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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The Nobel Prize in Literature was given to author Kazuo Ishiguro.
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Amazon is planning a video series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. Date of release is not yet announced.
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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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Past Affects the Future Even When the Future Arrives

I used our blog to check an old posting! It was after seeing the movie, Life of Pi, that I checked the record of our group discussion on the book. Although the blog post was short, it told me when we read the book, which was in 2003, and also told me what aspects of the book were most prominent at our discussion. The combination of seeing the new 3D movie and reading the old book discussion summary made me want to reread the book! And of course, it made me want to record just about everything we say at our meetings. (Not really, but it did give me some affirmation about keeping records of our discussions.)

Last Monday, we gathered to discuss another book about India, The White Tiger: A Novel, by Aravind Adiga. Tigers appear in both Life of Pi and The White Tiger. That coincidence and the few other similarities are not of significance in my mind, although I wouldn't be surprised if there were articles comparing the two books.

Most everyone enjoyed the book, although Jan thought it too dark throughout and Carla had a dislike of it for a while and ended up deciding she liked it. Often it is the books with the most likeable characters that are the most beloved books, but sometimes, as in The White Tiger, it is compelling to read about the thoughts and actions of unpleasant characters. The main characters in The White Tiger, The narrator, Balram and his boss Ashok, were both very flawed. But their story was surrounded by the situation of realities of India that come across as so much more flawed than those characters that we end up rooting for them despite their weakness and even criminality.

Our discussion dug into relationship between the poverty of India and its old caste system as both coexist with the modernizing of India that is occurring with technology and the globalization of the marketplace. Change was a big theme of the story. Marla suggested that if the caste system doesn't change, it will become old fashioned. In this story, Balram was born into a family of sweets makers and was able to become a driver for a rich man. So, Balram somewhat raised himself within the caste system. Yet he was still a slave, and his understanding of Indian society clearly showed that he felt that he could not raise himself further without doing something criminal. Our group debated the situation, as to how deeply set in destiny an Indian born into the cast system is today.

We uncovered extreme differences between the American way and the Indian caste system. Americans can be born into poverty but still are taught in school that they can become President. Generally, Indians born into lower socioeconomic castes are still much more stuck in poverty than Americans have ever been. How deeply ingrained these low caste poverty problems are seemed to be a question outside of most of our understanding. Modernization has allowed many Indians who are not among the very low castes to get educations, in India and abroad. Frank noted that many Indians who go abroad don't want to go back to India, and we also talked about Indians who take their educations back to India to live at a higher socioeconomic level there than they could in the United States. A good business in India can afford its owner a fine home with servants, whereas the same degree of success in the United States might buy a smaller home and, of course, no servants.

An interesting aspect of the story was why the narrator was ostensibly revealing his secret identity to the Chinese Premier, in the name of telling the Premier the "truth" about India as opposed to the lies he would probably hear from the Indian officials who would be hosting his impending visit to India. What if Indian officials saw what Balram had written? Balram was essentially a wanted criminal in hiding. Was his epistle to the Premier an act of hubris, did he have an altruistic urge to help the Chinese official, or was he trying to undermine the Indians currently in power? Was the author giving us something to wonder about? I am reminded of the recent Olympics in China, where it became clear that Chinese politics included a lot of lying and covering up of poverty problems in China.

 We enjoyed an insightful discussion about the character Balram and his boss, Ashok, and we also enjoyed some admittedly "half-baked" discussion about many aspects of India that none of us were informed about!

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