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: 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.

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 Great Santini

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, September 25, 2006 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine --- fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife -- beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben's got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn't give in -- not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son.

Literary Giants: Invisible Man

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

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.

Literary Giants: Nickel and Dimed

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, September 29, 2003 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson.

Literary Giants: The Wife

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, July 28, 2008 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Joan Castelman is en route to Finland to watch her husband win the Helsinki Prize when she decides to leave him. What follows is Joan's recollection of their marriage, his career, and her fading dreams. Starting with the beginning of the couple's professor-student relationships she continues through to the present, stacking up the unspoken regrets that lead to Helsinki. The story of what Joan sacrifices to support her husband and his illustrious career is just as astounding. Complete with a staggering twist ending, this is not one to miss.

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