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From: Greg
Sent on: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:52 PM

The poll to vote for June's selection is up until next Tuesday morning (4/24). Descriptions below, vote here.

The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach (544 pgs)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011. Though The Art of Fielding is his fiction debut, Chad Harbach writes with the self-assurance of a seasoned novelist. He exercises a masterful precision over the language and pacing of his narrative, and in some 500 pages, there's rarely a word that feels out of place. The title is a reference to baseball, but Harbach's concern with sports is more than just a cheap metaphor. The Art of Fielding explores relationships--between friends, family, and lovers--and the unpredictable forces that complicate them. There's an unintended affair, a post-graduate plan derailed by rejection letters, a marriage dissolved by honesty, and at the center of the book, the single baseball error that sets all of these events into motion. The Art of Fielding is somehow both confident and intimate, simple yet deeply moving. Harbach has penned one of the year's finest works of fiction.

Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder by Zachary Lazar (240 pgs)

When he was just six years old, Zachary Lazar's father, Edward, was shot dead by hit men in a Phoenix, Arizona parking garage. The year was 1975, a time when, according to the Arizona Republic, "land-fraud artists roamed the state in sharp suits, gouging money from buyers and investors." How did his father fit into this world and how could his son ever truly understand the man, his time and place, and his motivations?In Evening's Empire, Zachary Lazar, whose novel Sway was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications, brilliantly attempts to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to his father's murder. How did Ed Lazar, a fun-loving but meticulous accountant, become involved in a multi-million dollar real-estate scandal involving politicians and Mafia figures? How much did he know about his colleagues' illegal activities? Why had he chosen to testify against his former business partner, Ned Warren, Sr.? Warren was "a mystery man," according to 60 Minutes, widely known as "the Godfather of land fraud." The day before Ed Lazar was scheduled to appear in front of a grand jury he was killed in a "gangland-style murder," as reported by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. Four hundred mourners attended a memorial service for him the next day. Evening's Empire is based on archival research and interviews--introducing a cast of characters as various as Senator Barry Goldwater and Cesar Romero--and is clarified by scenes imagined in the context of this evidence. Itis a singular and haunting story of American ambition and its tragic cost.

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer (285 pgs)

Tree of Codes is a haunting new story by best-selling American writer, Jonathan Safran Foer. With a different die-cut on every page, Tree of Codes explores previously unchartered literary territory. Initially deemed impossible to make, the book is a first — as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling. Tree of Codes is the story of an enormous last day of life — as one character's life is chased to extinction, Foer multi-layers the story with immense, anxious, at times disorientating imagery, crossing both a sense of time and place, making the story of one person’s last day everyone’s story. Inspired to exhume a new story from an existing text, Jonathan Safran Foer has taken his "favorite" book, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz, and used it as a canvas, cutting into and out of the pages, to arrive at an original new story told in Jonathan Safran Foer's own acclaimed voice.

A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert (528 pgs)

A Sentimental Education is considered one of the most influential novels of the 19th century, praised by contemporaries George Sand, Emile Zola, and Henry James. The novel describes the life of a young man (Frederic Moreau) living through the revolution of 1848 and the founding of the Second French Empire, and his love for an older woman. The characters of A Sentimental Education are marked by capriciousness and self-interest. Frederic, the main character, is originally infatuated with Madame Arnoux, but throughout the novel falls in and out of love with her. Furthermore, he is unable to decide on a profession and instead lives on his uncle's inheritance.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (208 pgs)

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers-and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.



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