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The Williamsburg Book Club Message Board › TIME TO VOTE: MAY

TIME TO VOTE: MAY

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Greg
user 7357981
Brooklyn, NY
The poll to vote for May's selection is up until next Tuesday morning (3/27). Descriptions below, vote here­.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (256 pgs)

Vida, coeditor of Believer magazine, follows her canny debut, And Now You Can Go (2003), with a taut, darkly witty, and galvanizing tale of one woman's search for the truth about her parentage. Clarissa's enigmatic mother left her family, including her retarded son, when Clarissa was 14, and vanished without a trace. A dozen years later, Clarissa is languishing in a stale relationship and going nowhere with her work editing movie subtitles when her father abruptly dies, and a gaping hole opens in her past. Now it's Clarissa's turn to disappear as she journeys to Lapland and the world of the Sami, an indigenous people who still herd reindeer. With skilled distillation, Vida evokes a culture on the brink of extinction and a legacy of loss as her anxious yet adventurous protagonist throws herself on the mercy of strangers in an otherworldly realm of deep cold, hard drinking, a hotel constructed of snow and ice, the northern lights, and long memories. Brilliantly distilled, blade-sharp, and as dangerously exhilarating as skating in the dark.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré (355 pgs)

The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue. The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement--especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla--his Moscow Centre nemesis--and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

Open City: A Novel by Teju Cole (272 pgs)

A New York Times Notable Book. One of the ten top novels of the year —Time and NPR, named a best book on more than twenty end-of-the-year lists, including The New Yorker , The Atlantic, The Economist, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, The New Republic , New York Daily News , Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, GQ, Salon, Slate, New York magazine, The Week , The Kansas City Star, Kirkus Reviews

A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole's Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world. Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell (304 pgs)

Winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, *Starred Review* "Ms. Bakewell's new book, How to Live, is a biography, but in the form of a delightful conversation across the centuries." —The New York Times.

In a wide-ranging intellectual career, Michel de Montaigne found no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well. By casting her biography of the writer as 20 chapters, each focused on a different answer to the question How to live? Bakewell limns Montaigne's ceaseless pursuit of this most elusive knowledge. Embedded in the 20 life-knowledge responses, readers will find essential facts—when and where Montaigne was born, how and whom he married, how he became mayor of Bordeaux, how he managed a public life in a time of lethal religious and political passions. But Bakewell keeps the focus on the inner evolution of the acute mind informing Montaigne's charmingly digressive and tolerantly skeptical essays. Flexible and curious, this was a mind at home contemplating the morality of cannibals, the meaning of his own near-death experience, and the puzzlingly human behavior of animals. And though Montaigne has identified his own personality as his overarching topic, Bakewell marvels at the way Montaigne's prose has enchanted diverse readers—Hazlitt and Sterne, Woolf and Gide—with their own reflections. Because Montaigne's capacious mirror still captivates many, this insightful life study will win high praise from both scholars and general readers.



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