by Julie HaleApril, 2001
New fiction for reading groups
April offers several excellent fiction titles for reading groups. BookPage's selections, all newly published in paperback, are listed below. We hope these novels will inspire lively discussion in your book club.
Jim the Boy
By Tony Earley
Set in 1934 in Aliceville, a tiny North Carolina town, this coming-of-age novel is at once simple and sophisticated, a book that examines a young boy's awakening to the world around him. After the death of his father, 10-year-old Jim Glass is raised by his mother and three uncles, an unconventional family that provides him with plenty of security as his life begins to expand. Jim's relationship to his mysterious grandfather; his discovery of the world that lies beyond the confines of Aliceville; his experiences at home and at school all are recounted with a childlike artlessness. But beneath the naivete lies a novel full of complexities, a narrative accomplishment by Earley that made this book a national bestseller.
By John Lanchester
The protagonist of Lanchester's second novel is an accountant who gets fired but doesn't have the heart to tell his family. Fifty-year-old Mr. Phillips leaves for work on Monday as usual, only to aimlessly wander the streets of London in a manner reminiscent of James Joyce's Leopold Bloom. As Mr. Phillips tours the city, London comes alive though his eyes in teeming detail. Battersea Park, Chelsea Bridge, the stately Tate Gallery all arouse humorous and insightful observations in the mind of the hero, for whom the city is riddled with memories and meaning. This is a moving portrait of a man and his idiosyncrasies. A reading group guide is available online at www.penguinputnam.com. For a printed guide, ask your local bookseller.
No Great Mischief
By Alistair MacLeod
In this novel, set in Nova Scotia, the critically acclaimed MacLeod conjures a timeless story about kinship, history and tradition. Torn between the past and the present, the MacDonald clan is at the center of this lyrical family saga. Alexander, a successful orthodontist, looks after his older brother, Calum, an impoverished alcoholic who lives in Toronto. Bound by a bloodline that can be traced back to 18th century Scotland, the pair remembers their past a grandfather too fond of drink, rough older brothers who sleep with rifles in their beds and labor in an Ontario uranium mine in a series of flashbacks at once violent and beautiful. This is a sweeping family epic from the author Michael Ondaatje called one of the greatest undiscovered writers of our time. A reading group guide is available online at www.vintagebooks.com. For a printed guide, call 1-800-793-BOOK or ask your local bookseller.
Has your club recently read an excellent book that sparked good group discussion? If so, BookPage would like to hear about it. Contact us at email@example.com with a description of the book and the reasons for your recommendation. We'll pass the top choices on to our readers.