Monday, August 15, 2016

Caravans by James A. Michener

Summary from Amazon:
"First published in 1963, James A. Michener’s gripping chronicle of the social and political landscape of Afghanistan is more relevant now than ever. Combining fact with riveting adventure and intrigue, Michener follows a military man tasked, in the years after World War II, with a dangerous assignment: finding and returning a young American woman living in Afghanistan to her distraught family after she suddenly and mysteriously disappears. A timeless tale of love and emotional drama set against the backdrop of one of the most important countries in the world today, Caravans captures the tension of the postwar period, the sweep of Afghanistan’s remarkable history, and the inescapable allure of the past."

Discussion Questions from
1. ---Is Ellen Jaspar a lost soul ? A "free spirit" ? An idealist ?

2. --- Do you think it is possible for a "ferangi" to become attached to an untamed - perhaps untamable - country like Afghanistan in 1946, or now for that matter, and to wholeheartedly embrace a different faith and culture ?

3. --- How do you feel about the narrator ? Is your impression of him changing as the story progresses ?

4.--- Is the violence that is so much a part of the Afghans' lives the (perhaps inevitable) result of their constant battles against the implacable forces of nature ?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Cape by Charles Whitecar Miskelly

Summary by Amazon:
"A British sailor is shipwrecked in the early 17th century off the coast of what is now Cape May, New Jersey, where he befriends and becomes an honorary member of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, the Cape's native inhabitants. Under the tightening grip of the white settlers, McJack finds himself in the unusual position of leading his tribe to safety. This riveting, beautiful story showcases themes of love, honor, and duty while offering a morsel of little-known East Coast history. It also reveals a chapter in mid-20th-century publishing practices, as a renowned publisher of the era was primed and ready to market the author Charles Whitecar Miskelly as another Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, or Jack London, if only Miskelly himself had understood that the typical editorial policies of the time were not necessarily diametrically opposed to his artistic vision. Decades later, this lost treasure of historical adventure is ready to be shared with the world."

Exit Zero Publishers: They have super fun stores and an excellent Indian Restaurant in West Cape May

Discussion Questions being developed:
(From the Philly Mag. story above) 1. Carlisle doesn’t know how his grandfather learned to write, or how he crafted a story about a group that didn’t even admit its own existence. Did he work with Native Americans at the shipyard? Did he have friends he visited on his long solo bike rides from Bricksboro to Cape May? Was he himself a descendant of American Indians? His ancestors arrived in the United States around the time of John McJack’s shipwreck. What do you think?
2. Where does this story take place? View the maps for clues?
3. What are some of your favorite deeds that McJack does?

Maurice River Bluffs (Photo by Mike Crewe)

(Cape May Point)