Please take a moment to vote in the poll for the final Hip and Well Read
books of the year. First place winner will be November's book and second place will get December.Nov/Dec Book Poll
Below are the book descriptions, which can also be found at:http://www.meetup.com/philadelphia-hip-and-well-read-book-club/messages/boards/thread/7851451#[masked]Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami
In this latest addition to the author's incomparable oeuvre, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura runs away from home, both to escape his father's oedipal prophecy and to find his long-lost mother and sister. As Kafka flees, so too does Nakata, an elderly simpleton whose quiet life has been upset by a gruesome murder. (A wonderfully endearing character, Nakata has never recovered from the effects of a mysterious World War II incident that left him unable to read or comprehend much, but did give him the power to speak with cats.) What follows is a kind of double odyssey, as Kafka and Nakata are drawn inexorably along their separate but somehow linked paths, groping to understand the roles fate has in store for them. Murakami likes to blur the boundary between the real and the surreal?we are treated to such oddities as fish raining from the sky; a forest-dwelling pair of Imperial Army soldiers who haven't aged since WWII; and a hilarious cameo by fried chicken king Colonel Sanders?but he also writes touchingly about love, loneliness and friendship.Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners--a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life--has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers...Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away...By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious.
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Annie loves Duncan-or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got. Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin-his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the new material he's about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet-entitled, Juliet, Naked. What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke
This is the story of Skip Sands ? spy-in-training, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong ? and the disasters that befall him thanks to his famous uncle, a war hero known in intelligence circles simply as the Colonel. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, and its gritty, sympathetic portraits of men and women desperate for an end to their loneliness, whether in sex or death or by the grace of God, this is a story like nothing in our literature.Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin
Set mostly in Manhattan?although also featuring Atlantic City, Brooklyn, GMail Chat, and Gainsville, Florida?this autobiographical novella, spanning two years in the life of a young writer with a cultish following, has been described by the author as ?A shoplifting book about vague relationships,? ?2 parts shoplifting arrest, 5 parts vague relationship issues,? and ?An ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad.?From VIP rooms in hip New York City clubs to central booking in Chinatown, from New York University?s Bobst Library to a bus in someone?s backyard in a college-town in Florida, from Bret Easton Ellis to Lorrie Moore, and from Moby to Ghost Mice, it explores class, culture, and the arts in all their American forms through the funny, journalistic, and existentially-minded narrative of someone trying to both ?not be a bad person? and ?find some kind of happiness or something,? while he is driven by his failures and successes at managing his art, morals, finances, relationships, loneliness, confusion, boredom, future, and depression.The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm--and into Edgar's mother's affections. Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires--spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward. David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes--the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain--create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.
Cheers and happy reading!