Thursday, October 31, 2013

November Selection and Meeting Date Info: Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch

Perhaps Donna Tartt skews a little mainstream for PBR Book Club, BUT her new novel The Goldfinch is long and it is literary and there's a good chance that people will actually read and (blasphemy) enjoy it.  So it's our November selection.

The meeting is currently slated for Tues. Dec. 3.

Mr. Stephen King extolls the problems and pleasures of long novels in his very positive NY-Times review of The Goldfinch:

“The Goldfinch” is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind. I read it with that mixture of terror and excitement I feel watching a pitcher carry a no-hitter into the late innings. You keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but in the case of “The Goldfinch,” they never do." 

That egghead Mr. James Wood, in the New Yorker, is a little (okay, a lot) less kind, wishing that the novel was stripped of all its Dickensian trappings (and virtually every plot point) to focus on one single character:

"Through all this thrashing, twisting, gulping, choking, gasping, coughing, cursing, plunging, sputtering, and floundering, I kept on trying to imagine a different novel, stripped of its unreasonable raison d'etre and its childish sweets, a more rigorous fiction entitled, perhaps, not The Goldfinch, but just Theo Decker."

Are you in Team King or Team Wood?  Let's find out.

Also, look for book club members out and about in LFK and ask them sweetly for PBR Book Club merch such as koozies and stickers.  Keep those PBRs nice and cozy this winter while you read.

Donna Tartt:


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Courtney Reads House of Leaves So You Don't Have To


You're right. I'm partially responsible for this month's choice.
My penance is to review it for those of you who couldn't work through it. 

Someone I would take a bullet for gave me this book. And, in retrospect, I'm reminded of that film The Ring. I feel like I had to read this book to save everyone else who read this book. I had to join them in the restlessness, the insecurity, the abyss. And now, I've doomed you suckers too. 

Remember that time when your sister, fucking Poe, could just have a soundtrack to go with your book...because why not? Well, try to think back to yesteryear, kids! You could just build a goddamned 709-page onanistic puzzle book. Just think! Without your map of mental illness, herds of former club kids, fresh off their MDMA, might not sail face-first into their new regimen of depression meds. Who will drag us valueless and heartsick into the next century? John Grisham? Danielle Steel? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

If this haunted HOUSE story weren't half-baked in a batch of weed brownies, it would be cool. But please don't make me sift through your bullshit to get to it. The labyrinth-in-the-HOUSE story line is unquestionably riveting. The characters are believable and occasionally compelling but...


Yeah, we get it. Dads are work-addled ignoramuses and moms are dad-obsessed caricatures. Clever. Next.


I was once very close with A SCHIZOPHRENIC person. This book is a bay window into that frame of mind. That's why it took me so long to read it:  I was uncomfortable twenty pages in. PBR Book Clubbers know that I didn't want to quit MOBY FUCKING DICK till after page 75! DO YOU STUDY MENTAL ILLNESS? READ THIS BOOK! It's not just the turbo A.D.D. of Johnny Truant. Honestly, contrasted with the Red Bull-fueled iPhone Axe spray-scooter-prepaid den of iniquity that we live in, Johnny's lack of focus is quaint, refreshing even.

No. The unsettling thing is the incessant creation of seemingly meaningful connections that may not exist. 

[BTW: If I'm correct that Johnny is just unhinged, I'm pretty sure Thumper is pretend. Sorry, Chip.]


The Minotaur. No sooner did I read the crossed-out minotaur sections than American Horror Story kicked it into their plot line! (another meaningless connection!)  And all the while I'm wondering, WONDERING, what would erstwhile PBR book club member @indieabby88 say about the LABYRINTH  and where, oh where, is the love?

Friday, October 18, 2013

October Meet-Up Details: Oct. 29 at 8:00 pm at Henry T's (and Henry T's Cemetery).

Our next meeting approaches and Courtbelle is in charge of this month's spooky hijinks.  Early ideas fell apart (Liberty Hall won't let us meet in their labyrinthine underground lair, which contains a live minotaur; the most haunted room at the Eldridge was already reserved for the night--likely by some Satanic cult; and the prospect of traffic from the first home basketball game--and the heavy police presence that goes with it-- scared us away from meeting in KU's Pioneer Cemetery).'s the new plan, via Courtbelle:

"Once again a good idea is thwarted by basketball. Due to the general panic a night game can cause, we will be meeting at Henry T's. For those who don't know, there is a private cemetery RIGHT IN THEIR PARKING LOT. In fact the bar is named after a fellow who lies there. The owner seemed quite amused that we can read books and drink at the same time. So show up at 8:00 with a flashlight, a beer, and maybe a chair. The owner will start saving us a table inside at 8:30-ish. So we still have time outside for honest book chat before we go in (where it may be loud).

When you arrive at Henry T's, 3520 West 6th Street, look toward the back of the parking lot near the car wash. Sure enough, you'll see a fenced in little clump of head stones. See you there."

Here's a bit of history on the cemetery via Henry's T's website, though at least some of it is likely false (Jesse James being part of the Raid on Lawrence).