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Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Seven years after Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Pessl returns with a novel as twisted and intelligent as that lauded debut. Again, the story centers on a father-daughter relationship, but this time the sinister element is front and center, beginning with the daughter's death. The night films of Stanislas Cordova have a cult following: fans hold underground screenings and claim that to see his work is to leave your old self behind, walk through hell, and be reborn. Ashley Cordova is his enigmatic daughter; she appears in his final film at the age of eight, debuts as a pianist at Carnegie Hall at 12, and apparently commits suicide at 24. Scott McGrath is a reporter who lost his job investigating Stanislas and can't resist his need to uncover the real story of Ashley's death. Though the structure is classic noir, Pessl delivers lifelike horror with glimpses, in the form of faux Web sites, of the secretive Stanislas, his films, and his fans. Things slow down when Scott breaks into Stanislas's estate; sustained terror depends on what is withheld, not what is shown. But Pessl does wonderful work giving the hard-headed Scott reason to question the cause of Ashley's death, and readers will be torn between logic and magic.

Review courtesy of Publishers Weekly

A couple of things: Java Vino hasn't confirmed the reservation yet -- in case the location falls through, My plan is to keep the date the same and we will meet in another location (TBD), or possibly just try to make do on Java Vino's main floor if we have a small group again. If just a few people have RSVP'd I may try to make a date change if everyone is amenable, but for the most part, plan on Nov 5. I'll post an update on this.

As far as purchasing the book -- I recommend getting the hardcover over an eReader version -- reviews seem to indicate some of the pages inside have screenshots of web sites that are unreadable on eInk devices. I'm thinking iPads, Android tablets or the Kindle Fire are exceptions, but can't say for certain. I hate pushing the hardcover version of a new book for members who'd like to keep things less expensive, but Amazon has new/used copies at reasonable prices (under $15). I bought mine from Amazon for $8 with $3.99 shipping from a Georgia bookseller (hoping shipping will be a bit faster).


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  • Tom R.

    I'd be in. I enjoyed the book because I approached it purely as entertainment, and overlooked some of the inconsistencies. As entertainment, I thought it worked well. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss it more broadly. (We could also do a Google Hangout video conference if we can't get together...just an idea)

    November 7, 2013

    • Kevin

      I like the idea of a Hangout too!

      November 8, 2013

  • Dorothy E.

    I will meet any evening from November 23 thru the 30th (except Thanksgiving). The book is worth a good discussion. It has the elements of current American action thought and plot (i.e.,Dan Brown). Written like an illness- almost ADD and spirituality instead of religion. There is an element of sophistication in this book too: the liberal use of similies and metaphors to discribe characters and scenes making some of the passages into poetry, her knowledge of classical music and her main characters are psychologically real people dealing with their life mishaps. Above all her use of ADD action scenes that keep most readers glued to every page wondering what will happen or be next. She is the gift of giving and every page never fails to present another kick. If no one can meet, I would vote to have some time at the next meeting because I would like to hear other thoughts.

    November 7, 2013

  • Dorothy E.

    I agree Kevin. I would love to have some time to talk about this book. Wayne should call a special meeting. I had to miss the meetup discussion too.

    November 6, 2013

    • Wayne

      I'm not going to organize a follow-up (I was way less thrilled with the book than most everyone else, it seems) but if anyone does want to coordinate Night Film: the Sequel, give me the time, date and place and I'll go ahead and post it as a Meetup. Or, we can take a bit of time during next meeting to discuss it.

      November 7, 2013

  • Kevin

    Maybe I should start a second Meetup group called "The Territory Un-Available" for those of us who had to flake-out. We can meet two weeks after every Territory Unread meeting to discuss the same books. :)

    Really sorry I missed it. So many layers to this book, I'll bet there was some great discussion.

    1 · November 6, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Perhaps we should broadcast it using Google Hangouts, and record it...

      November 6, 2013

  • Tom R.

    Fun discussion, even tho the comments were split on the book

    November 6, 2013

  • Wayne

    And then there were four.... :-) I probably shouldn't have written that -- that'll end up consisting of me, myself and I and a server.

    1 · November 5, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Well I'm coming dammit. Even if I have to discuss the book with myself! In fact I will be at the bar prob by 7

      2 · November 5, 2013

    • Wayne

      I'm getting a later than usual start, Tom, but will be there.

      November 5, 2013

  • Dawn

    I really hate to do this, but I'm not going to make it either. I really love this book, but I'm not even halfway through it yet. I want to maintain the surprise. So sorry. See you all next time!

    November 5, 2013

  • Kevin

    As much as I hate to say this, because this book was so wonderful, I am going to have to bow out tonight. Had a server at work die on me and, as an IT guy, that is the worst thing that can happen. If, by some miracle, I get it fixed in time I will still be there...but I am not holding my breath.

    Have fun!

    November 5, 2013

  • Alex M.

    I have really enjoyed this and SINCERELY bummed to miss yet another meeting.....

    November 4, 2013

    • Tom R.

      WHY are you bailing? It had better be GOOD!

      November 4, 2013

  • John J.

    I won't be able to read the novel by Tuesday but plan on joining you in December. Thank you.

    November 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will be out of town on Tuesday, but will try to catch y'all next month!

    October 31, 2013

    • Tom R.

      D'OH! We will miss you! Have a safe trip.

      October 31, 2013

  • Wayne

    Location change announcement -- we'll be meeting at Manuel's Tavern that night.

    1 · October 8, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Glad you enjoyed it, Dorothy! It was a page turner, cleverly crafted. We'll think of you over our beers while we discuss it.

      October 30, 2013

    • Wayne

      Sorry to hear you can't make it, Dorothy -- will keep you posted on the next book, then.

      October 30, 2013

  • Alex M.

    Digging it so far- it does get to be an addictive page-turner!!

    1 · October 29, 2013

    • Wayne

      I finally finished it last night -- it keeps you guessing all the way through.

      October 29, 2013

  • Tom R.

    Just finished a marathon consumption of the last half of the book. Whew! Just when you think you have it figured out...you don't. Sort of an amazing book.

    1 · October 20, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Good deal! I really liked the book! It'll be a fun discussion.

      October 23, 2013

    • Wayne

      Glad to hear you decided to follow through with getting this one -- looking forward to the discussion!

      October 23, 2013

4 went

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