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, February 24, 2013

Waiting for Snow in Havana - Can't Improve on that Title


We had some homework while reading Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana. We were all to bring questions for discussion. If you read the book, you'll enjoy these questions; and if you didn't, they might convince you to read it. Pam first gave us some historical perspective, which illuminated how Castro managed his revolution. Then we began our questions. The first was fun! Dennis listed some experiences that he had in common with Carlos Eire and asked for a show of hands from anyone who had similar experience. These included running after a truck spraying DDT, getting shot at, seeing dead bodies outside of funerals, body surfing, and having one's life threatened. The hands were going up and down. I wanted to see who had done what, but I missed most of it, because I was busy writing down the life experiences Dennis was mentioning. Great minds think alike: I had an idea for a question similar to what Dennis asked. I had begun a list of Eire's childhood experiences and was thinking of asking whether our group had had childhoods similar to Eire's. I was thinking more of the lifestyle; the parties, the pools, the beach trips, the friends getting into mischief, the hired help, the movies and ice cream parlors... Eire's childhood as a privileged Cuban under Batista's command was similar to the 1950s childhoods of many in the American middle class.

More questions? Carla asked whether Eire exaggerated, in the way that a child has memories that can be bigger than the reality. Cindy suggested that because so many newsworthy events were happening around Eire and to him that much of what he said about these was probably true. Meredith noted that for young Eire, it seemed that the revolution created a new reality without Eire noticing the process; Meredith asked whether that could happen here and now. Pat suggested an analogy between the polio epidemic here and the Cuban Revolution. When polio was a danger, cities closed such public places as theaters and swimming pools, and the entire population was on alert, ie, a new reality. I suggested that 9-11 was similar to the revolution in the suddenness and pervasiveness of its impact on society. Janice asked whether Eire's fears eased after his move to the United States. Pam said that the fears do reappear in Eire's second book, which covers his assimilation into American life. Lydia asked why Eire thought/wrote of his parents as Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. Pam mentioned that Eire made light of some of his fears through humor, such as naming the "Eye Jesus" and the "Candlestick Lady". His fantasy names for his parents might have helped him cope or might have been a literary tool to convey the family dynamics.

Frank asked what we thought would happen after the Castro brothers are gone. This inspired discussion about Cuba after the revolution. Jay mentioned reading a book by Valarie Hemingway, who had married one of Ernest Hemingway's sons, in which she said that Hemingway had a vacation home in Cuba; he fled after the revolution, supposedly leaving unfinished manuscripts there on the desk. There are probably other famous and wealthy Americans who enjoyed Cuban holidays before the revolution and had homes there.  

Two of my friends visited Cuba via "Cultural Exchange" trips during 2012. I asked them to tell me about Cuba now. Here are some interesting factoids they told me: The only way Americans are allowed to go to Cuba now is through one of these group trips. The USA is the only country whose citizens are discouraged from visiting Cuba as tourists. The tourist business is one of very few ways Cubans can profit, because the money comes from outside the Cuban government. All other businesses are regulated by the government. Thus, the jobs we consider as "professional" have government-controlled salaries, such as approximately $15/month for physicians and lawyers - that's $15, not a typo! Those in the tourist industry can squirrel away tips and can gather goods for the black market. A bartender can skim alcohol from each drink and...not drink it! That would be such a waste! They collect it to sell. Tourists bring goods to share with the Cubans: denim jeans, knit shirts, soap, religious artifacts, toothpaste, bandaids, aspirin, pens... Tourists give these treasured things to maids, beggars, guides, etc. (When I was in Jamaica many years ago, everyone there wanted athletic shoes. I gave mine to a maid.)

Cuba has beautiful beaches and greenery but garbage in the streams and broken sidewalks in the city. The neighborhoods with the big homes that used to be examples of grandeur have been transformed into multiple-family housing. This may be good for many people, but the government has not been able to keep up with the maintenance. The overall impression in Cuba is one of things falling apart. A concept I find amusing is that after the Revolution, no one brought any automobile industry to Cuba, and no one could afford to import cars, so the same big old cars from the 1950s and 1960s are everywhere. It looks like a set for an old movie! Car owners make some extra cash by allowing tourists to stand near the cars for photos.

The successes of the Cuban Revolution are the education and the health care. Everyone has access to quality and low-cost health care, and everyone is educated and can continue through higher education.

Thanks to Elisabeth and Amy for the insights! Of course, there is a lot more going on in Cuba than I can relate or than my friends saw. And we come full circle to the fact that the Castro brothers are aging. There are changes in the wind. Hopefully, they will incorporate past progress and solve current problems.

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