2019 Reading List (More info on the blog!)
All of us at the Civil Life were deeply saddened to learn recently that one of our beloved regulars had died. Many of you will have seen John sitting at the bar reading a book. He came to the Civil Life about three times each week, always with a book in hand. Each of us enjoyed conversations with this excellent human being. Our lives were all enriched by having known him.
John was a voracious reader whose interests were incredibly varied. We discussed books every time he was in, and I personally shared a passion for many of the same books John loved. But there is one book that came up frequently that I have not yet read. John’s favorite book was Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes.
I have decided that in 2019 the Civil Life Reading Group will honor the memory of this most civil of readers by meeting three times to discuss this long, complicated, difficult novel as we work through it together.
The central event of Terra Nostra is Spain’s Philip the Second’s construction of El Escorial, the royal palace and monastery near Madrid. But the book is much more:
"Terra Nostra" is a colossal 350,000-word opus, a kind of panoramic Hispano-American creation myth, spanning 20 centuries (more, if you count the Greek and Egyptian mythologies that help to feed it) and embracing virtually the whole of European and American (especially Mexican) culture and civilization.
(Please read Coover’s excellent review of Terra Nostra in the New York Times
I look forward to the chance to study a work that meant so much to a fellow reader and friend. My only regret is that I will never have the chance to discuss the book with John.
If there is a Valhalla for readers (a great celestial library that happens to serve drinks), John is there now. He lived a very civil life and we are grateful to have known him. Please raise a glass to his memory the next time you are in.
P.S. Dates and details to be announced.
2019 Civil Reads book club selection