Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nevermore: On the Beach, Deception Point, Black Hole Blues, & A Wolf at the Table

This week’s Nevermore started with Nevil Shute’s modern classic, On the Beach.   A nuclear war has devastated most of the world, leaving Australia as the only unbombed area.  The story surrounds a group of survivors who learn that the nuclear fallout will soon reach their shores, but who try to continue to live normally.  Even though the book was published in 1957, the book still exerts a powerful influence and feels quite relevant.  Our reader felt it was grim but realistic.

On the other hand, Deception Point by Dan Brown isn’t as realistic.  A meteor is discovered in the Arctic Circle which may contain fossils, thus proving there is life on other planets.  Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton is sent to assess the situation, but it quickly becomes obvious that there is a conspiracy afoot--or perhaps more than one.  Our reader said it was a thrill a minute and that anything you believed for more than 15 minutes would turn out to be wrong.  He enjoyed it thoroughly.

Black Hole Blues (And Other Songs From Outer Space) by Janna Levin is a nonfiction book about the search for gravitational waves, a phenomenon first predicted by Albert Einstein, but only proved nearly a century later.  Levin, herself a professor of astronomy and physics at Barnard College, not only explains the search, but tells readers about the searchers themselves in this accessible and fascination book.

Augusten Burroughs continued to delight several of our readers who have been reading through his entire body of work.  This week’s book was A Wolf at the Table, which is a memoir of Burroughs’ father, a philosophy professor who inspired awe and fear and who seemed to enjoy inflicting emotional pain.  While the stories are harrowing, the writing is superb and I’m sure more of Burroughs’ work will come up for discussion in future meetings.

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