Help choose the December 2015 selection to read for the MR Literary Club!
Select from the following works:
The Enormous Room (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/144896.The_Enormous_Room?from_search=true&search_version=service) by E.E. Cummings
Cummings served as an ambulance driver during the World War I. In late August 1917 his friend B. was arrested by French security as a result of anti-war sentiments B. had expressed in some letters. When questioned, Cummings stood by his friend and was also arrested.
Cummings thus spent over four months in the prison. He met a number of interesting characters and had many picaresque adventures, which he compiled into The Enormous Room. The book is written as a mix between Cummings' well-known unconventional grammar and diction and the witty voice of a young Harvard-educated intellectual in an absurd situation. The title of the book refers to the large room where Cummings slept beside thirty or so other prisoners. However, it also serves as an allegory for Cummings' mind and his memories of the prison - such that when he describes the many residents of his shared cell, they still live in the "enormous room" of his mind.
Christ Stopped at Eboli (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/65211.Christ_Stopped_at_Eboli?ac=1&from_search=1) by Carlo Levi
It was to Lucania, a desolate land in southern Italy, that Carlo Levia doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of letterswas confined as a political prisoner because of his opposition to Italy's Fascist government at the start of the Ethiopian war in 1935. While there, Levi reflected on the harsh landscape and its inhabitants, peasants who lived the same lives their ancestors had, constantly fearing black magic and the near presence of death. In so doing, Levi offered a starkly beautiful and moving account of a place and a people living outside the boundaries of progress and time.
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/527495.The_Autobiography_of_Alice_B_Toklas?ac=1&from_search=1) by Gertrude Stein
Largely to amuse herself, [Gertrude Stein] wrote The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1932...using as a sounding board her companion Miss Toklas, who had been with her for twenty-five years. It has been said that the writing takes on very much Miss Toklas' conversational style, and while this is true the style is still a variant of Miss Stein's conversation style. ...She usually insisted that writing is an entirely different thing from talking, and it is part of the miracle of this little scheme of objectification that she could by way of imitating Miss Toklas put in writing something of her own beautiful conversation. So that, aside from making a real present of her past, she created a figure of herself, established an identity a twin, a Doppelganger.... The book is full of the most lucid and shapely anecdotes, told in a purer and more closely fitting prose... than even Gide or Hemingway have ever commanded .... " -- Donald Sutherland
The alternative story is that she wrote it for the money. More than half of it was published in the Atlantic Monthly in four installments.
The Untouchable (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/163.The_Untouchable?ac=1&from_search=1) by John Banville
One of the most dazzling and adventurous writers now working in English takes on the enigma of the Cambridge spies in a novel of exquisite menace, biting social comedy, and vertiginous moral complexity. The narrator is the elderly Victor Maskell, formerly of British intelligence, for many years art expert to the Queen. Now he has been unmasked as a Russian agent and subjected to a disgrace that is almost a kind of death. But at whose instigation?
As Maskell retraces his tortuous path from his recruitment at Cambridge to the airless upper regions of the establishment, we discover a figure of manifold doubleness: Irishman and Englishman; husband, father, and lover of men; betrayer and dupe. Beautifully written, filled with convincing fictional portraits of Maskell's co-conspirators, and vibrant with the mysteries of loyalty and identity, The Untouchable places John Banville in the select company of both Conrad and le Carre.
The Left Hand of Darkness (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18423.The_Left_Hand_of_Darkness?ac=1&from_search=1) by Ursula K. Le Guin
A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change - their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.
Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
The Emigrants (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/76507.The_Emigrants?ac=1&from_search=1) by W.G. Sebald
At first The Emigrants appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish émigrés in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald's precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile and loss.
Written with a bone-dry sense of humour and a fascination with the oddness of existence The Emigrants is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory and fiction and photographs.
To the Lighthouse (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59716.To_the_Lighthouse?ac=1&from_search=1) by Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph--the human capacity for change. A portrait in miniature of family life, it also has universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.
Babette's Feast (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10104532-babette-s-feast?from_search=true&search_version=service) by Karen Blixen
With the mysterious arrival of Babette, a refugee from France's civil war, life for two pious sisters and their tiny hamlet begins to change. Before long, Babette has convinced them to try something other than boiled codfish and ale bread: a gourmet French meal. Her feast scandalizes the elders, except for the visiting general. Just who is this strangely talented Babette, who has terrified this pious town with the prospect of losing their souls for enjoying too much earthly pleasure?
Note from bfisher - a short novella or even a short story at 54 pages. It was adapted as a wonderful movie (in Danish, but available with subtitles)
The poll will be open for three days and a discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.
The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like. If you vote for the winner it is hoped that you will read the selection with the club and join in the discussion.
Bonus votes: When the poll ends, bonus votes will be manually added before determining final results. Basically, anyone who has commented in two out of the last six discussion threads is eligible for bonus votes, and everyone eligible will have any votes cast doubled.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to vote if interested in participating in the literary club whether eligible for bonus votes or not, and anyone interested in bonus votes is encouraged to become eligible as it doesnt take much.
BelleZora, bfisher, Bookpossum, Bookworm_Girl, caleb72, ccowie, fantasyfan, Hamlet53, HomeInMyShoes, issybird, Lynx-lynx, poohbear_nc, sun surfer
This includes posts thus far in the May to November discussion threads.
*There are a few caveats to eligibility as outlined in this post (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3113874&postcount=174).
**If anyone feels there is any mistake in eligibility, please let me know before the poll is over. Once the poll ends and the tally with bonus votes added is announced, the results will be final.
The rotating nominator (this month - bfisher) may not vote in the poll. In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll where the nominator again may not vote. If the run-off also ends in a tie then the tie will be resolved by the nominator.