The book club met yesterday morning to talk about The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. The discussion was spirited and far-reaching, including discussions of current events as well as the historical realities of John Brown’s time.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion revolved around comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, which many reviews have noted. Some of the book clubbers thought this was a valid comparison, given the dialect, the humor, and the satire, but some didn’t quite see it.
One book club member brought a biography of John Brown in order to talk about the accuracy of the book’s portrayal of Brown. Most of the broad strokes of Brown’s life were true to all accounts, but some of the specific actions of secondary characters were embellished or completely created by McBride.
Because this book was based on real events and real people, we also discussed some of the additional secondary characters, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Douglass does not get a particularly positive treatment in the book, but we discovered no basis in reality for these descriptions. Continue reading
Join us on Wednesday, July 15 at 10AM for a discussion of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Mistaken for a girl on account of his curly hair, delicate features, and sackcloth smock, 12-year-old slave Henry Shackleford realizes that his accidental disguise affords him greater safety and decides to remain female. Dubbed “Little Onion” by his liberator, abolitionist John Brown, Henry accompanies the increasingly fanatical Brown on his crusade to end slavery — a picaresque journey that takes them from Bloody Kansas to Rochester, New York, where they attempt to enlist the support of such notables as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman before embarking on the infamous, ill-fated 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. — from NoveList
Join us on Wednesday, June 17 at 10AM for a discussion of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer – from Novelist
Today we met at the Morris County Library to discuss the sci-fi classic Kindred by Octavia Butler. We had several new Book Clubbers, and it was a really fascinating hour and a half. We started by talking about why Butler chose to take a modern (well, modern in the 1970s) woman and transport her back to the Antebellum south, instead of just writing a more straightforward slave narrative. Some people didn’t feel like that worked for them; they didn’t like the time travel because it wasn’t realistic. Once we discovered how she came up with the idea of this novel, however, most of the book club members appreciated her reasoning, even if they still didn’t necessarily think it worked. As she stated in an interview:
I wanted to take a character, when I did Kindred, back in time to some of the things our ancestors had to go through, and see if that character survived so very well with the knowledge of the present in her head.
Join us on Wednesday, May 20 at 10AM for a discussion of Kindred by Octavia Butler.
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin. — from Goodreads
This morning we had a very interesting discussion on the book Someone by Alice McDermott. Many of our regular Book Clubbers found it a great read. Even those who thought it somewhat disjointed gave it three stars (out of five), but for the first time, we had more than one person rating it a five star book! So congratulations, Ms. McDermott. Rave reviews!
A lot of the discussion revolved around the meaning of vision and sight. Marie has had problems with her eyesight her entire life. This lack of ability to see clearly is echoed in the many relationships Marie has – including her brother Gabe, her parents, and Walter, among others.
On a related note, we talked about the meaning of people falling throughout the book. Not only does the book begin and end with the story of Pegeen and her fatal fall, but several other characters take serious tumbles throughout the novel.
Don’t forget to stop by the Morris County Book Club this Wednesday, April 15, at 10:00 am. We’ll be talking about Alice McDermott’s Someone.
This book has won a lot of awards, among them:
It’s going to be a great discussion. Once your taxes are done (they are done, aren’t they?), spend a little quality time talking with all of us about this extraordinary book about an ordinary woman.