Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nevermore: History, Mystery and Perfection!

Nevermore Book Club was a free-wheeling adventure today with discussions ranging from the founding fathers to issues that face libraries and will affect our access to books in the years to come. Have you ever heard the saying, “Good is the enemy of perfect”? Mr. Barry opened the discussion with a story from Charles Baxter’s book Gryphon.  The story calls into question what is perfect and if “good enough” is ultimately the enemy of perfect. The discussion among Nevermore members raised the questions, “What is perfect?”  “How is perfect defined?” And, “Can ‘perfect’ really be attained?” Baxter is regarded as one of America’s best contemporary short story writers. We have Gryphon, A Relative Stranger, and Saul and Patsy available at the BPL.
Mr. Barry also discussed Stephen R. Covey’s The Third Alternative, and Carl Pillemer’s 30 Lessons for Living. Pillemer’s book is a series of interviews with elderly people about the important lessons and wisdom they have learned in their lives. The Third Alternative offers creative problem solving that looks beyond “my solution” and “your solution” to the process of finding a third solution that could be better. Called one of the most influential men in America, Covey’s newest book is sure to cause a whirlwind of discussions in Mr. Barry’s opinion. Covey is also the author of the very popular Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
 The book that elicited the most discussion is Jefferson’s Sons by Bristol resident Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. A juvenile selection, Jefferson’s Son tells the stories of Beverly and Madison, one of Thomas Jefferson’s African-American sons by his slave Sally Hemings. This fictionalized account of Beverly Hemings’ first encounter with his father and the subsequent lives the boys have at Monticello brings to bear questions on Jefferson and his ethics. Another Nevermore member is reading a biography of Patrick Henry added some pertinent comments on both Jefferson and Henry. As a side note, we hope Ms. Bradley will be one of our presenters in our Discovery Series or other program.
Another member has been reading The Leopard, the newest mystery by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. Nesbo’s  Inspector Harry Hole is recalled to Norway after the discovery of two bodies seems to indicate a serial killer is on the loose. This reader also recommends Henning Mankell to anyone interested in the Scandinavian writers (perhaps sparked by the Steig Larsson books!) since Mankell is her favorite of the genre.  Mankell is best known for his excellent Kurt Wallander procedural mysteries.
Bill Pronzini’s Camouflage is a mystery which deals with a detective trying to find out the real story involving injuries to a child, a woman who may or may not be psychotic, and a death. Was it murder or self-defense? Our reader says it is driving him crazy to know the answer!
Last but not least were two wonderful books: Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods and Katherine Mosby’s Private Altars. Our reader says Private Altars is a beautifully written book, possibly due to Mosby’s skills as a poet. Nightwoods is the new book by the author of Cold Mountain.  Once again North Carolina is the setting but this time it’s the 1960s instead of the 1860s. Luce has worked hard to build a life of her own after a childhood of neglect.  Her relative contentment ends when her sister is murdered and Luce becomes the guardian for her sister’s two troubled children. 

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