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Showing posts from November, 2017

Thursday Night Book Club -- November, 2017

After reading The Year of Magical Thinking, and after having a candid but painful and raw conversation about the book during our October meeting, I promised the Thursday Night Book Club that our November book would be an antidote to Joan Didon's award-winning memoir. On Thursday, November 16th, the book club met to discuss Helen Simonson's novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Set in East Sussex, England, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is the story of Major (retired) Ernest Pettigrew, who lives in the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary and, as the novel opens, has just learned that his brother has died. The news inadvertently causes Major Pettigrew to form a friendship with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani owner of the village shop. As their friendship develops into something more, the Major and Mrs. Ali must contend with the disapproval of their families and the discomfort of their neighbors. The many charms of the novel lie in its optimism and in its faith in the transformativ…

The 2017 National Book Awards

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization that celebrates the best of American literature. Awards are given out each year in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature. In order to be eligible, a book must have been written by an American citizen and published by an American publishing house between December 1st of the prior year and November 30th of the current year.

In 2017, publishers submitted 1,529 books for consideration: 394 in fiction, 553 in nonfiction, 245 in poetry and 337 in young people's literature.  Over the summer, 20 different judges (5 per genre) read each book nominated in their respective categories. A long list of 10 books per category was announced in mid-September, and a short list of 5 books per category was announced in mid-October. 

The winners were announced on November 15th in a ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in …

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford

Now that we've turned the clocks back and the weather appears to have settled into something resembling autumn, I feel compelled to admit that this is my favorite time of the year. The leaves are past peak, but I think they are beautiful, and the colors of the overcast sky are rich and evocative. Snow does not feel that far away. The "fall back" of the clocks means that evening arrives suddenly, in the late afternoon, changing the tenor and tempo of the day. This is the calendar tilt towards the cold and the ushering in of the holiday season. By January, when it's been freezing for awhile and the holidays are long gone, winter will feel long and endless. But in early November, there is joy in the first fire, the extra blanket, the long-forgotten thick and cozy sweater. And there is the run up to Thanksgiving, a holiday I love.

Numerous novels use Thanksgiving, that quintessentially American holiday, as a focal point. There is, after all, rich material in the story o…