Friday, August 12, 2011

The Red Tent: A Book Club Request and (Re)Read

I know, I know: worst book club blog ever.  As it is unproductive to discuss these failings I won't do more than mention them, and I'll jump right into The Situation:  Because she is the only friend who consistently texts me during my "free time" (i.e. after 9:30 p.m.), Helen often has my full attention.  Therefore, when she asked if the book club was rolling (#sad face) and if I'd like to read The Red Tent, it seemed to me a reasonable time to revive the blog, even if only for us two.  So.  Helen and I will be reading (or rereading, as the case may be) Anita Diamant's lovely retelling of the biblical story of Dinah.  Please join us (particularly if you haven't read this one yet, as I can recommend it wholeheartedly) and check back to join the discussion.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's Start Discussing

Who’s ready for a discussion of the first half (or so) of our book, through “How to Tell a True War Story”?

The Things They Carried is a compilation of war “stories” and remembrances that reads as a novel, told in the literal sense. Rife with visceral realities, O’Brien succeeds in conveying not the successes or failures of war, but rather the reality of living the war on boys who are given the responsibilities of men.

In the title essay/story“The Things They Carried,” are the tangible or intangible things more burdensome to carry? What does O'Brien mean when he says, "They carried their principles in their feet"?

What’s a true war story? Is it about battles and lives won and lost; or the tedium of being at war; or the effects of anxious boredom? How is a true war story “never about war”? How is a true war story “never moral”?

Culturally speaking, the Vietnam War did not produce “war heroes.” It’s a controversial statement, and I don’t aim to argue that some of the men who enlisted or were drafted and went to Vietnam were not heroes; but it is known that when they returned home they were largely not given a “hero’s welcome,” and this, coupled with fighting an ambiguous, unwinnable war, has impeded veterans’ ability to heal psychologically. In “On Rainy River,” O’Brien was paradoxically a coward if he chose to flee to Canada and a coward for not and ultimately fighting a war he was against. Let’s talk about why Elroy Berdahl was a hero and O’Brien was a coward.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First Book-of-the-Year

by Emily

My book club pick: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I know some of you may be groaning at the recommendation of a Vietnam war story, but resist the urge to make hasty judgments. A Pulitzer finalist, The Things They Carried is a novel that explores the way a story is told and the concept of truth. You should read this one.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year; New Book Club Plan

by K.A. Lewis

After a very slow fall (the season, I mean, and only a small bit of actual descent) I, for one, am ready to get back on the online book club wagon.  And there is a plan.  The big question: how to choose books?  A: I'm gonna let you do it.  I spoke to a number of people in other successful clubs, and my favorite solution to the "which book now?" issue was to have each member take turns selecting a title.  A scattering of choices based on individual interests should inherently introduce variety, and hopefully lead to a not unwelcome sense of investment in the club.  Right?  What do you think?  Seriously, I'm too indecisive for this job, but as I'm who you're stuck with you are just going to have to Sign Up and Send Feedback.  To begin I'll compile a list of book-pickers, which will then have to be arranged.  Possibly I'll use the order names are volunteered or maybe a more scientific system is called for: Level-of-Awesomeness or simply Birth Date (either way I think we can make a strong case that Emily K, born January 9, should be first *wink*).  Once said list is in place and the dear reader at the top (ahem, Emily) has made his/her choice I'll post again with our next book.

Please (pretty, pretty please...) post your name and date of birth in the comments.  For kicks and so that we can get to know each other a bit better you can include a few of your likes and dislikes, Amélie style (idea credit: Shannon O).  My Entry: "Kristin; June 14; I enjoy riding in cars alongside moving trains and paying with exact change.  I dislike the smell that tomato vines leave on my skin, when bands that repeat their own name in every song, and the term "lover"."  I sincerely hope that this list will morph with time, you can always pass or trade when your turn comes up, and really no pressure.  Just let us know you are here.  And that you are awesome.