The book for October is The Lost City of Z by David Grann. We have posted information about the author and a reading guide. It might be helpful to take a look at the reading guide AFTER you read the book but before you attend the meeting. The guides always seem to provide good insight, and help to facilitate better discussion. The Meetup will NOW be held at 551 West Restaurant in Lancaster, PA. Thee is designated, FREE off-street PARKING available at 619 Marietta Avenue. Because most of the streets are one-way in that neighborhood, we are including a Google Map that shows how to access the parking lot from Orange Street
About the Author
David Grann has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. He has written about everything from New York City's antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic, where he is also a contributing editor.
In 1925, renowned British explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett embarked on a much publicized search to find the city of Z, site of an ancient Amazonian civilization that may or may not have existed. Fawcett, along with his grown son Jack, never returned, but that didn't stop countless others, including actors, college professors and well-funded explorers from venturing into the jungle to find Fawcett or the city. Among the wannabe explorers is Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker, who has bad eyes and a worse sense of direction. He became interested in Fawcett while researching another story, eventually venturing into the Amazon to satisfy his all-consuming curiosity about the explorer and his fatal mission. Largely about Fawcett, the book examines the stranglehold of passion as Grann's vigorous research mirrors Fawcett's obsession with uncovering the mysteries of the jungle. By interweaving the great story of Fawcett with his own investigative escapades in South America and Britain, Grann provides an in-depth, captivating character study that has the relentless energy of a classic adventure tale.
1. What inspired Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett's obsessive search for Z...what evidence led him to believe the city was more than legend?
2. How does Grann portray Fawcett? What kind of a man was he? Would you describe him as a victim of his own obsession...as a romantic...a fool bent on his own destruction...a rational man of science...?
3. What are some of the legends that have surrounded Fawcett himself? To what do you attribute his place in popular culture over the years—and what does it say, both about Fawcett and ourselves, that he has maintained a hold on our collective imagination?
4. How did Fawcett differ from his rival, Alexander Hamilton Rice—especially in the approach to exploration? Were the two men evenly matched in skill and technology...or not? In what way did Rice, perhaps, represent the future of modern exploration?
5. What draws David Grann into the search for Fawcett—what initially sparks the author's fascination? Consider Grann's own difficulty in the Amazon, especially for a man who delights in air conditioning and fast food. Finally, what new information does Grann contribute to solving the mystery surrounding Fawcett's disappearance?
6. Where does Grann stand with regard to the existence of Z? What conclusions does he reach? Where do you stand?
7. What are some of the more surprising, even shocking, accounts of jungle exploration you found in this work?
8. Does this book remind you of other stories of those obsessed with adventure or other cultures: The Man Who Loved China...or Bill Bryson's misguided but humorous adventure on the Appalachian Trail? Any resemblance to fictional works ... say, Conrad's Heart of Darkness...or Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude?
9. Brad Pitt has brought production rights to the book. So, will he play Grann...or Fawcett?