USF Book Club: April and May Selections

Book Club is breaking out of our habit of reading books about boys/kids who have lost their fathers!

April 13, 2012 (Fri), 12-1 pm: A Private Life by Jane Smiley. Room 209 of Gleeson Library.

Gleeson library doesn’t have a paper copy of this one (yet?), so you’ll have to request it through Link+ (comes fast–in about 4 business days!), or read it on one of our iPads or Kindle. If all else fails, the public library has it in many formats.

[This] Pulitzer Prize–winning author offers a cold-eyed view of the compromises required by marriage while also providing an intimate portrait of life in the Midwest and West during the years 1883–1942. By the time she reaches the age of 27, Margaret Mayfield has known a lot of tragedy in her life. She has lost two brothers, one to an accident, the other to illness, as well as her father, who committed suicide. Her strong-minded mother, Lavinia, knows that her daughter’s prospects for marriage are dim and takes every opportunity to encourage Margaret’s friendship with eccentric scientist Andrew Early. When the two marry and move to a naval base in San Francisco, Margaret becomes more than Andrew’s helpmeet—she is also his cook, driver, and typist as well as the captive audience for his rants against Einstein and his own quirky theories about the universe. As Smiley covers in absorbing detail both private and world events—a lovely Missouri wedding, the chaos of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the wrenching death of a baby—she keeps at the center of the narrative Margaret’s growing realization that she has married a madman and her subsequent attempts to deal with her marriage by becoming adept at “the neutral smile, the moment of patient silence,” before giving in to bitterness. Smiley casts a gimlet eye on the institution of marriage even as she offers a fascinating glimpse of a distant era. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

Make sure you speed through it and start this next one early because it’s quite long:

May 11, 2012 (Fri), 12-1 pm: Storyteller : The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. Probably in room 139 of Gleeson Library, or if the weather is nice, the USF Community Garden… stay tuned for updates.

Gleeson does have a copy of this, but it’s checked out. You can request it through Link+ and the public library has a few copies available. Of course you can also read it on one of our iPads or Kindle.

The first authorized biography of Roald Dahl [author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, most famously], Storyteller is a masterful, witty and incisive look at one of the greatest authors and eccentric characters of the modern age…

Granted unprecedented access to the Dahl estate’s extraordinary archives—personal correspondence, journals and interviews with family members and famous friends—Donald Sturrock draws on a wealth of previously unpublished materials that informed Dahl’s writing and his life. It was a life filled with incident, drama and adventure: from his harrowing experiences as an RAF fighter pilot and his work in wartime intelligence, to his many romances and turbulent marriage to the actress Patricia Neal, to the mental anguish caused by the death of his young daughter Olivia. Tracing a brilliant yet tempestuous ascent toward notoriety, Sturrock sheds new light on Dahl’s need for controversy, his abrasive manner and his fascination for the gruesome and the macabre. –

The USF Book Club is run by Kelci Baughman McDowell, Reference Library Assistant in Gleeson. For information or to sign up for the mailing list, email You can visit our wiki for more info, as well. (Please note, you do not have to join the wiki to view it.) No rsvp for the meeting is necessary–just drop by if you’ve read the book or if you’re interested in it. Lastly, feel free to bring your lunch. See you in April!

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