|Sent on:||Tuesday, February 14, 2012 12:18 PM|
The poll to vote for April's selection is up until next Tuesday morning (2/21). Descriptions below, vote here.
G.: A Novel by John Berger (336 pgs)
In this luminous novel -- winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize -- John Berger relates the story of "G.," a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making G. a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history's private moments.
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (336 pgs)
Starred Review. Five-year-old Jack and his Ma live and eat and play and sleep in one room--an 11×11-foot space that is their prison--captives of the terrifying man Jack calls Old Nick. But as Jack grows older and more curious, it becomes clear that the room will not be able to hold him and Ma forever. Michal Friedman shines as Jack; her narration is haunting and compelling in its every inflection and tone. The voice she creates for Jack is so convincing, listeners may even mistake her for an actual child. Her powerful performance is complemented by Robert Petcoff's sinister Old Nick, and Ellen Archer's portrayal of resourceful Ma, whose gentle voice is infused with patience, terror, and hope. The chemistry between the players creates a gem of an audiobook that will haunt listeners long after the story's end.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (408 pgs)
In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being "human." When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong... Words like "provocative" and "compelling" will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.
No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman (272 pgs)
In this engaging chronology spanning twenty years, from college to hard-won success, the award-winning playwright tells her story of searching for home. The once-aspiring performing artist explores the world through vastly different New York neighborhoods, a series of part-time jobs, an enviable stint at Julliard, and slowly increasing acclamation. She recognizes an undeniable wish in herself to separate from her mother, a wish complicated by the bonds of shared history and an illness in later life. Even after surviving being raped in her early twenties, and insisting on independence, Berman is consumed for years in a yo-yo like love affair. Her writing moves fluidly as she schleps from studio to loft to the occasional luxury apartment, while angst, always present, only occasionally becomes annoying.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (362 pgs)
This darkest and most colorfully grotesque of Charles Dickens’s novels swirls around one of his most beloved and unsullied heroes, the orphan Oliver Twist. One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation—through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes—of the vast nineteenth-century London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to task for rendering this world in such a compelling, believable way, but readers over the last century and a half have delivered an alternative judgment by making this story of the orphaned Oliver one of its author’s most loved works.