Aktuelle Hinweise für Besucher*innen

Aktuell ist der Besuch unserer Ausstellungen und Veranstaltungen ohne Zugangskontrolle möglich. Das Tragen einer Maske (medizinisch oder FFP2) im Amerikahaus ist nicht verpflichtend, wird aber weiterhin empfohlen.
Für die einzelnen Abteilungen beachten Sie bitte unsere aktuellen Hinweise zu unseren Corona-Schutzmaßnahmen. Bitte verzichten Sie auf einen Besuch, wenn Sie sich krank fühlen oder Erkältungssymptome aufweisen.

Herzlichen Dank für Ihre Mithilfe und Ihr Verständnis.

Bitte beachten Sie: Das Amerikahaus ist am Mittwoch, 12. April 2023 wegen einer internen Veranstaltung geschlossen.

Bücherstapel ©Shiromani Kant / unsplash.com

Literary Circle

Der Amerikahaus Literary Circle ist ein kostenloser, öffentlicher, englischsprachiger Buchclub. Die Treffen finden (in der Regel) am ersten Mittwoch eines jeden Monats im Amerikahaus in München statt.

Die Titel werden zweimal im Jahr von den Mitgliedern vorgeschlagen und abgestimmt.

Der Amerikahaus Literary Circle wird vom Amerikahaus Verein e.V. und der Stiftung Bayerisches Amerikahaus gGmbH gefördert.

Foto: © Shiromani Kant / unsplash.com

Termine und Bücher für 2023

Wednesday, January 11, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The U.S. Constitution

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States superseded the Articles of Confederation to become the country’s supreme law, which remains today much celebrated for its design that separates governmental powers to protect both majority rule and minority rights. Originally comprising seven Articles that delineate the national framework, the Constitution has since been amended just twenty-seven times in its long history—the first ten of which, known as the Bill of Rights, enshrine freedoms cherished (as in the First Amendment) and controversial (as in the Second).  Our discussion of the Constitution will begin by looking at the promise of its Preamble, reading through the Articles detailing the organization of the government, and reflecting on the history of its Amendments.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

For some forty years, the novelist William Maxwell served as the short story editor at The New Yorker, where his mentoring nurtured the nascent careers of many writers, including Eudora Welty and John Updike.  Set in a small midwestern town, They Came Like Swallows depicts the bygone idylls and subsequent terrors experienced by an affluent family during the influenza pandemic of 1918.  Told through the artful narration of three characters, this short novel's lyricism and pathos are telltale marks of Maxwell's style.  Needless to say, our own collective reckoning with COVID-19 will add a decided poignancy to our discussion of the book.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The Europeans: A Sketch by Henry James

Serialized in The Atlantic Monthly from July to October 1878, this early novel by Henry James demonstrates two of his lifelong passions, observing transatlantic relations and beautiful writing.  The Europeans sets its sights on the contrastive ways between those of the Continent and New England while underscoring the interpretive perils of class distinction.  Though James' famous brother, William, confessed in a letter that he found the novel "slight," most readers have sided with the redoubtable F. R. Leavis, who deemed The Europeans "a masterpiece of major quality".  The venue of the Amerikahaus itself, also known as the Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations, makes our discussion of this thoughtfully-penned tale of intercultural manners especially apt.

Wednesday, April  12, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The Master by Colm Tóibín

Henry James, the author of last month's book under discussion, is the protagonist of The Master by Colm Tóbín.  The 2004 novel, which has garnered a host of prizes, depicts James at the end of the nineteenth century.  Though rich and famous, he resolves to remove himself from the public eye by buying a home in remote Rye, East Sussex, where, reflecting on his relations in America and Europe, he reckons with the social and psychological costs of a writer's life.  Tóbín, who identifies as gay and deliberately employed Jamesian techniques of composition (such as channeling silence and writing the novel by hand in an uncomfortable chair), channels the Master as he defty plumbs the perennial mystery of James' sexuality in this deep and meditative work.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This work of non-fiction is comprised of two appositional essays, whereby the literary gifts and moral compass of James Baldwin are woven deftly into a singular strand of reckoning.  The first and shorter essay, "My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation," is an epistle, ostensibly to a fourteen-year-old boy, delineating the central role of race in American history.  The second and longer essay—"Down at Cross: Letter from a Region of My Mind"—is a study on the intersection of religion and race that draws heavily from Baldwin's own experiences with Christianity alongside the Islamic ideas of fellow Harlemites.  Published separately (in the The New Yorker and The Progressive, respectively) and then together in 1963, these two essays have been cited as seminal texts of the civil rights movement.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

When published in 1940, this first novel by a then twenty-three-year-old Carson McCullers created a literary sensation, quickly rising to the top of bestseller lists; it is now ranked seventeenth by the Modern Library of the 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century.  Set in a run-down mill town in the southern state of Georgia, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter tells the story of John Singer, a deaf man, and centers its sights on the struggles of his friends and acquaintances.  As an intensely moving gallery of the downtrodden—wherein McCullers gives voice to the disabled, rejected, forgotten, mistreated, and oppressed—this is a reading experience like few others.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton's second (and perhaps best-known) novel follows the story of Lily Bart, a youthful and well-born socialite in New York City, who descends from an enviable perch of privilege to a tragic and lonely existence on the margins of society.  Serialized in Scribner's Magazine for eleven months in 1905, where it found an avid readership among both women and men, The House of Mirth has been described by scholar Carol Singley as "a unique blend of romance, realism, and naturalism, [thereby transcending] the narrow classification of a novel of manners".  The novel's legacy has continued well into the twenty-first century, as the 2000 film adaptation by Terence Davies and the 2020 novel, White Ivy, by Susie Yang attest.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
Mid-Air: Two Novellas by Victoria Shorr

As with Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, Victoria Schorr's Mid-Air: Two Novellas is literary diptych.  The first story, "Great Uncle Edward," is a tale of a grand dinner party in the manner of Joyce's "The Dead" and Blixen's "Babette's Feast".  An unnamed female narrator hosts the Manhattan event for her husband's ninety-three-year-old uncle, which allows for a conversation that ranges from Edith Wharton, whose House of Mirth we discussed just last month, to the family's curious history alongside Jamesian themes of class.  In the second story, "Cleveland Auto Wrecking," an immigrant arriving to Ellis Island in abject poverty parlays a scrap metal business into real estate holdings that result in the attainment of happiness—or, so it seems.  Taken together, both stories humanize divergent entanglements of the American Dream.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day, a novel by Joyce Maynard, is narrated by Henry Wheeler, a man in his early thirties recounting his first year as a teenager.  Back then, as the Labor Day weekend approaches, young Henry has little to look forward to, for his depressed and divorced mother suffers from agoraphobia, and their lackluster days together are spent wholly indoors.  But, on the Thursday before Labor Day, Henry convinces his mother to go on a shopping trip, during which they encounter an unkempt and injured man asking for a ride.  Astonishingly, they assent and soon learn that the man is a convicted murderer on the run.  In its review of the book, The Washington Post notes that "Maynard's skill [...] makes this ominous setup into a convincing and poignant coming of age tale".

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

As with Maynard's Labor Day, Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng is a Bildungsroman that transcends the trappings of its genre.  Bird Gardner, a twelve-year-old boy, lives with his father, a linguist turned librarian who finds solace amid the relative peace of bookshelves.  Like Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, this novel is set in a dystopian America, where, to keep the peace and restore prosperity, authorities now relocate the children of dissidents, and libraries remove books perceived as unpatriotic, including the works of Bird's mother, a Chinese-American poet who left the family some years before.  Our Missing Hearts is a lyrical exhortation of art's powers (and limitations) to effect change.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises (titled Fiesta in the U.K.) was Ernest Hemingway's début as a novelist, and, though its early modernist style received mixed reviews at its publication in 1926, the book is now widely considered to be his best and most important work.  As a roman à clef, the characters are based on Hemingway's circle of friends, and their actions are informed by the author's sojourn in Paris during the 1920s and, notably, his travels to Spain in 1925.  In a newfound style of restraint, Hemingway plumbs themes of love, death, nature, and masculinity—seeking to rebut Gertrude Stein's epigraphic claim that its characters are all "a lost generation".

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 (6:00 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.)​​​​​​​
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Published in 1953 during the Second Red Scare (and shortly before the televised Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954), Fahrenheit 451 posits an alternative America, one where books are outlawed and so-called firemen are sent to burn any that are found.  Ray Bradbury cited the horror of Nazi book burnings—some of which occurred in Königsplatz, a stone's throw from the present-day Amerikahaus—as the original inspiration for the story.  The clarion call of its allegory notwithstanding, Fahrenheit 451 has been subjected itself to censorship, banning, expurgation, and, yes, even burning. 

Termine und Bücher für 2022

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Working as an intern for a Manhattan fashion magazine in the summer of 1953, Esther Greenwood is veritably on the brink of a brilliant future. That said, she also tightropes the edge of a psychic darkness that makes her world increasingly unreal, causing Esther's visions of the world to flit from the day-to-day trials of metropolitan life to the even more uncertain entanglements of a sexual neophyte to the never-ending nightlife of New York City. Sylvia Plath's only novel, The Bell Jar, is partially based on the gifted poet’s own life and continues to be celebrated for its razor-sharp portrait of 1950s society.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis, the first American writer to become a Nobel laureate, was awarded the Pulizter Prize for Arrowsmith, the fictive account of a man passionately devoted to science. As an intellectually curious boy in the rural Midwest, Martin Arrowsmith spends his free time in old Doc Vickerson’s office avidly reading scores of medical texts. Destined to become a physician himself, he discovers that the societal forces of ignorance and greed can be as life-threatening as the plague. Part satire, part morality tale, the novel traces, with uncanny aptness to our own time, the vicissitudes of scientific integrity in a small-minded world. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London

During the late nineteenth-century, London traveled to the Klondike region of northwestern Canada to strike it rich in the gold rush. Set in the harsh wilderness of the Yukon territory, The Call of the Wild is a story embodied with a realism indicative of London’s prospecting experience. The tale follows Buck, the pampered pet of Judge Miller and his family, who is snatched from his genteel home in California’s Santa Clara Valley. Stolen by a gardener’s assistant to finance gambling losses, Buck is faced with both an arduous journey to the faraway frontier and the brutal realities of life as a sled dog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
The Book of Salt by Monique Truong

The Book of Salt is a novel narrated by Binh, the Vietnamese cook employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Viewing his famous mesdames and their entourage from the kitchen at 27 rue de Fleurus, Binh observes their domestic entanglements while seeking his own place in the world. In recounting this tale of yearning and betrayal, writer Monique Truong explores Paris from the salons of its artists to the dark nightlife of its outsiders and exiles. She also takes us back in time to Binh's youth in colonial Saigon and life as a galley hand to his fateful encounters in Paris with Paul Robeson and Ho Chi Minh.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals details the gut-wrenching truth about the price paid by various social and ecological environments—not least the animals themselves—in order to put meat on our tables more quickly and conveniently than ever before. A novelistic account of an intellectual journey, Eating Animals is a fresh look at the ethical debate around meat-eating, including a valuable exploration of options, for those so inclined, to do so more responsibly, making this an important book not just for vegetarians but for all those mindful about the significant consequences of their dietary choices.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
The Empress of Weehawken by Irene Dische

Electing to omit her narrow escape with her husband from the Nazis and their immigration to New Jersey, Elisabeth Rother is writing her memoirs. The subject that consumes her is the waywardness of her daughter, Renate, and her granddaughter, Irene: Renate performs autopsies on the bodies of politicians whom death has harvested in the nighttime arms of their mistresses; Irene drops out of school to roam the world, refuses to correct her nose with plastic surgery, and shows alarming signs of enjoying sex. What, Elisabeth ponders, is to be done with such women? With the love between mothers and daughters at its heart, The Empress of Weehawken is a novel that expertly mines the veins of comedy and tenderness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people. Winner of the National Book Award in 2009, Let the Great World Spin is a dazzlingly rich vision of the passion, pain, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
I Hate the Internet: A Novel by Jarett Kobek

Set nearly a decade ago in San Francisco as billions of dollars fuel the city’s spectacular gentrification and the human wreckage piles up, a group of victims of the digital boom considered newly useless in a world that savagely despises the pointless and unprofitable experience the blunt hand of market forces. In this first novel, Jarett Kobek tackles the pressing questions of the so-called singularity. Why do we applaud the enrichment of CEOs at the expense of the weak and the powerless? Why are we giving away our intellectual property? Why is twenty-first-century activism nothing more than a series of morality lectures typed into devices built by slaves? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson

George Washington Carver was determined to help the people he loved: Born a slave in Missouri, he left home in search of an education, eventually earning his master's degree. When Booker T. Washington invited Carver to start the agricultural department at the all-black-staffed Tuskegee Institute, Carver truly found his calling. He spent the rest of his life seeking solutions to the poverty among landless Black farmers by developing new uses for soil-replenishing crops such as peanuts, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes. This award-winning biography is told lyrically through the exquisite poetry of Marilyn Nelson.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. After a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything―instead, they "check out" obscure volumes tucked away in the corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior with the help of motley crew of friends. When they eventually share their findings with Mr. Penumbra, they learn that the shop’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 (6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

In this magically evocative novel, William Maxwell, a legendary editor of fiction at The New Yorker, explores the enigmatic gravity of the past, which compels us to keep explaining it even as it makes liars out of us every time we try. On a winter morning in the 1920s, a shot rings out on a farm in rural Illinois: A man named Lloyd Wilson has been killed, and the tenuous friendship between two lonely teenagers—one privileged yet neglected, the other a troubled farm boy—has been shattered. Fifty years later, one of those boys tries to reconstruct the events that led up to the murder. Out of memory and imagination, the surmises of children and the passions of their parents, Maxwell creates a luminous American classic of youth and loss.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 6:00 P.M. – 7:30 P.M.)
Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of a Life by Lulu Miller

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard, in passing, about the seemingly obsessive life of David Starr Jordan—a taxonomist who lost his life’s work to lightning, fire, and even the 1906 San Francisco earthquake—she thought she had found a cautionary tale of hubris (or denial). But, as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder whether he was, instead, a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. Indeed, what Miller would eventually unearth about Jordan would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the very earth beneath her feet. Why Fish Don’t Exist is an ode on how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.