Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Club Report

Last night was our latest book club meeting at the bar, to discuss Wallace Stegner's Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Beer of choice: Horsetooth Stout (plus a sample of one of their new beers, Jezebel Strong Ale, which had a good initial flavor, but a sour aftertaste that I didn't care for).

Overall consensus was that it was too long for what it was trying to do. It's the story of Bo and Elsa Mason and of their two boys from the early 1900s through mid-Depression or so. Over and over (and over) Bo comes up with a scheme to get the family on easy street. He's a hard worker, charming, and amazingly talented, but lacks the patience for anything that might require dedication for modest returns. It's an interesting look at the era...but ends up feeling a bit repetitive. The final 100-150 pages, though, brought things together as Bruce, the younger son (and apparently the book is quite autobiographical in many ways, so the stand-in for Stegner himself) reflects on what home is, on the relative strengths of his parents, and what he has inherited from each. That makes it sound like he's just sitting around thinking for 150 pages, which wouldn't be quite right...but there are shades of that.

One of the guys in the group had read a number of other Stegner books, and he strongly recommended the others. He does a good job of evoking the West and the eras he sets his stories in, and then using those things to really explore who we are. I'm not sure if I'm sold enough to seek others out, but I will be open to it.

Next book, a fitting surprise given my post right before this, is Frank Miller's Batman, the Dark Knight Returns. It'll be interesting not only to read it myself but to see how the others react to a graphic novel/comic book.

3 comments:

Your Brother John said...

I love the Dark Knight Returns. I really wish I could be there!

Daniel Ausema said...

You could always drive up and rejoin us for a night--none of us are getting the green chili beer, so there'll be plenty for you!

Your Brother John said...

:)