Brookline Wants to Know Your Feelings

After many sessions of reading items from early 1990s teenage cruelty in comic form to exploring presidential assassinations, we are now moving on to even weirder, but probably awesome, reads. So far, we have seen and heard various emotional feedback; that is, having stories that make people angry, sad, happy, and confused. Luckily, this is exactly what we have been aiming for to make this Book Buzz group a true success.

How do this make you feel?!

How do this make you feel?!

Having said that, our next book happens to be a heavily debated novel, “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart, where all the reviews (professional and personal) are solidly split between ‘best book I’ve ever read’ and ‘this is the worst thing I could have ever picked up.’ We can’t describe exactly how excited we are to hear about everyone’s reactions to this particularly questionable choice since it’s expected to receive everything from disgust to delight, and those silly feelings in between. You may question why we are seeking these strange feelings that are not just of simple delight and pleasing satisfaction following a good read, but let’s face it: Shouldn’t a read that is truly worth the effort make you think and cause you to react emotionally in all sorts of manner? If the book you have read only makes you smile peacefully or be bored by the end, then you are not experiencing the amazing worlds of literature in the right way.

A brief overview of “Super Sad True Love Story” (which is technically not a love story) from Publishers Weekly: “Mired in protracted adolescence, middle-aged Lenny Abramov is obsessed with living forever (he works for an Indefinite Life Extension company), his books (an anachronism of this indeterminate future), and Eunice Park, a 20-something Korean-American. Eunice, though reluctant and often cruel, finds in Lenny a loving but needy fellow soul and a refuge from her overbearing immigrant parents.” A tip of the iceberg summary, this book is a mess of political takeovers, a cartoon otter in a cowboy hat, alternating points-of-views (diary entries vs online correspondences), and the nightmare of tomorrow. We don’t know what to expect, we don’t know how you and we will feel, and we just don’t know what’s to come.

Join us at Cannon Coffee down the still-intact Brookline Boulevard to talk about how this book made you react while gulping down angry mugs of coffee, happy shots of espresso, and sad cups of tea. Check you later!

– Brookline crew


Get Your Coffee Buzz On

Sitting in a coffee shop with coconut macaroon cookies, cup of coffee (or tea or mocha or americano…), and a good book with people does sound like a great time, right? Luckily, we of CLP-Brookline found some like-minded comrades in our quest for alternative reading this past Thursday at the local favorite, Cannon Coffee, as well deciding on our first two reads!

This book will blow your mind.

This book will blow your mind.

First up, by an unanimous vote, the just-got-to-know-ya book group have selected our April book to be Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, an eye-opening graphic novel memoir about a young girl’s complex relationship with her father growing up while having to help out with the family business of running a (fun)eral home. She discovers things about her father she never knew until after his death, and strangely enough, she develops a stronger connection to him than ever before.

Do you enjoy graphic novels? Then you will love this.

Never read a graphic novel before? This is worth the chance. You should take it.

Heck, already read this a million times? You should probably come.

This book will also make you question everything you have ever done.

This book will also make you question everything you have ever done.

If this isn’t enough to sway you, our May book will be Downtown Owl (and on CD, how delightful!), written by Chuck Klosterman. While Chuck is usually the guy behind heavily intricate essays on pop culture and the what-of-it notion of understanding, this is his first fiction novel. Set in a fictional town of 1983 Middle America, he spins a story of several characters who eventually become intertwined due to a historically accurate snowstorm that led to a few deaths. While this is not a graphic novel, you will still become immersed with his affectionate irony and modern humor.

The next meeting for Brookline Book Buzz is scheduled for April 25th at 6 PM at Cannon Coffee, the hippest coffee shop off the I-79 corridor. Coffee is produced by Commonplace Coffee Co., and let me just throw this out there: They have a sweet outdoor patio in the back. Don’t you want to sit outside in warm weather, drinking your iced coffee, and talking about awesome books? I know you do.

The sweetness that awaits you

The sweetness that awaits you

Wide Awake by David Levithan

Wide Awake by David Levithan is the Book Buzz selection for November.  David Levithan is an award-winning author and editor of books for teens and young adults.  He is a publisher and editor at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint.  Along with Wide Awake, he is the author of Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Nick & Norah’s infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), Love is the Higher Law, The Lover’s Dictionary, Every Day, and many more.  So, to whet your appetite, here is a sample of great lines and funny words from Wide Awake by David Levithan.

“Because words mattered.  Winning the words was a good part of the battle.” (p7)

“School is its own country.” (p7)

” ‘The personal is political’ Jimmy said to me one of the first nights I sneaked over to his house, ‘and the political is personal.  We vote every time we make a choice.  We vote with our lives’.” (p21)

“I also wanted to give him something he could hold in his hand.  It didn’t have to be expensive, only valuable.”  (p43)

“It’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world.” (p50)

“Even my voice had seen.” (p57)

“I thought I might change my mind about changing my mind.” (p88)

“I knew he was going to think less of me, but I hoped to minimize the lessness.”  (p90)

“Scorn.  I hit the vein of scorn.” (p91)

“I’ve seen facts get harder and harder to hide–and easier and easier to manipulate.”  (p102)

“My voice was a bare whisper, a pencil mark in the air.”  (p107)

“There was an ounce of further caution in our comfort.”  (p119)

“I knew right away he was rainbow spinkles and he hasn’t proven me wrong yet.”  (p129)

“Most were Stein/Martinez supporters experiencing the power of arrival.” (p134)

“Bodies and banners and signs, clothes of all colors, faces of all ages.”  (p140)

“Once again it felt like history.  But this time our piece was even bigger.”  (p140)

“It was if the air became so saturated with our voices that we were breathing sound.”  (p158)

“It was something beyond a standing ovation–it was a living ovation.”  (p158)

“To add to the thereness of the moment.  To say we would not be moved.”  (p160)

“We’d watched as its first leaves turned the yellow of raincoats.”  (p174)

“She looked like her thoughts hadn’t slept at all since she left.”  (p189)

“I was there.  Just one young gay Jew in a sea of people.  Just one lone voice in an enormous body of sound,  Just one unique person at one unique moment, there to witness something monumental.  I was part of history.  We are all part of history.”  (p221)

Funny Words

sniggering  (p33)

happy zoom  (p40)

thrumping  (p53)

gnashed  (p71)

chainmarts  (p133)

foolio  (p140)

gripple (p150)

hinky jinky  (p181)


Black Hole Discussion Starter

I have scoured the internet for Black Hole Discussion questions!  And now I will synthesize them into a list for you to think about in anticipation for the discussion in ONE WEEK (squee).

banished to the woods. photo by flickr user Emanuele Monaco

1. What did you think of the mutations?  If you were mutated, how do you think it would manifest in you (think of your teenage self).

2a. Black Hole has a horror feel to it.  Did you feel any of that horror or did the plight of its characters seem banal?

2b. How did the artwork add to or detract from the plot and atmosphere? Did it make you more uncomfortable than if it were just described in prose?

3. What do you think the main theme or emotion of Black Hole is and where do you see it working in the story?

4. Do you think the mutations are a metaphor for something in our society?

Sources and further questions to think about:

Association of College & Research Libraries Guide

Arapahoe Library District questions & the group’s answers

The Goodreads Book Club discussion of Black Hole

It’s also worth checking out the history of Black Hole being optioned/adapted for film. Neil Gaiman was once hired to be the scriptwriter for an as-yet-unmade full length production, and Rupert Sanders of Snow White and the Hunstman/Kristen Stewart affair fame did a short adapatation that can be found on Vimeo.  I haven’t watched it… yet.  But it’s probalby NSFW.  More info here.

Charles Burns did an animation of his own work a couple years back, for a festival of short films called Fear(s) of the Dark, and he talks about it here.

See you in a week!

– Tessa