In August we will be reading three selections that fit the theme “Life in Verse.” This month’s selections are: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel By, David Rakoff, Complete Poems by, D.H. Lawrence (Wordsworth edition), and Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin.
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel By, David Rakoff
David Rakoff was a mainstay on public radio, and the best-selling author of Fraud, Don't Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty. He died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 47, shortly after finishing Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a short novel in verse that jumps from decade to decade, tracking a panoply of American characters across the 20th century: 1920s slaughterhouse workers, 1950s office girls, AIDS victims and '80s yuppies.
Rakoff marries deft, humane observation with jauntily tripping verse structure — in places, you'll find yourself thinking of Dr. Seuss — to create a series of jewel-toned interlocking miniatures. NPR reviewer Alan Cheuse "Rakoff makes such pairings as virago and Chicago, ceases and paresis, skittish and Yiddish, antelope and envelope, horas and Torahs, Alzheimer's and climbers, for 100 cleverly rendered and entertaining pages."
Complete Poems by, D.H. Lawrence (Wordsworth edition)
Lawrence's reputation as a novelist has often meant that his achievements in poetry have failed to receive the recognition they deserve. This edition brings together, in a form he himself sanctioned, his Collected Poems of 1928, the unexpurgated version of Pansies, and Nettles, adding to these volumes the contents of the two notebooks in which he was still writing poetry when he died in 1930. It therefore allows the reader to trace the development of Lawrence as a poet and appreciate the remarkable originality and distinctiveness of his achievement. Not all the poems reprinted here are masterpieces but there is more than enough quality to confirm Lawrence's status as one of the greatest English writers of the twentieth century.
Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin
Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in imperial Russia during the 1820s, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse. Engaging, full of suspense, and varied in tone, it also portrays a large cast of other characters and offers the reader many literary, philosophical, and autobiographical digressions, often in a highly satirical vein. Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and it shows him attempting to transform himself from romantic poet into realistic novelist.
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Reminder: We usually choose 2-3 books per month. You're welcome at our meeting whether you read all or none of the books. We read fiction, nonfiction, and plays, and usually try to cover 1 piece of classic literature monthly. We read books reviewed or mentioned on NPR, and try to mirror NPR's tone at our meetings: thoughtful, polite discussion & commentary, with no arguing or posturing, and no sacred cows or unmentioned elephants in the room.
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