CapRadio Reads

CapRadio Reads is a book club and online reading community, hosted by Capital Public Radio. Moderator Vicki Lorini and host Donna Apidone encourage you to participate in person or on the website.

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August 2015 book selection

Posts About Go Set A Watchman 

About Chapter 8

August 3, 2015

If you haven't gotten to chapter 8 in our August selection, Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, and you are planning to finish the book, look away now. 
Even if you haven't gotten there, it is hard to believe you have not heard the hoopla about Atticus Finch's racism. Since many of us have held him up as an example of goodness for all these years, this, more than any other thing written about the book, has offended us. How can it be? I suppose we need to ask the editor, but it doesn't matter, since it appears that is how he was originally written. 
Of course, even Scout can't believe it. She accidentally finds a reference in his papers to "The Black Plague," and she dismisses it as not belonging to her father. But Alexandra knows the pamphlet and doesn't mind it so much; after all, Atticus brought it back from the White Citizen's meeting. Still not believing what she is hearing, Scout (or Jean Louise) goes to the courtroom in town to find her father. What she finds is disturbing to her and to this reader. Does she know her father at all? Do we? She is shamed and sad, and so am I. I am sorry this first draft of what would become one of my favorite books has surfaced. 
What do you think about it? I can't WAIT to hear. 
I'll hope to see you at one of our two Face to Face meetings on August 11 at 2pm or 6pm and we can all have our say. 

A Big Decision and Two Meetings

July 28, 2015

When I chose Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee as our August read, I knew there would be discussion about how well it was written. I think we all assumed it would never top her To Kill a Mockingbird in terms of  writing excellence or character development. I'm not sure any of us had an idea of the turmoil the book would cause in the literary world, or how many words would be written about the newly published book. I'll admit, I probably have more conversations about books than the average person. After all, my entire working life has been in books, and many of my friends come from this world as well, but even for me, this is overwhelming. Today, while reading an online piece in the New Yorker about musician Kasey Musgraves, there was a reference to Harper Lee and other Southern writers who have written about "home.” Because Andrew Marantz is a very talented writer, I will not attempt to paraphrase his article, but instead, am including part of it here for your perusal. 

"1935, the Kentucky-born poet Allen Tate wrote about the dilemma of writing Southern literature that would be ‘read curiously as travel literature by Northern people alone.’ This is not exclusively a Southern problem. Artists of many extractions have struggled with the question of how much of their people’s dirty laundry they should air in public—see, e.g., Philip Roth’s “Writing About Jews,” or Dave Chappelle’s explanation, to Oprah Winfrey, of why he quit his show (‘I know the difference between people laughing with me and people laughing at me’). In 1978, in an essay called ‘Going Back to Georgia,’ Walker Percy wrote, ‘One nice lady in my home town said to me the other day: “You’re just like certain other Southern writers—no sooner do they get published in New York than they turn on the South and criticize it.” I didn’t have the nerve but I felt like saying: ‘You’re damn right, lady. I sure do.’ ”

Another chronicler of Southern life, Harper Lee, is currently the best-selling author in the country. In her beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, Lee portrays Maycomb as a bucolic Alabama town, despite its flaws; in Go Set a Watchman, published last week by HarperCollins, Maycomb is overrun with conformists and hypocrites. “There’s no place for me in Maycomb, and I’ll never be entirely at home any place else,” Jean Louise Finch says.

In Go Set a Watchman, Jean Louise’s Uncle Jack tells her, “It takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days. You don’t have it yet, but you have a shadow of the beginnings of it.” According to Watchman’s publisher, Harper Lee wrote the book in the nineteen-fifties, as an early draft of what would become Mockingbird. There are reasons to doubt this version of events; but, on its face, it is plausible that an artist’s first depiction of her home town would over-represent its flaws, and that her second attempt would overcorrect toward sappiness. A more mature authorial voice would be a synthesis between the two—neither self-righteously indignant nor willfully naïve. It’s safe to assume that Lee, who is eighty-nine, will never write such a book.

Well, there you have it.  Read the book, do your own research, or simply come and listen to the conversations. We now have two options for your CapRadio Reads enjoyment.  Sign up for the 2pm or the 6pm meeting on Tuesday, August 11, and I'll see you at both.

In Conversation with Donna Apidone

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The Bonds Of Friendship Stay Strong In 'Stranger'

August 4, 2015

Newbery Medal-winning author Rebecca Stead says her latest, Goodbye Stranger, is about love and how it helps a trio of seventh-grade girls stay friends through the challenges of middle school.


Exploring The 'Wild And Haunting World Of Dolphins'

August 4, 2015

In her new book, Voices in the Ocean, Susan Casey describes the life of dolphins and details some new threats the animals face, such as organized dolphin kills and man-made sounds in the ocean.

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Remembering Cal Tjader

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Julia B. Levine On Finding Poetry

July 2, 2015

Julia B. Levine is a clinical psychologist in Davis. She won the 2014 northern CA Book Award for Poetry. Levine will share some of her work on Insight.