Ellecom, 29-6-2024

After the spectacular and coat-rack-destroying success of the first book club, I’m already looking forward to the second edition on the 29th of June. Like last time, there are two themes up for votes, so let me know if you have a preference. Read on the themes and the texts below.

If you’re interested in joining, you can sign up for the mailing list, join the Signal group or let me know you want to join this session via this form. I’d love to hear from you.

Option 1: Anti-heroism: the Absurdity of War

War is intense and full of the biggest possible emotions. Representing war is therefore almost always dramatic, epic or heroic. However, there is no way to accurately represent the experiences of the soldiers and civilians in a battle zone to readers immediately. There is always the risk of glorifying the noble sacrifices and brave perseverance of those fighting for their lives or any other cause, even when war is also tedious, degrading and ridiculous. For this CALS Book Club, let’s discuss the limits of conveying war experiences, how to represent war in literature and the ways these questions relate to our perspective on wars that are presently going on.

Required reading: none!
Short read: Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.
Longer read: “Unthinkability” by Martin Amis (from the book Einstein’s Monsters).
Extra reading: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Human Acts by Han Kang.

Option 2: The Joy of Revolution

Stories of oppression are a particularly popular and essential domain of literature. The struggle to be free, to be seen and to be heard is often presented through the lens of suffering and sacrifice. However, there’s also branch of rebellion that is joyful, exciting and rambunctious. In order to challenge stifling regimes in our own lives, let’s investigate the lessons expressed in the stories of merry mayhem, delightful destruction and happy resistance.

Required reading: none!
Short read: “Bartleby the Scrivener, A Story of Wall-Street” by Herman Melville. https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11231
Longer read: Bea Wulf by Zach Wienersmith and Boulet
Extra reading: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Endgame by Samuel Beckett, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.