Buzz in Brookline: 2014

It’s a new year and a fresh chance to get a jump start into your weird, strange choices of reading materials. Don’t be alarmed, this is exactly the kind of things we want to you to be reading with us, The Buzz. For 2014, the Brookline Buzz has completed their reading list for the year, divided up into four categories.

To start things right, the first category will be entitled as “Strange Happenings.” What does this mean, you ask? These are the books where strange events occur and the characters are forced to accept the reality of the situation as they try to live. As before, we will be doing a nice mix of graphic novels, fiction, and non-fiction reads to spice it up.

First up, “Black Hole” by Charles Burn!

Black HoleMany may be familiar with this arguably creepy book, in which a bunch of suburban Seattle teens in the mid-1970s start experiencing not only their own personal dramas, but also the realization of strange mutations passed around through sexual encounters. This inexplicable plague causes a range of mutations, from horribly grotesque to mildly odd and easily concealable, but still causes all of the teenagers to rethink their life decisions.




In February, we will be tackling “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales” by Oliver Sacks.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatOliver Sacks, a neurologist interested in both people and disease, takes on the fascinating world of neurological disorders. While this book tells stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations, Sacks remains deeply human in his interactions and recording of his patients. An eye-opener, this book allows us to step into another world and take on a whole new understanding of the patient’s worldview and how one copes with these struggles.



In March, for the last book of this category, we will ready “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

Ready Player OneIn 2044, the real world is total trash and people are expected to escape to the alternative virtual world OASIS, where you can be anyone you want to be, live in any place on ten thousands of planet, and fall in love with the person of your choice. On top of being a part of this virtual world, the creator hid a series of fiendish puzzles within based off of late twentieth century pop culture, in order for a chance to win the ultimate prize. Our hero, Wade Watts, found himself stumbling across the first puzzle and finds himself racing to the end in order to survive against powerful and vicious competitors both in the virtual and real world.


Getting pumped? Brookline is too, and this is just the first batch.

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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

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

Lili Coffee*Shop & Copacetic Comics

On the corner of 3038 Dobson St., nestled in the middle of Polish Hill, there’s a red brick building that holds three very exciting destinations:

1. Lili Coffee*Shop – coffee, food, music

2. Copacetic Comics – all sorts of visual fun

3. Mindcure Records – buy,l sell & trade

If you haven’t been to Polish Hill in a while, or thought that it was mostly houses and Gooski’s, then you’ve been missing a lot!  There’s a pool, a Civic Association, a place to make art, a gorgeous church, and these three shops, not to mention an all-around cute, friendly neighborhood.

 

Polish Hill! photo by flickr user niemster

When the Book Buzz committee was deciding on what titles to pick and where to discuss them, I immediately thought that we should discuss a graphic novel at Lili Coffee*Shop, because I’d recently been there for a talk and signing by 2 new comics luminaries and had had a chance to visit the comic shop upstairs.  Lili is a small space packed with charm (and a delicious tempeh reuben), and they manage to host a variety of events, including live bands and literary readings. Copacetic is a treasure trove of independent comics. It would be the perfect place to discuss a graphic novel!

If Dan’s post on Black Hole piques your interest, I hope to see you at Lili Coffee*Shop on August 20th to discuss the book!

-Tessa