In April we will be reading three selections that fit the theme “Boom and Bust.” This month’s selections are: Woodie Guthrie's House of Earth, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
Woodie Guthrie’s House of Earth
Woody Guthrie wrote thousands of songs in his lifetime — but as far as anyone knows, he only wrote one novel. Recently discovered, House of Earth is the story of a young couple living in the Texas Panhandle in the 1930s. They dream of building a house that will withstand the bitter winds and ever-present dust that constantly threaten the flimsy wooden shack they call home.
The novel is being released by Johnny Depp's new publishing imprint at HarperCollins, Infinitum Nihil. It was Depp's publishing partner, historian and author Douglas Brinkley, who tracked down the lost novel after he stumbled across a reference to it while doing research. When he sat down to read it, Brinkley could hear the same Woody Guthrie he had grown to love through his music. "Woody Guthrie has something that every artist would dies for: a voice," says Brinkley. "You can read House of Earth and you know it's Woody Guthrie. You know it's coming from the heart."
Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist
When two skittish pregnant girls appear on his homestead, solitary orchardist Talmadge — who carefully tends the grove of fruit trees he has cultivated for nearly half a century — vows to save and protect them. The Orchardist evokes a powerful sense of place in the American West, mixing tenderness and violence as Talmadge tries to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past and faces the dramatic consequences of his actions.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
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Reminder: We usually choose 2-3 books per month. You're welcome at our meeting whether you read all or none of the books. We read fiction, nonfiction, and plays, and usually try to cover 1 piece of classic literature monthly. We read books reviewed or mentioned on NPR, and try to mirror NPR's tone at our meetings: thoughtful, polite discussion & commentary, with no arguing or posturing, and no sacred cows or unmentioned elephants in the room.
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