On a pleasant evening filled with the light of the setting sun, Adrian, Jack, Scott, and Ted gathered at an outside table to talk baseball and our latest book, The Final Season, Tom Stanton’s memoir of the ties that baseball creates between fathers and sons, and between complete strangers across time.
Submitted by Adrian
It was perhaps our most spirited discussion, as it began over email before the meeting even happened on Thursday, and in the meeting our spoken volume was higher than usual. Feelings about the book were almost as strong as feelings about the larger issue of social media and privacy, something that had been in the news that same day as unofficial presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was facing questions over her right to a “zone of privacy” and her use of a personal cell phone during her time working as Secretary of State.
2/16/15, 2:36 PM. Thanks to Emily Stone for correcting some of my attributions and for expanding on some points.
Subnivean: “Beneath the snow.” From the Latin “nivalis” or “niveus” for “snow.” I love that word. I meant to ask the group if they knew what it meant after having read the book. I forgot to do that, so I’ll just write it here. Subnivean. Go forth and use the world wisely and well.
After a strenuous amount of consideration and mathematical wizardry (thanks, Ron), the votes are in, they have been tallied, and we have our winner.
Eight books earned a place on the list of finalists, earning at least one vote:
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War by Jeff Foltz
I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place by Howard Norman
Paddling to Winter by Julie Buckles
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Emerald Mile begins with the surreptitious launching of a boat onto the Colorado River on the night of June 25, 1983. This is the beginning of the titular “fastest ride in history through the heart of the Grand Canyon.” The launch takes up the first five pages of the book. From there, readers should brace themselves. Not because you will be hurtled into the maelstrom of the fastest ride, but because you will then go back to the year 1540 and proceed through all of the Grand Canyon’s history, hearing nothing more about the 1983 speed run until page 181.
It seems this book is being touted in literary and publishing circles as the “next great American novel.” Few of us were impressed with it to that level. In fact, Irv only read 60 pages before disgust overcame interest and he closed the book for good. “By that time the Comanches had abused the whites and the Texans were getting ready to abuse the Mexicans and I had had enough of cruelty and injustice,” he said.
It is the fear of every reader and writer: a world so consumed by technology and the “next best thing,” that simple and ancient practices such as writing or engaging in intelligent conversation fade into obsolescence. Even worse, the written word, the feel and smell of paper, the weight of a book are increasingly lost to electronic substitutes that make reading “easier.” Ease and convenience trump all other considerations. What could happen if the convenience of using electronic devices actually trumped the use of language?
A small group of three met to discuss Howard Norman’s I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place, and while I will refer in passing to some comments from the group, I regretfully will speak of this book mostly from my own perspective. More on that later.
I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place is classified as a memoir. It is a collection of stories that moves from Norman’s childhood in Michigan up through to the early 2000s. Each story, Adrian pointed out, involves a death. In the first story, it is the accidental death of a swan. Young Howard Norman is realizing an interest in birds and sets out to live-trap a duck, perhaps to be closer to the objects of his growing passion. But the trap is accidently sprung by a very territorial swan and culminates in the bird’s drowning.
As reported by Adrian
There were six in attendance at the July meeting to discuss The Boys in the Boat, one of whom was a new member. Welcome, Roberto!
In an email, Ron called it “one of our best books,” and this was echoed by the others at the meeting.