who reveals himself in the narrative to be a wry and likable observer. His story continues in Claudius the God. Book DescriptionConsidered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D. A masterpiece. The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of LiteratureHistorical novel set in 1st-century-AD Rome by Robert Graves, published in 1934. The book is written as an autobiographical memoir by Roman emperor Claudius. Physically weak, afflicted with stammering, and inclined to drool, Claudius is an embarrassment to his family and is shunted to the background of imperial affairs. The benefits of his seeming ineffectuality are twofold: he becomes a scholar and historian, and he is spared the worst cruelties inflicted on the imperial family by its own members during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Palace intrigues and murders surround him. Claudius' informal narration serves to emphasize the banality of the imperial family's endless greed and lust. The story concludes with Claudius ascending to the imperial throne. A sequel, Claudius, the God and His Wife Messalina (1935), covers Claudius' years as Roman emperor. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition. Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 8/9/06 2:36 am
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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While awaiting trial for an initially unspecified crime, Vietnam vet and college professor Eugene Debs Hartke realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism.Oops. Didn't realize that was the plot. I didn't look at the Amazon review until just now. "Hocus Pocus" is just one of the books that I remember running into at the Public Library as a teenager, and I always meant to read it, but never got around to it. My apologies if anyone objects to reading a book with that theme. We could always choose a different Vonnegut book for this slot, if it isn't too late.Barring that, I like all three choices, so I'm casting one vote for each.To make it easier for the tally-keeper:Hocus Pocus: 1Woman of the Dunes: 1I, Claudius: 1
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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Why would that object to that theme? It sounds like the same old silly reasons that people find religion...coincidence. I doubt it seriously pushes religion and in any case, it would not shake my foundations I am sure.Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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While all three books sound reasonable, I, Claudius is my top choice. I feel like re-reading it after five years, and we'd find plenty to talk about. As a warning, the book is full of sex, violence, backstabbing, and perversion, as you might expect given that Caligula is a major character. While the dark view of humanity is part of the book's appeal in my mind (along with how well-written the book is), some people would find it too disturbing.The Woman in the Dunes sounds intriguing and sparks my curiosity. While Vonnegut's books were decent when I was in high school, his writing doesn't measure up to Graves (or probably Abe), and his ideas would probably be less thought-provoking to me now.My vote --I, Claudius: 2The Woman in the Dunes: 1 Edited by: JulianTheApostate at: 8/11/06 10:06 am
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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I'll do 3 votes for I, Claudius. After watching the hit HBO series Rome I'm a bit intrigued by Roman history.
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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3 For Hocus Pocus and 1 for WHERE THE HECK IS EVERYBODY!!!??Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 8/11/06 1:45 pm
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Re: Official Poll - September & October 2006 FICTION boo

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I have not been very active with the fiction forums, but I have been wanting to read Vonnegut and I immensely enjoyed my Japanese Lit. class in college. Hopefully, I'll have time to participate this time. My votes are:2 for Hocus Pocus1 for The Woman in the Dunes
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I cast 3 votes for I Claudius.
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Mr. P, grade school and high school sessions are just starting up here -- it's the last gasp of summer vacation for a lot of people, and that leaves some places a veritable ghost town. I betcha things pick up in the next coupla weeks.The count so far...6 for Hocus Pocus3 for Women of the Dunes9 for I, Claudius.Incidentally, Julian, I used to think Vonnegut's very simple literary style was an indication that he was a pretty poor writer, but I've come to think of it as a very deliberate voice -- and in some cases, as a deliberate rhetorical stance. In some ways, it's almost deceptive, but I think that can be part of the appeal. Either way, reading a few of his books created an itch for that voice which I sometimes feel compelled to scratch.And if we end up going with "I, Claudius", maybe we can run another discussion on classical Rome in the "Additional Non-Fiction Readings" forum. Something contemporaneous with the Empire, like Livy or Polybius.
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