For summer, it's Russo's `Empire Falls'

An eclectic mix preferred by Noontime readers

Book club

July 11, 2002

An interview with Marge Trautman, leader of the Central Noontime Book Club at the central branch of the Howard County Library.

As a librarian, how is your role as the discussion leader different than that of other book club coordinators? We provide a lot of background and, I think, through our fiction expertise, we read a wide variety of books and keep abreast of the trends and the reviews, and use this to steer people toward good discussions. Our role has a little extra edge to it because this is what we do all the time. It's our job, and it's our passion. ... We try to bring some interesting insights that most people don't stumble across on their own. The group seems to just love hearing those little extras about [the authors] ... some really fascinating little facts. ... It makes the reading experience a little richer.

What book are members reading now? They're reading Empire Falls by Richard Russo for the summer. We meet again in September. [Empire Falls] is a really big sprawling novel, and it kind of gives a cross section of a decaying Maine mill town. ... It's got a big cast of characters. It's ultimately comic and sad. ... Russo has a very compassionate eye as he looks at people. He's a real storyteller, and you're swept away in the story. Seemingly mundane details are very rich in moments. It's hard to put down.

Does your group read a certain kind of book? We've decided to stick with an eclectic mix. Last time, we started out with a contemporary, well-known author, Anne Tyler . Then we went to a multicultural book by an Indian author, The Death of Vishnu. And then we went to a classic, a contemporary classic, A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines. And then we went to a nonfiction, Under a Wing by Reeve Lindbergh, [aviator Charles] Lindbergh's daughter. This is a small little memoir, which just sparked a whole lot of animated discussion on history. ... And [we] ended with a mystery, which was very successful ... a literary mystery by P.D. James, Death in Holy Orders. P.D. James creates a wonderful sense of place: the rugged coastline of England, the lonely seminary where the young men were becoming priests. And she has a lot of complexity and a lot of depth to her characters.

For information on the Central Noontime Book Club or the library's upcoming evening book club: the library's fiction desk, 410-313-7860.

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