Book Club: Reading the Western Landscape
The Book Group explores the portrayal of western North American landscape in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The group meets the 1st Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Arboretum Library. 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.
Current Book & Future Selections
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013.
“Like most of the characters in [Jack Kerouac’s] “On the Road,” “Terry” was based on a real person. Bea Franco was her name, and she was the daughter of farm-working Mexican immigrants. In his poignant new novel […] the San Joaquin Valley-raised poet […] reconstructs Franco’s life and her passionate, life-changing encounter with the famous writer in autumn 1947. […R]eading Hernandez feels like being transported into a time machine and being shown other textures in the California landscape that Kerouac, an outsider, could not possibly have seen.” — Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin, New York, NY : Harper, 2012.
“Coplin’s mesmerizing debut stands out with its depictions of uniquely Western personalities and a stark, gorgeously realized landscape that will settle deeply into readers’ bones. In the early twentieth century, Talmadge lives alone amid his huge spread of fruit trees in Washington’s Wenatchee Valley. […] The prose abounds with poetic imagery, and the quotation-mark-free dialogue […] emphasizes the melding of these solitary characters with the vast, wild place they choose to call home.”— Sarah Johnson, Booklist
Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:00 p.m
My Ántonia by Willa Sibert Cather, Boston: H. Mifflin, 1918.
“Cather is our quietest Modernist. That is to say, she was innovative in her approach to her work, but novels such as My Ántonia were written in such a deceptively plain prose style that their robust, formal originality, their delicious complexities can easily be missed. The story is told in the male-gendered voice of Jim Burden […]. Through Burden, Cather uses landscape not merely as backdrop, but as a kind of character, dynamically interactive with Ántonia’s family as well as everyone else in Black Hawk.”— Bradford Morrow, You Must Read This, NPR
Wednesday June 4, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in North New Mexico by Stanley G. Crawford Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.
Stanley Crawford has [. . .] turned the history of an acequia into a startling and lovely celebration of life. […His] artistry draws the reader [. . .] into the lives of those simple and strong people [. . . The] narrative technique effectively leads the reader through the past’s mundane tasks of yearly digging and scraping ditches [and] illustrates the joy of ‘living life deliberately’ without modern conveniences–it reveals […] the strength and hardihood found only in those who live close to the land and depend on the environment for survival. It is a testament to the human spirit . . . — Western American Literature