Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Book Club Meeting - April

Book club - Beth's fruit salad

Book Club - Helen's marinated vegetable salad

"Let the Great World Spin", the 2009 National Book Award winner by Colum McCann was our book choice for this month. Out of curiosity I looked up the NBA list for fiction:
National Book Award winners

I've read a mere 19 out of 75. There's some serious reading left to do.

Colum was born in Dublin in 1965. On his website I learned that his sister's names are Siobhan and Oonagh -  noted because I love the names and liked the following which describes his first meeting with his grandfather who had emigrated to London:

'Another fecking McCann,' he said, when I walked through the door of the nursing home,” says Colum. “But we gave him whiskey and cigarettes and he brightened up. I sat on the bed beside and he told me stories. Mostly tall tales, if I recall rightly, about love and war and drink -- in other words, good Irish stories. He was dying, though I didn't know it at the time. I went back to school the following Monday and my teacher asked us to write an essay. It's the first time I remember being conscious of the power of story-telling. I worked for hours and hours, crawling over every word.”

Here's the Amazon review: 
 Colum McCann has worked some exquisite magic with Let the Great World Spin, conjuring a novel of electromagnetic force that defies gravity. It's August of 1974, a summer "hot and serious and full of death and betrayal," and Watergate and the Vietnam War make the world feel precarious. A stunned hush pauses the cacophonous universe of New York City as a man on a cable walks (repeatedly) between World Trade Center towers. This extraordinary, real-life feat by French funambulist Philippe Petit becomes the touchstone for stories that briefly submerge you in ten varied and intense lives--a street priest, heroin-addicted hookers, mothers mourning sons lost in war, young artists, a Park Avenue judge. All their lives are ordinary and unforgettable, overlapping at the edges, occasionally converging. And when they coalesce in the final pages, the moment hums with such grace that its memory might tighten your throat weeks later. You might find yourself paused, considering the universe of lives one city contains in any slice of time, each of us a singular world, sometimes passing close enough to touch or collide, to birth a new generation or kill it, sending out ripples, leaving residue, an imprint, marking each other, our city, the very air--compassionately or callously, unable to see all the damage we do or heal. And most of us stumbling, just trying not to trip, or step in something awful.
But then someone does something extraordinary, like dancing on a cable strung 110 stories in the air, or imagining a magnificent novel that lifts us up for a sky-scraping, dizzy glimpse of something greater: the sordid grandeur of this whirling world, "bigger than its buildings, bigger than its inhabitants." --Mari Malcolm

Beth's chopped liver with bagel chips and bread

We all enjoyed the book and discussed the marvelous intertwining of stories and characters weaving in and around the core. The tight rope walker who anchors the story was the subject of the Oscar winning documentary "Man on Wire". Comments were made about "looking upward" when most of the stories were down and inward. 

Next month's book is My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe. 

Mincing locally grown Vidalia onions for vegetable salad

Tossing ingredients for marinated vegetable salad

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