Friday, June 12, 2009

Time again for a new book!

Iliana has asked me to select a few book choices to read next. I've been wanting to read more American authors this year, and I'm hoping these titles will be of interest to the Slaves as well. I had a hard time deciding--I wanted to choose books everyone would have access to and that were still in print. I also wanted to stick with early twentieth century women authors. I believe all these authors are respected but not much read these days. I had other authors in mind as well, but unfortunately some titles were out of print (or their books were simply too pricey). So I ended up with four choices:

Dorothy Canfield's The Home Maker

"Although this novel first appeared in 1924, it deals in an amazingly contemporary manner with the problems of a family in which both husband and wife are oppressed and frustrated by the roles that they are expected to play. Evangeline Knapp is the perfect, compulsive housekeeper, while her husband, Lester, is a poet and a dreamer. Suddenly, through a nearly fatal accident, their roles are reversed: Lester is confined to home in a wheelchair and his wife must work to support the family. The changes that take place between husband and wife, parents and children, are both fascinating and poignant. The characters are brought to life in a vivid, compelling way in a powerful novel more relevant now than when it was first published. The Home-Maker is one of those 'time lost' novels whose recovery will entertain and intrigue whole new generations of readers." Persephone Books has reissued this title, but there is also an inexpensive American edition available as well.

Edna Ferber's So Big

"Winner of the 1924 Pulitzer Prize, So Big is widely regarded as Edna Ferber's crowning achievement.A rollicking panorama of Chicago's high and low life, this stunning novel follows the travails of gambler's daughter Selina Peake DeJong as she struggles to maintain her dignity, her family, and her sanity in the face of monumental challenges."

This was made into a movie three different times.

Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes & But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes began as a series of short sketches published in Harper's Bazaar. Known as the 'Lorelei' stories, they were satires on the state of sexual relations that only vaguely alluded to sexual intimacy; the magazine's circulation quadrupled overnight. The heroine of the stories, Lorelei Lee, was a bold, ambitious flapper, who was much more concerned with collecting expensive baubles from her conquests than any marriage licenses, as well as being a shrewd woman of loose morals and high self-esteem. She was a practical young woman who had internalized the materialism of the United States in the 1920s and therefore equated culture with cold cash and tangible assets. The success of the short stories had the public clamoring for them in book form." It was a runaway bestseller. Even Edith Wharton called it 'the great American novel."

Dawn Powell's Dance Night

"Dance Night portrays working-class Lamptown, Ohio, at the turn of the century. It's a hardscrabble place, filled with bitter factory girls whose dreams are unattainable. Every Thursday is dance night at the Casino Dance Hall, where residents escape their workaday lives, if only for fleeting moments."

Powell's novels had been out of print, but she was championed by the likes of Gore Vidal and Tim Page. Vidal wrote that Powell was a "comic writer as good as Evelyn Waugh and better than Clemens." Powell considered Dance Night her best work. It is one of her earlier novels based on her childhood and adolescence in small town Ohio and is a coming of age tale. Her later novels set in Greenwich Village are more satirical. I had a hard time deciding which group to choose from.

I'll count votes on Friday June 19. If there are no objections, would it be okay to move discussion back to the end of the summer? Would August 31st work for everyone? None of the novels are more than 350 (most far fewer) pages. This would give everyone time to get the book and read it in a nice leisurely manner.


Rebecca H. said...

Thanks for choosing, Danielle! I'll vote for the Dawn Powell. And having the discussion at the end of August sounds like a great idea.

Kate S. said...

Yikes, time to choose the next book, and I haven't managed a post about the current book yet. I'm still hoping to slide in late with one! Great options for the next round though. Dawn Powell is my first choice. I'm a huge fan of her work, but have only read the New York novels, so I like the idea of giving one of the Ohio ones a go. Loos would be my second choice.

Stefanie said...

Nice list to choose from! My first choice is The Home Maker with Dance Night a close second.

And the end of August for discussion sounds marvy :)

Sarah said...

I'll vote for Dance Night as well.

Iliana said...

Thank you for the selections, Danielle!

These all sound so interesting... I'm going to go with The Home Maker followed by Dance Night.

And, end of August is great :)

litlove said...

I'd love to read the Edna Ferber or the Anita Loos, but I'll read any of them because these are all great choices!

litlove said...

Oh and end of August is absolutely fine by me - a good idea, in fact.

Grad said...

Such good offerings it's hard to choose. I guess my first choice would be So Big, but honestly, will be happy with any of them.

Grad said...

P.S. End of August good!

SFP said...

Hurray for end of August! It gives me more time to write my review for Slaves of Solitude (which I loved) before the new reviews are posted.

I'll be happy to read any of the four, but I'm voting for the Powell.

Isaiah said...

i would like to join. my email is Thanks