Book choice for August 2017

The Fortress of Solitude [suggested by John Beresford]

The Fortress of Solitude

This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They live in Brooklyn and are friends and neighbours; but since Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple.

This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the simplest decisions - what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money - are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is also the story of 1990s America, when nobody cared anymore.

This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: they would screw up their lives. [Product description from Amazon]

The book has a Wikipedia page.

Author's Wikipedia page.
Author's website.

 

Shortlisted for this month

The "alternative selection scheme" was in operation this month, and we had decided on a theme of "music". In this scheme, everyone who comes to the meeting brings one book idea. If the book has been read by anyone else at the meeting, it is disqualified (simply to reduce the number we have to vote on), and the remaining books are presented and voted on as normal. Normally, I would list here the two highest scoring runners up, but since the only other books to receive votes each scored 2, this month's three "other choices", in order of suggestion, were:

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love [suggested by Sarah Stansfeld]

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

Cuban brothers Nestor and Cesar Camillo come to New York City in 1949 with dreams of becoming famous Mambo musicians. This memorable novel traces the arc of the two brothers' lives -- one charismatic and macho, the other soulful and sensitive -- from Havana to New York, from East Coast clubs and dance halls to the heights of musical fame. [product description from Amazon]

The book has a Wikipedia page.

Author's Wikipedia page.
Hijuelos doesn't have a website, but here's his entry on biography.com.

 

From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars [suggested by Clare Freeman]

From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars

Virginia Grohl, mother of Dave Grohl, had not seen any of it coming. Not the arenas of screaming fans, not Nirvana or the Foo Fighters, not the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and certainly not her son, Dave, performing with Sir Paul McCartney at The White House. Theirs had always been a life full of music - the Grohl family sang together on long car trips, harmonising to Motown and David Bowie - yet Virginia never expected her son to become a musician. But when Virginia saw Nirvana play for the first time to crazed applause from thousands of screaming fans, she knew nothing would ever be the same. She was the mother of a rock star.

And as Virginia watched her son's star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children's fame? Virginia often wondered about the mystical force that urges some of us to listen, to play, to surround ourselves with music. She wanted to talk about it with the other mothers whose sons and daughters were sharing stages with Dave, and she decided to seek them out wherever they were. So began a two-year odyssey, where she had conversations with such women from all over the world as Verna Griffin, Dr Dre's mother, Carolyn Williams, Pharell William's mother, Janis Winehouse, Amy Winehouse's mother, Patsy Noah, Adam Levine's mother, Donna Haim, mother to the Haim sisters and Hester Diamond, Mike D of The Beastie Boys' mother, to name just a few.

From Cradle to Stage will appeal to mothers everywhere, but particularly to those with children who march (or play) to the beat of their own drum; and it's for those children who have their mothers to thank for everything. For music lovers and rock fans, it's the ultimate backstage pass-for anyone who has wondered what it's like to be on the inside...looking out at a packed arena. [Product description from Amazon]

Unsurprisingly "Dave Grohl's mum" isn't enough of a celeb in her own right to have either a Wikipedia page or a website. Unless you count the website for the book itself :o)

 

Ablutions [suggested by Phil Howarth]

Ablutions

A nameless barman tends a decaying bar in Hollywood and takes notes for a book about his clientele. Initially, he is morbidly amused by watching the regulars roll in and fall into their nightly oblivion, pitying them and their loneliness. In hopes of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with them. He also knocks back pills indiscriminately and treats himself to gallons of Jameson's. But as his tenure at the bar continues, he begins to lose himself, trapped by addiction and indecision. When his wife leaves him, he embarks on a series of squalidly random sexual encounters and a downward spiral of self-damage and irrational violence. To cleanse himself and save his soul, he attempts to escape ... [Product description from Amazon]

Author's Wikipedia page.

 

The remaining two suggestions -- The Piano Tuner, and The Cellist of Sarajevo -- received no votes.

 

 

 

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2009

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2008

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2007

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2006

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