Friday, December 4, 2015
Joan Anderson has written a whole slew of self-help books since her initial memoir, A Year by the Sea, which we will discuss this month. She has certainly grasped the first two letters in the word memoir and run with them, bringing many women along with her on her self-discovery journeys. In addition to writing these books, Ms. Anderson offers frequent workshops and retreats as seen here. She appeared at Bernardsville Public Library in 2002 at a ticketed event to support Jersey Battered Women's Services, but has cut back on appearances to refocus herself...on herself. In this interview with More.com, we are reminded again how healing it is to retreat to a home by the sea or a remote island like Iona in Scotland! Oh well.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Laura Schenone is as expressive and heartfelt in person as she is in her style of writing. Several members of our Saturday Samplers bookgroup took the opportunity to hear her speak recently at Bernardsville Library about her book "The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken," selected as our One Book Bernardsville reading for 2015. Laura shared slides of her time in Italy and images from her research to find the roots of her family's heirloom recipes. She also answered questions about family dynamics that come into play when a writer reveals background details about family history. Her next book will take a detour into the world of animals, as inspired by her son. Family seems to be an ever-important ingredient in her writing!
Saturday, October 3, 2015
As background information for our discussion of Doubt: A Parable, here are some excerpts from an interview with John Patrick Shanley. (Cob, Robert, "The Evolution of John Patrick Shanley," American Theatre, Nov. 2004, vol. 21, issue 9)
"I went to a Catholic Church school in the Bronx and was educated by the Sisters of Charity in the '60s. That's a world that's gone now, but it was a very defined place that I was in for eight years. I realized later on when the Church scandals were breaking that the way a lot of these priests were getting busted had to be by nuns. Because nuns were the ones who were noticing the children with aberrant behavior, distressed children, falling grades, and in some cases they had to be the ones who discovered what was happening. But the chain of command in the Catholic Church was such that they had to report it not to the police but to their superior within the Church, who then covered up for the guy. This had to create very powerful frustrations and moral dilemmas for these women. It was very shortly after that that they started to leave the Church in droves.
...So showing this experience was one of the motivations behind Doubt. Another was that I saw a dark side to the Second Vatican Council's message of "go out into the community." When I was a kid, priests were not going to take boys out of church [to outside activities]. They were priests, they were in the rectory. And so I think this explosive combination of celibacy and "go out and make believe you're just one of the other folks" had a lot to do with the problems that followed.
But over and above that, the more interesting thing to me doesn't have anything to do with the scandals, and that is the cathartic, philosophical power of embracing doubt--of embracing not knowing, embracing that you may never know the truth or falsity of a story, of a scenario, and that you cannot morally stand in judgment from any place that is utterly firm in relation to another person's life. And yet actions must be taken if you feel the imperative, if you feel that you have the clarity of thought and know what should be done. And that powerful, explosive dilemma for an individual is really fraught for me. Here are these women who stumble on what may be something--and the choice is to go through the normal chain of command, which will lead to the complete exoneration and literally the safety of an abusive priest.
You know a member of my own family was molested by [Father John] Geoghan, the guy who was strangled in prison. And my family members went to Cardinal O'Connor, after they'd gone to everybody locally and gotten no satisfaction, and Cardinal O'Connor took them by the hands and said, "I am so sorry this happened. I will take care of it." And then he promoted him. Unbelievable. So they left the Church, but after 10 years they went back, and that Sunday the Monsignor got up and gave a sermon saying that these children who were abused, it was the parents' fault. That's when they left the Church again.
...I think when you see the play you'll see that my relationship to it is very complicated. There's an even weirder level: Is what some of these guys do totally bad? That I also have doubts about. When I was growing up, at certain points I was championed by homosexual teachers who were the only people watching out for me. And why were they doing it? They were really into boys. They were really into my problems. Did they do anything to me? No. Did they want to? I don't know. Did they make a pass? No. Was that in the air? Somewhere yes, it was in the air. Did I take advantage of the good things they were offering me? Yes, because I needed to, because I was isolated and there was no one else. Did that make them bad people? Not to me. Not to me at all.
...I'm not interested in issue plays per se, although I'm more interested in them now than I used to be. What I'm not interested in is writing polemics on one side of an issue or another. Doubt does not have to dismantle passion. It can be a passionate exercise."
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Saturday, June 13, 2015
To learn about the author of Defending Jacob, please refer to William Landay's website: http://www.williamlanday.com/books/defending-jacob/.
Here is The New York Times book review by Janet Maslin: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/books/defending-jacob-by-william-landay.html.
And, for your convenience, I have copied below a Boston Globe review by Hallie Ephron. This is the link for it: http://bit.ly/1QvEpfB.
FEBRUARY 19, 2012
Many crime fiction writers have imagined the horror of losing a child. William Landay’s wades into similarly dark territory, exploring the anguish of parents who discover that their child may be a murderer.
The setting is Newton. The father is Andy Barber, chief trial attorney in the Middlesex DA’s office. He’s among the first at the scene where 14-year-old Ben Rifkin is found dead with stab wounds to the chest, “as if he’d been forked by a trident.’’ Ben was a classmate of Andy’s son Jacob, and Andy’s decision to take charge of the case comes under scrutiny when evidence mounts, implicating his son.
Haunted by the knowledge that violence runs in families, Andy gets busy doing what he calls “lawyering away at the evidence.’’ He has no illusions that criminal justice delivers just verdicts. Jacob’s mother Laurie shoulders the blame, dredging up incidents from Jacob’s childhood that she can no longer rationalize.
In riveting courtroom procedure, opposing counsel - Jacob’s unflappable defense attorney Jonathan Klein and prosecutor Neal Logiudice who’s gunning for Andy’s job - match wits. Meanwhile Jacob, in his faded hoodie, droopy jeans, and bangs covering his eyes slouches along, impervious to concern.
One story line dramatizes the murder and its aftermath. A second presents grand jury proceedings a year later, the subject of which the reader only gradually comes to understand. Even with unexpected twists and turns, the two narratives interlock like the teeth of a zipper, building to a tough and unflinching finale. This novel has major motion picture written all over it.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Garth Stein is the author of four published novels, but The Art of Racing in the Rain is his standout best seller. It has been adapted into young adult and children's editions as well as a stage production. Currently, the book is being developed into a major motion picture by Universal Studios. The Art of Racing in the Rain has the distinction of landing on The New York Times best seller list for three years. The author is a long-time resident of Seattle, the setting for this book, and, along with a wife and three sons, he has a dog named Comet. Here is a review of the book by The Bark magazine because, why not?! http://thebark.com/content/art-racing-rain
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Graeme Simsion's debut novel, The Rosie Project, has proven to be a very successful breakout for him from his earlier career in information technology. (The author earned a PhD in 2006 with his thesis on data-modelling for information systems.) Simsion clearly understands the potential for technical minds to discount the value of human emotion, and he fashions just such a main character in Don, a geneticist with Asperger's syndrome. Don is so socially remote and self-unaware that he doesn't even recognize his own symptoms. Enter Rosie, the personification of human emotions, then add a wacky genetics projects, thwarted attempts at romance, and you have an enjoyable book!
Below are two book reviews to consider, if you wish, before our book group discussion:
Friday, April 10, 2015
Friday, March 6, 2015
Book Group Members, please refer here for a biography of Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried. This entry, by Literary Reference Center, also includes summaries of his books as well as a brief literary analysis of them (see item below for our book.) In addition, I am including a PBS interview for background on his time in Vietnam.
The Things They Carried First published: 1990
Friday, February 6, 2015
Pacifist, editor, comic book collector, bookshop owner, entrepreneur, and author, Jussi Adler-Olsen has secured a spot in the hearts of Nordic crime fans everywhere. His popular Department Q series introduces memorable, believable main characters facing tense and thrilling crime dilemmas. The author's own knowledge of mental illnesses informs the motivations of his criminals and murderers; it's interesting to note that this knowledge is an outgrowth of his childhood spent growing up in various Danish mental hospitals where his father was a resident psychiatrist. Our book, The Keeper of Lost Causes, is the initial one in the Department Q series, but Adler-Olsen has since added four more titles to the series. Here's a little taste of the author's personality below.