Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

What's New?__________

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is Giant a Western or a Texas Novel...or Both?

We have some wonderful books to read, don't we! We are very lucky to enjoy reading: there seems to be an unlimited supply of it, it helped us in school, it helps us in the legal and financial aspects of our lives, it's good for us, and we can continue to do it into our old age even if we end up doing it with our ears instead of our eyes. We can read while we're waiting, ie, at the Post Office; we can read when we are riding and even while driving if we use audio books; we can read ourselves to sleep; we can read during the ads of a TV show we like or during a TV show or movie we don't like, if we are somehow captive in the room and won't hurt anyone's feelings; we can read during our children's and grandchildren's band rehearsals and ball games; while suntanning, though suntanning has been kind of ruined for us; and I'm sure many of us have continued with a page-turner while walking, even if it wasn't an audio book. Did I leave anything out? I guess we can play computer games instead of reading during all those times, but ick..."I'd rather read!" Anyone have any interesting examples of reading at odd times/places? Nothing too risque, please!

In my work with students at career schools, I am continually reminded of the importance of reading, usually because the students find reading difficult, which makes me think that is why they are there instead of at college; and sometimes because a student is a reader and is one of the outstanding students in the school. Although as my daughter says, there is a whole 'nuther discussion there in that really it's not necessarily best that everyone feels they need to take up a precious place at a college.

I don't want to end up with you trying to read your book while reading my email, so I'll get to the important parts now.

We had a big group at BN last Monday! I think that when we need more than about 3 tables, we might try spreading in a more circular manner rather than along the wall. Can we try it? I have sat at the far end of the long setup recently, and I found that that we had more interference from the kitchen noises, and that we had more trouble hearing what everyone was saying about the books. We also were more likely to start up our own side conversations there, partly because of not being able to hear..."what did she say?" "such and such," "oh, thanks, well I disagree..." and then a duplicate conversation is started, even though it started innocently enough. At our general ages, if we don't really hear the conversation of the book group, and we find ourselves sitting at a table with other ladies, it's only natural for us to forget where we are and just start talking among ourselves!

This month, we talked about a book where someone from Virginia went west to the land of cattle and horses...but not The Virginian! I thought that parallel Frank made between The Virginian and Giant, by Edna Ferber, was just about the best kind of brainstorm one could have, befitting an SAT or GRE essay or a college paper! Frank deemed Giant a Western, and Dee said it was a classis Texas novel. Giant sneaked by me without my noticing that it was a Western! I like that. Of course, you can't miss that it was about Texas. You never can. Subtlety is not Texan.

That reminds me that someone at Round Rock New Neighbors was telling me she loves to read but mostly reads mysteries. A lot of people love mysteries; probably more women love mysteries than Westerns. OK...I am having trouble here deciding whether "western" should have a capital W. My dictionary says not for movies or books, but if you google "read a western," most of the entries are capitalized. So, what I wanted to say is that if any of you read a lot of mysteries and feel shy about nominating mysteries, it would be good to find some mysteries that have a slightly different aspect that might appeal to the larger group, rather than a formulaic mystery.

Our talk about Giant seemed to center more on the history surrounding the book, even to the present day, than on the writing or the characters. Apparently the book was not well-received by Texans when it was published. It took the opulent materialistic way of life of the rich landowners, the heroes of midcentury Texas to task, thus mocking the whole Texas mentality of the time. However, when the movie was made in Marfa with some of the biggest stars of the day, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson (on my Netfflix list), Texas loved the movie! This movie helped the rest of the United States to understand and become enamored with the modern lifestyle of the time in Texas. I haven't seen the movie, but I guess that meant that Texas' image was raised from the dust of gunslingers twisting their horses around to shoot the horse thief who was coming up to shoot them in the back to the more refined cattle ranching and oil baron society, where the cowboys and vaqueros twisted their horses around in the dust to gather the herd.

I had been hoping for a direct one-to-one correspondence between the characters in the book and the historical characters, but after reading the Texas Monthly printout and attending the discussion, it seemed that the characters in the book were mostly mixtures of historical characters and stereotypes, with a few specific models thrown in. A Glen McCarthy in real life supposedly was the model for the Jett Rink character. I hadn't heard of him. If I google him now and read about him, it will take me almost as much time to write this message as it is taking you to read it! I was disappointed that there wasn't a real Leslie in history. I guess there were a number of them; independent-thinking women who could handle the western life and raise the bar a little. Reminds me of the book we read a few years ago in our group: True Women.

Interesting aspects centered around the combination of the issues addressed in the book and the fact that the book was published in the early 1950s (1952). The relations between Texans and Mexicans, the conflict between oil drilling (environment) and land, the choice between the rural and the city life, even the life of traveling great distances between places and the evolution from horseback to automobile are all issues that are relevant today and were relevant then but much less publicized. You can be sure that south Texas landowners are requiring more horseback and less auto transport right now, with the high gas prices. Can't you just see us all hitching our horses to the posts outside of Barnes & Noble?

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