Book choice for November 2011

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare [suggested by Steve Tabner]

front cover

This is Chesterton's most famous novel. On its face it appears to be a detective story filled with politics and intrigue par excellence. Moving through this literary masterpiece it becomes clear that this thriller is nothing less than the mystery of creation itself. Upon its debut critics called The Man Who Was Thursday "amazingly clever," "a remarkable acrobatic performance", and "a scurrying, door-slamming farce that ends like a chapter in the Apocalypse."

Drawing on contemporary fears of anarchist conspiracies and bomb outrages, the setting is firmly set in its time and place - turn of the century London - but it also defies temporal boundaries. Police detective Gabriel Syme finds himself drawn into a world that has gone beyond humanity when he infiltrates the society of militant anarchists and is elected "Thursday", one of the members of the Central European Council of seven monarchs.

Dreamlike, prophetic, and frequently funny, the novel attacks contemporary pessimism and through a bizarre series of pursuits and unmaskings, returns Syme - and us - to reality more aware of its beauty, promise, and creative potential.

Wikipedia entry.

About the Author

Wikipedia Entry.
Author's website (created by a fan - includes an open source transcript of his biography by Masie Ward).

 

Shortlisted for this month

Book selectors can bring one, two or three books for selection, although it's usual to bring three. This month Steve's selections were:

Le Grand Meaulnes

Le Grand Meaulnes

Wikipedia page.
Le Grand Meaulnes is the only novel by French author Alain-Fournier. Fifteen-year-old Fran├žois Seurel narrates the story of his relationship with seventeen-year-old Augustin Meaulnes as Meaulnes searches for his lost love. Impulsive, reckless and heroic, Meaulnes embodies the romantic ideal, the search for the unobtainable, and the mysterious world between childhood and adulthood. It is considered one of the great works of French literature. [from the Wikipedia entry]

Film adaptations have been made in both 1967 and 2006.

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
Author's biography.

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon

Wikipedia page.
Film adaptation.
Daniel Keyes wrote little SF but is highly regarded for one classic, Flowers for Algernon. As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.

Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:

I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.
I dint know mice were so smart.

Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...

Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. [David Langford writing on Amazon]

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
Author's website (includes short biography).

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
November 2010
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