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 Time Traveler's Wife

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

This clever and inventive tale works on three levels: as an intriguing science fiction concept, a realistic character study and a touching love story. Henry De Tamble is a Chicago librarian with "Chrono Displacement" disorder; at random times, he suddenly disappears without warning and finds himself in the past or future, usually at a time or place of importance in his life. This leads to some wonderful paradoxes. From his point of view, he first met his wife, Clare, when he was 28 and she was 20. She ran up to him exclaiming that she'd known him all her life.

Literary Giants: The Hornet's Nest

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, June 28, 2004 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

With this intricately detailed novel of the American South and the Revolutionary War, President Carter becomes our first chief executive, past or present, to publish a work of fiction. By concentrating on Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas from 1763 to 1783, Carter takes a fresh look at this crucial historical period, giving life and originality to a story usually told from the viewpoint of the northern colonies. (Publishers Weekly)

Literary Giants: A Lesson Before Dying

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm

A young black named Jefferson is a reluctant party in a shoot-out in a liquor store in which the three other men involved are all killed, including the white store owner. Jefferson, the only survivor, is accused of murder. At the trial, the essence of the defense is that the accused, a lowly form of existence lacking even a modicum of intelligence, is incapable of premeditated murder. His lawyer argues: "Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this." But Jefferson is condemned to death.

Literary Giants: The Thief and the Dogs

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Monday, April 27, 2009 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm

After four years in prison, the skilled young thief Said Mahran emerges bent on revenge in a changed world. His wife has married a trusted friend; his native Egypt has undergone a revolution; and his mentor, who encouraged his Robin Hood-style crimes, has abandoned him. As Said's wild attempts to achieve his idea of justice badly misfire, he becomes a hunted man so driven by hatred that he can only recognize too late his last chance at redemption. This event is part of The Big Read.

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.

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