The Book Club    BELLES LETTERS    Newsletter
     Vol. 16, no. 1 January 2009     

Belles Lettres:  (bel-letr) noun, plural but singular in construction (French, literally fine letters) literature that is an end in itself and not practical or purely informative: specifically, light, entertaining and often sophisticated literature.
Belleletrist:  a writer of belles lettres 

Parody for Dummies

The Belles Total Title List:
Note: being a busy bunch, Belles decided to try a new format for 2009.  We'll read a bimonthly book, and choose titles as the year goes on.
2008 Belles Reading List
January -- A Place Where the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez
February -- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
March -- Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
April -- The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
May -- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
June -- A Wrinkle in Time, or The Summer of the Great Grandmother by Madeleine L'Engle
July -- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
August -- A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
September -- Run -- Ann Patchett
October -- Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rolvaag
November -- Alice by Stacy A. Cordery
December -- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
2007 Books
January: My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
February: Pope Joan by Donna Wollfolk Cross
March: The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings by Amy Tan (nonfiction)
April:  A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
May:  One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
June:  The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
July:  Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
August: Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
September: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
October: Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
November:  The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton
December: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

January:  Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
February: A Million Little Lies
by James Frey
March:  Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson
April: Staggerford by Jon Hassler
May:  Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
June:  The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Bell by Iris Murdock
August: The Secrets of Jin-Shei by Alma Alexander
September:  Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen
October: Everything you Keep by Elizabeth Berg
November: Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn
December: Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Jan: The Photograph
by Penelope Lively
Feb: Neither Wolf Nor Dog
by Kent Nerburn
Mar: Reading Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafizi
Apr: The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
May: Your choice by
Sandra Dallas
June: Blooming: A Smalltown Girlhood
by Susan Allen Toth
July: Years of Wonder
by  Geraldine Brooks
Aug: Breaking the Limit
by  Karen Olsen
Sept: Spectacle of Corruption
by David Liss.
Oct: Soar Storm
by Linda Hogan
Nov:  The Birth of Venus
by Sarah Dunant
Dec: Eragon 
by Christopher Paolini


Feb: Blessings
by Anna Quindlan
Mar: The Magnificent Minutiae
by Nancy Massman
Apr: On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
May: Stones for Ibarra
by Harriet Doerr
June: The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Stone
July: Memoirs From an Unexpected Life
by Queen Noor

Sept: The Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Oct: A Place Where the Sea Remembered
by Theresa Campos
Nov: The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger


Jan: The Color of Water
by James McBride
Feb: Alias Grace
by Margaret Atwood
Mar: The Water in Between
by Kevin Patterson
Apr: Fork in the Road
by Denis Hamill
May: Main Street
by Sinclair Lewis
June: While I Was Gone
by Sue Miller
July: Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger
Aug: Packinghouse Daughter
by Cheri Register
Sept: Evening Class
by Maeve Binchy
Oct: Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera
Nov: Two Old Women
by Velma Wallis
Dec: Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo

My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Open House  by Elizabeth Berg
Memory Board by Jane Rule
The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry
River Gods by Wilbur Smith
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Paradise by Toni Morrison
The Little Prince by Antoine St Exupery

The Book Club Newsletter

Check this space (and watch for email from Kathy K) for the newest upcoming books during 2009.  We begin with a great title for February, Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight.  This one's so popular for group reading and discussion, some libraries have multiple "book club" copies available for checkout.  Plan, if you can, to gather at 6:30 on February 12 at the Harvest Moon coffeeshop on Minnetonka Avenue. Barbara has heard this author speak, so she'll lead the discussion.  

Review of  Caspian Rain by Gina B. Nahai

Memoir’s still a strong seller in American bookstores, and the hottest form of memoir is “outsider literature.”  After all, who has a more fascinating vision of your surroundings than a newcomer, who sees it all with fresh eyes and a foreign perspective? 

And how about this outsider:  a child living in a Middle Eastern nation under a ruler who’s known as a puppet of the United States; a Jew in Iran; a girl in a society that idolizes men; a deaf person on a society where every detail must be noticed and every whisper heard.


It’s that child, a deaf Jewish-Iranian girl, who narrates Caspian Rain.   The novel, the fourth by Gina Nahai, tells with vivid color and detail the story of a young Jewish couple living in Iran near the end of the reign of Shah Reza Palavi.  Unaware of the historic changes to come, residents of Tehran are living a cosmopolitan life, many of them newly wealthy and painfully aware of the thin veneer of sophistication that separates them from those who live in the ghetto, remain relatively poor, and follow old-fashioned social and religious customs. 


The young couple we meet on the first page will quickly wind up married despite that societal gap separating their families’ social backgrounds.  Right from the start, the slight chance they had for happiness – which is, after all, a very Western expectation of a marriage – doesn’t have much of a chance.  His position is already set out for life, working in his father’s business.  She is a woman, a role as confining as that of a slave. 


The families try uneasily to reconcile their insurmountable differences, but with the birth of the couple’s baby, all hope is dashed; a son could have redeemed his mother and won his father some respect from his cold, critical parents.  But it’s a girl.  The child will symbolize much that’s wrong with her family, though she only comes to know that with the passage of time.  The child, Yaasi, is torn between her increasingly bitter and frustrated mother, and a distant father who develops an obsession with the beautiful mistress of a powerful and never-named man.  As he spends more and more time away from home with the rich socialite, the school sends word to their home that something must be done about Yaasi. 


She can’t say why she’s a problem.  The girl doesn’t know, doesn’t understand why friends find her awkward and teachers think she’s continually distracted.  Her mother begins to make the rounds of doctors’ offices, and one by one they tell her, despite her furious denials, that the child is going deaf.


This isn’t something that makes them sad; rather it’s a dangerous truth, a flaw that puts the woman and girl closer to losing the domestic safety of their home, miserable and confining though it is.  There is nowhere else in the world for them to go.


The young mother’s family lives in a ghetto in Tehran, where the lives of her siblings  have gone in different directions.  One brother’s a singer, though he actually has no job and apparently will depend on his family’s support forever.  Another has converted to Islam, a move that brought him immediate wealth but earned him scorn from many Iranian Jews in the community.  And another brother, who died in childhood, is one of the main characters of the book.  He appears frequently in the neighborhoods, a wistful child riding a bicycle and peering in windows.  Everyone sees him, but only some people know he’s a ghost. 


His grown sister Bahar, who is Yaasi’s mother, knows the Ghost Brother stands for the secret the family intended to bury with his young body when he died – that though he was born hearing, he gradually went deaf, quit school, and spent his days riding his bicycle on the streets.  He was their flaw, the family’s bad luck, and there was no place for him.  He’d never heard the approach of the car that hit and killed him. 


Author Gina Nahai was born in Iran and schooled in Switzerland.  That world culture, combined with her BA and MA in International Relations, no doubt informed her work as a consultant with the Rand Corporation, and research on Iran that she did for the US Defense Department.   Her second postgrad degree was an MFA in Creative Writing, and she’s taught writing at several high schools and universities, according to her biography.


Recent bestsellers including The Bookseller of Kabul and A Thousand Splendid Suns have already introduced us to the plight of women oppressed by cultural and religious customs, but Nahai’s Caspian Rain poses the notion, repeated by the characters around the hemmed-in and abandoned young wife Bahar, that no matter how bad you have it, it can be worse.  Her sister, after all, is married to a psychiatrist who savagely beats her and locks her up for days in a pigeon coop on the roof, where her trembling children sneak food to her till she’s allowed to come back into the house. 



 They have a different burden – the weak, those who are subject to the will and shims of the strong.  They have to choose between two bad options:  to be loyal and perish, or to betray others and save themselves.  It’s not the kind of choice that is comprehensible to people who live in places where borders are fluid and obstacles are surmountable.  It’s not an American kind of choice, not the kind of challenge that can be fathomed in countries where green-eyed young women from small towns and ordinary families can walk into an ice-cream parlor and, just like that, become movie stars. 


The book is narrated by the girl Yaasi, who struggles to portray her mother Bahar not as an angry and distant mother, but as the bright, irrepressible young woman we meet at the start of the book.  “A girl of limited means and abundant spirit,” Bahar expected to fall in love, get married, finish school, teach, and enjoy her life.  As the bitter truth plays out, one out of five isn’t bad, given her inescapable circumstances. 


Caspian Rain is a shuffling trip through a maze of smothering cultural restrictions: they outline a happy life by its absence.  A neighbor of the family’s, who was once imprisoned and tortured on a flimsy charge, spends the rest of his life haunted by the notion that he’s spied upon and liable to be prosecuted – and in his case, is that paranoia, or a very likely fate?


The daughter, Yaasi, has learned early on that her name means “despair,” though her father’s name, Omid, means “hope” in Farsi.  He finally, permanently, leaves his family  just as his daughter’s black-market hearing aids fail and she discovers she is completely deaf.  There is no school for her then, no sign language or text messaging as she becomes the farthest outsider of all, confined within the walls of her mother’s miserable husbandless home.



She sat with me that day…and tried to explain why I had no choice but to hide…  if I had pulled myself away from the words enough to study her face, I know I would have seen the doubt, the question that hung in her eyes every time she spoke to me in those days – do you understand what I’ve said, did I say it loudly enough, will I be able to reach you, later, when words no longer have a sound?


The narrator of this book is aware all along of her outsiderness: a Jew in Muslim Iran just before the revolution of the early 1980s, a deaf girl in a land with no accommodations for handicaps, an unwanted female born to an unhappy couple.  Yet she concludes that the joy her young mother anticipated, the comfort she did have on occasion, and every brief fleeting happy moment, wouldn’t have existed without the pain and loss that bookended those small treasures.  The tragic climax, while it may mean Yaasi’s death, is also a moment in which she realizes there are people in her home and neighborhood who care for her after all. 



It’s strange, how a person carries around the shadow of those that matter most to her.  You can always see it – that presence, or its absence – in the eyes, in the movements of the hands, in a person’s laugh.  You can see it – if an old woman had a father who loved her when she was a child;  if a middle-aged man lost his first love; if a teenage girl has a best friend she knows she can run to.  You see it in the way people move and speak, in the subjects they choose and the things they avoid, in the way they appear solid or hollow, certain or plagued with doubt.


The book, despite its depressing themes, is an adventure to read – it’s filled with rich visual, sensual detail, from the sizzling food to jeweled raindrops in the sun during a summer vacation.  The author, clearly familiar with her setting, lays out in matter-of-fact conversational descriptions the social rules that bind her characters, and that often sound as if they’re from another century far back in history. 


If there’s a lack in this book, it’s any hint of what resources might have been available for the deaf girl.  It would be nice to learn whether there are any options and networks for deaf citizens in Iran today, if Farsi and Arabic sign language are standardized and taught in universities.  Thanks to al-Jazeera, the Arab language news network, we know there is Internet access, but it seems clear the computer age has not put a laptop in every home in the Fertile Crescent.  


Two of the author’s previous three novels deal with Jews in 20th-century Iran, and the third, Sunday’s Silence, illuminates the lives of a snake-handling religious sect in Appalachian U.S.  Nahai, a professor of  creative-writing at the University of Southern California, also lectures on contemporary politics of the Middle East, appears on public radio and cable news TV, has published numerous articles and served on literary and women’s foundations.  Read more about her at

2008:  Reading up on the campaigns

Spare yourself the agony of this endless election; instead, peruse a list of books written by the candidates for president in the 2008.  Is there a one of them who hasn't spent long nights after campaign appearances huddled over their word processor?  Here are the books written by the candidates themselves, some in cahoots with collaborators, ghostwriters and pals.   Take a look
And to read up on the potential presidents, here are a couple quick-shot websites for those who just can't get enough...or want to doublecheck something in the now-shrinking field of candidates.
On the Issues
What They Claim
How the Media Report on Them
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The Ladies #1 Detective Agency meets the TSA
Belles read some of the work of Alexander McCall Smith a while back, featuring a central character who is no slave to diets and fashion, preferring instead to take pride in the fact that she is "traditionally built" and sometimes a challenge for the suspension of vehicles of lesser quality.  Now this:

In November [2007], an association of Ugandan activists of Rwandan descent complained to the Ugandan Parliament that the government was discriminating against its women, in that passport-application officials single them out to verify their Ugandan nationality based on whether their derrieres and legs are sufficiently large. According to a columnist for the newspaper East African, "Uganda is a society that's besotted with women's buttocks like few other places are." (Immigration officials denied that they "profile.")

(from several wire service sources)
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Did Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry see you placidly through a peaceful summer read, or put you to sleep?  Did Paulo Coelho fascinate you with The Alchemist or drench you in an excess of earnest platitudes?  Belles choose a marvelous selection of literature every year, and often we’re startled to find at our gatherings just how wide the range of reaction is.  Admit it -- you've had a chance, at least once, to get an admiring glance for saying, "Oh, yes, when my Book Club read that..."  Feel free to send notes on your opinions to your Humble Editor, for publication or just as an excuse to send a chatty email from home. 
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The Wiz Biz
The Sci-Fi cable TV channel aired a mini-series early in 2007 featuring the misadventures of a modern-day wizard named Harry Dresden.  He's the protagonist in a series of sci-fi/fantasy novels penned by one Jim Butcher, books which have quickly become the kind of best-seller that comes pre-packaged in a cardboard display case.  The whole series of adventures is offered up at Borders and other chain bookstores, which know a big profit when they see one.

When Jim Butcher decided in the early 1990s to become a published author, he didn't find a lot of confidence in his chances -- in fact, he acquired the nickname “Longshot.”  He’s reportedly kept the nickname, even after selling two complete series of books. The writing can get a bit thin and the dialogue predictable, but he’s successfully tapped into the market for a kind of breezy adventure in its genre that mimics some of the big murder-mystery bestsellers.   

 “Here’s the secret of how to get published: keep going,” Butcher says.  Though he’d been getting rejection notices since he was 20-something, he went to a science fiction convention, met an agent who’d turned him down, and after making that personal connection, he got a book publishing offer.  You’ll find him appearing to talk about his books at Comic-Con events, not the Pulitzers, but he’s got enough money now to buy the library of his choice, so he’s probably not mourning his lack of awards. 
From Storm Front:
“Don’t I always make the potions like you say, Bob?”
“What about the diet potion you tried?”
“Okay.  That one was a mistake.”
“And the antigravity potion, remember that?”
“We FIXED the floor! It was no big deal!”
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Eragon sequel?
The then-teen hailed for writing one of the most successful dungeons-and-dragons-type novels of recent years produced a sequel, and in case anybody missed it, the website points out they’re part of the “Inheritance Trilogy.”  Shur'tugal (from a the book's fantasy-lingo title for dragon-riders)  also nudges the reader curious about the third book to expect it probably in summer 2008, with a title beginning with “E” and containing six letters.   A fun website aimed at net-savvy younger readers, might be the place to watch for updates on that sequel.   ( )
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May -- Brunch at Barb's
Dear Belles: what an annual delight to meet again in the springtime, with all the lilacs blooming! Our lovely hostess once again has outdone herself with an exquisite spread, matched only by the wide-ranging and intelligent conversation.  There were also photos, and a fashion accessorizing demonstration by Faline, quite possibly the best-dressed of the Belles.  She certainly has better taste (and dexterity) than your humble editor, who promises to add a review of the May book club selection soon.

But for now, as promised, here's the interview with Mary Doria Russell.

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Pope Joan
by Donna Woolfolk Cross

If you like historical fiction, this is a great new example of the daring way the genre weaves the writer's plot among the threads of genuine fact, history and lore. 

Pope Joan isn't the first account of a girl who took a clear look at the world around her and decided men have it better.  But her fictional story has its roots in a wonderful tale, the persistent legend that once there was a woman filling the role of "Il Papa," the Pope.  That part is unquestionably true -- that there's been such a legend since the thirteenth century. 

Donna Woolfolk Cross spent years working in England, and she's done her research on the legends about a woman working her way into the all-male hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church.  She's carefully crafted the slow unfolding of her character's life to include not only vivid images of those miserable Middle Ages, but also to match up with the loose ends of the legend itself, from the general illiteracy of the common people to the Roman road all popes tradionally avoid. 
- - -
She loved Gerold; about that there was no question.  But could she be a wife to him? Never having lived as a woman, could she begin now, so late in life?
"Help me Lord," Joan prayed, raising her eyes to the silver crucifix atop the altar.  "Show me the way. Let me know what I must do.  Dear God! Lift me into Thy bright light!"
Her words flew up, but her spirit remained below, weighted down by incertitude.
A door cracked open behind her. She turned from her place before  the altar to see a head insert itself in the opening and as quickly withdraw.
"He's in here!" a voice shouted.  "I've found him!"
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This is more than just "Middle-Earth for the Catholic Schoolgirl":  the story's as compelling as a novel, with the authoritative flavor of a biography. The legend at its basis persists to this day, and church officials have studied it to see just why it holds such fascination.  The Catholic Encyclopedia examines the tale thoroughly and concludes it didn't happen...but once you've read Pope Joan, you'll be a lot harder to convince. 

If you liked Pope Joan and think you have the stamina for a lot more hardscrabble gritty reality, take this one along on a long trip: The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley is completely different from Moo, her comic novel set on a college campus, A Thousand Acres, her King-Learesque tale of a farming family, or her other best-sellers, for that matter.  It's rich in detail and chronicles the lives of two and-a-half generations of farming families on the edge of a small, harsh island.  It's either an engrossing tale rich in historic fact, depending on your stamina, or an interminable prehistoric version of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Long LONG Winter.  

by Marilynne Robinson
The Iowa Writer's Workshop has produced alumni including Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, and Flannery O'Connor, and its faculty are a pretty impressive lot, too, including John Cheever and Frank Conroy.  A current teacher there won a 2005 Pulitzer with her novel Gilead.  Marilynne Robinson's deliberately-paced book rings with the words of a man who's spent a lifetime -- a long one -- as a preacher.  The language is so authentic, you can hear the words being said aloud...perhaps in the voice of your own preacher.

The narrator talks a lot about religion, but never preaches to other characters or the audience; rather he discusses it with himself, in the way anybody mulls over the thread of their life, turning passages over and over and examining their meaning.  Here's an excerpt.

It's not a book full of explosions, or intrigue, though slowly and with movement in time that has you following it like a cliffhanger, she reveals facts about her characters: the narrator's father, a minister so earnest in his service to the poor that his constant thefts from the household leaves his own family impoverished, and his own father in turn who went away and died in a strange part of the country.  There's a voyage with a father and a young son, which includes another glimpse of poverty so bitter you fear for them, and there's an intense, burning anger that underlies much of their relationship, and which the teller of the tale has tried to understand all his life. 

And there's the sweet, slowly unfurling love of a man for a wife he won late in life, and the child who's a miracle of delight for him.  You also realize that in his oldest and dearest friendship there's another family matter that turned out not so well, and you wonder just how sinister are the things mostly left unsaid about that family and what was done, or not done, or undone, by a black sheep. You'll wait to grasp his whole portrait with a creeping fear that the story will be an awful one, and only in the plot's deliberate unfolding will the reader realize what his sins consist of.  The narrator, too, has his sins -- of pride, and stubbornness, and a loyalty that he learns may not be too generous but rather not generous enough.

Read about the Writers Workshop
Read about Marilynne Robinson
Look for an interview with the author by your humble editor, in the column to the right.

A Million Little Pieces
by James Frey

Where to begin?
He was chosen by our book club as a Minnesota author, with a
hair-raising tale and a path that passed through Minnesota's
world-class Hazelden drug and alcohol treatment center. 

Then we learned he'd lied about a lot of it.

Memoir is what's selling these days, true stories of personal
adventures and revelations.  For every cozy fiction book we curl
up with, we also like to read the genuine record of someone's
experience.  Publishers like it, too.  So Frey gave them what
they'd publish, and juiced it up.

Then the story came out, in this expose' in The Smoking Gun, a

website that ferrets out court papers, arrest records, and other
indisputable documents to get to the real truth of events in the
news.  And eventually Frey admitted he'd embellished his own
experiences beyond recognition.

So what do you do?

A clerk at a Borders Bookstore, asked about a stack of Frey's
books on a counter, says they're selling as well as they did
before the news came out. Go figure -- perhaps people are
reading it for a different reason now.

Satire sites like The Onion had a heyday with it and so did
comics and late-night television hosts: Jay Leno suggested Frey
is the president's new speechwriter. Author Stephen King wrote a
thoughtful piece about it, dissecting the author's re-appearance
on the Oprah Winfrey Show and her thorough interrogation and
scolding of him.  Amazon added the criticism to its review site,
and noted the publisher's taking it very seriously and appending
a publisher's note to future editions.

So do we still read the book?
How could we not?
It's history now!

December 2005

The PR story is:  Christopher Paolini began writing this book when he was fifteen.  It’s got dungeons, it’s got dragons, it’s got rapiers and wit, too…though it starts off a bit shakily, like a teen driver.  What the brief blurbs don’t always get to is the fact that Chris’s parents are in the publishing business, and that he was four years older, nearly 20, when the volume was completed. 

Not to take anything away from it: a kid’s written the kind of book lots of kids that age simply adore, and he gets a lot of it just the way they like it.  And, of course, there are kids of every age out there, some of us who often still like reading what’re billed as “Young Reader” novels. 

If you’ve read lots of this kind of literature, (did anybody read more books by Terry Brooks back when we delved into fantasy?) you’ll recognize some elements that have become nearly formulaic:  the humble country lad, the brave golden-haired wench, the blustering soldiers and the cheerful old eccentric with a big secret basically make up a set of players that can be nudged like game pieces onto many treks across the board. 

The book opens with a fatal chase and the mystical disappearance of a magical stone.  Before another chapter’s gone by, the country boy’s acquired it, in a burst of smoke and fire, and is on his way to encounter the burly soldiers, or a threat even worse, so he’ll be set on his path to adventure.  If the language is a bit breathless and the emotions rather often searing, they’re as perfectly at home in this genre as short skirts are at a supermodel convention.  

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Suddenly, Eragon’s neck prickled.  He tried to keep working, but the uneasy feeling remained.  Irritated, he looked up and jerked with surprise – a small boy crouched on the edge of the windowsill.  His eyes were slanted, and a sprig of holly was woven into his shaggy black hair.  Do you need help? asked a voice in Eragon’s head.

- - - -

Paolini’s parents published 10,000 copies, a small run for a big book, and mounted an ambitious grassroots publicity campaign.  It worked, and big publisher Knopf picked up the book and signed him to a contract for two more. 

Last summer, the first sequel, "Eldest," was published and promptly shouldered the latest Harry Potter book out of first-place on the best-seller lists.  It didn’t even hurt that, in some of the editions of the book (an estimated one percent of the 1.3 million-volume run), a  printing error replaced 32 pages of the novel with a selection from an entirely different book, to the brief confusion of readers.  With a few chapters replaced by a section from the Cornelia Funke book Inkspell, not due to be published till the following month, the volume became a collector’s item…and the publisher offered a free replacement. 

As you might expect, the sequel’s longer.  The first book ended a bit raggedly, with the action clearly to be carried on in the next volume.  While it was too incomplete to stand alone, the next volume picks right up and carries on the pace, as the young hero Eragon recovers from the wounds of an epic battle and sets out to study magic under the elves. 

20th Century Fox picked up the novel quickly and the movie’s been cast with a number of famous names including Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Robert Carlyle.  Original reports forecast it to open in theatres in the spring of 2006.   For the latest, you can check in from time to time at the Internet Movie Database.
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Reading since 1993

What's on YOUR bookshelf?
(see list at left)

Help me fill in the lists and I'll post every book Belles have read since we got together in 1993. I'll also update the lists as we choose new ones, and add reviews and book news now and then. You've got my email (I can't post it, or automated Internet "bots" will harvest it from the website and send me spam) .


Make your own parody of "Books for Dummies" cover

Gilead author: Marilynne Robinson interview


Amazon Store
(not the website!)
Once Upon a Crime
(lots of mystery books)
Uncle Hugos/Uncle Edgars
(mystery, sci-fi)
Red Balloon Bookshop
Barnes & Noble
Half Price Books

Buffalo Gal by Lisa McAllister