Literary Giants Book Club

Literary Giants: My Brilliant Career

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, May 23, 2005 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

In this ironically titled and riotous first novel by Miles Franklin, originally published in 1901, Sybylla tells the story of growing up passionate and rebellious in rural NSW. where the most that girls could hope for was to marry or to teach. Sybylla will do neither, but that doesn't stop her from falling in love, and it doesn't make the choices any easier.

Literary Giants: Bel Canto

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, November 24, 2003 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage.

Literary Giants: What Was She Thinking

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, May 19, 2008 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

When Sheba Hart arrives to be the new art teacher at the school where Barbara teaches history, solitary Barbara is immediately taken with her. Soon, she invites Barbara over to her house to have meals with her family. Barbara is shocked to learn that Sheba is being pursued by a 15-year-old student and scandalized to find that Sheba has given in to his romantic overtures. The novel's ending ultimately reveals Barbara's true character as much as it shows the depths to which Sheba has fallen. Both a penetrating character study and a sharp examination of voyeurism.

Literary Giants: The Last Picture Show

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, November 27, 2006 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

The Last Picture Show is one of Larry McMurtry's most powerful, memorable novels. Set in a small, dusty, Texas town, The Last Picture Show introduced the characters of Jacy, Duane, and Sonny: teenagers stumbling toward adulthood, discovering the beguiling mysteries of sex and the even more baffling mysteries of love. Populated by a wonderful cast of eccentrics and animated by McMurtry's wry and raucous humor, The Last Picture Show is wild, heartbreaking, and poignant -- a coming-of-age novel that resonates with the magical passion of youth.

Literary Giants: Excellent Women

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

An unqualifiedly great novel from the writer most likely to be compared to Jane Austen, this is a very funny, perfectly written book that can rival any other in its ability to capture the essence of its characters on the page. Mildred Lathbury, the narrator of Pym's excellent book is a never-married woman in her 30s--which in 1950s England makes her a nearly-confirmed spinster. Hers is a pretty unexciting life, centered around her small church, and part-time job.

Literary Giants: Empire Falls

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, October 27, 2003 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

"Elijah Whiting...had not succeeded in killing his wife with a shovel, nor had he recovered from the disappointment." These lines from the prolog of Russo's (Straight Man) latest novel prove prototypical. A keen observer of human nature, Russo explores the tragicomic realities of life in a small mill town in central Maine whose best days are behind. Miles Roby is a basically decent guy who runs the Empire Grill for the widow of the last Whiting male (who shot himself when he, too, couldn't recover from his failure to dispatch his wife).

Literary Giants: Early Bird

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, June 30, 2008 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Rothman has been a head writer for David Letterman and, at the age of 25, a retiree. Burned out after a few hectic years of work, he decided to quit and move into a retirement village in Florida. This exploration of the world of retirement forty years early provides a glimpse of a lifestyle known popularly only through stereotypes. Rothman becomes king of the shuffleboard court, arranges an uneasy détente with his condo mate's cats, and infiltrates the Pool Group. Rothman applies his reading on retirement to his personal situation with humorous and poignant results.

Literary Giants: The Red Tent

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, October 30, 2006 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

A minor character from the book of Genesis tells her life story in this vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women. The only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah occupies a far different world from the flocks and business deals of her brothers. She learns from her Aunt Rachel the mysteries of midwifery and from her other aunts the art of homemaking. Most important, Dinah learns and preserves the stories and traditions of her family, which she shares with the reader in touchingly intimate detail.

Literary Giants: The Devil in the White City

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, March 28, 2005 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted theill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it.

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