Here are the picks we will vote on for this Friday’s book club.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
(384 Pages) – The underground masterpiece of twentieth-century Russian fiction, this classic novel was written during Stalin’s regime and could not be published until many years after its author’s death. When the devil arrives in 1930s Moscow, consorting with a retinue of odd associates–including a talking black cat, an assassin, and a beautiful naked witch–his antics wreak havoc among the literary elite of the world capital of atheism. Meanwhile, the Master, author of an unpublished novel about Jesus and Pontius Pilate, languishes in despair in a psychiatric hospital, while his devoted lover, Margarita, decides to sell her soul to save him. As Bulgakov’s dazzlingly exuberant narrative weaves back and forth between Moscow and ancient Jerusalem, studded with scenes ranging from a giddy Satanic ball to the murder of Judas in Gethsemane, Margarita’s enduring love for the Master joins the strands of plot across space and time.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
(416 Pages) – A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami’s international following. Tracking one man’s descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.
The General in His Labyrinth by
Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era (3rd Edition) by David Herbert Donald
(228 Pages) – David Herbert Donald, Lincoln biographer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has revised and updated his classic and influential book on Lincoln and the era he dominated. When Lincoln Reconsidered was first published it ushered in the process of rethinking the Civil War that continues to this day. In the third edition, David provides two important new essays, on Lincoln’s patchy education—which we find was more extensive than even the great man realized—and on Lincoln’s complex and conflicted relationship to the rule of law. Together with a new preface and a thoroughly updated bibliographical essay, Lincoln Reconsidered will continue to be a touchstone of Lincoln scholarship for decades to come.