Friday, February 28, 2014

Brown Bag Book Club is now reading...

The Brown Bag Book Club will discuss The Human Stain, by Philip Roth, at its March meeting.

Whether or not you bring lunch (and whether or not it is in a brown bag), everyone is welcome to read this month's book and join in on the discussion when the club meets on Tuesday, March 18 at 12 noon at the Central Library.

With the help of his alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, Roth continues the inquiry into the state of the American soul during the second half of the 20th century. Fueled by the story of his magnetic hero, Coleman Silk, it roars, with heart-revving velocity, through a literary landscape that embraces the politics of race and sex, the Vietnam War, the absurdity of extreme political correctness, the dumbing down of the academy, and President Clinton's impeachment.

Coleman, a classics professor at a small Berkshire college, embodies all the ambition, paradox, anger, and futility of the American dream and, over the course of his secretive life, he displays all the mettlesome powers of the Greek and Roman gods he helps immortalize. Naturally, a man this fired up makes enemies, and no one defends him when his brilliant career capsizes over a misunderstanding regarding his use of the word "spooks" to refer to students who failed to materialize in the classroom. How was he to know they were black? How was anyone to know that he would be the last professor on earth to make a racist remark? Enraged by the inanity of the ensuing brouhaha, Coleman resigns. Then, when his wife dies unexpectedly, he becomes involved with a woman who is half his age and illiterate. These unlikely lovers are surely doomed, and Zuckerman seems destined to discover the truth about Coleman, which reveals so many truths about the land he so passionately portrays. As Roth unfurls his hero's galvanizing tale, he protests the tyranny of prejudice and propriety, recognizes the "terrifyingly provisional nature of everything," and shakes his head in sorrow and wonder over the "inevitably stained creatures that we are." --Donna Seaman

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