Literary Giants Book Club

Literary Giants - Slaughterhouse-Five

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, September 28, 2009 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Literary Giants - Run

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Boston lawyer and ex-politician Bernard Doyle has nurtured his three sons -- Sullivan and adopted brothers Tip and Teddy -- since the death of his wife 15 years ago. Then, one snowy evening, Tip is pushed out of the way of an oncoming vehicle by a woman, herself hit and badly injured, who turns out to be the boys' birth mother and who's been watching the boys for years, along with her 11-year-old daughter, Kenya. The drama of a single day is given an unreal quality by the snow that curtails normal activity, as these vividly portrayed characters struggle with their circumstances.

Literary Giants: Flyboys

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, June 25, 2007 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima, nine American flyers -- Navy and Marine airmen sent to bomb Japanese communications towers there -- were shot down. One of those nine was miraculously rescued by a U.S. Navy submarine. The others were captured by Japanese soldiers on Chichi Jima and held prisoner. Then they disappeared. When the war was over, the American government, along with the Japanese, covered up everything that had happened on Chichi Jima.

Literary Giants: Fast Food Nation

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

Schlosser's incisive history of the development of American fast food indicts the industry for some shocking crimes against humanity, including systematically destroying the American diet and landscape, and undermining our values and our economy. The first part of the book details the postwar ascendance of fast food from Southern California, assessing the impact on people in the West in general.

Literary Giants: Profiles in Courage

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, May 24, 2004 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

In 1954-55 a freshman U.S. Senator from Massachusetts wrote a book profiling eight of his historical Senatorial colleagues, such men as John Quincy Adams, Sam Houston, and Robert A. Taft. Instead of focusing on their storied careers, John F. Kennedy chose to illustrate their acts of integrity, when they stood alone against tremendous political and social pressure for what they felt was right.

Literary Giants: The Voice at the Back Door

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, August 27, 2007 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

In the mid-1950s, the town of Lacey in the Mississippi hill country is a place where the lives of blacks and whites, though seemingly separate, are in fact historically and inevitably intertwined. When Lacey's fair-haired boy, Duncan Harper, is appointed interim sheriff, he makes public his private convictions about the equality of blacks before the law, and the combined threat and promise he represents to the understood order of things in Lacey affects almost every member of the community.

Literary Giants: The Stone Diaries

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, March 30, 2009 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

This fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett is a subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. What transforms this seemingly ordinary tale is the richness of Daisy's vividly described inner life from her earliest memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death.

Literary Giants: God of Small Things

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, July 30, 2007 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Set in Kerala, India, in 1969, The God Of Small Things is the story of seven-year-old twins Rahel and Estha, born of a wealthy family and literally joined at the soul. Rahel and Estha are cared for by a host of compelling characters: their beautiful mother, Ammu, who has left a violent husband; their Marxist uncle, Chacko, still pining for his English wife and daughter who left him; their prickly grandaunt, Baby Kochamma, pickling in her virginity; and the volatile Veluth, a member of the Untouchable caste.

Literary Giants: Andersonville

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, October 31, 2005 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Kantor's classic title is credited as the best Civil War novel ever written. This magnificent work is about a prison in Georgia - a facility that actually existed - where Confederate soldiers consigned Union prisoners, and what grimness took place there is established in graphic detail by the author's circling through and among a wide range of characters, from the jailer to those who are jailed, from inside the prison and from without. 1956 Pulitzer Prize/Literature

Literary Giants: Saving Grace

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, April 26, 2004 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Florida Grace Shepard, named for the state in which she was born and for the grace of God, is the daughter of a charismatic serpent-handling preacher. She is content with her early life in Scrabble Creek, North Carolina -- no easy task when her family moves whenever her father is arrested for conducting services with live snakes. With Southern style, Smith takes Grace from a young girl struggling with her own identity, though marriage, motherhood, and an adulterous affair that changes her very way of life.

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