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Fiction Book Suggestions Wanted: Aug. & Sept. 2009 
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Post Fiction Book Suggestions Wanted: Aug. & Sept. 2009
Fiction Book Suggestions Wanted: Aug. & Sept. 2009

Now is the time for sharing your fiction book suggestions. What would you like to read, as a group, for our August and September 2009 fiction book discussion?

1. Suggest only a few books
2. Tell us why you are suggesting each book
3. Provide a description or review of each book suggestion
4. Provide a link to where we can learn more about your book suggestions, such as to Amazon.com.



Last edited by Chris OConnor on Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:17 pm
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"Oryx and Crake" Margaret Atwood

From Publishers Weekly

Quote:
Atwood has visited the future before, in her dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale. In her latest, the future is even bleaker. The triple whammy of runaway social inequality, genetic technology and catastrophic climate change, has finally culminated in some apocalyptic event. As Jimmy, apparently the last human being on earth, makes his way back to the RejoovenEsencecompound for supplies, the reader is transported backwards toward that cataclysmic event, its full dimensions gradually revealed. Jimmy grew up in a world split between corporate compounds (gated communities metastasized into city-states) and pleeblands (unsafe, populous and polluted urban centers). His best friend was "Crake," the name originally his handle in an interactive Net game, Extinctathon. Even Jimmy's mother-who ran off and joined an ecology guerrilla group when Jimmy was an adolescent-respected Crake, already a budding genius. The two friends first encountered Oryx on the Net; she was the eight-year-old star of a pedophilic film on a site called HottTotts. Oryx's story is a counterpoint to Jimmy and Crake's affluent adolescence. She was sold by her Southeast Asian parents, taken to the city and eventually made into a sex "pixie" in some distant country. Jimmy meets Oryx much later-after college, after Crake gets Jimmy a job with ReJoovenEsence. Crake is designing the Crakers-a new, multicolored placid race of human beings, smelling vaguely of citron. He's procured Oryx to be his personal assistant. She teaches the Crakers how to cope in the world and goes out on secret missions. The mystery on which this riveting, disturbing tale hinges is how Crake and Oryx and civilization vanished, and how Jimmy-who also calls himself "the Snowman," after that other rare, hunted specimen, the Abominable Snowman-survived. Chesterton once wrote of the "thousand romances that lie secreted in The Origin of Species." Atwood has extracted one of the most hair-raising of them, and one of the most brilliant.


http://www.amazon.com/Oryx-Crake-Margar ... 0385721676

"What is the What"
Dave Eggers

From Publishers Weekly

Quote:
Starred Review. Valentino Achak Deng, real-life hero of this engrossing epic, was a refugee from the Sudanese civil war-the bloodbath before the current Darfur bloodbath-of the 1980s and 90s. In this fictionalized memoir, Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) makes him an icon of globalization. Separated from his family when Arab militia destroy his village, Valentino joins thousands of other "Lost Boys," beset by starvation, thirst and man-eating lions on their march to squalid refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Valentino pieces together a new life. He eventually reaches America, but finds his quest for safety, community and fulfillment in many ways even more difficult there than in the camps: he recalls, for instance, being robbed, beaten and held captive in his Atlanta apartment. Eggers's limpid prose gives Valentino an unaffected, compelling voice and makes his narrative by turns harrowing, funny, bleak and lyrical. The result is a horrific account of the Sudanese tragedy, but also an emblematic saga of modernity-of the search for home and self in a world of unending upheaval.



http://www.amazon.com/What-Vintage-Dave ... /ref=sr_1_ 1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246377649&sr=1-1



Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:11 am
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House of Leaves ~ Mark Z. Danielewski

The Modern Word Book Review: (Spoilers included in the review)

Ruch wrote:
That a review of House of Leaves should start off with metaphors and comparisons is not to take away from its breathless sense of invention. Big, bold, beautiful and arrogant, a near-reckless energy hums from every page -- in short, the exact kind of book destined to become an instant cult classic. This is a book that invites comparisons, a vast bibliovore swallowing up its predecessors and digesting them in its rumbling bowels, using influence as fuel, reference as bloodstream, and textuality itself as a skeletal system. It is insufferably postmodern, maddeningly hip, and utterly in love with itself; and like a Boardwalk funhouse, it's filled with shameless tricks, distorted mirrors, and not a few genuine shocks. Oh yes, Mark Z. Danielewski has produced one hell of an ambitious first novel; and one that succeeds on a surprising number of levels.


Amazon

Publisher's Weekly wrote:
Danielewski's eccentric and sometimes brilliant debut novel is really two novels, hooked together by the Nabokovian trick of running one narrative in footnotes to the other. One-the horror story-is a tour-de-force. Zampano, a blind Angelino recluse, dies, leaving behind the notes to a manuscript that's an account of a film called The Navidson Report. In the Report, Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Will Navidson and his girlfriend move with their two children to a house in an unnamed Virginia town in an attempt to save their relationship. One day, Will discovers that the interior of the house measures more than its exterior. More ominously, a closet appears, then a hallway. Out of this intellectual paradox, Danielewski constructs a viscerally frightening experience. Will contacts a number of people, including explorer Holloway Roberts, who mounts an expedition with his two-man crew. They discover a vast stairway and countless halls. The whole structure occasionally groans, and the space reconfigures, driving Holloway into a murderous frenzy. The story of the house is stitched together from disparate accounts, until the experience becomes somewhat like stumbling into Borges's Library of Babel. This potentially cumbersome device actually enhances the horror of the tale, rather than distracting from it. Less successful, however, is the second story unfolding in footnotes, that of the manuscript's editor, (and the novel's narrator), Johnny Truant. Johnny, who discovered Zampano's body and took his papers, works in a tattoo parlor. He tracks down and beds most of the women who assisted Zampano in preparing his manuscript. But soon Johnny is crippled by panic attacks, bringing him close to psychosis. In the Truant sections, Danielewski attempts an Infinite Jest-like feat of ventriloquism, but where Wallace is a master of voices, Danielewski is not. His strength is parodying a certain academic tone and harnessing that to pop culture tropes. Nevertheless, the novel is a surreal palimpsest of terror and erudition, surely destined for cult status.


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Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:35 pm
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Post Argonautica
Argonautica by Apollonius

Full Text: http://omacl.org/Argonautica/

Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argonautica

Quote:
The Argonautica (Greek: Ἀργοναυτικά) is a Greek epic poem written by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century BCE. The only surviving Hellenistic epic, the Argonautica tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the mythical land of Colchis. Another, much less-known Argonautica, using the same body of myth, was composed by Valerius Flaccus during the time of Vespasian.

In the first book, the ship Argo is built and a crew of around fifty heroes is assembled in response to an oracle received by King Pelias. Led by Jason, the heroes include Heracles and his companion Hylas, Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri: sons of Tyndareus and brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra), Orpheus, Meleager, Zetes and Calais (sons of Boreas), Peleus (father of Achilles), Laertes (supposed father of Odysseus), Telamon (father of Ajax), and the ship's builder, Argos. Their goal is to travel to Colchis and to obtain the Golden Fleece. After Jason suggests the election of a leader, Hercules (Heracles) recommends Jason himself, and the heroes agree.

Setting sail from the eastern coast of Thessaly, the Argonauts first reach Lemnos, where the women, led by their Queen Hypsipyle, have murdered all of their husbands. Omitting the murder from her story, Hypsipyle convinces the men (except for Hercules) to breed with the women in order to repopulate the island. ...

[spoiler]In the last book, Medea offers to put the dragon guarding the fleece to sleep in exchange for the Argonauts taking her aboard their ship and away from the father she has betrayed. Jason agrees, promising again to marry her, and she uses her skill with drugs to neutralize the dragon. Departing with the Golden Fleece, the Argo is pursued by Aietes and by Medea’s older brother Absyrtus. Jason proposes to leave Medea to Artemis, protector of virgins, an idea which causes an enraged Medea to threaten setting fire to the ships until Jason explains she is the bait in a trap set out for Absyrtus; the trap works, and Absyrtus is ambushed and killed by Jason, causing the Colchians to scatter.[/spoiler]




Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:09 am
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"House of Leaves"

This one sounds good. I like the horror genre, but there seems to be a lot more going on with it too. Very interesting, great sugestion!



Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:23 pm
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Post A few suggestions
I am new here, so I apologize if these have already been books of the month.

First, What is the What by Dave Eggers. I am half way through the book now, and am stunned by its power. This book is funny and tragic, edifying and appaling. Best read in ages. http://www.amazon.com/What-Vintage-Dave ... 843&sr=8-1


I would also be interested in The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. http://www.amazon.com/Brief-Wondrous-Li ... 255&sr=1-1



Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:14 pm
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Narshkite wrote:

Quote:
First, What is the What by Dave Eggers. I am half way through the book now, and am stunned by its power. This book is funny and tragic, edifying and appaling. Best read in ages.


Thank you Narshkite for your impressions on this book. I am so looking forward to reading it. I do believe it would generate a great discussion, and have put off reading it until I have found someone else to share it with.

"Oryx and Crake" Margaret Atwood
I am almost finished reading this book, and I did put it up as a sugesstion for the next fiction pick. However, after getting deeper into the book, I have found that it has gone quite flat. Great start, great potential, but I feel it has desinagrated, very disapointed. I feel embarased, I nominate a book, then criticize it, but, I'm just being honest.

"The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz, I have read this, I hope people check out the link you provided Narshkite. I think this is a good suggestion. Kinda reminded me of "Catcher in the Rye", would be interesting if anyone else saw simularities as well. I bonded with Oscar Wao, very compelling character.

"Argonautica"by Apollonius; love the mythology theme, but sorry, can't do another epic poem. Read "Iliad" and "Devine Comedy", these satisfy my "epic poem" requirements for the rest of my life. But, good sugesstion after "American Gods".



Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:49 pm
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Life: A User's Manual - Georges Perec

I think this would be a great book for discussion because there are so many facets to it. Also, it's totally different to the last few books you've had on here.

Paul Auster - NY Times:

"Georges Perec died in 1982 at the age of 46, leaving behind a dozen books and a brilliant reputation. In the words of Italo Calvino, he was ''one of the most singular literary personalities in the world, a writer who resembled absolutely no one else.'' It has taken a while for us to catch on, but now that his major work - ''Life: A User's Manual'' (1978) - has at last been translated into English it will be impossible for us to think of contemporary French writing in the same way again.

To read Georges Perec one must be ready to abandon oneself to a spirit of play. His books are studded with intellectual traps, allusions and secret systems, and if they are not necessarily profound (in the sense that Tolstoy and Mann are profound), they are prodigiously entertaining (in the sense that Lewis Carroll and Laurence Sterne are entertaining).

Those who have read a great deal will no doubt recognize passages that quote directly or indirectly from other writers - Kafka, Agatha Christie, Melville, Freud, Rabelais, Nabokov, Jules Verne and a host of others.

What draws one into this book is not Perec's cleverness, but the deftness and clarity of his style."

Complete NY Times Review:
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/15/books ... llies.html

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Users-Manual ... 0879237511



Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:26 pm
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Post Fiction recomendation
Life: A User's Manual - Georges Perec

My favorite so far, great recomendation.

From Publishers Weekly
Quote:
Though Perec (1936-1982) is "experimental" in the tradition of Joyce and Nabokov, his work is rich with word games and acrostics that reveal the secret life of language this euphoric novel, winner of the Prix Medicis, will enchant a range of readers.


In the tradition of Joyce and Nabokov, word games, acrostics that reveal the secret life of language, enchanting.

What can be better than that?

Winner for me!



Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:02 pm
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Suzanne:

That's funny, I just changed the quotes so my suggestion would be more cohesive.

:laugh:


Krysondra:

I started reading House of Leaves a few years ago and it is strange.
It actually messed with my head for a few hours, it didn't help that I read on a train at night before walking home.

Something that powerful, needs to be read and analysed, though.

:laugh:



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I picked up Oryx and Crake as well as the House of Leaves from the library. so far the House of Leaves is very interesting, I will be voting for it to be discussed for sure. Thanks for the great suggestions people!



Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:44 am
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I still think that a very good book to read and discuss is "Snow Falling On Cedars" by David Guterson. It received the following recommendation, which will tell a little about the plot and themes if you have not read it:

Quote:
This is a very surprising novel in its richness and depth. It covers the treatment of the Japanesein the Pacific Northwest during WW2 when out of prejudice they were interred in camps. In this novel, Guterson handles this disgraceful episode in American history within an excellent murder mystery.

The story is set in 1950s on Washington's remote San Piedro Island and begins with a mysterious death of a fisherman. Kabuo Miyamoto is accused of the fisherman's murder, suspicion aroused more out of the post-war distrust of Japanese-Americans than anything else. To complicate this, the town's newspaperman, Ishmael Chamber, must deal with his own feelings from childhood for his love of Kabuo's wife, Hatsue. Snow Falling on Cedars is very well written and handles a complicated and sensitive subject so well that I almost overlooked that at the heart of the book is a mysterious murder.



Another book that I have only just started, and that my daughter recommended is "Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is about a hermaphrodite who starts life as a female and becomes male sometime in the middle of the book.

I really don't want to read another book about gods for a while.



Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:42 pm
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I read Middlesex and it is a good book. Not Stellar, but decent. I like the fact that it is set in Detroit/Grosse Pointe so it speaks to some history in my hometown.



Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:18 pm
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Suzanne E. Smith wrote:
I really don't want to read another book about gods for a while.


Sorry, Suzanne, but the following novel was very amusing.

Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel by Marie Phillips
http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Behaving-Bad ... 0316067628

Quote:
British blogger Phillips's delightful debut finds the Greek gods and goddesses living in a tumbledown house in modern-day London and facing a very serious problem: their powers are waning, and immortality does not seem guaranteed. In between looking for work and keeping house, the ancient family is still up to its oldest pursuit: crossing and double-crossing each other. Apollo, who has been cosmically bored for centuries, has been appearing as a television psychic in a bid for stardom. His aunt Aphrodite, a phone-sex worker, sabotages him by having her son Eros shoot him with an arrow of love, making him fall for a very ordinary mortal-a cleaning woman named Alice, who happens to be in love with Neil, another nice, retiring mortal. When Artemis-the goddess of the moon, chastity and the hunt, who has been working as a dog walker-hires Alice to tidy up, the household is set to combust, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar.


FYI, I read Middlesex a few years ago but didn't care for it.

Feel free to ignore my preferences, since I haven't been participating in these discussions for a while.



Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:45 am
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We are going to bypass the polling process for a few good reasons....

1. There were few total fiction suggestions
2. Of the suggested books only 2 had positive feedback
3. Of the 2 with positive feedback 1 had a clear lead
4. Today is July 15th and a poll would eat up the majority of the last 1/2 of July. It would be better to announce the winning book today so people can order their copies in time for August 1st.

House of Leaves had positive feedback from Krysondra, Suzanne, Aussie Lifter and Poettess. I'm going to announce this as the winner. In the future if we have more suggested books and more feedback and more time available it will make sense to create a poll. But for now I think House of Leaves is clearly the right choice.



Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:29 am
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