Richard Reeder is a literary enthusiast who has published his first book, "Chicago Sketches." He is an instructor in the Oakton Community College Emeritus Program, moderates the Chicago Jewish Authors series and the Cliff Dwellers book club.
2019 CLIFF DWELLERS BOOK CLUB READING LIST
January 26-The Lake on Fire-Rosellen Brown (the author will be joining us)
February 23-Redlined-Linda Gartz (the author will be joining us)
March 23-Mr. Dooley’s Chicago-Barbara Schaaf
April 27-Native Son-Richard Wright
May 25-Chicago-David Mamet
June 22-Time for Frankie Coolin-Bill Granger
July 27- The Pit-Frank Norris
August 24-Compulsion-Meyer Levin
September 28-Jennie Gerhardt –Theodore Dreiser
October 26-Chicago Renaissance- Liesl Olson (the author will be joining us)
November 23-The Old-Time Saloon-George Ade (get the edition with an introduction and notes by Bill Savage)
Cliff Dwellers and non-Cliff Dwellers are all welcome at our Chicago-themed book club. We meet at 11:00 am on the fourth Saturday of the month (except December) at the Cliff Dwellers, 200 S. Michigan, 22nd Floor. There is no cost to attend. The moderator for the book club is Richard Reeder, who can be contacted at email@example.com
I must admit that I was surprised this past Tuesday when I learned that Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her novel “Milkman.” Before you select it as a choice for your book clubs, please be advised that it is a difficult read. I struggled mightily getting into the flow of the narrative, finally becoming deeply engaged in the story about halfway through the book.
“Milkman” is the tale of a young woman embroiled in the intrigues of Belfast in The Troubles of the 1970s. It is told compellingly in her voice in a Kafkaesque narrative. Obscurity of place and name is intentional. The setting of the book, unmentioned Belfast, is a dark and confining place, a city of intrigue and perpetual conflict, where neutrality in the struggle is not an option for its residents.
Anna Burns becomes the first author from Northern Ireland to win the coveted Booker. “Milkman” will not be available in the States until December 11th.
I am urging all my literary friends in Chicago to attend a fun event on the evening of September 15 to support the good works of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. The event will be at the penthouse party room at 1700 E. 56th Street with a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. The main activities for this fundraising event will be Trivia Contest (mostly literary stuff) and a Silent Auction. It will also be an evening of good food and drink, music, and conversation with your fellow literary enthusiasts. More information on the program and how to register for the event can be found on chicagoliteraryhof.org
I believe that the American movie viewing audience with a literary bent will surely enjoy The Wife. The film, based on the Meg Wolitzer novel of the same name, focuses on the lives of Joe Castleman, the esteemed American author who has been selected as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, his wife Joan, and their son David. The year is 1992, with flashbacks going back to the 1950s, when Jane is Joe’s student in a literature class at Smith College, and later into the 1960s when Joan becomes Joe’s second wife and the supportive partner in his blossoming writing career. Meanwhile the grown-up David has also chosen to write and is trying desperately to gain his father’s respect and recognition for his work.
Glenn Close is superb in the role of the older Jane. She is hiding secrets and suppressing emotions, and this is revealed by viewing the subtle changes of her face and reading her body language. One can see the strong influence of Ingmar Bergman on Swedish director Bjorn Runge’s direction of her complex and unpredictable character.
On the other hand, I found Joe, whose older embodiment is played by Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce, and whose younger one is played by Harry Lloyd, as well as the adult son Max, played by British-Irish actor Max Irons (Jeremy’s son), to be both predictable and stereotypical in their behavior. Joe, who comes across as an amalgam of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, is the poor Brooklyn Jew hungering and hustling for fame and fortune in the literary world. David’s incessant brooding over his father’s seemingly negative opinion of his writing gets a bit tiresome at times.
Yet the story has a strong and compelling narrative and a powerful ending that delivers quite an emotional punch to the gut. The pageantry and the backstage antics of the Nobel Prize ceremony were fun to watch. Christian Slater is effective in his role as Nathaniel, the journalist who is Joe’s unctuous would-be biographer traveling to Stockholm to cover the ceremony and dig up dirt on the family. Glenn Close gives one of the best performances of her long film career and is certainly deserving of an Oscar nomination. For that alone, this movie should be seen.
I will once again be teaching James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Oakton College Emeritus program in Skokie beginning Wednesday afternoon beginning September 26. The campus is located at 7701 North Lincoln Avenue. The class is from 1:30 to 3:30 and runs nine consecutive Wednesdays through November 21. Ulysses is arguably the greatest novel ever written in the English language. Admittedly, the reader is intellectually challenged by the book. But it is well worth the effort. On the surface, it is primarily a story of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus and their travels and travails through Dublin and its environs during the day and evening of June 16, 1904. The book concludes with Molly Bloom’s unforgettable soliloquy. The reader soon recognizes the genius of Joyce through the novel’s fantastic dialogue and cascading narrative. The marvelous cast of characters leaps forward out of Joyce’s unbridled imagination and into the reader’s mind and soul. I hope that some of you will consider taking this course, and feel free to share this information with others who may have interest. Registration can be done online at http://www.oakton.edu/conted or by phone at 847-982-9888.
The 2018 Man Booker Prize longlist has just been announced:
Author and Title:
Belinda Bauer (UK) Snap
Anna Burns (UK) Milkman
Nick Drnaso (USA) Sabrina
Esi Edugyan (Canada) Washington Black
Guy Gunaratne (UK) In Our Mad and Furious City
Daisy Johnson (UK) Everything Under
Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) The Water Cure
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) Warlight
Richard Powers (USA) The Overstory
Robin Robertson (UK) The Long Take
Sally Rooney (Ireland) Normal People
Donal Ryan (Ireland) From A Low And Quiet Sea
This year’s longlist includes 6 writers from the UK; 3 from the U.S.; 2 from Canada; and 2 from Ireland. Seven of the authors are women. For the first time, a graphic novel, Sabrina, has been nominated.
This coming Tuesday, on July 24, the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist will be announced in London. It’s a pity that the Prize committee changed its eligibility rules a few years back. I favored the original sui generis eligibility criteria, where only British authors and authors from the former Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe could qualify for the competition.
Now it is open to all authors of books written in English, no matter where they come from, as long as the book they wrote was published in the UK. Distinctiveness of the competition is a thing of the past. As most expected, the American publishing industry with its financial and marketing clout has dominated the submission process. The last two winners have been American. I think that it is time for the committee to seriously reconsider going back to the original eligibility rules and restore the unique nature of the Man…