November 2018 Book Read -Circe

Shirley brings us our November Read , Circe by Madeline Miller.
See below for a Washington Post review:

The archaeological evidence is sketchy, but the first pussy hat was probably knitted by Circe. Among nasty women, the witch of Aeaea has held a place of prominence since Homer first sang of her wiles. For most of us, that was a long time ago — 700 B.C. or freshman English — but popular interest in “The Odyssey” picked up last fall when Emily Wilson published the first English translation by a woman. Wilson, a classicist at the University of Pennsylvania, described Circe as “the goddess who speaks in human tongues” and reminded us that what makes this enchantress particularly dangerous is that she is as beautiful as she is powerful.


(Little, Brown)

That combination of qualities has excited male desire and dread at least since Athena sprang from the head of Zeus. On papyrus or Twitter, from Olympus to Hollywood, we have a roster of handy slurs and strategies to keep women caught between Scylla and Charybdis: either frigid or slutty, unnaturally masculine or preternaturally sexless, Lady Macbeth or Mother Mary.

Now, into that ancient battle — reinvigorated in our own era by the #MeToo movement — comes an absorbing new novel by Madeline Miller called “Circe.” In his 1726 translation of “The Odyssey,” Alexander Pope claimed that Circe possessed an “adamantine heart,” but Miller finds the goddess’s affections wounded, complicated and capable of extraordinary sympathy. And to anyone who thinks that women can be shamed into silence, this witch has just one thing to say: “That’ll do, pig.”

Her other choices:
American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

October Book Read- Pachinko

Review by “Byron” Jan 20, 2018 on Amazon website.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a family saga about a four generations of a Korean family that is set in Korea and Japan. It’s a National Book Award finalist, and, in what may be an even greater honor than that, it made my Favorite Books list.

…………. It’s like explaining why a rainbow is beautiful. I can talk about how the colors are pretty or how it made me feel, but there is something about rainbows, sunsets, and the best works of art that transcends easy explanation. You just have to experience them. Read Pachinko.

The format of the book is straightforward. It proceeds chronologically from about 1900-ish to 1989 and follows various characters that belong to one family. It never sprawls out of control – ……………. The prose is simple and straightforward, generally consisting of short, direct sentences. There’s not a lot of fluff. Therefore, the book reads quickly, despite being an almost 500 page family saga about sexism, fate, hard work, destiny, chance, war, poverty, racism, familial obligations, identity, immigration, citizenship, language, education, opportunity, community, and faith.

The main characters are diverse, interesting, flawed, and generally fundamentally good people. ….. This isn’t a story populated with characters that have grand, clear character arcs. This made them feel more realistic to me. …… Most people I know just try to keep their heads down, work to put food on the table, and hope for good opportunities for their children.

I’ve said before that I am a fan of history, and I was generally ignorant of Korean culture in JapanPachinko is not some dry history lesson, though. It’s as entertaining as a soap opera.

The other choices were:

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
The Last Days of Night, Graham Moore