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Molding a Destiny

We  have secured a new location! We will meet at Starbucks at Indian School Rd. and 28th Street. Starbucks is on the northeast corner.  This location has a community room that can be reserved for groups. They have asked that we purchase a gift card to secure the space. I will do so. If you want to get something to drink or eat, check in with me and you can use the gift card. You can reimburse me.

Please do let me know how this location works for you as far as convenience and travel time. The space will be ideal if the location works. Anyway, that is where the June meeting will be.

We expect to have a new location for the June Meeting. So please check back to see where  we will be meeting! And if you have suggestions for meeting spots in Central Phoenix, please share your thoughts with me.

In June, we are reading three selections that fit the theme “Molding a Destiny”: the Selections are The Blazing Worldby Siri Hustvedt; Jill Lepore: “Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore; andThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

• The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt   presented as an anthology of texts assembled by Professor I. V. Hess, The Blazing World tells the story of Harriet Burden, an installation artist who, disappointed in the lack of recognition her work receives, chooses a succession of three different men to be pseudonymous "masks" for her pieces over a five-year period, an experiment to determine whether her work is better received when attributed to men. Hustvedt uses fragment-stories, frame narratives, and unreliable narrators to talk about the ways in which brilliant women across history have been silenced, forgotten, and appropriated by men. This is a narrative suspicious of narratives, a story that demonstrates how damaging stories can be.

The artist’s whole project is called Maskings, and the story of its conception and development is told through excerpts from her private journals, written statements offered by friends and reviewers, fiction from her son, and edited transcripts of interviews with her daughter. The result is complex, astonishing, harrowing, and utterly, completely engrossing.


• Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore.  Book of Ages is the name of Lepore's extraordinary new book about Jane Franklin, but to call it simply a biography would be like calling Ben's experiments with electricity mere kite flying. The baby sister of Ben, Jane Franklin's life began at age 17 when she gave birth to the first of her 12 children - a life of fnursing, lugging pails of night soil, butchering chickens, cooking and scrubbing. And, yet, she had a skill that set her apart: She could write.

Lepore says that though girls in Massachusetts at the time were routinely taught to read, only gentleman's daughters could do more than scrawl their names, if that. It was big brother Ben who taught Jane to write and, thus, enabled their lifelong animated correspondence. Ben also stoked Jane's thirst for intellectual and political reading material. "Benny" and "Jenny," as they were called as children, were each other’s companions of the heart — though as Lepore puns, one ascended to the ranks of "Great Men," while the other remained behind with the "Little Women.


• The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood tells the story of Offred living under a new regime in an oppressive parallel of America of the future – and her role as a Handmaid. The Handmaids are forced to provide children by proxy for infertile women of a higher social status, the wives of Commanders. They undergo regular medical tests, and in many ways become invisible, the sum total of their biological parts.

Offred remembers her life before the inception of Gilead, when she had a husband, a daughter and a life. She had been a witness to the dissolution of the old America into the totalitarian theocracy that it now is, and she tries to reconcile the warning signs with reality. Her former life is presented through glimpses of her university friends, her husband, her freedom. They are shadowy memories made all the more indistinct by Atwood's lyrical prose, in which facts appear to merge into one another, and history appears immaterial; Offred is kept alive by her inner life, and reality and history become a kind of symbiotic mirage.

You may also be interested in this article referenced below written by the author, Margaret Atwood

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  • Judy

    Excellent conversation and engaging participants!

    2 · June 21, 2014

  • Steve

    lots of interesting discussion, especially about the Jane Franklin book

    1 · June 21, 2014

  • Marcia

    Hi, Brenda, I won't be able to attend the June meeting, but I am reading the book selections. I am hoping to be there in August.

    June 14, 2014

  • Judy

    Thank you, Brenda! Our new location sounds much better for those who wished a more central location. I have a Starbucks gift card (a gift when I retired) that I keep "loaded" and will be happy to use that.

    June 5, 2014

  • Jeanne M.

    I am unable to attend the June meeting but look forward to the next one in August!

    May 28, 2014

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