The book is "the archetypal example of the exquisite spy novel that exists to plumb those deeper themes" of loyalty, purpose and ambivalence, adult services librarian Scott Bonner writes.
Richmond Heights Memorial Library Book Club
Monday, June 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
The Richmond Heights Memorial Library Book Club discussed "Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri earlier this month.
Jhumpa Lahiri has made quite an impression in the literary world. Her first book, the short story collection Interpreter of Maladies, won her a Pulitzer, and her second book, the novel The Namesake, was made into a movie. Her third book is another short story collection, Unaccustomed Earth. Not surprisingly, it faced high expectations. Lahiri is Bengali-American. She was born in London but has lived in the U.S. since she was 3. She has made a name for herself writing brilliantly about the experiences of that ethnic group. This book is no exception, full of careful, delicate, character-driven stories about the experiences of second-generation immigrants and their families. (Read more Richmond Heights Memorial Library Book Club reviews.) …
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Muriel Barbery's novel about a concierge at an upper-class apartment house comes with plenty of needless baggage.
When the English translation of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog was released in 2008, it had already been a publishing phenomenon in France. Many American critics were effusive with praise, marking it as literary, philosophical and sophisticated. It circulates regularly at the library and has a passionate fanbase. So why did the Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s Book Club dislike it so? Our responses included open disdain on one end and a form of mild, reluctant apologetics—“It’s not all that bad”—at the other. But no one responded particularly warmly to the work as a whole, much less praised or endorsed it. We did universally enjoy one aspect of it: the central story of the main character, a concierge at an upper-class …
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The "country noir" novel written by Daniel Woodrell was the focus of discussion this month by the Richmond Heights Memorial Library's Book Club.
It’s not really fair to call Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell, a controversial book. It did well and received positive reviews, and the independent film made from it did extraordinarily well, winning awards and high praise from many corners. But, for those who live in the Ozarks, or come from the Ozarks, “controversial” seems a small word. The book is set in the Missouri Ozarks, outside fictional towns somewhere in southwest Missouri, near the Arkansas border. Woodrell is credited with the term “country noir,” and this book is a fine example. It is dark, almost unrelentingly so, with bleak landscapes, terrifying people, an often helpless protagonist and no hope for the future. This is the book’s strength; as many noir fans know, this …
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s Book Club discussed the novel set in Moscow at its October meeting.
How does one approach a crime novel that was set in Moscow and released in 1981? At the height of American ignorance about what was really going on behind the Iron Curtain, when most of us learned what little we knew about Russians from Rocky and Bullwinkle, Pennsylvania author Martin Cruz Smith wrote Gorky Park, a complicated, intimate crime drama set in the heart of Moscow and involving the militia (Russian police), the KGB, American entrepreneurs and political knife fighting. Despite all this, members of the Richmond Heights Memorial Library's Book Club generally thought Smith did rather well during their monthly discussion Oct. 4. At first, the depictions of Russian life seem a bit stereotyped and overwhelming. There is political …
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Richmond Heights Memorial Library Book Club discussed Michael Shaara's Civil War novelization "Killer Angels" at its September meeting.
When the Richmond Heights Memorial Library's Book Club decided to look for a September book to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, we did not have to look far. Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, is considered by many to be a modern masterpiece and easily one of the best Civil War novelizations available. That is high praise in a sub-genre so thoroughly explored. We had high expectations for this title, and for the most part those expectations were met. Each of us enjoyed the book, and while some liked it more than others, all had a positive review. In the brief introduction to the novel, Shaara notes that Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage in part to understand the experience of war by imagining what…
Monday, August 29, 2011
The Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s Book Club discussed "Killshot" by Elmore Leonard at its August meeting.
The problem with a very straightforward, gritty thriller is that it does not leave much to discuss. Killshot is a great little book that is interesting, fun and a quick read. But it is also, by design, both realistic and straightforward. The Richmond Heights Memorial Library's Book Club discussed the book at its August meeting. The gripping cat-and-mouse story takes place in very mundane settings in Michigan and Missouri. The characters are simple and believable so that even the exotic contract killer, Blackbird, is rendered understandable and relatable. Elmore Leonard’s famously natural dialogue is well in place, which gives a normalizing tone to each character. None of this is a denigration of the writing. Many of Elmore Leonard’s books…
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s Book Club discussed "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt at its July meeting.
*Editor's note: The Richmond Heights Memorial Library's adult book club has changed its meeting time and date to 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. This article has been updated to reflect that change. The Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s adult book club indulged in the quirky side of the South with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Set in Savannah, GA, which was spared by Sherman’s March to the Sea by surrendering graciously, Midnight is a curious collection of human oddities, a series of stories connected thinly, in that the characters are all known to the author, even if some of them are composites or use different names in real life. Advertisements and reviews for the book are a little misleading. …
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Richmond Heights Memorial Library’s Book Club discussed "The Constant Princess" by Philippa Gregory at its June meeting.
Readers received Philippa Gregory’s 2001 book, The Other Boleyn Girl, with mixed reviews. But the book had huge sales, captured the public imagination and spawned a movie. It also spawned a series of follow-up novels by Gregory that fictionalize more of the intrigues of England’s Tudor era. One of them, The Constant Princess, chronicles the life of Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. As a result of their divorce, the Church of England broke from the Catholic church. The novel—which the Richmond Heights Memorial Library's Book Club discussed this month—is structured somewhat unusually. The author continually moves the reader between the third-person and first-person point of view—a page or two of third-person description, followed…