CLA's Book Club!
The CLA Book Club, free and open to the public, gives San Joseans the chance to discuss books by the authors they've seen and heard from on-stage as part of the Reading Series.
In order to make CLA Book Club more accessible during these difficult times, we are moving our discussion to an online platform.
CLA’s Virtual Book Club continues with In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.
In The Dream House
by Carmen Maria Machado
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope―the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman―through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.
Machado’s dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.
The discussion will be led by Jessie Mai Fussell. Fussell teaches English Composition at West Valley College and Evergreen Valley College. She grew up in southern California and graduated from UCLA. After six months in Vietnam as a health care volunteer, she lived in New York for nearly a decade, earning a MPH from Columbia University and working in public health and later hospitality. In 2013, she and her husband moved to the Bay Area, and she earned her MA in English from San Jose State University. With the exception of her husband, she loves nothing more than reading and talking about books.
We hope to see you at Book Club! To keep up with our reading timeline follow us on our social media platforms: Instagram Facebook Twitter
Zoom Discussion: Oct. 11th at 4pm
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other is a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of Black British women that paints a vivid portrait of the state of contemporary Britain and looks back to the legacy of Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.
The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.
Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.