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?__________


July 6th, author Neil Gaiman will speak at the Long Center. $32.
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Thanks to Cindy V. for sending me listings of 2 TV series you might find interesting, and you might have access to:

The Son (book by Philipp Meyer), starring Pierce Brosnan. On AMC starting April 8.

American Gods (book by Neil Gaiman) on Starz, starting April 30.
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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series will feature Texas author Paulette Jiles discussing her upcoming novel News of the World, which was shortlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction.
WHEN: Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 2 pm. Doors open at 1:30 pm.
WHERE: The Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. 8th Street in Georgetown, Texas.
WHY: All proceeds from the event will go toward meeting unfunded projects of the library. Tickets for the event are $15 in advance or $18 at the door, and may be purchased starting April 3, 2017, at the Second-Hand Prose bookstore on the second floor of the library, online at folgeorgetown.org/calendar, or by contacting Marcy Lowe at 512-868-8974. A dessert and beverage from the Red Poppy Café in the library will be served.
THE BOOK: In 1870 a 10-year-old girls makes a journey back to her aunt and uncle’s home after living with Kiowa warriors who had killed her parents four year earlier. Subsequently she is traded to Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a 70-year-old war veteran, who takes her 400 miles to her family near San Antonio.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets Tuesday May 16th 7:00-8:30. They will discuss Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain. They will be voting on future book choices. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Book Buzz - June 6th, evening - Round Rock Public Library - Free, but seating is limited. Reservations are necessary and will open closer to the time of the event.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Our Invented Countries

Thanks to Barbara's well-planned guidance, our discussion of My Invented Country, by Isabel Allende, was different from usual, or should I say more different than usual. Our discussions are always different! This time, instead of digging into the book, we talked about our own memories. Barbara, who nominated My Invented Country and led our discussion, asked us whether we had a place or time in our past that was a nostalgic home for us in the same way that Allende's "invented" Chile was for her. This sparked a wonderful sharing of memories!

The memories of places that triggered nostalgic feelings for us had one thing in common, or at least almost all of them did: a sense of freedom. The memories were of childhood wanderings and explorations. Some of us remembered life in a small town, where we felt at home and could go out on foot or bicycle and go to homes of relatives or friends. Some of us lived in places where all or a large percentage of people knew each other. Since the memories tended to be from childhood, they probably involved some of each person's first tastes of freedom and independence. It seems natural to have enjoyed these feelings as a young preteen. Do modern kids get any freedom at those special ages? If not, do they miss getting those feelings, or do they just get them later, when they start going out on their own during their mid or late teens? I suppose it is the latter, as the human spirit does enjoy feelings of freedom at various junctures.

Some of us had experienced going back to places of nostalgia, in some cases many years after leaving them. We agreed that the old aphorism "You can never go home again" has a lot of truth in these cases. The place seems different to us even if it hasn't changed. Going back is likely to result in the understanding that our memories of a place and time are subjective. When we reached this conclusion in our discussion, we felt that we had reached the same place that Allende had in her writing: the place where we realized that our memories of a place represent an invented country! Pam suggested that Allende's social commentary and all of what she seemed to represent as factual were subjective views. We went on to entertain the possibility that Allende knew this and that this was the reason she called the book My Invented Country. I thought that was an excellent thought and interpretation, as well as admirable thinking on Allende's part!

The more "usual" parts of the discussion touched on some of the details of the memoir, and of course, critiquing! We discussed Allende's claims that Chileans are more aware of class than race, but we noticed that the upper classes as described by Allende tended to be those people who had lighter colored skin, with the Europeans holding the top social rankings. Some of us found the book to be too choppy. Rather than taking us in to a historical time and place and keeping us there until finishing the story, as do Allende's wonderful novels, this book seemed to take us in occasionally but then spit us out, back to our reality, as a new, unrelated topic was suddenly introduced. Someone suggested that Allende did this on purpose, ie, she wrote in the choppy manner to imitate the way the memory tends to work. Others of us felt that she just wrote the book quickly and didn't edit it to make it flow better.

In my humble opinion, the discussion was better than the book! I have read and thoroughly enjoyed at least 3 of Isabel Allende's novels, but I was disappointed in My Invented Country. The book group discussion made the reading seem much more worthwhile, due to both the interesting personal anecdotes among the group and also the insights that were offered. This was one of those cases where I wouldn't have read the book if it weren't for the book club, and where I was ever so glad I attended the discussion!

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