Frankenstein in Baghdad

Car bombs. Lost limbs. A strange man is gathering them up for something that is going to turn Baghdad upside down. When the body comes to life, each body part has an act to grind. What could be a slasher tale is an intricate examination of the human heart, war, and the roles everyone plays in revenge and peace. Structured with deference to the original, it is still fresh, reimagined, and just as horrifying and heartbreaking and culturally relevant. Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Ahmed Saadawi, a film director and writer, has reimagined a classic for our age, one that will be a touchstone for the discussion of Frankenstein for years to come.

Favorite quotations for discussion:

“…all the security incidents and tragedies we’re seeing stem from one thing—fear.” (P.123)

“They didn’t know anything about him, but they were driven by that latent hatred that can suddenly come to the surface when people meet someone who doesn’t fit in.” (P. 131)

“I was careful about the pieces of flesh that were used to repair my body. I made sure my assistants didn’t bring any flesh that was illegitimate—in other words, the flesh of criminals, but who’s to say how criminal someone is?” (P. 156)

“Anyone who puts on a crown, even as an experiment, will end up looking for a kingdom.” (P.181)

 

New Southern Gothic

Miss Jane Miss Jane is a modern take on southern gothic literature. Miss Jane’s character would have been misunderstood as the freak or grotesque in novels past, but in National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson’s new book, Miss Jane is the innocent, the sun around which the rest of the story revolves, and it is her light that warms the novel. She crushes us with heartbreak and humanity as she stuns us with her strength and the feeling she could be me, she could be you.

In an age in which we are learning see sexuality and gender on a spectrum instead of binaries and look at the soul before anatomy, Miss Jane takes us on an unforgettable journey of being different in the rural south. Born in 1915 in Mississippi, Jane is diagnosed with a rare birth defect that will always set her apart from others. Her childhood doctor befriends her and tries with candor and care to help her navigate a world that does not allow for difference. Based on the experiences of Brad Watson’s own relative, he creates a beautiful atmospheric novel that captures a time in the past with a twist of modern issues, and a coming of age that is both universal and unique. Continue reading “New Southern Gothic”

A Girl, a Goat-Man, and the Devil

IMG_7041Who should read West of the Moon by Margie Preus: fairy tale lovers, dreamers, adventurers, history junkies, and lovers of strong female characters.

The story: A girl in Norway is sold to a Goat-Man but dreams of going to America. The problem, she won’t go without her sister, who is far behind at her old home. Another problem, the strange girl in the shed won’t let her leave her behind with the Goat-Man. A strange trio of strengths, they set off to the coast, to America, to find their father who has left to make a new life for them. Continue reading “A Girl, a Goat-Man, and the Devil”

Two Tales of Two Mothers

ordinary light  the liars club

She was the best of mothers, she was the worst of mothers. She was always present but unknowable, she was unknowable but often present. She was the touchstone of existence, she was the essence of loss. Two extraordinary mothers, two searching daughters, two journeys to take, many questions to be answered. Read them together for a dive into two markedly different worlds, both with daughters trying to make sense of their childhoods as their future depends on it. -Book Club Advisor Continue reading “Two Tales of Two Mothers”