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 22, 2017

RRNN Book Discussion Group Navigates the Currents of Cane River

The Book Club gathered on Martin Luther King Day to discuss Cane River, by Lalita Tademy, a fictionalized history of 7 generations of a real family descended from Negro slaves in the United States. The book told the stories from 1790 to a few years past the author’s birth in 1948. The book included copies of written documents the author had available; the fiction was obviously researched to represent the likely relationships, life events, and personal stories of the family members in such a way as to form a readable story.

The most important theme that Pam noted from the book, as she led the discussion, was the relationships between the characters. Pam asked us to discuss mother/daughter relationships, father/children relationships, those among siblings, and master/slave relationships. The combination of the master/slave relationship with all the other relationships made the book unique and historical.

Carla started the discussion with comments about about T.O., who wasn’t born until toward the end of the book. T.O. was unique in that he had a somewhat contentious attitude toward the rest of the family after emancipation. By the time T.O. was born, the family had evolved to include more member of later generations with lighter skin colors. Although there was a tacit and spoken preference in the family for the younger generations to continue to perpetuate the pattern toward lighter skin, by marrying spouses with lighter skin and thereby having lighter-colored children; T.O. purposely chose a dark-skinned black woman to marry. The narrative about T.O.’s introducing this woman into the family was a fascinating compilation of some of the complex attitudes the black family lived with. The mothers in the family, especially, valued lighter skin for their children, because they loved their children and wanted the easiest life possible for these children. Life was indeed easier for those with lighter-colored skin, especially those who could “pass for white” some or all of the time in post-slavery society. But the family also evolved with lots of familial love; so, the matriarchal treatment of T.O.’s choice of wife was subtly accepting and loving, even with and especially at first, a reluctance to embrace and accept the new darker woman as a young daughter and mother of the next generation.

Pam noted the relationship between 2 half-sisters in the family, Bet and Emily. The 2 girls didn’t meet until Emily was already grown. Bet had been taken away from the girls’ mother, Philomene, early and without Philomene even knowing that Bet was alive. Emily had grown up in the family with Philomene, her mother. The young ladies’ relationship showed that each envied the other from the time they met, but there was also a lot of respect and love between them.  Emily felt Bet had every reason to envy her (Emily light/Bet dark; Emily could read/Bet could not), yet it was Emily who felt jealous because Bet had a bond with their mother and “the Greats”, a bond Emily did not have with them (quilting together etc). As grown women, after emancipation, Bet and Emily learned to appreciate each other’s individuality.

These relationships were described with a lot of subtlety as the family evolved. The chapters with masters and slaves included Oreline, who was a white daughter of slave owners, who grew up with Philomene sleeping on a palate in her bedroom. The relationships depicted included those between the women in the family and male slave owners and other men who were white and privileged, such as Narcisse, a Frenchman. As Peggy mentioned, Narcisse forced Philomene into pregnancy over and over again. He mixed love and lust in fathering 8 children with Philomene and then mixed love and pride with the raising of these children. Joyce noted that slaves’ relationships, whether with family or whites, were fragile, because slave owners could destroy their own relationships with the women through brutality or could destroy the women’s relationships with friends or family, by selling slaves and moving them away from loved ones. Carla gave an example of when someone asked about the apparent disappearance of slave Clement, Philomene’s beloved mate; the answer was, “Oh, we sold him.”

Pam gave us a chart to help us understand the history of color and the Census. When the matriarch of the family in Cane River met the Census taker who knocked on the door, it was the Census taker who decided what colors of people to list on the Census. Pam reminded us how closely the Census rules were related to rules of property and inheritance. The rules were also behind a theme in the story, when the father of Emily’s children and then Emily and her son, T.O., tried hard to allow the children to inherit the father’s wealth and property. A bystander at the Barnes & Noble café even offered the comment that under the Napoleonic code, an illegitimate child acknowledged by the father can inherit from that father. Anyone get the bystander’s email address so we can invite her to another book discussion?

Our group had some discussion about the history of the Census and the changes over the years as to how various skin colors were described. Dennis remembered that the census in Nazi Germany had rules about how to describe Jews similar to the rules in the United States about the Negroes and also about native Americans. Pam’s chart said that it was in the Census for the year 2000 that the term “African-American” was used for the first time. 

Thoughts continued to the end of the discussion. Jay liked our discussing this book about racial history on Martin Luther King Day. Shirley wondered whether blood transfusion changes someone’s DNA. A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Carol told us a quote from Mother Theresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Media Programming mentioned during the discussion: Lemony Snicket’s ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’, on Netflix
‘Emerald City’ on NBC
Hidden Figures – Feature Film

Notes written by Pam are in red. Thanks to Pam

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