Saturday, December 6, 2008

About Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman will be the featured author at this month's meeting of Saturday Samplers, a Bernardsville Public Library book discussion group, taking place today at 3:30 p.m. The library book group will be discussing Neverwhere, which the author turned into a novel after first writing the story as a screenplay for the BBC. Gaiman started his writing career in England as a comic book writer who developed a world-renowned graphic novel series, The Sandman, based on the earlier D.C. comics character of the 1930's and 40's. He collaborated with Terry Pratchett to write the wildly hilarious apocolyptic book, Good Omens, and he has branched out to write both adult and children's books which have been critically acclaimed. Among these publications are Coraline, a frightening children's story as well as American Gods, Stardust, and Anansi Boys. Neil moved from England with his wife and children to settle in Minneapolis where he said he wanted to live in a Charles Addams-style house. He found one complete with turret and possible ghostly history!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Saturday Samplers will discuss Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for its next meeting on Saturday, December 6th, at 3:30 p.m. in the library. This urban fantasy takes place in "London Below" where the city's noted underground stations comprise part of Gaiman's alternate universe. Memorable, original characters inhabit this dark and menacing setting in which an everday Everyman from "London Above" suddenly finds himself. Forced by situations out of his control, this "normal" main character must undergo a quest of mythological proportions in order to save not only the damsel in distress, but ever so much more. This is an exciting, imaginative book which nicely balances darkness and light, good and evil.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Any Further Thoughts?

Our group enjoyed discussing many aspects of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. If anyone would like to comment further or if you were not able to come to the discussion (or if you are just visiting this blog), please post your comments below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

About Anita Diamant

Well, here's our author as the picture of contentment, in what I imagine to be her home in Newton, Massachusetts, where she has lived since completing her graduate work. Born in 1951 in Newark, New Jersey, Anita Diamant spent her early childhood years in the same Jewish community as Philip Roth. Although her family was not particularly religious, they nonetheless followed Jewish ways, and her interest in Judaism grew as she matured. Diamant is now a noted author on Jewish lifestyle and traditions, publishing such books as How to Raise a Jewish Child and Saying Kaddish. The Red Tent is her first fiction book, followed up by Good Harbor and The Last Days of Dogtown.

In writing The Red Tent, Diamant states that she was inspired by Virginia Woolf's idea that the relationship between women in fiction historically had been drawn too simplistically. Diamant initially considered the complex relationship between Leah and Rachel as her focal point for a story, but changed her mind when she read the very short passage in the book of Genesis about Dinah. Anita states, "I found Dinah's silence to be a great open door - thanks to Woolf and many other feminist writers who pointed out that there was a door. So I gave her a voice." You can read more about the author on her Web site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Red Tent

Anita Diamant’s first novel, The Red Tent, introduces readers to a spellbinding story of life for women in biblical times. Told through the eyes of Dinah, Jacob's daughter who is barely mentioned in Genesis, The Red Tent is not only Dinah’s story, but that of all women who were relegated to the “red tent” during their menses, childbirths or illnesses. Anita Diamant reminds us that the voiceless, powerless and unknown figures of the past must have had sweeping, wonderful and tragic stories just waiting to be revealed to us.

Saturday Samplers will discuss this book at our next meeting on Saturday, November 1st, at 3:30 p.m. Please note that this is a change in reading selection for November. Although we were scheduled to discuss Cat's Eye on this date, our group voted to move Cat's Eye to a date in the future. I hope no one is inconvenienced by this change.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Follow Up to our Meeting

Our group enjoyed sitting around a laptop looking at images of Caravaggio's work while we discussed this book. We all agreed that it was a fascinating selection.

For those of you who could not attend but who read the book, I shared with the group some interesting news about one of the versions of "The Taking of Christ." The Ukraine (Odessa) version was stolen from the Odessa Museum of Art in April of this year. The painting was cut from its frame and as of now has not been recovered by international authorities.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Lost Painting

Born in 1948, Jonathan Harr has worked as a journalist, a writer, and an instructor at Smith College. He is best known for his first book, A Civil Action, which was later made into a popular-release film. Published in 1995, A Civil Action garnered several book awards including the National Book Critics' Circle Award for nonfiction.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, published in 2005, is his second book. Like A Civil Action, it is engrossing narrative nonfiction at its best. Harr's The Lost Painting traces the actual search for a missing Baroque painting and turns it into an exciting narrative on art detection and intrigue in the art world. The true-life characters and the storyline of this book will take you through the dusty archives of an Italian villa, across the sea to a Jesuit residence in Ireland, and into the art restoration laboratories of the British National Gallery as the hunt for a long-lost Caravaggio treasure becomes a thrilling story in itself.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

About Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) lived a short, violent, but exceedingly fruitful life as an innovative Italian Baroque painter whose distinctive style influenced such noted painters as Rubens, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Honthorst, and Georges de la Tour. His oil paintings are known for their use of everyday characters (as if taken from the streets of Rome) placed in historical, allegorical or religious settings.


He hired locals as his models, and some of them can be seen repeatedly in his works. Rather than depicting the subjects of his paintings in heroic or historical garb, he often painted them in the dress of his time. As a consequence, his paintings have a sense of immediacy about them. All his works are bathed in deep, obscuring shadows and bright, defining patches of light.

Supper at Emmaus

Arranging his subjects in a dramatic fashion, such as in the moment of Peter’s martyrdom when he is about to be crucified upside down, Caravaggio employed the techniques of foreshortening, theatrical use of gesture, and a concentrated or a narrowed subject field (where your eye is drawn directly to the action/subject) in order to add drama and interest to his works.

The Martyrdom of St. Peter

Caravaggio painted primarily in Milan, Rome and Naples and enjoyed a degree of patronage; however, his personal life worked against his career as he outspent his income, brawled, gambled and even committed murder. He is said to have died on a malaria-ridden Italian coastline after escaping from prison.

The subject of Jonathan Harr's book, The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, can be seen below.

The Taking of Christ

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Any Further Thoughts?

The torrential rains kept some of our members away today, so if they would like to add their opinions about these books (Into the Wild and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), please do so here. Those who attended the discussion today and anyone reading this blog may also comment as well.

Outside on Chris McCandless

Jon Krakauer began his investigation into the story of Chris McCandless with an article in the January 1993 edition of Outside magazine. I wasn't able to find an image of that cover, but the cover shown above is a typical example. Note the banner headline advising you that "Pain and Fear Are Good For You" and the article, "A Death by Snakebite," to get a sense of the amped-up reading experience awaiting you inside Outside.

I was able to find Krakauer's article online, however, so click to read it here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stephen King Interviewed

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Stephen King which can be found on Bernardsville Public Library's electronic database, Literature Resource Center.

In your book On Writing [On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft] you mention that you plot out your stories "as infrequently as possible." How can a writer write anything without having a plot in mind?

I have a general story idea ... a situation. That's where I like to start. Then I let it play out. And that always works as long as I'm honest about what my characters would do in a given situation. If you start to make characters do things because it would be more convenient for you, things wander off course.

What themes do you see running through all your works?

I would say that if there's one theme that runs through my work, it would be, Live according to the truth and try to be brave. And, It's better to do the right thing than the wrong thing, even at costs.

Your books are filled to the brim with suspense. Is there any formula that you use to build up the suspense in a book?

The most important thing about building suspense is building identification with the character. You have to take some time and make your reader care about the characters in the story. I'm thinking about Misery, where you've got this writer, Paul Sheldon, and little by little you get to know this guy and understand him and you get to see different aspects of him. Then you start to empathize with him and you start to put yourself in his shoes and then you start to be very, very afraid because you don't want anything bad to happen to him. But because it's the kind of story that it is, you know that something bad is gonna happen. So one by one you close off the exits and things get more and more nerve-racking until finally there's an explosion.

What, if anything, scares you?

Scary things are personal. Clowns have freaked me out and scared me ever since I was a kid. To me there's something scary, something sinister about such a figure of happiness and fun. I guess that sometimes what makes a scary thing really scary is when we realize there's something sinister behind a nice face.

Many of the characters in your novels meet untimely ends. Do you ever feel bad about having to kill off a character?

Yeah. Yeah, I do. My characters become very real to me. I wrote a series of books called The Dark Tower, and I lived with those characters from the age of about 22 up until when I finished the last one when I was 56. That's like 34 years all told. I'd been with some of those characters longer than I've been with my children. Some of them had to die and that was tough. Anybody will tell you that imaginary friends are as real as real people sometimes. Lucky for me, I still know the difference or else they'd put me away in a room.

Source Citation: King, Stephen and Bryon Cahill. "Stephen King: Halloween's Answer to Santa Claus." Writing. 28.2 (2005, Oct. ) 8-13. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, 8-13. Literature Resource Center. Gale. BERNARDSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY. 4 Sept. 2008 .

Gale Document Number: GALEH1100074413

Friday, August 29, 2008

About Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer

Here's some information from our library database, Gale's Literature Resource Center, about Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild.

Krakauer was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and raised from age two in Corvallis, Oregon, within reach of mountains that drew him into a lifelong love of climbing. His father, an active alpinist himself, introduced Krakauer to the sport at age eight. Krakauer graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 1976, then spent the next few years working solely to fund his passion for mountaineering, taking carpentry and commercial fishing jobs for five months and spending the rest of the year climbing. His writing career began with a magazine article about a climb he completed in 1977, alone, during which he charted a new route to the peak of Devil's Thumb in Alaska. When he began receiving regular magazine assignments, he decided to take on journalism as full-time work. Krakauer married Linda Moore in 1980 and attempted to curtail his highly dangerous avocation for her sake, but found himself unable to resist; he told an Outside Online interviewer that the conflict almost ruined their marriage, but eventually Linda accepted climbing as an integral part of her husband's career. He published a collection of his articles, Eiger Dreams, in 1990, and his next two books, Into the Wild (1996) and Into Thin Air (1998) were highly successful. Into the Wild spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Into Thin Air, also a bestseller, was named Time magazine's best book of the year and propelled Krakauer onto the list of finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 for Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. In response to the events he recounted in Into Thin Air, Krakauer established the Everest '96 Memorial Fund, which provides humanitarian aid to the peoples of the Himalaya region through royalties from the book as a tribute to those who perished during the expedition.

Krakauer's books have begun as articles on subjects that he wanted to investigate in greater depth than a short essay would allow. Into the Wild recounts the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man restless with conventional life who traveled to the Alaskan wilderness intending to live off the land; woefully unprepared, he died of starvation. Four months after he began his adventure, hunters found McCandless's body and a desperate plea for rescue scrawled on a torn book page. McCandless was roundly criticized as foolhardy, but Krakauer looked past his fatal choice and crafted a compelling story, providing a fuller account of McCandless's background, emotional state, and his objectives. Into the Wild was adapted for film, with a screenplay and direction by Sean Penn, and released in 2007.

With Into Thin Air, Krakauer unintentionally became part of the story, which began as an assignment from Outside magazine to write about the increasing commercialization of climbing expeditions on Mount Everest. Krakauer revived a childhood dream to scale the famous mountain and signed on to participate in a climb while chronicling the experience along the way. His group reached the summit, but several people, including a veteran guide, perished during the descent when a storm blew in. His account of the tragedy was published first as an article in Outside and sparked a backlash from other climbers. Krakauer changed topics with Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), which explores the closed world of fundamentalist Mormons, a group with whom he had some contact as a child in Oregon. Krakauer did not shrink from controversial subject matter in this book either, delving into the highly charged topic of violence in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon faith, and the development of fundamentalist splinter groups that have created legal and moral problems for the modern LDS movement. One such splinter group is profiled in Under the Banner of Heaven, which examines the true story of Ron and Dan Lafferty, brothers who in 1984 murdered their sister-in-law and her infant daughter in the name of God.

Krakauer has been praised for his ability to make nonfiction stories highly engaging--an ability critics find all the more impressive given that he has no formal education in journalism or literature. Critics received Into the Wild with kudos bordering at times on amazement at the skillful freshman entry into the literary world. Suzan Nightingale echoed the sentiments of many reviewers who reported that Krakauer's portrait gave them a curiosity about McCandless--and what he was seeking and may have failed to find. Krakauer's mountain-climbing tales benefit from his personal experience with the subject, which he says is not a sport but a way of life. Into Thin Air received strong criticism from many in the alpinist community who argued that Krakauer had profited from the tragedy. Krakauer responded by noting that he had joined the expedition as a journalist on assignment and, as such, it was his job to tell the story. Literary critics lauded Into Thin Air as skillfully told, but some also recounted arguments from other witnesses to the events who disputed Krakauer's account. In particular, Anatoli Boukreev, a well-known alpinist described by some as a champion of Himalayan climbing, took issue with Krakauer's characterization of him and wrote his own account, The Climb, which cast the descent in a different light. Critics praised Krakauer for not shying away from difficult issues in Under the Banner of Heaven, a book that to some is considered blasphemous. Krakauer's presentation of the history of the Mormon faith was described as insightful and thought-provoking, and some critics found parallels between the author's examination of religious fundamentalism in America and that of the Middle East. Robert Wright concluded that, in this way, the book "may have broader relevance than the author intended."

Eiger Dreams: Ventures among Men and Mountains (essays) 1990
Into the Wild (nonfiction) 1996
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (nonfiction) 1998
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (nonfiction) 2003

Clip About Chris McCandless

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Into the Woods

September will take us down some scary trails as we read both a fictional horror story, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, and a non-fiction accounting, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Each one involves a young person "lost" in the woods, but in one case the person doesn't realize this until too late. They are both exciting reads, and I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

John Gardner and Grendel

Born in Batavia, New York, in 1933, John Champlin Gardner grew up in a farming family, although his father was also a preacher. His mother encouraged his literary interests, and he was introduced early to plays, operas and great literature. The accidental death of his younger brother when John was 11 years old scarred his life forever (John was unable to stop a 2-ton cultipacker he was towing from crushing his brother who had fallen off the tractor), and this event, written about in his story, "Redemption," caused a lifelong struggle with conflicted feelings of guilt.
In writing, at least, Gardner always stood for the moral choice. His book, On Moral Fiction, took a polemical view of fellow writers, who he believed were self-absorbed existentialists, disinterested in affirming the value of literature to move or inspire mankind. Gardner believed that art/literature should create models of virtue or heroism, visions of the possible, and should be agents of human transcendence over negative forces.
Gardner studied medieval literature on the graduate level and was an expert on Beowulf, among other texts. He was well-versed in philosophy and thoroughly conversant in literature, to the degree that he could interweave quotes, parts of poems and literary allusions from many sources into his own works. You will find this trait readily apparent in reading Grendel. He had taught Beowulf for 12 years before writing Grendel, and you may also detect some of his viewpoints about the author/art as agents of positive value in this work. Certainly his highly negative attitude toward existentialism stands out, particularly targeting Jean-Paul Sartre's book, Being and Nothingness.
John Gardner wrote with a love of words, images, and ideas that truly exceeds the ability of most writers. Author of such works as The Sunlight Dialogues, October Light, Nickel Mountain and Mickelsson's Ghosts, Gardner received national stature as an acclaimed author whose life was cut short by his accidental death in 1982 while riding his motorcycle to his teaching position.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grendel Illustrated

Grendel has captured the artistic imaginations of illustrators for the Beowulf editions and even South Park cartoons, but "our Grendel" inspired a wonderful series of portraits by Emil Antonucci which mark the beginning of each chapter in John Gardner's book. Here Grendel's complexity of expressions indicate his capacity for thought processes and emotional states of mind. Have the illustrations by Antonucci affected how you feel about Grendel?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Next We Nibble on Grendel

Get ready to "tear into" Grendel by John Gardner for a reading experience that is both unique and engrossing....okay, and maybe a little bit gross, too! But we won't let a few dead bodies deter us from some great literary analysis of this critically acclaimed book!!

After all, this is a book about a monster/creature, but not the same monster that haunts the meadhall in the Old English poem, Beowulf, upon which the new story is loosely founded. Our Grendel is protohuman and poetic, philosophical and inquisitive, witty and awestruck. He is also a deeply flawed, murderous character trapped in his own mode of thinking and in his own inevitable role to be played out in the story. He is much more than a monster.

At a later date I will be posting some information about John Gardner, his moral vision and his hatred of existentialism, as well as some guideposts to help you navigate through the book. Please refer to the handout if you want to focus on any of the suggested points of interest noted there.

Saturday Samplers will discuss this great fictional work at our next meeting on June 7, 2008, at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Share Your Comments on the Book

Feel free to add any comments or follow-up on any points you made yesterday regarding ZZ Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. We had a good discussion, but there's always more to say!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Meet the Author - ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer is an ebullient speaker and a spirited writer. Her short stories place keenly observed individuals in challenging or transformational situations, and she states, “When I am writing these stories, I am really concentrating on the characters and what are their circumstances and motivations and what do they want.” Indeed, her stories offer a strong sense of empathy for the characters, many of whom are young adults. Given the author’s age, 35, that is understandable.

As a child, ZZ changed her given name, Zuwena (meaning “good” in Swahili,) to “ZZ”, a family nickname. She says it made life easier for her, but it also demonstrates an individualistic flare. And, of course, ZZ Packer makes for a great author’s name!

Moving in her youth from Chicago to Atlanta and finally to Louisville, Kentucky, ZZ excelled at math and science and wished to become an engineer. She was accepted by MIT, but chose to attend Yale University where she developed an interest in writing. Graduate work in the Writing Seminars program at Johns Hopkins University was followed by her participation in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She then became a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Several of her stories have appeared in “The New Yorker” and her short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2003. This debut book was also nominated for the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. ZZ Packer is currently working on her first novel.
Here are a few interesting articles about her.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Saturday Samplers will dive into ZZ Packer's short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, for our next discussion on Saturday, May 3rd at 3:30 p.m. Copies of this book are available at the circulation desk for you to borrow.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere offers eight short stories which explore interesting characters in thought-provoking situations. Some of these stories fairly swoop along in a marvelous narrative; others move forward relentlessly toward a shattering or unsettling conclusion. Still others simply leave you with new insights into what it must be like to walk in someone else’s shoes… someone you might not normally consider to be in your realm of concern. These are memorable stories full of humor, sadness, and insight.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Share Your Comments On The Book

Thanks to all who attended our group discussion of Isaac's Storm this afternoon. We touched on a few areas of criticism and discussed a number of topics, but you may want to comment further on the book. Simply click on the comments link below and type in your thoughts.

If anyone is interested in writing a review of the book, I can post it on the library's book blog, Book News and More, at some point.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Galveston Rises

The Galveston Tribune printed this placard entitled "Galveston Was Not Born To Die" at the end of the year 1900, including a calendar for 1901. Scenes contrast the 1900 storm ruins with an inspirational drawing of a revitalised port. See an enlarged view of this placard at
To learn about the rebuilding, the raising up of all the existing buildings, and the construction of a seawall, visit the Rosenberg Library's Galveston and Texas History Center webpages at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Isaac Cline - Other Dimensions

Following the tragedy of the Galveston Hurricane, Isaac Cline moved his family to New Orleans where he managed the U.S. Weather Bureau Station, among other jobs. He is credited with saving the city from a flood in 1903, having predicted that the Mississippi River valley was vulnerable to growing floodwaters at the time. While the U.S. Weather Service disagreed with his predictions, Cline persuaded the New Orleans levee board to temporarily raise the levees, which did, in fact, avert a spillover of floodwaters into the city.

Isaac Cline is seen here walking in New Orleans where he also owned the Art House, a glassware and art restoration shop. To read more about this man, please click on the link below.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Victims of the Storm

Lithographic copy of the painting, Galveston's Awful Calamity, 1900.

Artist's rendering of victims on Tremont Street, Galveston.

Flood map of Galveston showing loss of property.

Orphans and sisters of St. Mary's Orphanage before the storm.

Isaac Cline's family.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Time and Tide Wait for No Man"

Our first discussion book, Isaac's Storm, is now available at the circulation desk of Bernardsville Library, so borrow your copy soon. You'll find the book to be a gripping story propelled forward by the drama of true events as well as by the author's clever use of characters and historical context. It is moving and artful in its delivery, so readers of fiction and readers of nonfiction alike should find this book to be of interest to them. Meet to discuss this book on Saturday, April 5th, at 3:30 p.m. in the library's Community Room. All are welcome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Storm's Destruction - Galveston

Photographs show the devastation to both frame and mortar buildings in Galveston, Texas, following the 1900 hurricane.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beware - The Storm Clouds Gather!

Isaac's Storm has to be a dream read for weather wonks who savor detailed descriptions of monster storms. It offers an exhaustive, but highly readable speculative account of the storm's slow development into a meteorological cataclysm heading Galveston's way. The sense of suspense and dread evident on the very first page of the book is there, indeed, for a good reason. If you'd like some information about this hurricane from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, then investigate "The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900" and related articles at

Friday, February 29, 2008

Meet the Author - Erik Larson

Erik Larson certainly knows how to craft a great story from a blend of fictional elements and historical fact. His writing style, known as narrative or literary nonfiction, has been used to great effect not only in our first reading, Isaac’s Storm (1999), but also in other works by him, such as The Devil in the White City (2003) and Thunderstruck (2006).
Larson’s interest in history can be traced back to his studies in Russian culture and history at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his undergraduate degree. Yet he notes, “I'm not a historian; I’m a writer who tries to find stories and bring them to life.” Larson developed his writing skills at Columbia University, earning a graduate degree from the School of Journalism in 1978.

Quoted by Writer in September of 2003, he states, “I love trying to capture atmosphere, landscape, events, in prose. I love sinking into the past. What I’m trying to do for my readers is allow them to just fall into another time, and ideally not emerge until the book is done, with a changed sense of the past.” He attributes his literary influences to Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Leo Tolstoy, among others.

Erik Larson lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and three daughters. Mornings are dedicated to writing, either on a computer or legal pad, but he knows when to quit – around noon!

For further information on narrative nonfiction as a literary form or to read an interview with Erik Larson, click on the link to The University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication webpage.

TIP: For biographical information on Erik Larson or other authors, go to Bernardsville Public Library’s webpage and click on the online resources link which will take you to a Wilson Web biography database. That is where I found most of my information for this article.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Let the Reading Begin

Saturday Samplers announces the first three titles we will be reading for our discussion group:

  • Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

  • Grendel by John Gardner

Isaac's Storm, a gripping piece of nonfiction, will be discussed first on April 5th. For a change of pace, we will next explore the humorous, insightful short stories of ZZ Packer on May 3rd, followed by John Gardner's unique fictional work on June 7th. Start your engines!