The Relatively Good Book Club: Month One - Sign-Ups and Discussion Thread

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#1
The idea of doing a book club seems like it has been tossed around a whole bunch recently in the The literature/relatively good book thread, so were going to make this thing a reality.

After some discussion and eventually drawing from a hat, we've decided to read A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter.

Now, you can whine and moan about not having a say in the book for this month, but I'll just call you a jerk for not popping your head into the other thread and actively participating with things in there.

The plan is we'll give you a chapter or page to read up through every Sunday. Feel free to read past that point, but if you want to discuss something past that, please mark it spoilers. Everything else is fair game to talk about, no matter how high- or low-minded you may think you comments would be.

Generally, the first week will have a slightly shorter number of pages to read so people can have some extra time to get a hold of the book. In the second to last week of the month, we can start talking about the plan for February.

However, since we're already in January, you'll have until this coming Sunday and into next week to acquire a copy of the book. Hopefully your local library will have a copy, I know that mine did not, but I would check there before you go out and purchase a copy.

So here is the rough schedule for the first month, it will be updated with more exact pages once a copy arrives:

1/1-1/8 - Get Book
1/9-1/15 - Get Book, Read to ~60
1/16-1/22 - Read to ~120
1-23-1/29 - Read to End


We'd really like to make this a monthly thing, so please, sign up, read, and discuss with us.


Disregard this stuff for the most part, the rules and whatever still stand. We are deciding on a new book by voting in this thread

Participants
uhh_me?
Shr3dz0r
Tupu
Tanglewoodguit
blackborrego


Promised To Join In Next Month
justinb904
darkstar2466
genghisgandhi
#2
Here is a little about A Sport And A Pastime:
Quote by Ian Crouch, The Paris Review

The novel follows an affair in France between Phillip Dean, an American, and his lover, a young Frenchwoman named Anne-Marie, and is told from the perspective of a voyeuristic, sometimes obsessive third person, the narrator, who feels from Dean “the pull of a dark star.” Dean may be petulant and inconstant, but he is in some essential way pure.

Quote by Michael Doliner, Swans Commentary

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime is one of those very rare novels that seems not so much to have been written as discovered. At its heart is a love story, an encounter, that transforms its relatively ordinary protagonists into beings around whom the entire cosmos shapes itself. The love story is delicate and ephemeral, put together out of bits and pieces, like a bird's nest. The vulnerable lovers tremble, in the most mundane circumstances, on the edge of catastrophe. Simply the way one of them moves across the room to meet the other seems miraculous and hazardous. Were they to become aware of themselves everything would be lost. But there is no danger of that. Oblivious, they tiptoe on a precipice. They do not and cannot know that their innocence cloaks them in a kind of divinity and infallibility. Actions and attitudes we expect to bring them down don't. They do things that seem so perfect, so poignant, without knowing they are doing anything at all. They arc beautifully across our path, and then vanish.

A narrator recounts the story, admitting from the very first that he has not seen most of it. In an introduction Salter supplied to a 1995 Modern Library edition he writes, "The question of the novel's narrator is often posed and how much of what he relates is invented or imagined. Very little, in my opinion." Although the narrator is presented as a normal human he seems able to see, not merely imagine, even though he is not there, what is happening between the lovers. In this way Salter solves, or rather discovers the solution to, the fundamental problem of writing love stories. No one should observe lovers, not even the lovers themselves. Reflection, self consciousness, separates the lovers. An observer sullies them and we don't want to hear what he saw. But a narrator is as essential as the lovers themselves, and perhaps makes a third with them. Someone must be conscious of them if there is to be any story. Since nothing is more loathsome than to have the narrator spy on the lovers and actually see what they are doing, and they shouldn't reflect on themselves, the problem seems unsolvable.

Quote by Jesse Kornbluth, Head Butler

No one writes about France more lovingly than Salter; read a few paragraphs and you’ll want to buy a ticket. Not to Paris, though Salter gets its late nights and parties perfectly. To the small towns, the “real” France, where the smell of wood smoke is in the air and life is played out to the cadence of seasonal change.
#3
To be honest, it sounds like damn chick flick. But, ill give it a try. It's not a book I would normally read and as such is a good opportunity to try something new.
#6
Damn you. You waited until after I checked stuff out of the library to do this.
Quote by L2112Lif
I put a ton of my capital into SW Airlines... The next day, THE NEXT DAY these nutters fly into the WTC. What the hell? Apparently no one wanted to fly anymore, and I was like "What gives? God damnit Osama, let me win a fuggin' game!"
#8
This sounds like an absolutely great idea, but I'm not sure of any place I could get this book, especially since I have no money and don't live in the US (Or any English-Speaking country, for that matter). If, however, there is a pdf version of it I could acquire, I'd be more than happy to join in.
My signature lacks content. It is, however, blue.
#10
maybe we should have, especially with this being the first month and needing something that is going to sell a lot of people on the idea. i have no real idea about whether the book is good or not, but if people really hate the idea of doing it, we could change it, i suppose.

i've ordered it and don't really know what to expect, but this excerpt seems pretty alright

Four in the afternoon. The trees along the street, the upper branches, are catching the last, full light. The stadium is quiet, some bicycles leaning against the outer wall. I read the schedule once again and then go in, turning down towards the stands which are almost empty. Far away, the players are streaming across the soft grass. There seem to be no cries, no shouting, only the faint thud of kicks.

It is the emptiness which pleases me, the blue dimensions of this life. Beyond the game, as far as one can see, are the fields, the trees of the countryside. Above us, provincial sky, a little cloudy. Once in a while the sun breaks out, vague as a smile. I sit alone. There are the glances of some young boys, nothing more. There’s no scoreboard. The game drifts back and forth. It seems to take a long, long time. Someone sends a little boy to the far side to chase the ball when it goes out of bounds. I watch him slowly circle the field. He passes behind the goal. He trots a while, then he walks. He seems lost in the journey. Finally he is over there, small and isolated on the sideline. After a while I can see him kicking at stones.

I am at the center of emptiness. Every act seems purer for it, easier to define. The sounds separate themselves. The details all appear. I stop at the Cafe St. Louis. It’s like an old schoolroom. The varnish is worn from the curve of the chairs. The finish is gone from the floor. It’s one large, yellowing room, huge mirrors on the wall, the same size and position as windows, generous, imperfect. Glass doors along the street. Wherever one looks, it seems possible to see out. They’re playing billiards. I listen without watching. The soft click of the balls is like a concert. The players stand around, talking in hoarse voices. The rich odor of their cigarettes … They’re never there in the daytime. It’s very different with the morning light upon it, this cafe. Stale. The billiard table seems less dark. The wood is drawing apart at the corners. It’s quite old, at least a hundred years I should think, judging from the elaborate legs. Beneath the pale green cloth which is always thrown over it, the felt is worn, like the sleeves of an old suit.


rest of it is here: http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=8137

and if you need selling on it, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, and Henry Miller are listed as other authors that people who have bought this book bought things by...
#11
Do The process by Franz Kafka. I just got it for christmas. :P
sometimes I see us in a cymbal splash or in the sound of a car crash
#12
Quote by MAC2322
This sounds like an absolutely great idea, but I'm not sure of any place I could get this book, especially since I have no money and don't live in the US (Or any English-Speaking country, for that matter). If, however, there is a pdf version of it I could acquire, I'd be more than happy to join in.

i did a quick look, but didn't come up with much. maybe getting a hold of the book is going to end up being the problem here.

Quote by JohnnyGenzale
Do The process by Franz Kafka. I just got it for christmas. :P

Kafka would have been a really good suggestion. if this book falls through, we could look at something by him.
#13
Maybe next month. This one doesn't sound that interesting to me and I'm in the slow process of reading Salem's Lot.
Warning: The above post may contain lethal levels of radiation, sharp objects and sexiness.
Proceed with extreme caution!
#14
I'll keep this in mind, but no promises because: 1) I lack commitment (see my failure to ever contribute to a punk forum comp despite always saying I would/the fact that I always show up late to band practice/the fact that I don't have a job & have yet to do anything serious to find one); 2) I've got other books I wanna read (long Russian novels, for example); 3) once I go back to university I'll have 4 classes worth of literature to juggle, along with tryin' to make plans for the near & not-so-near future. Also I haven't heard of this book or writer before. But sixty pages isn't terribly much, at least not when I'm just bunkered down in my room all day (hell, I coulda read like 15 in the three times I typed, deleted, & then retyped this post), so fuck it.
#16
great!
Quote by justinb904
Maybe next month. This one doesn't sound that interesting to me and I'm in the slow process of reading Salem's Lot.

holding you to that.

Quote by neidnarb11890
I'll keep this in mind, but no promises because: 1) I lack commitment (see my failure to ever contribute to a punk forum comp despite always saying I would/the fact that I always show up late to band practice/the fact that I don't have a job & have yet to do anything serious to find one); 2) I've got other books I wanna read (long Russian novels, for example); 3) once I go back to university I'll have 4 classes worth of literature to juggle, along with tryin' to make plans for the near & not-so-near future. Also I haven't heard of this book or writer before. But sixty pages isn't terribly much, at least not when I'm just bunkered down in my room all day (hell, I coulda read like 15 in the three times I typed, deleted, & then retyped this post), so fuck it.

i understand that. i hope that you can join in with it though.
#17
sounds like a good idea. sadly i already have too much reading for uni. ill join in over summer holidays though!
now extra flamey
#18
This one looks bland, tbh. Count me in next month.

p.s. it would a very very beneficial book club to all if we make this current with the times. If we keep it current by looking at the best rated books of the month from good review sources and narrow down eight choices for voting, we all get to read a book that's relevant today. And talk about it, the more important part.
Quote by denizenz
I'll logic you right in the thyroid.

Art & Lutherie
Last edited by darkstar2466 at Jan 4, 2012,
#19
I've got heaps of reading for school, but I'd love to be involved over breaks/whenever I can.
#20
Would it be a problem if I read the spanish version?
If I played guitar I'd be Jimmy Page, the girlies I like are underage.
#21
To be honest, I was gonna order it, but the cover looks like a ****ing erotica novel, so I'm passing for this month. Maybe if you pick something more interesting next month
#22
Quote by blackborrego
Would it be a problem if I read the spanish version?

more than ok. i'll count you in?
Quote by genghisgandhi
To be honest, I was gonna order it, but the cover looks like a ****ing erotica novel, so I'm passing for this month. Maybe if you pick something more interesting next month

yeah, the legs on the cover are sort of offputting, but in a sexy way, right? like "oh man, those legs are way too attractive for me to even read past the cover"?

did you read the excerpt that i posted above?

Quote by darkstar2466
p.s. it would a very very beneficial book club to all if we make this current with the times. If we keep it current by looking at the best rated books of the month from good review sources and narrow down eight choices for voting, we all get to read a book that's relevant today. And talk about it, the more important part.

that could be really great, especially since i don't think that many people keep that up on what new books are released, but i think that it could end up getting really expensive.
#23
Quote by uhh_me?

yeah, the legs on the cover are sort of offputting, but in a sexy way, right? like "oh man, those legs are way too attractive for me to even read past the cover"?

did you read the excerpt that i posted above?

I mostly read around other people, and according to reviews, there's gratuitous amounts of sex in it, which isn't exactly the type of thing I like to read in the company of others.
#25
are people really opposed to this book? i mean, the person who suggested it hasn't even popped in here or the lit thread to comment.
#27
Quote by uhh_me?
that could be really great, especially since i don't think that many people keep that up on what new books are released, but i think that it could end up getting really expensive.


The one thing I don't mind building infinitely and carrying around with me is a physical library of great books. If we're gonna be buying books, they have to be great though, so our choices in these picks count a hell of a lot. Let's make a thread midway through this month to see if the most interested users want to form a panel to look at review sources and compile a 'list of the month' to pick from for next month.

ebooks are cheap... but eww.... ewwbooks.
Quote by denizenz
I'll logic you right in the thyroid.

Art & Lutherie
#28
Can we do the Twilight series instead?
Quote by Overlord
It's not hard to be nice, but it's nice to be hard
#29
Quote by darkstar2466
The one thing I don't mind building infinitely and carrying around with me is a physical library of great books. If we're gonna be buying books, they have to be great though, so our choices in these picks count a hell of a lot. Let's make a thread midway through this month to see if the most interested users want to form a panel to look at review sources and compile a 'list of the month' to pick from for next month.

ebooks are cheap... but eww.... ewwbooks.

i'm with you on not minding having a nice library, it is hugely important thing to me. having to pay $20+ every month might put a lot of people off from participating in this thing.

i'd say that before jumping ahead to this month, we need to really decide if A Sport And A Pastime is what we are reading this month. a lot of people seem to be interested in the idea of doing a book club, but not thrilled about this book choice.

Quote by Carnivean
Can we do the Twilight series instead?

yr so edgy. how i can i learn to be just like you?
#30
Quote by uhh_me?
yr so edgy. how i can i learn to be just like you?


uhh_education?
Quote by Overlord
It's not hard to be nice, but it's nice to be hard
#33
Quote by uhh_me?
i'm with you on not minding having a nice library, it is hugely important thing to me. having to pay $20+ every month might put a lot of people off from participating in this thing.

i'd say that before jumping ahead to this month, we need to really decide if A Sport And A Pastime is what we are reading this month. a lot of people seem to be interested in the idea of doing a book club, but not thrilled about this book choice.


Well wanna have a thread to establish choices for voting for this month then?
Quote by denizenz
I'll logic you right in the thyroid.

Art & Lutherie
#34
Quote by darkstar2466
Well wanna have a thread to establish choices for voting for this month then?

Please do that. We don't need to only focus on current books though. Don't forget the classics.
#35
On a serious note, I would recommend The Power of One.
Quote by Overlord
It's not hard to be nice, but it's nice to be hard
#36
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
Cathedral - Ray Carver
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Invitation To A Beheading - Vladimir Nabokov
The Trial - Franz Kafka
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction - JD Salinger


i think that those are the collected suggestions so far, excluding the one that was picked.

whatever gets picked, i can remake the thread with the same format as this one, if that works? i'll also go through and leave comments on the profiles of people who have signed up linking them to the new thread.

Quote by Carnivean
On a serious note, I would recommend The Power of One.

that sounds interesting, but my concern is that ~550 pages might be a bit long for this month, especially since we are starting a little late.
#37
I vote for The Trial, I've been wanting to start reading Kafka's work.
Edit: Definitely count me in.
If I played guitar I'd be Jimmy Page, the girlies I like are underage.
#39
It doesn't HAVE to be only during the month. If we need more time, we need more time.
#40
Or Metamorphosis by Kafka too. I've been told to read that and it sounds badass as fuck.
Quote by denizenz
I'll logic you right in the thyroid.

Art & Lutherie
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