Monday, December 19, 2011

Next for The Slaves of Golconda

It was so close, but 'The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet' narrowly beat 'The Bingo Palace' I think, so we'll be reading Rief Larsen's novel next.

Thanks to everyone for voting. Discussion begins on 31st January.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

January's Choices

It’s a bit of a random list of choices for the group this month. There’s no unifying theme, it’s just a list made by an excited book gazer looking at shelves. I’m so thrilled to get to pick the list this month and I hope everyone sees something they like the look of.

‘White is for Witching’ – Helen Oyeyemi: (Publisher copy) ‘In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and her father. When one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.’

‘The Bingo Palace’ – Louise Erditch: (Publisher copy) ‘At the crossroads of his life, Lipsha Morrissey is summoned by his grandmother to return to the reservation. There, he falls in love for the very first time—with the beautiful Shawnee Ray, who's already considering a marriage proposal from Lipsha's wealthy entrepreneurial boss, Lyman Lamartine. But when all efforts to win Shawnee's affections go hopelessly awry, Lipsha seeks out his great-grandmother for a magical solution to his romantic dilemma—on sacred ground where a federally sanctioned bingo palace is slated for construction.’

‘An Equal Stillness’ – Francesca Kay: (Publisher copy) ‘Jennet moves to London in search of a more exciting life and finds it in her new environment and in the handsome and enigmatic figure of the painter David Heaton.

When Jennet falls pregnant, her parents more or less force the two to marry. In the post-war austerity of the 1940s, the young couple struggles to make ends meet and Jennet finds that her home life is gradually eroding everything she has fought to achieve. Aware that David is becoming increasingly reliant on drink and tired of the dank and drab bed-sit in which they live, Jennet suggests they move to Spain. There, the bright blue skies, warm air and sunlit beaches give the couple and their children a new lease of life.

Jennet begins to paint again and an agent takes an interest in her work. But as Jennet's own career begins to take off, her relationship with David sours and the two enter a destructive spiral with tragic consequences.’

‘The Selected Works of T S Spivet’ – Rief Larson: (Publisher copy) ‘T.S. Spivet is a 12-year-old genius mapmaker who lives on a ranch in Montana. His father is a tight-lipped cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last twenty years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle. His brother has gone, his sister seems normal but might not be, and his dog - Verywell - is going mad.

It's odd, but then families are. T.S. makes sense of it all by drawing beautiful, meticulous maps kept in innumerable colour-coded notebooks: maps of the countryside, maps of his family's behaviour, maps of animal and plant life. He is brilliant, and the Smithsonian Institution agrees, though when they telephone with news that he has won a major scientific prize they don't suspect for a minute that he is twelve years old.

So begins T.S.'s life-changing adventure, fleeing in the dead of night, riding freight trains two thousand miles across America to reach the awards dinner, the fame, the secret-society membership and the TV appearances that beckon. But is this what he wants? Do maps and lists explain the world? And why are adults so strange?’

‘The Electric Michelangelo’ – Sarah Hall: (Publisher copy) ‘Cy Parks is the Electric Michelangelo, an artist of extraordinary gifts whose medium happens to be the pliant, shifting canvas of the human body. Fleeing his mother's legacy -- a consumptives' hotel in a fading English seaside resort -- Cy reinvents himself in the incandescent honky-tonk of Coney Island in its heyday between the two world wars. Amid the carnival decadence of freak shows and roller coasters, enchanters and enigmas, scam artists and marks, Cy will find his muse: an enigmatic circus beauty who surrenders her body to his work, but whose soul tantalizingly eludes him.’

Voting ends on 18th Dec and the discussion of whichever book is chosen will take place on 31st Jan 2012. Eeep, how is it 2012 already?

- Jodie (