Are you ready to take on the challenge? Some intrepid members of the genre X book discussion group are attempting a special side project this winter – to read the entirety of the 1079 page behemoth, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, in just three months. This project, modeled after the summer of 2009 web sensation Infinite Summer, is a simple one. Start the book around December 21st and finish by March 21st. This works out to around 12 pages a day, or 75 pages a week.
If you want to supplement your reading with some commentary by four talented writers reading Infinite Jest for the first time, the Infinite Summer page has developed a web index with new blog postings that correspond with the paced progress here.
You can also connect with other genre X readers on this posting, and feel free to talk to the group in person at our regular book discussions in January, February, and March. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines…
We’re excited to be kicking off the New Year with a contemporary classic and favorite, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Easily one of the most critically acclaimed books of the last decade, Middlesex is also the second book in the genre X vault to have been awarded the esteemed Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. What can we say? We have great taste.
For those new to the book, here’s a brief but enticing review from Amazon.com:
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” And so begins Middlesex, the mesmerizing saga of a near-mythic Greek American family and the “roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time.” The odd but utterly believable story of Cal Stephanides, and how this 41-year-old hermaphrodite was raised as Calliope, is at the tender heart of this long-awaited second novel from Jeffrey Eugenides, whose elegant and haunting 1993 debut, The Virgin Suicides, remains one of the finest first novels of recent memory.
Eugenides weaves together a kaleidoscopic narrative spanning 80 years of a stained family history, from a fateful incestuous union in a small town in early 1920s Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit; from the early days of Ford Motors to the heated 1967 race riots; from the tony suburbs of Grosse Pointe and a confusing, aching adolescent love story to modern-day Berlin. Eugenides’s command of the narrative is astonishing. He balances Cal/Callie’s shifting voices convincingly, spinning this strange and often unsettling story with intelligence, insight, and generous amounts of humor.
If you’re ready to curl up with Eugenides this winter, stop by the Oak Park Public Library‘s second floor Adult & Teen Services desk to pick up a copy of Middlesex. And whether you’re reading it for the first time or revisiting it, we hope you’ll join us for a discussion at Molly Malone’s (upstairs) on Tuesday, January 25, at 8pm.
Wondering what other great titles 2011 will bring? Be sure to become a member of genre X’s Goodreads group for regular updates and to see what’s on our To-read shelf. All scheduled discussions will take place of the “finish date” listed.
Well with another fantastic book swap behind us, we’re closing the book on genre X 2010. Thanks to all who braved the frigid temperatures to swap with us, to the Friends of the the Oak Park Public Library for sponsoring our event, and especially to Desiree and Jennifer who baked some delicious cookies for us all.
We tried something new this year and decided to go around the table and discuss our favorite genre X selections for 2010. We had nearly unanimous opinions on our two favorites, Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. People also mentioned other favorites like The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Its been a good year for genre X books!
After our discussion, we commenced with the swap. The gift books were great and the competition was fierce, but here’s a list of the choices our swappers had to choose from, in order of opening.
Thanks again to all who came out and helped us ring out the 2010 year in style. We’re looking forward to seeing you for our discussion of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on Tuesday, January 25th at 8 pm at Molly Malone’s in Forest Park. See you next year…
We’ve managed to read quite a few authors with baffling last names in the history of genre X, haven’t we? So many authors have difficult-to-pronounce last names to go along with their fantastic books, and we always feel a little bad when we’re convinced of a specific pronunciation, only to find out we’ve been saying it wrong all along. So little guides like this are really helpful–wonder no more about how to pronounce Chabon or Palahniuk!
(We can’t help but wonder why Matt Groening is on the list, and the French students among us might question the authoritative Thoreau pronunciation… but we quibble.)
Still looking for gifts for the literature lover on your list? Check out the Oak Park Public Library’s lovingly created 2010 gift guides. Still looking? Consider some of these fabulous presents for the bookish among you.
There are a million awesome bookplates and bookplate stamps on the interwebs, but this one from Ass Pocket Productions is our current personal favorite. If your literati friend loves the nerdery inspired by custom bookplates, chances are a love of unicorns and puffins insn’t too far behind.
So this may be a be a bit of a cheat as it works for foodies AND book lovers, but this collection of 1400+ recipes published in the Times over the years is a cookbook lover’s dream. Recipes reach as far back as the 1850s and include lots of witty commentary from Hesser, a current NYTs food columnist.
So this artist, Jane Mount, creates these terrific paintings of peoples bookshelves. Sometimes they are of the bookshelves of famous artists or thinkers, like the 20 x 200 print above of Robert Verdi’s bookshelf. Sometimes they are prints of audience favorites, the hardcover Harry Potters. If you really like this person, she will also create a custom painting of whatever books you’d like. She even does gift certificates. We can’t think of a much better gift than that. More gifts after the jump.