Newsletter 102: The Angel Esmeralda

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Summary of the meeting

The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLilloFor the last BookClub of the year, we have read The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo, a collection of 9 stories written between 1979 and 2011. We discussed them one by one, presented by one of the members of the club, and dissect their meaning. Some of them gave a lot to talk about, others left us a bit flabbergasted, not knowing really what they were trying to tell us.

We are used to stories that follow the standards of narrative, i.e. beginning, middle, end, but in this case, they normally lacked a beginning or and end, or both. A member described them as “unfinished stories”, another one said that “the stories ask questions but they don’t really give insights”, and finally another member said that “there are no endings, some middles and no ends: I want some structure!”. Even though this comments, most of the members found that they conveyed an essence, a feeling, even a sensations. Some of them made us feel something; especially “Baader-Meinhof”, which gave us fear and anxiety.

Another issue that was raised was the fact that there wasn’t a theme that united the stories. They seem to be just together in a book, nowhere else. Of the story collections we have read, most of them have a theme, but this doesn’t, although the feeling of alienation seemed to be present in most of the stories.

Don DeLillo, New York City, 1990sThere are stories as short as “The Runner” which gave us to talk, as the woman in this story imagines most of the things that have happened, we have to do an effort and imagine what DeLillo is leaving to our own fantasy. And other stories with more plot, characters and dialogues such as the title story, with two nuns that make us feel some despair.

This story and “Human Moments in World War III” seem to be set in a post-apocalyptic era, with a big theme about the lack of hope for the Human Race. Added to the theme of alienation, we come across some nine stories that give us a sense of desperation. Reading one of his stories is one thing, but reading nine in a row is quite different. But the worse for the members has not been this, but the lack of endings. As one of the members put it, he  might have just thought “I have to write something nobody will understand”.

Of the 9 people who voted it got an 5/10.

My personal opinion

I particularly like stories and I like that they leave room for imagination. I have enjoyed the book and will want to read more of his stories. I don’t know if I would manage a whole book with this desperation, though. Some of them were tough, but I found a few of them very interesting. Especially “Baader-Meinhof” which make me feel so terrified or “The Ivory Acrobat” with all that anxiety.

Hilary's review

Books by the author

Books by Don DeLilloOf the books by Don DeLillo, these are the ones you can find in English at the Libraries of Catalonia:
  • The Body Artist
  • Cosmopolis
  • Falling Man
  • The Names
  • Underworld
  • Zero K

Next book

For January’s meeting we are reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, the sequel of last year BookClub Donation To Kill a Mockingbird.

Book cover of Go Seet a Watchman by Harper Lee

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch –”Scout”– returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her.

Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past –a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision –a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

The meeting will be on Friday January 12th at 7pm at the Library Mestra Maria Antònia, Torredembarra.

Survey results

Thanks a lot for participating in the survey. These are the results:

  • Would you like to do a Summer break? Yes, with an 87%.
  • Would you like to do a Donation during 2018? Yes, with a 100%.
  • Would you like to read…
    • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher?
      Yes, with 65%.
    • theatre play Betrayal by Harold Pinter (Theatre)?
      Yes, with 65%.
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker?
      Yes, with 53%.
    • theatre play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Theatre)?
      No, with 59%.
  • Which book by Doriss Lessing do you prefer?
     The Golden Notebook with a 53%.

Thank you all for the suggestions for book to buy and for the donation; we will discuss this in the near future.

2018 Calendar

MonthAuthorTitle
JanuaryHerper LeeGo Set a Watchman
FebruaryPurchaseTBC
MarchToni MorrisonA Mercy
AprilDoris LessingThe Golden Notebook
MayDonationTBC
JuneDeborah LevyHot Milk
JulyBreak
AugustBreak
SeptemberBram StokerDracula
OctoberJay AsherThirteen Reasons Why
NovemberRobert Louis StevensonAn Apology for Idlers
DecemberHarold PinterBetrayal

Happy Holidays

The BookClub wants to wish you a very happy holidays. We hope you have a lovely time with your families and can relax. It is quite cold so the best is to stay home with a nice cup of tea and a good book.

Also, if you have been good, think about asking Father Christmas, the Three Wise Men or the Magic Dreidel to bring you an e-book reader. We recommend Amazon Kindle.

Some humour

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