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2014 War Through the Generations Read-a-Longs

Here’s the schedule of read-a-longs for the 2014 War Through the Generations Reading Challenge With a Twist.

  • February: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers for the Gulf Wars (this one is about Operation Iraqi Freedom).
  • April: I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn for the French and Indian War.
  • June: War Babies by Frederick Busch for the Korean War
  • August: Stella Bain by Antia Shreve for the 100th anniversary of WWI.
  • October: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter for WWII.
  • December: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien for the Vietnam War.

We hope that you’ll be joining us for at least one or more of these read-a-longs in 2014.

American Revolution Read-a-Long Begins

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. (GoodReads Summary)

Tomorrow is the first day of the Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson read-a-long at War Through the Generations.  Anna and I will post discussion questions, along with our answers, on Sept. 6, for Chapters 1-10.

We hope that you will join us and either offer your comments or answers to the questions on the War Through the Generations blog or on your own blogs and provide us with a link.

Here’s the rest of the read-a-long discussion schedule, with discussions scheduled for every Friday September:

Sept. 1-6: Chapters 1-10

Sept. 7-13: Chapters 11-24 (end Part 1)

Sept. 14-20: Chapters 25-36

Sept. 21-27: Chapters 37-45 (the end)

We hope that you’ll be joining us tomorrow and for the rest of the month.

Short Story Discussion & Enchantment by Thaisa Frank Giveaway

On Friday, July 20, I reviewed a short story collection from Thaisa Frank of Heidegger’s Glasses-fame, and the collection entitled Enchantment was by turns fanciful and dark.  Check out my review.

These stories made me think, and when I was contacted by the author about doing a discussion on the blog of a short story, I was excited to offer Savvy Verse & Wit as a forum for that discussion.

In September, I’ll be holding a discussion of “The Mapmaker” story in the collection, which is actually a series of stories.  I’m hoping that the 4 of you who win a copy of the book will join us.

I’ll post the discussion post Tuesday, Sept. 18, which should provide others with enough time to get their own copy of the book and for those of you that win it to at least read the one short story.

To enter the giveaway, you must be willing to participate in the September 18th discussion of “The Mapmaker.”  And, in September, we’ll let one lucky discussion group member pick the October story for discussion.

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on this post by Aug. 31.  US/Canada residents, who are age 18+ only.

Final Week: Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms Read-a-Long

For the WWI Reading Challenge, we did a group read of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

For the final week, participants of the challenge and non-participants read chapters 31-END. Each Friday, we posted discussion questions and answers on the War Through the Generations blog.

Head on over today to check out what we’re discussing, but be aware that there could be spoilers.

Stay tuned for my full review on July 4th!

Week 3: Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms Read-a-Long

For the WWI Reading Challenge, we’re doing a group read of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

For the second week, participants of the challenge and non-participants read chapters 21-30. Each Friday, we’ll be posting discussion questions and answers on the War Through the Generations blog.

Head on over today to check out what we’re discussing, but be aware that there could be spoilers.

Week 2: Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms Read-a-Long

For the WWI Reading Challenge, we’re doing a group read of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

For the second week, participants of the challenge and non-participants read chapters 11-20.  Each Friday, we’ll be posting discussion questions and answers on the War Through the Generations blog.

Head on over today to check out what we’re discussing, but be aware that there could be spoilers.

Week 1: Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms Read-a-Long

For the WWI Reading Challenge, we’re doing a group read of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

For this first week, participants of the challenge and non-participants read chapters one through 10.  Each Friday, we’ll be posting discussion questions and answers on the War Through the Generations blog.

Head on over today to check out what we’re discussing, but be aware that there could be spoilers.

Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms Read-a-Long

Even if you aren’t participating in the War Through the Generations WWI Reading Challenge this year, you’re still welcome to participate in the annual read-a-long.

This year, Anna and I selected Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms for the read-a-long book.

If you’re interested, we’ll be posting discussion questions and answers each week on the Friday.  Here’s the schedule:

Week 1 — June 1-8 Chapters 1-10

Week 2 — June 9-15 Chapters 11-20

Week 3 — June 16-22 Chapters 21-30

Week 4 — June 23-29 Chapters 31-41

We hope you’ll join us for some great reading and discussion.

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke starts with a convicted criminal, Sam Pulsifer, who admits to burning down Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Not only is he an arsonist, but he’s also a murderer and a liar.  He spends about 10 years in prison for his crime, but when he’s released, he goes to college, meets his sweetheart, and has some kids before everything goes horribly wrong.

“Even now, with Thomas in front of me, the fire and the smoke and his parents’ burning bodies were so far away they seemed like someone else’s problem, which is awfully mean to say and in that way perfectly consistent with most true things.” (Page 27)

There are hopes, dreams, and failures in these pages, and with the first person narration, readers will be left guessing if its all a surreal dream/nightmare or a fantasy world created by an unreliable narrator for much of the book.  With dark humor Clarke pokes fun at the white towers of academia and its unstable residents, while at the same time leading readers on a journey in which a son learns the truth about his parents and himself.  But there are whimsical moment too, in which readers familiar with New England residents and culture will see it clear as day in the northern parts of New Hampshire and the suburban sprawl of Massachusetts.

There are secrets in these pages, and much of it reads like the rambling of a lonely man or even a mad man.  Too much of it is dreamlike, with the reader left swimming in the ooze of self-doubt, judgment, and confusion that is Sam.  There are burning literary icons’ houses in the novel, but whether its actually a guide to anything other than constant meandering and second guessing is hard to tell.  Through a stream-of-consciousness prose, Clarke allows Sam to tell his heartbreaking story of how he became an arsonist, is subsequently set up for setting more fires, and how his ideas about what his family was are shattered.  While he blames most everyone or his own “bumbling,” which he claims cannot be controlled or modified, it is clear that Sam fails to have enough conviction or determination to make real changes.

“Was I angry? Of course I was.  Is this what memorists did? Steal someone else’s true story and pass it off as their own?” (Page 89)

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke is hardly boring, but oftentimes, the reader is left too in the dark about the motivations of the character or what the point of the story is.  Readers will struggle with whether they should keep reading to find out what happens or whether to give up because they just don’t find Sam to be sympathetic.  Although the dark humor and literary jabs are entertaining, they can get old after a while.  Reading this as part of an informal read-a-long with Literate Housewife and Indie Reader Houston helped motivate me to finish the book, which was mildly entertaining at best.  In a way, it was like the author was trying too hard to be surreal and darkly humorous about literary figures, which took away from a story that could have been much deeper and dramatic.

There is a fantastic Q&A in the back of the book between the author and his main character, Sam, which would help book clubs navigate this puzzling predicament of a novel.

Other Reviews:
We Be Reading
Bloody Hell! It’s a Book Barrage
Shelf Monkey
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’
Literate Housewife

photo credit: Jon Hughes / Photopresse

About the Author:

Brock Clarke is the author of five books, most recently Exley and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, which was a national bestseller and has appeared in a dozen foreign editions.

His stories and essays have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, OneStory, The Believer, the Georgia Review, and the Southern Review and have appeared in the annual Pushcart Prize and New Stories from the South anthologies and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. He lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College.

 

 

This is my 17th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.

The End: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

Anna and I are co-hosting the Stephen King IT Read-a-Long.  We are having discussions once per month through the end of the year about the parts we’ve read.

Each month you had the option to answer the questions on the hosting blog or in your own post, but please go back to the monthly host to leave your discussion link.

Remember that these posts can contain spoilers.

For the first discussion of part 1, plus the following interlude, go here.

For part 2′s discussion, please visit Diary of an Eccentric.

For the discussion of part 3, go here.

Part 4’s discussion can be found on Diary of an Eccentric.

Today, we’re taking a look at Part 5: The Ritual of Chud, the last interlude, and the epilogue.

1.  Of the seven in the gang of Losers, which character do you believe is the direct opposite to the evil of IT and why?

2.  At one point, Eddie talks about how he loves Bill and that Bill is loved, but wonders if that is too much power to have.  What do you think he meant by that? And do you agree?

3.  Forgetting is a theme in the novel, why do you think these characters forget or begin to forget once It has receded?

4.  The turtle shows up in this section, but what is the turtle? theories about its purpose?

5.  What are your final impressions of IT?  Would you read another Stephen King book?

Please leave your comments below.  We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the final scenes.

Month 4: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

Anna and I are co-hosting the Stephen King IT Read-a-Long.  We are having discussions once per month through the end of the year about the parts we’ve read.

Each month you will have the option to answer the questions on the hosting blog or in your own post, but please go back to the monthly host to leave your discussion link.

Remember that these posts can contain spoilers.

For the first discussion of part 1, plus the following interlude, go here.

For part 2′s discussion, please visit Diary of an Eccentric.

For the discussion of part 3, go here.

The discussion for Part 4:  July of 1958 and the interlude is at Diary of an Eccentric today! Come join us.

Postponed: Month 4: Stephen King’s IT Read-a-Long

Anna and I are co-hosting the Stephen King IT Read-a-Long.  We are having discussions once per month through the end of the year about the parts we’ve read.

Each month you will have the option to answer the questions on the hosting blog or in your own post, but please go back to the monthly host to leave your discussion link.

Remember that these posts can contain spoilers.

For the first discussion of part 1, plus the following interlude, go here.

For part 2′s discussion, please visit Diary of an Eccentric.

For the discussion of part 3, go here.

The discussion for Part 4:  July of 1958 was scheduled at Diary of an Eccentric for Nov. 30, but life events have intervened and we are postponing until Anna returns from her grandmother’s funeral.  Thank you for your patience.