Now we begin the great eight, and I’m trying to find a theme, trying to figure commonalities in all of the books we’ve enjoyed. What are the similarities between these eight novels?
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
Galore, Michael Crummey
Provinces of Night, William Gay
Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
S.: A Novel of the Balkans
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
Can you find some? Anyone? I guess a good book is a good book is a good book. Let’s not outthink the room. But there is always that hope for the magic that happens when we read a novel that we love, and that magic is multiplied if you share it with a group of friends. As a bookseller, I’m always looking for the formula that creates those moments. If I could just add those ingredients over and over, rinse repeat… Then I could create magic on call. Couldn’t I?
No. It, sadly, doesn’t work that way. We can’t tell when we’ll be moved by Literature, but it may be enough to know that if we keep plugging away, we will be moved again and again. It just happens on a less than predictable schedule. That’s simultaneously perfect and unacceptable.
Today’s post is written by Betsy. Betsy is a great reader. I’ve often been jealous of her integrity as a reader. Most of us (I think) read with some expectation about what we are supposed to think. We may not be tied to those expectations, and they can be changed. But we come into a book with baggage. As far as I can tell, Betsy is able to come to a book like a blank palate. She reads the book first, and her thoughts are guided solely by that reading. I’m jealous and grateful. I’ve learned a lot about reading from her, and I can’t wait to see what the next four years of reading has in store for us.
Without further delay:
Blood Meridian vs Galore
Why: This is a battle between two of the best books this club has read, but the choosing a winner was easy. It came down to the emotion felt from each novel. Both created strong feelings that moved me through the story exactly the way you want the author to do. Blood Meridian was a story of violence that had a soul-ripping effect that left me emotionally exhausted. Galore, on the other hand, provided that element of fairy tale to an otherwise sad tale of community survival that left me believing in folklore and future possibilities.
(Galore is also one of the rare books I have kept to read again.)
Provinces of Night vs Purple Hibiscus
Winner: Provinces of Night
Why: Well, at this point, I guess all the choices are hard. I have changed the winner twice on this one. Similar thoughts/feelings are produced by both authors. William Gay made me a part of that dysfunctional family and put me on the back roads of rural Tennessee, but the same can be said for Chimamanda Adichie and her dysfunctional family in Nigeria. Provinces of Night won because I liked the ending better. Purple Hibiscus ends seeing Kambili three years later as a more confident girl. She made it through. In Provinces of Night, you have to make that decision yourself about Fleming. He is only making the first step to moving forward in spite of his family.
Day 8 will be the next two match-ups in the elite 8:
Disgrace vs. Play It As It Lays
S.: A Novel of the Balkans vs. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle