Monthly Archives: June 2012

Immortal HeLa

The Crandall Public Library Monday Evening Book Discussion Group gathered on June 18, 2012 to discuss Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The festivities began with the presentation of a BBC documentary titled The Way of All Flesh.  Directed by Adam Curtis, the film did a fine job of telling Henrietta’s story, and illustrating early efforts to eradicate cancer. The conversation that followed was short but sweet, and focused on three themes.

The first of these was medical ethics, and the second was issues revolving around race and poverty.  The third motif was the writing process itself. In consideration of this, I thought that the group might enjoy the The Open Notebook’s How Rebecca Skloot Built the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Among other things, the interview examines the work’s structure, and Ms. Skloot’s decision to include herself in the narrative.  The piece contains some fascinating insight.  You can check it out here.

Linkage

Rebecca Skloot’s Home Page

NPR Interview

RadioLab Interview

New York Times Review

Rebecca Skloot talks about influential figures

Henrietta Lacks Foundation

Recommended Reading

If you liked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, then the following two medically themed tomes might be just what the doctor ordered.

1) Cancer has fascinated and frightened me since I was a kid, metastasizing vividly across my imagination over the course of a lifetime.  Perhaps that’s why Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer is on my must read short listAccording to Amazon, which selected the work as its one of its Best Books of the Month, November 2010, Mr. Mukherjee has authored:

“…a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.”

Sound interesting? If so, you can dissect The Emperor of All Maladies at LibraryThing. Even better, fetch a library copy here.

2) Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard educated neuroanatomist who suffered a massive stroke in 1996.  In essence, My Stroke of Insight: a Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey is her accounting of the event, and the profound recovery that followed.   Truly, this one encompasses body, mind and soul.  Rather than post a critical review, I thought that you might enjoy Dr. Taylor’s TED Talk, which I have posted below.  Further insight about her book can be found at LibraryThing.  Grab a library copy here.

Parting Shot

I am excited and intrigued at the prospect of our July 16, 2012 meeting, which will feature Yoko Ogawa’s novel The Housekeeper and the Professor.  I think that Booklist does a nice job of distilling the work’s essence:

 “[A] mysterious, suspenseful, and radiant fable . . . The smart and resourceful housekeeper, the single mother of a baseball-crazy 10-year-old boy the Professor adores, falls under the spell of the beautiful mathematical phenomena the Professor elucidates, as will the reader, and the three create an indivisible formula for love.”

Oh, the irony!  Was it not just last month when I was complaining about the shilling of books?  In any case, have a fantastic Fourth of July, and we’ll see you soon.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Reading List

Thanks to everybody who voted and helped select our reading materials for the second-half of 2012.  Click on the titles for detailed information via LibraryThing.  Survey says… 

July 16, 2012
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Fiction (192 pages)
“[A] mysterious, suspenseful, and radiant fable . . . The smart and resourceful housekeeper, the single mother of a baseball-crazy 10-year-old boy the Professor adores, falls under the spell of the beautiful mathematical phenomena the Professor elucidates, as will the reader, and the three create an indivisible formula for love.”
– Booklist

August 20, 2012
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Non-Fiction (320 pages)
West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham–aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty–and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and ’30s. Regarded by many as one of the best adventure books ever!”
–Amazon

September 17, 2012
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Fiction (335 pages)
“…an exploration into the mysteries of friendship…this is a wonderfully rich, warm, and affecting book. Highly recommended.”
–Library Journal

October 15, 2012
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Non-Fiction (496 pages)
“A master class in narrative storytelling…Extraordinarily moving…A powerfully drawn survival epic.”
–The Wall Street Journal

November 19, 2012
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
“Told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a richly imagined portrait of bohemian 1920s Paris, and of American literature’s original bad boy.”
-Town & Country

December 17, 2012
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Fiction (384 pages)
“Rich with historical detail-including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others-My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.”
–Amazon

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shameless Plug…

I just wanted to let everybody know that I’ve been hard at work preparing for our June 18, 2012 discussion of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Further, Anne Nelson discovered a BBC documentary about Ms. Lacks, which I am hoping to show during the course of the evening.  It’s titled The Way of All Flesh, appeared well before Ms. Skloot’s magnum opus was written, and ought to generate further points of discussion.  So, get ready for an evening of film, food, fellowship, and fine conversation.  I look forward to seeing you there.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized