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

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here. Next event:

PRESS RELEASE: JEFF ABBOTT, JANUARY 31, 2018, GEORGETOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Austin novelist, Jeff Abbott, will return to the Georgetown Public Library to speak at the Hill Country Authors Series on Wednesday, January 31st at 2 PM. Abbott’s first appearance here was in 2012; this time he’ll discuss his fourteenth novel, Blame, published July, 2017, to critical acclaim. Known as one of the best thriller writers in the business, his latest effort was described by fellow thriller author, Harlan Coben, as “the perfect blend of complex characters, plot twists galore, and great psychological suspense."

Bestsellers around the world, Jeff's novels are thrillers that center on ordinary people caught up in sudden, unexpected nightmares, often related to secrets in their past. They combine high-stakes intrigue with emotional punch.

In Blame an amnesiac accident victim has to investigate her own past in Abbott’s tense psychological thriller. Froom Kirkus Review: “The Austin, Texas, suburb of Lakehaven is shaken when two teenagers drive off a cliff; driver Jane Norton survives while high school hero David Hall is killed. Jane comes out of a coma with part of her memory lost. After a note is found at the accident scene that suggests Jane caused the accident in a suicide attempt, she becomes an outcast; as Jane pieces together her own history, she becomes convinced she wasn’t trying to kill herself, and the accident starts looking more like murder. The unconventional plot, the constant surprises, and above all the psychological depth of the characters all make this a first-rate crime novel. “

A Rice University graduate with a degree in History and English, Abbott worked as a creative director at an advertising agency for more than eleven years, as he continued to write novels. He left that job in 2005 in order to write full-time after the success of his thriller, Panic. Three of his novels have been optioned for film, and are in script development.

He is a three-time nominee for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award and a two-time nominee for the Anthony Award. Jeff’s first novel, Do Unto Others, won both the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award.

The event begins at 2 pm at the library located at 402 W. 8th Street in Georgetown; the doors open at 1:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online (link here) beginning December 1 at the special online price of $13.00. Tickets will go on sale in the Second-Hand Prose bookstore on the second floor of the library on January 2, 2018 for $15.00, $18 at the door. Tickets are also available from the Wow!mobile, the bookmobile that services Georgetown. Contact Marcy Lowe at 512-868-8974 for more information.

A dessert and beverage from the Red Poppy Café in the library will be served.

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Amazon Prime Video has released a series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. It's called Electric Dreams.
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Click here to see the trailer for Stephen Spielberg's Ready Player One, currently scheduled to debut March 30th. Look for the DeLorean. (Hint-it's moving quickly and is black and you're more likely to find it if you watch one of the explanatory videos that elaborates on the trailer.) If you want to, stay on the YouTube page and see lots more about Ready Player One. After all, it's a movie about the native online generation.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Based on the novel by Mark Haddon
Adapted by Simon Stephens
Directed by Dave Steakley
January 31 – March 4, 2018 | Topfer Theatre
(Zach Theater in Austin)
If you can, go February 10th @2:30 PM

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Straight Man Adds Humor to our Holiday Party

Happy holidays! If you missed our book club party, you missed a festive feast! Everyone liked the beginning, middle, and end of the party, whether or not they liked the book of the day. Thanks much to Veronica for hostessing, supplying us with a variety of drinks and keeping the coffee flowing! We all enjoyed the comfort and beauty of Veronica's home.

We did not all enjoy Straight Man, by Richard Russo. At the count, 4 liked the book, 4 did not like it, 2 hadn't finished it, and the rest were still eating and partying. There were lots of topics  for discussion that this book evoked. Jennifer took us through a list of thought and interpretation questions. Some of these questions inspired us to identify key themes of the book, and others led us to simple answers from the story. 

Choosing three themes, I will go with the title of the book, the midlife crisis, and the man on the railroad tracks. Apologies to the dogs, the marriages, Hank's father and mother, Occam's Razor, and the university for not delving further into them here. We touched on all of them at the meeting.

After some discussion, I felt that the main theme of the book was middle age. There was a short poem at the beginning of the final section of the book that, in the way of poems, evoked a mood. This was the underlying mood of what Hank, the main character was going through (although he acted out a much lighter mood) and what his father before him had experienced. For the purposes of this book, the poem could be interpreted to be specifically about the decline of a person's career as well as offering more universal application to life. The poem, by Stephen Spender, says

What I had not foreseen
Was the gradual day
Weakening the will
Leaking the brightness away

Several characters in the book were struggling at the apexes of their careers. The stresses and choices varied among the characters. Some knew they had reached as far as they could go, and others didn't, but the reader knew. Hank's one-week midlife crisis, full of theatrical craziness that made the book fun to read, left him healing from the sad and difficult feeling of this poem. 

The apt title of the book, Straight Man, was reflected by the flippant remarks Hank seemed to think of at every juncture and sometimes by Hank's just plain acting flippantly. He made many editorial comments about his colleagues, to their faces and behind their backs, many of them sarcastic. Then, when the ducks were being killed, he gave "no comment" to the media, which essentially thumbed his nose at the entire situation and everyone concerned with it. According to Hank, the English faculty was always competing to give the straight line, so that someone could come back with a sarcastic remark. Hank's saying that everyone wanted to supply the straight line, when the reality was that everyone was competing to identify "straight" lines and make the sarcastic repartee, was one example of author Richard Russo's expertise in crafting the book. 

The author created a complex story with developed characters, meaningful themes, and humor. Richard Russo deserves credit for this. Apparently, his writing style did win him a Pulitzer Prize, though not for this book. But his expertise at the craft of the novel was evident in Straight Man

The man who let the train run over him haunted the main character and provided a contrast to the ways that Hank and others were coping with the difficulties in their lives. I think our book group's discussion of this topic says a lot about the book. One of us said that the railroad-track man literally "lost his head," clearly an allegorical theme in this story of people having to think fast and deal with immediate as well as continued stresses. Dennis mentioned that lying on the railroad tracks waiting would be a particularly miserable way to die, and Rutger grabbed that straight line and ran with it, cracking us all up by saying, "especially if the train is late!"




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