Bright Leaf Book Club is a chance to meet like-minded readers and critically analyze and discuss a text. We select texts democratically, and read novels, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. We meet monthly. Pizza is provided. Join us!
Thursday, November 15 - 7:00 PM
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
"[Sabrina is] an unnerving mystery told by a rigorous moralist, a profoundly American nightmare set squarely in the first year of the Trump presidency. Politics is never mentioned, but the dread is everywhere: on the airwaves, at an open mic, in a kid’s activity book, and — most barbarically — online.
"The fictional killing in Sabrina is disturbing, but Drnaso doesn’t fixate on the gore or the culprit; he’s more concerned with how the public claims and consumes it, spinning out morbid fantasies with impunity. Blink and you’ll miss it: The first D.O.D. mental health survey we see is dated Sept. 11, 2017. The book’s title might allude not to the fizzy Audrey Hepburn film, but to Sabrina Harman, one of the guards convicted of abuse at Abu Ghraib. Drnaso subtly suggests that the current climate of constant horror, weaponized by hashtags and spread by autofill, has its seeds in the fall of the Twin Towers and our response to the tragedy. It’s a shattering work of art."
-Ed Park, The New York Times
Thursday, December 13 - 7:00 PM
Stoner by John Williams
“John Williams’s Stoner is something rarer than a great novel—it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away. Ignored on publication in 1965, a clamorous year, it has been kept alive by enthusiasts who go into print every decade to rediscover it.
“Its hero, the son of hard-working, dirt-poor farmers, inherits their taciturn stoicism, born of sheer adversity—their hardened accommodation to the whims of fate. William Stoner enters the state university in 1910 to study agriculture, but his life changes irrevocably when he comes upon literature in a sophomore survey course.
“Only two passions matter in Stoner’s life, love and learning, and in a sense he fails at both. His wife, his first love, turns cold and repellent almost from the moment he meets her… The man’s professional career could also be seen as a failure, though it gives him quiet satisfaction. He is neither a great teacher nor a noted scholar but applies himself to both with an intensity born of love. In literature he senses a depth of human understanding beyond his power to express, ‘an epiphany of knowing something through words that could not be put in words.’”
-Morris Dickstein, The New York Times Book Review
Thursday, January 17 - 7:00 PM
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
“Like many epics, Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai charts the education of its hero and proceeds by means of a quest narrative. A boy undertakes rigorous training and goes in search of his father. What makes it a story of our time is that the boy lives in an insufficiently heated London flat with a single mother. What makes it singular is that his training begins at age 4, when he starts to learn ancient Greek, before quickly moving on to Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Finnish, etc. That’s not to mention his acquisition of mathematics, physics, art history, music, and an eccentric taste for tales of world exploration.
“Is this boy, Ludo, a genius? Sibylla, his mother, is of two minds about it. She recognizes that she’s done something out of the ordinary by teaching the kid The Iliad so young, following the example of J.S. Mill, who did Greek at age 3. She knows he’s a ‘Boy Wonder’ and she encourages him in every way to follow his omnivorous instincts. But she also believes that the problem with everybody else—literally everybody else—is that they haven’t been properly taught and have gone out of their way, most of the time, to avoid difficult things, like thinking. Otherwise we’d be living in a world of Ludos.
“DeWitt’s novel is infused with the belief that any human mind is capable of feats we tend to associate with genius… That art and knowledge, achievement and adventure, are worthy things in and of themselves, not just as a means of attaining capital or worldly status—this is the idea that anchors The Last Samurai.”
-Christian Lorentzen, Vulture
June 2017 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
July 2017 Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
August 2017 10:04 by Ben Lerner
September 2017 Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim
October 2017 The Sellout by Paul Beatty
November 2017 Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
December 2017 Children with Enemies by Stuart Dischell
January 2018 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
February 2018 Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
March 2018 The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
April 2018 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
May 2018 Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
June 2018 The Changeling by Joy Williams
July 2018 Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
August 2018 The Weird and the Eerie by Mark Fisher
September 2018 American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes
October 2018 July’s People by Nadine Gordimer