Literary Circle

The Amerikahaus Literary Circle is a free English book club open to the public. Meetings (usually) take place in the Amerikahaus in Munich on the first Wednesday of each month from October through July.

 

The titles are nominated and voted upon by the members twice a year.

 

Meetings and Titles for 2018

17 January 2018: 10 North Frederick by John O’Hara (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
This novel, which won the National Book Award for Fiction, opens with a storybook life: A successful, small-town lawyer with a beautiful wife, two lovely children, and aspirations to be president, Joe Chapin seems to have it all. But as his daughter looks back on her father’s life, a different man emerges—one who is in conflict with his ambitious wife, in fear that the misdeeds of his children will dash his political dreams, and in love with a fashion model half his age. With mordant wit and penetrating insight, Ten North Frederick brilliantly portrays the personal and political hypocrisy of mid-century America.

7 February 2018: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
The best-known novella by Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome is widely considered her masterpiece, wherein in her exquisitely crafted style is most fully realized. Set against the background of a bleak, New England landscape, the novel tells of Frome; his ailing wife, Zeena; and her companion, Mattie Silver.  Wharton superbly delineates each character as all are drawn into a deep-rooted struggle of domestic entanglement. Ethan Frome is a moving and tragic tale whose end is both genuinely shocking and savagely ironic.

7 March 2018: Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
New York City in the 1980s was wild and mesmerizing place—and, as a hotbed for hip hop, underground culture, and unmatched creative energy, it spawned some of the most significant art of the twentieth century. Here, too, is where Jean-Michel Basquiat, an avant-garde painter, swiftly achieved worldwide fame. Before his untimely death at the age of twenty-seven, Basquiat shared his life with his muse, Suzanne Mallouk.  In emotionally-resonant prose, award-winning author Jennifer Clement details their passionate affair amid the unrelenting power of addiction, obsession, and everlasting love. Widow Basquiat was reviewed and recommended by NPR’s “You Must Read This” series.

4 April 2018: The Aspern Papers by Henry James (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Written in a palazzo near Ponte dell'Accademia and originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1888, this novella is one of James's best-known and most acclaimed longer tales, based on the letters that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Mary Shelley's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, who saved them until she died. Set in Venice, The Aspern Papers demonstrates James's ability to generate suspense while never neglecting the development of his characters.  Often adapted for both the stage and screen, a new film version, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Vanessa Redgrave, is slated to premiere sometime this year.

2 May 2018: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
First published in 1976, Richard Yates' fifth novel explores the tragic lives of two sisters. Along with Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade is considered to be Yates' finest work.  The story begins in the 1930s and continues through the 1970s: Even as little girls, Sarah and Emily, are very different from one another—Emily looks up to her sensible older sister and is jealous of her seemingly perfect marriage; Sarah chooses a different path for herself.  Although the bond between the two women endures, they grow gradually apart until, one day, the unexpected occurs.

 

6 June 2018: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)

This mystery novel, which has garnered a number of local literary awards, concerns a college student, Joe Talbert, who has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject—and there he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.

 

4 July 2018: The Shaking Woman; or, a History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)

While speaking at a memorial event for her father, Siri Hustvedt suffered a violent seizure from the neck down. She managed to finish her talk and the paroxysms stopped but not for good. Again and again, she found herself a victim of the shudders. What was happening?  In chronicling her search for answers, Hustvedt takes the reader on a journey through the dark and labyrinthine realms of contemporary psychiatry, neurology and psychoanalysis.

 

 

The Literary Circle is sponsored by the Amerikahaus Verein and the Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations.