What we're about
Upcoming events (5)
At no cost to you, let's meet to discuss this month's selection: Jiles has always been a terrific storyteller, and her latest tale moves at a characteristically brisk pace across post-Civil War Texas. The hero, septuagenarian Captain Kidd, earns a modest livelihood by reading aloud from newspapers and journals in public halls. But his latest job is to return 10-year-old Johanna to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio. Johanna has not seen them since a band of Kiowas killed her parents and took her captive four years earlier, and this fiercely magnificent child now has no memory of her white life; she doesn’t speak English, and she keeps trying to run away. Every encounter Kidd and Johanna have on the trail between Wichita Falls and San Antonio seethes with the possibility of violence. In this tender novel, Jiles renders the pain of loss and the power of words for an old man and a young girl who really don’t belong anywhere anymore. (224 pages, Oct. 2016).
I will send the Zoom invite to those who RSVP. See you then!
At no cost to you, let's meet via Zoom to discuss this month's selection: Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point. (384 pages, Mar. 2019).
At no cost to you, let's meet via Zoom to discuss this month's selection: Louisiana, 1875 In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.
Louisiana, 1987 For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt--until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything. (388 pages, Apr. 2020)
At no cost to you, let's get together via Zoom to discuss this month's selection: From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads.
Nomadland tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive, but have not given up hope.
Non-fiction (288 pages, Sept 2018)