In May we will discuss Chess Story by Stephan Zweig. The meeting will be on Google Meets at 1 pm, May 10. This is the second Tuesday of the month, as usual. To receive the meeting ID, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The list of books to be read and discussed by the BAIN Downtown Book Group for the remainder of 2022 appears below. Hope to see you there.
May 2022 – Chess Story – Stephan Zweig – 104 pp – released in 2005 – Chess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the Austrian master Stefan Zweig’s final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological. Travelers by ship from New York to Buenos Aires find that on board with them is the world champion of chess, an arrogant and unfriendly man …
June 2022 — No Time to Spare – Ursula Leguin – Jennifer – 240 pages — An Amazon Best Book of December 2017: Ursula K. Le Guin is comfortable with her age. Or at least she’s comfortable with the fact that it’s not a completely comfortable arrangement. In the opener to this collection of personal essays, Le Guin notes that, now that she’s in her eighties, all her time is occupied by the activities of life—she has no spare time and no time to spare. Le Guin is a thoughtful and careful writer, and so her opinions are thoughtfully and carefully organized. She knows what she thinks, and she writes so well that you’ll want to return to these candid essays—the product of a blog she started when she was 81 years old—like returning to an older, wiser friend. —Chris Schluep, The Amazon Book Review
July 2022 — The Museum of Modern Love – 304 pp — 2018 — An Amazon Best Book of December 2018: In any other hands, this novel centered around performance artist Marina Abramovic’s famous 2010 MoMA exhibit titled The Artist Is Present might not have worked. But Heather Rose’s poetic language, at once both accessible and heart-searing, is also a work of art. Movie composer Arky Levin is depressed and isolated from the family he’s known for 24 years after being written out of his wife’s legal wishes when she falls into a coma. He should be working on music for a new animated movie, but instead he finds himself sitting on the sidelines watching Marina’s silent performance every day, and over time, he is completely changed by the experience. This is a captivating story on the improbability of life, the power of art to transform our pain, a meditation on the fluidity of time, and the ruse of human separation. –Marlene Kelly
August 2022 — The Spectator Bird – Wallace Stegner – 224 pp — 2017 — This tour-de-force of American literature and a winner of the National Book Award is a profound, intimate, affecting novel from one of the most esteemed literary minds of the last century and a beloved chronicler of the West. “A fabulously written account of regret, memory and the subtleties and challenges of a long successful marriage. Stegner deals with the dual threads of the novel with aplomb…. A thoughtful, crystalline book.” —Matthew Spencer, The Guardian
September 2022 — How Beautiful We Were – 284 pp – 2021 — A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers.
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, People • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Ms. magazine, BookPage, Kirkus Reviews
October 2022 — Migrations – 228 pp – 2021— An Amazon Best Book of August 2020: Clear your calendar and settle in for a brilliant and breathless read. Migrations is about a woman who goes to the ends of the earth in search of herself and to track what just might be the last migration of Arctic terns, birds that travel from pole to pole every year. It’s also about love, adventure, climate change, and what happens when a person simultaneously runs away from her past and runs straight towards it. Migrations gets richer with every scene as you learn more about Franny Stone—why she boards a boat full of fishermen, why birds call to her, how she fell in love with her husband, and how death stalks her at every turn. From Antarctica to a prison in Ireland, Australia to Galway, Franny traverses the world and with every turn of the page, you learn more about why she’s always on the move. The novel’s pacing is phenomenal—and the candor, veracity, and clarity with which it’s written make it feel like a memoir. Migrations is confessional, intimate and one of the best books I’ve read this year. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review
November 2022 – The Post Office Girl – Stefan Zweig — 2008 – 278 pp — Never before published in English, this extraordinary book is an unexpected and haunting foray into noir fiction by one of the masters of the psychological novel.
December 2022 — Captains of the Sands – Jorge Amado – 288 pp – 2013 — A Brazilian Lord of the Flies, about a group of boys who live by their wits and daring in the slums of Bahia. “Amado was writing to save his country’s soul. . . . The scenes where the captains of the sands manage to fool the rich of the city and get away with it would have made Henry Fielding or Charles Dickens proud.” —Colm Tóibín, from the Introduction
“Amado is Brazil’s most illustrious and venerable novelist.”—The New York Times
“Brazil’s leading man of letters . . . Amado is adored around the world!” —Newsweek