Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nevermore: Zhivago Affair, Tales From the White Hart, Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

A long novel and two collections of short stories were under discussion in Nevermore.  More accurately, the first was a non-fiction book about the history of Doctor Zhivago rather than the book itself.   The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee tells the fascinating story behind the famous novel which was unpublishable in Russia at the time.  Poet Boris Pasternak gave a copy of his novel to a contact who was working for an Italian publisher.  The book was smuggled out of the country and published to great acclaim in the West and to great upset in the Soviet Union.  The book’s depiction of the Russian Revolution and the individualistic themes did not set well with the regime.  The CIA, however, decided the book could be used as a wonderful piece of propaganda and printed thousands of copies in handy sizes for smuggling into the U.S.S. R.   The authors used some newly released classified documents to reconstruct some of the covert events as well as present a fascinating look at Pasternak himself.  Our reader found it a compelling book.

Arthur C. Clarke was a master storyteller.  Although best known for novels such as 2001:  A Space Odyssey, he wrote wonderful short stories as well. Tales from the White Hart is a collection of these stories, bound together by the place where they are told:  a bar named The White Hart. There a motley assortment of scientists, writers, and interested bystanders gather to swap stories.  The main teller is Harry Purvis, an obnoxious man who may or may not be telling the truth.  The Nevermore readers says the tales are great fun, and very humorous.  

Another set of short stories was up next.  The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel is a collection of short stories set in contemporary England.  Jud said there is “quite a range of subject matter,” and that some of the stories are rather bleak. However, the characters are complex and the writing is very fine.  The title story has an IRA agent  trying to gain access to a good position for a shot at then Prime Minister Thatcher dealing with an upper class homeowner who believes the agent to be a plumber. This is a bit of a change of pace for Mantel, who is best known for historical novels such as Wolf Hall.

The Nevermore Book Club meets every Tuesday at the Bristol Public Library in the Frances E. Kegley Conference Room.  Members bring the book they're currently reading or just want to recommend to others.  Doughnuts are provided by The Blackbird Bakery! Everyone is welcome to attend.

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