Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another bar book club report

Last night was our most recent meeting at the local micro-pub to discuss a book, this time Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill.

Beer of choice: there were a pair of beers that were new to me. I tried a sample of one--steam something, I forget the exact name--and liked it but decided to satisfy my curiosity by ordering the other, a Kriek Ale. I wish I'd stuck with the first. It wasn't awful, but it was very sweet, with a strong flavor of cherries. The other was quite dry and had a good flavor.

We had a good discussion about the book. I really enjoyed it a lot. It tells the story of a girl who falls into an air shaft of an abandoned mine in the Keewenaw Peninsula of Michigan. But it doesn't stay there--Ursula, the girl, is the daughter of mixed Chinese and Finnish descent, so the story hops around to her various ancestors on each side, telling intriguing, and often tragic, stories from ancient China and ancient Finland and then through the years to more recent stories in both places as well as the stories of those who immigrated to the Americas. The way it was constructed worked perfectly--each story advances the main story and includes little glimmers of things that reflect all the other stories. Music and deafness, absent fathers and doting fathers, leg injuries, faith that isn't dogmatic, falling and getting trapped, women who are strong despite injuries or loss and hardship. It all worked together so well, and most of the stories even if taken alone were very engaging. Not everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, but the general consensus of those who were there (we had a small group last night) was that it was at the very least an enjoyable book.

And I have no reservations recommending it highly. Rumor is Ms. Hill is near to finishing her second novel, so I will be keeping an eye out for that as well.

Our selections for next month included on nonfiction account that several in the group had already read as a group selection (before I'd joined)...something about an exploration to Antarctica, I believe; a book that most of us read as a group selection about 2 years ago, Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis, a hilarious spoof on secret societies that we frequently refer to in jokes (it's all explained by the Jimmerson Lag)...so those who weren't part of the group at the time feel unfortunately left out at times; and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which believe it or not I haven't read (nor seen Blade Runner)(nor read any PK Dick except for one or two short stories); but the one the group chose was Mornings on Horseback, which is a biography of the early life of Teddy Roosevelt.

I discovered that the local library has a free download of the audio book, so I might be giving that a try...but I tried listening to it while I was typing this blog post, and I couldn't pay attention at all to both at once. So I suspect I'll notice much more if I check out a physical copy and read it instead. But we shall see.

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