Last Monday Book Discussion Group

Meets the Last Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
At the Athens-Clarke County Library

Love discussing literature, plays, and poetry? Join us for in depth discussions of literature, plays, and poetry the last Monday of every month. If you are interested in joining please email or call (706) 613-3650 ext 324.

In the Garden of Beasts

Book Cover

Monday, November 25, 7:00 p.m.

In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson: The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

In the Country of Men

Book Cover

Monday, October 28, 7:00 p.m.

In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar: Matar sets his debut in the cities in which he grew up, Tripoli and Cairo, and focuses on the memories of his narrator, Suleiman, as he relives the summer of 1979, when he was nine. Matar perceptively portrays Suleiman as he gradually gains awareness of the political unrest in which the life of his family is mired. His father, he discovers, is repeatedly absent not on business trips but because he's hiding his antigovernment activities. After Suleimans friend Kareem's father is taken away, his interrogation is shown on television, followed by his public hanging. Suleiman helps his mother burn all his fathers books after he, too, is taken away, though the boy doesn't connect this act with the fact that his Baba is savagely beaten. After being sent to Egypt with a family friend, Suleiman is labeled a stray dog by Qaddafis government. This means he can never go home again, and his parents can never leave. Matar tells a gripping and shocking tale that illuminates the personal facet of a national nightmare. -- Deborah Donovan (Reviewed 12-01-2006) (Booklist, vol 103, number 7, p22)

The Maltese Falcon

Book Cover

Monday, September 30, 7:00 p.m.

In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, 1894 - 1961: Dashiell Hammett and "hard-boiled" are practically synonymous -- he's been called the "father" of the rough gumshoe whose cases revolve around the unenlightened criminal element; there isn't a drawing room or criminal genius in sight in his works. As a former Pinkerton agent, Hammett knew of what he wrote, and his style, later so widely copied, is distinct -- a gritty, realistic, and none-too-favorable look at characters and settings, punctuated by vernacular dialogue. His detectives differ in personality, but all share one over-arching principle: crime shouldn't pay, and their job is to make sure it doesn't.

Sam Spade's partner is murdered while working on a case, and it is Spade's responsibility to find the killer. In his search, Spade runs mortal risks as he comes closer to the answer. - From Novelist, accessed 06 June 2013 through GALILEO

Light In August

Book Cover

Monday, August 26, 7:00 p.m.

In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor

Light In August by William Faulkner, 1897 - 1962: "In a novel about hopeless perseverance in the face of mortality, guileless Lena Grove searches for the father of her unborn child, Reverend Hightower is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen, and drifter Joe Christmas is consumed by his mixed ancestry."

Magill Book Review:

Each of these characters has embarked on a quest. Lena seeks the father of her soon-to-be-born child; Joe Christmas seeks his identity; Hightower attempts to escape the past. Lena's trusting nature allows her to become a part of the community, and she finds a worthy husband. Joe Christmas rejects both the black world and the white and can find peace only in death. Hightower, too, fails to free himself from the burden of the past, though he delivers Lena's baby and makes a gallant but unsuccessful effort to save Joe Christmas.The lives of these three characters reveal a number of themes. Joe Christmas has been reared in a sterile, Calvinistic environment that Faulkner contrasts with the fertility and naturalness of Lena Grove. In part, Joe Christmas' plight results from his uncertainty of his racial identity, a matter of importance, Faulkner indicates, only in a racist society. Hightower provides a warning against another aspect of the South: its worship of a dead past that bars it from facing the present. Hightower is so caught up in the Civil War exploits of his grandfather that he cannot attend to the needs of his wife or his congregation. Like Christmas and Hightower, Lena is an outsider, but she is not fundamentally alienated from the natural order. Hence, only she succeeds in her quest. Interweaving the tragedies of Joe Christmas and Gail Hightower with the comedy of Lena Grove, Light in August reveals the complexity of life. It also shows that compassion, community, and a love of the natural rhythms of life are essential if mankind is to endure and prevail.

William Faulkner

Arguably the greatest American writer of the twentieth century, William Faulkner endures as a critical and popular success, despite the overwhelming complexity of his novels and short stories. As a literary stylist he is perhaps unmatched: his chapters, paragraphs, and even sentences are intricately crafted. He excels, too, as a storyteller, with his turbulent stories of race and racism, culture and class, human drama and the human experience. Faulkner's fiction is populated by unforgettable characters and frequently takes place in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Start with: As I Lay Dying.

From Novelist, an online database accessed June 6, 2013 through GALILEO

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