It’s time to pick the next selection for The Sin City Siren Book Club! I’ve taken your feedback and I hope this next batch grabs your interest.
While I didn’t receive very many book title suggestions, the main feedback seemed to be “more fiction, please!” As it turns out, I’m really into non-fiction. So, I’ve tried to offer a balance of the two forms. And, of course, I do have a thinly veiled agenda: to have interesting discussions about feminism, LGBT issues, poverty and other progressive issues. So all the books have at least an indirect opening for discussion along those lines. And since we’re heading into the holiday season, many of the options this time are short story collections, which may be easier to digest in the time-pinched holidays.
Here are the book club contenders (in alphabetical order):
- This is Chick-Lit edited by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (fiction): Something lighter but the point of this anthology is to confront the idea that “Chick-Lit” lacks substance. The central question is: Is chick-lit a ghetto for female-centric writing or a fully authentic genre that deserves more respect? The short story collection sets out to prove that chick-lit doesn’t deserve to be derided by feminists. Indeed, the opening story is by Jennifer Coburn.
- Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (non-fiction): The true story of Gilman’s trip through China in 1986, just after it opened to Western travel. Young and naive, she and her roommate did little to prepare for what awaited them and under the pressures of government surveillance, hunger and disorientation one of the women has a psychological breakdown. Through strength and courage they finally escape home.
- My Week at the Blue Angel: And Other Stories from the Storm Drains, and Trailer Parks of Las Vegas by Matthew O’Brien (literary non-fiction): This one, a brand new collection of short stories by a local author, offers the quasi-hybrid choice between fiction and non-fiction. They are true stories, but O’Brien delivers them in the style of literary non-fiction (think Hunter S. Thompson). (Full disclosure: Matt and I worked together at Las Vegas CityLife, where he wrote stories that became the genesis for this book.)
- Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx (fiction): This is a short-story collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News. This collection won boat-loads of awards when it came out in 1999. And, of course, it contains a little short story called Brokeback Mountain.
- Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself by Amy Richards (non-fiction): True, I had this on the list last time, too. This is my overt feminist agenda at work. I just have to have at least one book that allows for a direct conversation about feminism (and in this case, motherhood, too). This book confronts the idea that educated, middle-class women are “opting out” of their careers to have babies. It also looks at other parenting issues including the gendering of childhood, the biological clock, the role of fathers and dispelling myths about the “right” childbirth experience.
I’ll announce the winner on Monday, Nov. 29 and set a date for discussion in mid-January.