Ivan Doig was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, growing up the only child to his ranch hand father and ranch cook mother, living along the Rocky Mountain Front where much of his writing takes place. Doig knew he wanted to be a writer his junior year of high school. His ﬁrst book, “This House of Sky,” was a ﬁnalist for the National Book Award in 1979. Doig is a former ranch hand, newspaperman and magazine editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and he also holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle with his wife Carol.
My narrator in “The Whistling Season,” Paul Milliron, educator and bookman and graduate of a one-room school that he was, would have fully known the value of a community read, all the way from its linguistic beginnings. “Communitas,” the root of our usage of “community”—in Paul’s well-thumbed Latin-to-English dictionary, these several meanings of “communitas” are given: “sharing, partnership, social ties, fellowship, togetherness.” What better rewards could readers and writer alike ask for, than the common ground of literary fellowship through reading?
Regards, Ivan Doig
Continue reading “2008 One Read: About Author Ivan Doig”
About the Book
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. Continue reading “2007 One Read Program: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen”
About the Book
In this explosive novel, T. Coraghessan Boyle explores an issue that is at the forefront of our political arena. He confronts the controversy over illegal immigration head-on, illuminating the people on both sides of the issue, the haves and the have-nots, through a poignant, gripping story.
In Southern California’s Topanga Canyon, two couples live in close proximity and yet are worlds apart. High atop a hill overlooking the canyon, nature writer Delaney Mossbacher and his wife, real estate agent Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher, reside in an exclusive, secluded housing development with her son, Jordan. The Mossbachers are agnostic liberals with a passion for recycling and fitness. Camped out in a ravine at the bottom of the canyon are Cándido and América Rincón, a Mexican couple who have crossed the border illegally. On the edge of starvation, they search desperately for work in the hope of moving into an apartment before their baby is born. They cling to their vision of the American dream, which, no matter how hard they try, manages to elude their grasp at every turn.
A violent chance encounter brings together Delaney and Cándido, beginning a chain of events that culminates in a harrowing confrontation. The novel shifts back and forth between the two couples, giving voice to each of the four main characters as their their worlds collide and their lives become inextricably intertwined. The Rincóns’ search for the American dream, and the Mossbachers’ attempts to protect it, comprise the heart of the story. In scenes that are alternately comic, frightening and satirical, but always all too real, Boyle confronts not only immigration but social consciousness, environmental awareness, crime and unemployment in a tale that raises the curtain on the dark side of the American dream.
-From a Reading Group Guide, Courtesy of Penguin Putnam, Inc.
Continue reading “2006 One Read Program: “The Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle”
“Ender’s Game,” which has sold more than one million copies, is one of the most popular science fiction novels ever written. The book has been equally as popular with non-science fiction readers as with science fiction fans.
According to the New York Times, “intense is the word for ‘Ender’s Game.’ Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses—and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’… Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games… He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?”
Ender’s Game won the Hugo Award in 1985 and the Nebula Award in 1986.
Continue reading “2005 One Read Program: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card”
About the Book
Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them, inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, working as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aid and Wal-Mart salesperson. “Nickel and Dimed” reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety and surprising generosity–a land of “big box” stores, fast food and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Acclaimed for its insight, humor and passion, “Nickel and Dimed” was on The New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks.
Continue reading “2004 One Read Program: “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich”
About the Book
The unforgettable novel of childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, “To Kill a Mockingbird” became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Putlizer prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill a Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 15 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
–from To Kill A Mockingbird, Warner Books Edition
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, "To Kill a Mockingbird" follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.
Continue reading “2003 One Read Program: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee”
About The Book
“Plainsong” is a heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant and alone with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known.
From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together— their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.
Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, “Plainsong” is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn. –Random House
Continue reading “2002 One Read Program: “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf”