01
Aug
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The Reading List: August 2012

FIRST HALF OF THE MONTH: OBEDIENCE

When the students of in Winchester University’s Logic and Reasoning 204 arrive for their first day of class, they are greeted not with a syllabus or texts, but with a startling assignment from Professor Williams: Find a hypothetical missing girl named Polly. If after being given a series of clues and details the class has not found her before the end of the term in six weeks, she will be murdered.

At first the students are as intrigued by the premise of their puzzle as they are wary of the strange and slightly creepy Professor Williams. But as they delve deeper into the mystery, they begin to wonder: Is the Polly mystery simply a logic exercise, designed to teach them rational thinking skills, or could it be something more sinister and dangerous?

The mystery soon takes over the lives of three students as they find disturbing connections between Polly and themselves. Characters that were supposedly fictitious begin to emerge in reality. Soon, the boundary between the classroom assignment and the real world becomes blurred – and the students wonder if it is their own lives they are being asked to save.

AUTHOR: WILL LAVENDER

Will Lavender is a writing and literature professor and holds an MFA in creative writing from Bard College. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife and children and is currently working on a second novel.

SECOND HALF OF THE MONTH: INDIGNATION

It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg, College. And why is he there and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighbourhood butcher, seems to have gone mad – mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy.

As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father’s fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces to much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.

Indignation, Philip Roth’s twenty-ninth book, tells the story of the young man’s education in life’s terrifying chances and bizarre obstructions. It is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage, and error. It is a story told with all the inventive energy and wit Roth has at his command, at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in his recent books and a powerful addition to his investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual.

AUTHOR: PHILIP ROTH

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot against America received the Society of American Historians’ prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.

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my read shelf:
Jowana Bueser's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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