September 15, 2010
News from the Library
The Reading the Western Landscape Book Group explores the portrayal of western North American landscape in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The group generally meets the 1st Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Arboretum Library. See the dates below. There will be some Saturdays as well. The group uses the Shared Inquiry™ method developed by the Great Books Foundation. The chosen book of the month must be read in order to participate. New members welcome.
Please RSVP to the librarian, Susan Eubank via phone at 626-821-3213 or via email if you plan on attending the book group discussion.
Books that the group has previously discussed can be found here.
Saturday, June 8, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
The Angry Buddhist by Seth Greenland; New York : Europa Editions, 2012.
"The small, dry towns that lead eastward from Los Angeles to Indio, across the lap of California, form an island chain in a sea of sand, each with its own biome and yet each enough like the other to form, in aggregate, one place. It is in this insular region that [...the] novel, operates, studying closely the evolutionary winners and losers of the area. […]There are subtleties and shadings visible only to those with adapted eyes, and it is those subtleties that Greenland crafts into a wild social farce, dependent on fine distinctions. ."-from Alison Powell, Los Angeles Review of Books.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon; New York: Harper, 2012
"Chabon is one of the most gifted painters in the history of American literature [...]Such vividness doesn’t require a wide field of play, just a few square miles of the Bay Area and a bottomless empathy for its inhabitants. [...He] writes so well about music […]; his talent […]is for performance, in the sense that his language dazzles and challenges and delights[...] That’s how the novel’s conclusion, a decidedly mixed one for Brokeland Records, comes to feel redemptive, even triumphant. That’s how, […]the audience in front of the page can enjoy that aftermath free from the burdens of nostalgia, discovering in those broken pieces something quite beautiful indeed.” — from James Santel, Los Angeles Review of Books.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande; New York : Atria Books, 2012.
“The narrative of Latin America poverty and the "broken beauty" of places like Iguala is buried deep in the psyche of Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. Our recent history has been shaped by Latino immigration. We live amid a million unknown tales of family longing, loss, ambition and dysfunction. Grande relentlessly mines this thematically rich terrain in [the book.] With two deeply flawed adults at its center […]it's a brutally honest book that avoids the sentimentality that permeates many Latino immigrant narratives.” — from Hector Tobar, LATimes.com.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Magnificence by Lydia Millet; New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2013.
“[...She] is a deft stylist, and her observations take place so close to the personal as to unearth surprising truths in even the most over-scrutinized things, inviting quotation in the form of aphorism. On the love between husbands and wives, she writes: “It was the kind of love that gazed up at you from the bare white flood of your headlights — a wide-eyed love with the meekness of grass-eaters.” Without the grass-eaters of course, this startling explanation could not take place, and part of [her] project is to expose what other creatures can help us understand about ourselves. Taxidermy […] is a ready-made synecdoche for her exploration of extinction, preservation, and endangerment. “—from Jenny Hendrix, The Boston Globe.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
El Iluminado: A Graphic Novel by Ilan Stavans & Steve Sheinkin; New York: Basic Books, ©2012.
“[...] Stavans is thrust into a fictional mystery about a group of real people whose history is largely unknown to most
Americans: the "crypto-Jews" of New Mexico. Steve Sheinkin, with an appealing palette of earth-toned colors, creates the illustrated world in which this story unfolds. "What interests me in all this is the way people create stories to survive, to affirm who they are, to make a stand," "That's what authenticity is all about: the personal belief that each of us is unique, that deep inside there's a light that guides our path." That light burns also in certain New Mexico homes, where people have lighted candles on Friday evenings for generations — without knowing exactly why they're doing so.” — from Hector Tobar, LATimes.com.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 7:00 p.m
Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir by D. J. Waldie; New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.
"[...] unlike any ever written on the architectural and civic makeup of Southern California. In 316 brief, numbered entries, […he] relates the history of Lakewood's first major post-war suburban housing development, and of his own family's history there[…]. He is also defending suburban living and its architecture against the familiar charge that it is fundamentally about escapism and materialism. […] he writes. "But they were wrong." The houses in Lakewood […] instead gave their owners just "enough space to reinvent themselves." In other ways the book and [his] personal story cut against the grain of typical suburban history. […He] is deeply reflective and unusually settled; there is a rooted constancy to his life and to his writing.”— from Christopher Hawthorne, LATimes.com.
Wednesday December 4, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Cold Starry Night: An Alaska Memoir, 2nd ed. , by Clair Fejes; Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 2007.
“In 1946, young Claire Fejes was a painter and sculptor in New York City. […She] went—to Fairbanks, last stop on the Alaska Railroad, in the heart of the immense northern territory, where Joe Fejes intended to mine for gold. In her […]memoir, Fejes tells of a remote outpost where a hardy breed of Alaskans overcomes loneliness and of her own soul-aching artistic and cultural isolation. She describes characters such as Eva McGown, a one-woman social-service agency who wears powerful violet perfume and speaks with a sweet Irish brogue; and Fabian Carey, a trapper who loves the wilderness as fervently as he does opera, literature, and art. Like her vivid paintings, the author portrays the men and women for whom survival and self-sufficiency is foremost in post-war Alaska”.— from Publisher’s website.
For more information about the Reading the Western Landscape Book Group, please contact the Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, at 626-821-3213 or via email.
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