Great Reading Planned for Spring 2019

Our Chapter Endnotes Spring 2019 Selections

March: I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt

From Penguin Random House     About I Heard You Paint Houses, Soon to be a NETFLIX film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and written by Steven Zaillian. Updated with a 57-page Conclusion by the author that features new, independent corroboration of Frank Sheeran’s revelations about the killing of Jimmy Hoffa, the killing of Joey Gallo and the murder of JFK, along with stories that could not be told before.

From Penguin Random House

About I Heard You Paint Houses, Soon to be a NETFLIX film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and written by Steven Zaillian. Updated with a 57-page Conclusion by the author that features new, independent corroboration of Frank Sheeran’s revelations about the killing of Jimmy Hoffa, the killing of Joey Gallo and the murder of JFK, along with stories that could not be told before.




April: The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

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May : Educated by Tara Westover

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Another signature line-up of interesting, varied titles for our 12th year of wonderful literary discussion!

Our Summer 2019 selection will be announced at our May meeting.


The Right Stuff Recalled From Child’s Eye

Starlite Motel, Cocoa Beach

Starlite Motel, Cocoa Beach

Greg’s Dad, Henri Landwirth preparing to welcome the Mercury 7 Astronauts.

Greg’s Dad, Henri Landwirth preparing to welcome the Mercury 7 Astronauts.

Greg Landwirth shared his family’s NASA stellar memorabilia during our  The Right Stuff  book discussion at San Marco Books & More.

Greg Landwirth shared his family’s NASA stellar memorabilia during our The Right Stuff book discussion at San Marco Books & More.


Please tune into NPR’s WJCT-FM 89.9 First Coast Connect Book Club Tuesday, 9:30 am for an exclusive look at Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff . Special guest Greg Landwirth will share his childhood memories, growing up with the Mercury Seven astronauts and journalists who took up temporary residence at his family’s Starlite Motel and Holiday Inn in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The evening included readers’ experiences witnessing launches and watching televised moon landings. On our table sat an Apollo model rocket, NASA documents, vintage magazines, 35 mm film reels, photographs and other ephemera related to the space program. We enjoyed looking back at a remarkable time in our country’s history, through the New Journalism writing style of Tom Wolfe’s storytelling and Greg’s wonderful willingness to share his childhood experiences.

Literature as Escape

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In a blurry mirror, just a few sentences into the first chapter,  Aaliya. focuses a vision of herself, not helped by two glasses of red wine: a dye job gone blue. She's a mess. She's a reflection, perhaps, of all of us.

This week Chapter Endnotes Book Groups will dive into Rahib Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman. So far, feedback is strongly mixed. Why?

Aaliya Sohbi, a 72-year-old woman whose physicality has practically become one, molded into her reading chair cushions, rooted in the confines of her Beiruti apartment and way-too-large one, per her mother's estimation, is either received as likable or crusty. Readers accuse Aaliya or the author, another subject, I digress, of being a gauche name dropper of literary heavy hitters, an affect that either bore or overwhelm the reader. Conversing, the self-aware Aaliya is admired for being a strong woman in a war-torn city, who knows what she wants: to be left alone; to embrace ritual; to sleep with an AK-47, thank you very much; to fall into the biblio-rapturous rabbit hole of literary free-fall. 

Does anything really happen in this book? Consider: the beauty of sleep, the conundrum of translation, the problems with religion, the rejection of social norms, the pain of aging, the absurdity of war, the worth of hot water, the dependence on flicking on your lights. Nostalgia, memory. loss and friendship. Perhaps it is just a trip to a museum, a walk to a book store or simply reflections on times-past.

Aaliya is Clarissa. Beirut is her London. Virginia Woolf's protagonist leaves her place to run errands to prep for a party. Aalyia has to escape her apartment in order to avoid a neighbor's knock. 

As Ruth Ozeki's Old Jeko would say, "Same, same."

Why should we care about an aging hermit? We hear Camus' pointless philosophy tiptoeing throughout her apartment, her brain.

And yes, what is with all the allusions, imitated a la Alemmedine right here, throughout this entire epistle? Eye-rolling? Fun?  

 An Unnecessary Woman offers a reading list for life. As a book lover, what could be lacking? 

Looking forward to discussing this 2013 National Book Award Finalist. Although not a fan of lists, awards and all the other accolades, would this title have surfaced without the press that comes along with the honor?

A wonderful acknowledgment,

Stacey

Strong Women of the Books

Aaliya.

Agatha.

Bibi.

Elena.

Emily.

Fadia.

Izzy.

Mia.

Pearl. 

Vera.

And you.

Join me for a discussion of recent strong women who have crossed our pages.

See below for details.

April 14. 1pm. Main Libary.

After we've explored literary strong women, join me next door at Jacksonville's MOCA for a free docent-led tour of A Dark Place of Dreams, featuring the works of artists Louise Nevelson with Chakaia Booker, Lauren Fensterstock and Kate Gilmore. 

See you soon!

Stacey

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Privy to the Unedited Life

What makes a diary compelling?

Why are we drawn to read the personal private observations of another?

 

Perhaps it is just that: personal, private, unfiltered thoughts offer a truthful, honest reading experience. Everyone wants to be that fly on the wall.

 

I just finished a diary by Mary Boykin Chestnut,* a book that allowed me to be that bug and fly back in time, perched on the parlor walls, in the highest of Southern societies during the Civil War. The topic of slavery in the American South is painful and incomprehensible to me. Perhaps this explains why I am drawn to the Civil War and its history.

 

Chestnut’s diary gave me the opportunity to see the Civil War through the lens of a female and that alone was intriguing. Mary Boykin Chestnut was:  a slave owner, a wife, a friend, a mother, a secessionist, a racist and a finely-schooled and “well-bred” South Carolinian hostess. Her entries fascinated me because her point-of-view was unalike other accounts I had read of the war. And diaries play out in real time. I knew the outcome of Ft. Sumter, McClellan’s failure to launch, Sherman’s destruction and Gettysburg’s horrendous toll. Mary takes the full impact, page by page.

 

Published diaries offer us the chance to read intimate observations of known events as they unfold in front of the author. Experiencing, without hindsight or analysis. Mary chronicle’s her royal personal world that begins like a grand tour and collapses almost like a “one hoss shay.”

 

I’ve just begun another book of recollections.  Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember by James Mellon. This book is not one person’s diary but a collection of 29 oral histories of former slaves, recorded as part of the WPA’s Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. The oral histories from this book were selected from over 2,000 interviews. These recollections reflect the same time period but through the opposite end of the human spectrum, the slave.

 

 

Diaries and oral histories serve as an excellent reading experience and important historical, educational and cultural primary source of life during an agonizing period in our United States.

 

 

Diary as Literary Tool

 

For the same reasons that true diaries fascinate us, fictional diaries offer that same pull. Below you’ll find a top-rate list of books that employ the diary style.

 

To explore more about Mary Chestnut:   

For an in-depth look at slavery and first-before-you-go-anywhere-else-must-see if you visit Charleston, South Carolina, check out The Old Slave Mart Museum.

 

To walk in the same footsteps of Mary Chestnut and learn more about plantation life for owners and slaves, visit Eliza Leach’s House at Middleton Place and do not miss the daily explanations of the house given by Middleton Place’s knowledgeable docents. Mary refers to visiting Middletown and socializes with the Middleton families.  Magnolia Plantation’s tour of its Slave Quarters offers insight as well as the preserved Drayton Hall.

 

The Old Slave Mart Museum also has a great wealth of books on this topic for sale in its store.

 

*The full book title: A Diary from Dixie: the Civil War's most celebrated journal, written 1860-1865 by the wife of James Chesnut, Jr., an aide to President Jefferson Davis and a brigadier-general in the Confederate Army

 

 

 

Here are some fictional diaries and diary-inspired titles for your consideration:

 


Diary of a Provincial Lady
by E.M. Delafield 

A wonderful series. If only I could write like Delafield!

 

Go Ask Alice
by Beatrice Sparks

Scared me to death. Scared me for life.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #1) 
by Jeff Kinney

If you have a child that hates reading, you might want to try the Wimpy Kid series


The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky 


Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes 

Summer Reading…

 

Othello
by William Shakespeare 

 

The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins

 

Dracula
by Bram Stoker 

 

Beloved
by Toni Morrison

Diary
by Chuck Palahniuk 


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
by Anne Brontë 

 

Shirley
by Charlotte Brontë

 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

 

Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Watson” writes them as entries

 

And Certainly the Most Influential and Non-Fictional Diary:

 

The Diary of a Young Girl


by Anne Frank 

 

I’ll be discussing this diary in more detail in an upcoming post.

 

Join me tomorrow 9:30 a.m. during 89.9 FM WJCT's First Coast Connect Book Club to discuss diaries in literature.

Consider checking out a diary for your next book. You’ll be privy to shared insights and new perspectives. However, before I crack open the first page, I want to know whether the diary is fiction of truth. Why?

 

Go Ask Alice,

 

Stacey Goldring