Friday, May 1, 2009

Book Club Report: Atticus by Ron Hansen

I finally found a book club to join! I had no part in picking the book - a literary fiction/mystery novel published in 1997 - but I did enjoy the resulting discussion (a week ago Thursday) very much.

Short summary:
When Colorado rancher Atticus hears that his wayward son Cody has been found dead in Mexico, an apparent suicide, he travels to the scene to do his own investigations. What he finds makes him suspect that Cody was murdered.

The group verdict:
Most of the group wasn't that impressed with this one. The main criticism was the abrupt change in tone that occurs midway through the book. I personally thought the narrative was solid if a tad unexciting up to the big reveal that changes everything. And then it did get pretty strange!

A few in the group really liked the parallels with the bibical story of The Prodigal Son and everyone seemed to respect Atticus as a character. He's the reserved cowboy type, but his actions belie a deep love for his son.

The supporting characters felt very sketchy, and nobody could really figure out Cody's girlfriend Renata's motivations. We had a long discussion about why people leave their native countries and came up with four main reasons: a job, love, to find themselves or to escape from something. Renata didn't seem to fit in any of these categories.

It wasn't the most exciting book to read and not everyone finished, but it did lead to a fun discussion, so I would deem it a moderate success.

Up next:
The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos. It is billed as a haunting story of three cops - one good, one bad, one broken - and the murder that reunites them in a showdown decades in the making.

17 comments:

Christina Farley said...

Not sure this is my type of book but its always good to be exposed to books you don't normally read. That's why a book club is so helpful. Someday, when I have more time, I'm going to join one. Just as long as I can drink coffee and eat chocolate as we talk about books!

Lenore said...

Christina - It isn't one I would ever choose for myself, but I did end up liking it. And you make a good point with the refreshments! We had wine and cake.

Keri Mikulski said...

Enjoy your book club! :) It's true. A book club is great for pushing one to read outside their regular comfort zone. :) I've read some books I ended up liking I would have never read if it wasn't for my book club. :)

Heather J. said...

Congrats on finding a book club! I have to agree with the other commenters - one of the biggest benefits of a GOOD book club is introducing you to books outside your comfort zone. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Kate said...

Have fun with your book club. I went to a book club today :)

Sadako said...

I'm not sure it's my type of book either. But that's a good point about trying new books and so forth. Maybe I'll check it out if I see it some time.

PJ Hoover said...

I've always wanted to join a book club, but the right planets haven't lined up yet.

bermudaonion said...

It's wonderful that you've found a book club! Is it a local book club reading books in English?

Beth Kephart said...

Have you read Hansen's Mariette in Ecstasy? One of my favorite books.

Insert Book Title said...

I am glad that you found a book club.

I will have to pass on the book though.

Lenore said...

Beth - I haven't read Mariette in Ecstasy but I have heard great things about it. With your recommendation, I'd like to give it a try!

Ladytink_534 said...

Glad you at least got a good discussion out of it! Doesn't sound like my cup of tea though either lol.

Liz said...

I was asked to join a book club a year or so ago. I almost quit at one point but have hung in there. For me, it's good because it forces me to read some books I undoubtedly would not, otherwise. And I do enjoy the conversation! "Honor Yourself" by Patricia Spadaro is a great book for book clubs, because it comes with a guide, which is VERY handy. She talks practical spirituality, to boil it down. This book is about giving and receiving, and setting boundaries. It combines wisdom from the world's great sages with real-life stories and practical tools to create a guide to honor yourSELF, so you can give your greatest gifts to the ones you love, plus to your community and the wider world.

Enjoy your next book club book!

Lisa said...

I am jealous of the book club! I have had real trouble finding one that's convenient and reads anything I'm interested in.

As for the book selection, one of the reasons I joined a book club originally was to get out of a reading rut - they are great for making you read new things.

Zibilee said...

My first meeting of our book club is tonight and I am so looking forward to it! I am hoping to be able to do a post on the book we read and our interpretations of it after the second meeting.I really like this feature and hope to read more about your picks!

Anna said...

I don't think this book is my cup of tea, but I'm glad you found yourself a book club. I'm in a book club of 2, and only when Serena and I reading the same book not on purpose. LOL

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Joanne said...

Great post Lenore! I really enjoyed reading what your book group thought as well as your own review :)