See What the Author says

ivan_doigMy narrator in “The Whistling Season,” Paul Milliron, educator and bookman and graduate of a one-room school that he was, would have fully known the value of a community read, all the way from its linguistic beginnings. “Communitas,” the root of our usage of “community”—in Paul’s well-thumbed Latin-to-English dictionary, these several meanings of “communitas” are given: “sharing, partnership, social ties, fellowship, togetherness.” What better rewards could readers and writer alike ask for, than the common ground of literary fellowship through reading?

Regards, Ivan Doig

2007 Program: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

About the Book

Water for Elephants

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. Read More

2006 Program: “The Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle

About the Book

In this explosive novel, T. Coraghessan Boyle explores an issue that is at the forefront of our political arena. He confronts the controversy over illegal immigration head-on, illuminating the people on both sides of the issue, the haves and the have-nots, through a poignant, gripping story.

Tortilla Curtain

In Southern California’s Topanga Canyon, two couples live in close proximity and yet are worlds apart. High atop a hill overlooking the canyon, nature writer Delaney Mossbacher and his wife, real estate agent Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher, reside in an exclusive, secluded housing development with her son, Jordan. The Mossbachers are agnostic liberals with a passion for recycling and fitness. Camped out in a ravine at the bottom of the canyon are Cándido and América Rincón, a Mexican couple who have crossed the border illegally. On the edge of starvation, they search desperately for work in the hope of moving into an apartment before their baby is born. They cling to their vision of the American dream, which, no matter how hard they try, manages to elude their grasp at every turn.

A violent chance encounter brings together Delaney and Cándido, beginning a chain of events that culminates in a harrowing confrontation. The novel shifts back and forth between the two couples, giving voice to each of the four main characters as their their worlds collide and their lives become inextricably intertwined. The Rincóns’ search for the American dream, and the Mossbachers’ attempts to protect it, comprise the heart of the story. In scenes that are alternately comic, frightening and satirical, but always all too real, Boyle confronts not only immigration but social consciousness, environmental awareness, crime and unemployment in a tale that raises the curtain on the dark side of the American dream.

-From a Reading Group Guide, Courtesy of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

About the Author

T.C. Boyle

T. Coraghessan Boyle, "my friends call me Tom," was born December 2, 1948 and grew up in Peekskill, New York. He went to the State University of New York at Potsdam to study music (he played the saxophone), switched to a History and English major and found himself drawn to writing after "wandering into a creative writing class in his junior year."

For four years, he taught at his alma mater, Lakeland High School, until his story, "The OD and Hepatitis Railroad or Bust," was published in the North American Review. He won acceptance at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1972. He received his M.F.A. in 1974 and his Ph.D. in 19th Century British Literature in 1977 from the University of Iowa. In 1977 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

He has been an English professor at University of Southern California since 1978, and established their Creative Writing Program. He has written sixteen books and won the PEN/Faulkner Award for "T.C. Boyle Stories, the Collected Stories" in 1999; for best novel in 1988 for "World’s End"; O. Henry Awards in 1989, 1999, 2001 and 2003; was a National Book Award Finalist for "Drop City" in 2003; awarded the Prix Medicis Etranger (Paris) for the best foreign novel of the year in 1997 for "The Tortilla Curtain"; and received the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice 1989 for "If the River Was Whiskey." His latest books are "Inner Circle" (2004), "Tooth and Claw" (2005) and "Talk Talk" (July 2006)." The book "Tortilla Curtain" is currently being made into a movie.

To have a book chosen for a community read is nirvana for any writer and I am pleased and honored to have been selected for Columbia’s program. What most impresses me about the program is that everyone in the community will have a book in common to discuss, a rarity these days. Yes, we can talk about the latest films or TV shows, even sports and politics, but we all read so disparately that it is difficult to find someone with whom to discuss a book. I look forward to coming to town and entertaining all the readers of The Tortilla Curtain–and look forward too to the debates and discussions to which this very provocative book will necessarily give rise.

-T.C. Boyle

He lives in Montecito, a suburb outside of Santa Barbara, with his wife and three children and still teaches when he can at University of Southern California. T.C. Boyle is a writer who believes literature should be accessible to all without needing a reviewer or critic to help explain the mechanics of the story. He is a storyteller with immense compassion, and a wise guy who is known for his satire and his ability
to confront hypocrisy.

From Carlsbad City Library, CA, "Carlsbad Reads Together" resource guide.

Related Links

Other Books by T.C. Boyle

Descent of Man (Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1979)
Water Music (Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1982)
Budding Prospects (Viking, 1984.
Greasy Lake (Viking, 1985)
World’s End (Viking, 1987)
If the River Was Whiskey (Viking, 1989)
East Is East (Viking, 1990)
The Road to Wellville 9Viking, 1993)
Without A Hero (Viking, 1994)
Riven Rock (Viking, 1998)
T.C. Boyle Stories (Viking, 1998)
A Friend of the Earth (Viking, 2000)
After the Plague (Viking, 2001)
Drop City (Viking, 2003)
The Inner Circle (Viking, 2004)
Tooth and Claw (Viking, 2005)
Talk Talk (Viking, July 2006)

2005 Program: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

“Ender’s Game,” which has sold more than one million copies, is one of the most popular science fiction novels ever written. The book has been equally as popular with non-science fiction readers as with science fiction fans.

According to the New York Times, “intense is the word for ‘Ender’s Game.’ Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses—and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’… Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games… He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?”

Ender’s Game won the Hugo Award in 1985 and the Nebula Award in 1986.

About the Book

Ender's Game

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth—an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.

Newsday said of this novel “Card has done strong work before, but this could be the book to break him out of the pack.” It was. “Ender’s Game” took the [science fiction] world by storm, sweeping the awards. It won both the Hugo and Nebula, and rose to the top of national bestseller lists.

© 1985 Orson Scott Card

About the Author

Orson Scott Card

Listen to KFRU David Lile’s October, 2005 interview with Orson Scott Card.[audio:KFRU_OrsonScottCard_2005-10-06.mp3]

Orson Scott Card, an acclaimed science fiction writer, confessed that as a child, he did not consider writing as a career. His first love, then and now, is teaching. Only after majoring in theater in college and traveling to Brazil as a missionary did his literary side awaken, eventually leading him to become a New York Times best-selling author.

Card was the first writer to receive both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a row, first for “Ender’s Game” and then for the sequel, “Speaker for the Dead.” His ‘Ender’s Cycle’ has successfully crossed genre lines by creating a sense of wonder that pulls in readers of all ages and from all walks of life. Other popular series by Card include, “The Homecoming Saga” and “The Tales of Alvin Maker,” as well as the individual title, “Pastwatch” where Card retells ancient scripture as science fiction.

Born in Richland, Washington in 1951, Card spent his youth growing up in California, Arizona and Utah. He received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife and children.

Orson Scott Card Selected Bibliography

Tales of Alvin Maker
Mayflower (with Kathryn H. Kidd)
Women of Genesis

Ender’s Cycle:
Ender’s Game (Tor, Jan. 1985) Nebula Award 1985, Hugo Award 1986
Speaker for the Dead (Tor, Feb. 1986) Nebula Award 1986, Hugo Award 1987
Xenocide (Tor, Aug. 1991)
Children of the Mind (Tor, 1996)
Ender’s Shadow (Tor, August 1999)
Shadow of the Hegemon (Tor, Jan. 2001)
Shadow Puppets (Tor, Aug. 2002)
Shadow of the Giant (Tor, 2005)

Other Novels Include:
Enchantment (Del Rey, 1999)
Homebody (HarperCollins, 1998)
Stone Tables (Deseret Book, 1997)
Treasure Box (HarperCollins, 1996)
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (Tor, 1996)
Lost Boys (HarperCollins, 1992)
Treason (St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 1988)
Wyrms (Arbor House/Tor, Jun. 87)
The Worthing Chronicle (Ace, Jul. 1983)
Hart’s Hope (Berkley, Jan. 1983; Tor, Feb. 1988)
Songmaster (Dial/Dell, 1979)

Card has also written numerous short stories, essays, technical writing, plays and poetry.