CRPCA’s Book Club gatherings are open to all who have read that month’s book. Typically we start out discussing the book, and inevitably someone relates a theme in the book to their own experiences or other readings, so the conversation takes an interesting turn. Our Book Club discusses books of broad interest set in parts of the world in which Peace Corps Volunteers have served, or books which were authored by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). We love author appearances! Between 2010 and 2018, we hosted 32 different authors – in person, by phone, or via Skype.
Here are our next three book discussions:
Lessing, Doris*: The Grass is Singing (1950)
* 2007 Nobel Literature Prize
Discussion: Monday, June 4, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Peggy McClure, 5450 SW 18th Dr in Portland, 503-453-2089. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: Set in Southern Rhodesia under white rule, Doris Lessing’s first novel is at once a riveting chronicle of human disintegration, a beautifully understated social critique, and a brilliant depiction of the quiet horror of one woman’s struggle against a ruthless fate. Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm works its slow poison. Mary’s despair progresses until the fateful arrival of Moses, an enigmatic, virile black servant. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses–master and slave–are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion, until their psychic tension explodes with devastating consequences.
Most, Stephen*: River of Renewal: Myth and History in the Klamath Basin (2006)
* RPCV Peru (1965-1967)
Discussion: Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 6:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Bill Stein, 4308 SE Lexington St in Portland, 503-830-0817. Note the earlier than usual time! This gathering will be a potluck dinner; please bring a dish to share. While we eat, we will watch a 55-minute film based on the book. Then, at 7:00 pm, we’ll be joined by author and filmmaker Stephen Most, via Skype.
Review: © Orion Magazine: The Klamath can be read as an encapsulated history of bad water-management decisions. Virtually everyone involved is a victim; the salmon are merely the most dramatic. When the Link River Dam was constructed without fish ladders in the early 1920s, salmon were eliminated from the upstream half of the drainage. Over the next sixty years, six more dams would push salmon habitat farther and farther downstream, ostensibly to provide flood control and hydroelectric power. Most tells these stories in the voices of the protagonists, who give the basin’s complex history an illuminating immediacy that infuses the entire book. It is a mark of his achievement that he has been able to make these historical, cultural, and environmental pieces into a comprehensive whole. River of Renewal is the best source available for those wishing to think clearly about this cumulative tragedy, as well as a first-rate model for regional land use history anywhere in the American West.
D’Souza, Tony*: Whiteman** (2006)
* RPCV Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar 2000-2003
** 2007 Maria Thomas Fiction Award
Discussion: Tuesday, August 7, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the floating home of Liz Samuels, 3737 NE Marine Dr in Portland. Someone will be there to let people in the Rose City Yacht Club’s gate from 6:15 to 6:30. At 6:30 we will walk together to the venue. Call 503-701-6218 if you arrive later. Participating in our discussion will be Tony D’Souza, the book’s author. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Review: © Booklist: Jack Diaz is a young American relief worker in a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast, part of an endeavor to bring potable water to the impoverished villagers. As it becomes more and more apparent that he cannot achieve his original goal, he drifts into various projects from hunting to farming to teaching villagers about AIDS prevention to taking up ill–advised love affairs. Tensions between Muslims and Christians mount and add to the layers of cultural and political nuances that Jack struggles to understand. Christened Whiteman by the villagers, who believe him capable of magic by virtue of his white skin, Jack feels his whiteness more than he ever has in his life. As he penetrates the culture–but never achieves complete integration–he discovers a people not as simple and uncomplicated as he had thought. With war threatening to hasten the end of his three-year commitment, Jack’s affection for the region and the people heightens, and he seeks forgiveness for his privilege and ineffectiveness.
Most of our books are selected by an annual survey; the next one is being conducted NOW! We schedule additional books when an author offers to meet with us. If you are interested in learning more about CRPCA’s Book Club, please contact Bill Stein, at 503-830-0817 or bookclub AT crpca.org.