Our Mission

Respect others, enjoy our journey together, find the good in each book selection, enjoy and enhance our fellowship while we sharpen our intellects.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

On May 27th, 2014, we  met at the lovely urban aerie of the Master Chef Sylvia, where we were pleasantly surprised by a dinner of cous cous and Salmon.  The salmon was light and flaky, thoroughly moist and deliciously flavored with a wine and butter sauce that perfectly complemented the fish.

Discussion of "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" focused on what John R termed "high school prose" and the rest of us agreed that the writing was not particularly good, but it was a good story. Since I was the only person to have watched the movie with Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, I assured everyone that while the book had Ted Lawson's face disfigured, Van Johnson's portrayal had none of that nonsense to contend with -- while he lost his leg, his face remained perfect throughout.

We learned that the Chinese were  unexpectedly helpful to the American soldiers, even though this aid imperiled them greatly. The Chinese really went above and beyond to help the Americans fight their common enemy, the Japanese Imperialists.

Next up will be "the Invention of Clouds:How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies" by Richard Hamblyn. The discussion of this book will take place at Drew's Heights mansion (grand, elaborate dwelling), now scheduled for Tuesday the fifteenth of July 2014.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January 21 2014 meeting was canceled due to predicted inclement weather  and hazardous driving conditions.

We have rescheduled for February 11, 2014 at the lovely urban home of Jessica D.
We will discuss "Fate is the Hunter" by Ernest Gann.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

On Tuesday November 17, 2013, we met at the West U home of John R and feasted on Chicken Cordon Bleu, asparagus, potato, tomato basil soup, and the moistest cake I’ve ever had other than tres leches.
Louis chose the book we discussed, “West with the Night”by Beryl Markham

All of us like the book in general. Linda and a couple of others noticed a difference in the writing style in the first part of the book compared to the second half. They thought that the style was more florid in the first half. Other thought were that the book wasn’t really much of a book about her flying as it was about her passion for Africa and horses. Drew observed that the flying was just her device to write about herself. Louis felt that what she is always going to be remembered for her being a pioneering woman in the world of aviation, because that’s where she earned a place in the history books for being the first woman to fly east to west over the Atlantic.

One thing that bothers me about the book was the inclusion of a picture of her in advanced age. I think that was a foolish thing, as I want to remember her in her prime, during the period covered by the book. The picture is simply so irrelevant and a sorry excuse for a photo!  Googling reveals far better photos than this amateurish snapshot.

Next up in our topic "The Sky"  is “Fate is the Hunter” by Ernest K Gann, whose classic memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying was anything but routine.

 Amazon observes “Ernest K. Gann’s classic memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying was anything but routine.”

Ernest Gann was a prolific writer. Some of his work include “Masada”, The Antagonists”, “Song of the Sirens”, “The High and the Mighty”, Flying Circus”, “Soldier of Fortune”, and too many more to mention in this short space.

Happy Reading, everyone! If you’re not in a reading group form or join one!

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We met at my (Louis Hemmi’s) Westchase home on the 19th of November, 2013 to discuss Drew’s selection “Waterloo” by Karen Olsson.  Regrettably, Barbara B was not able to attend due to business obligations.

I finally figured out how to serve hot food without stressing out over the tiny kitchen that I have. For appetizers I had 50 fresh boiled shrimp and sharp cheddar cheese and crackers. I had the dinner catered by Jenny’s Chinese on Walnut Bend (713/783-9440) who delivered the food at 7:30 Pm. Shrimp in lobster sauce and Cashew Chicken, chicken fried rice, boneless and traditional pork ribs, spicy chicken wings,  crab puffs, eggrolls, etc. with wine and Voss Norwegian water, all combined to make sure each member was satisfied.

In our discussion of Waterloo, I think it’s fair to say it was no one’s favorite selection. Drew sagely observed that it was a faithful representation of an Austin that no longer exists, but more as it was in the seventies. Drew said that when you talk about Austin, that people often respond with a longing for how it was in whatever decade that they became familiar with the capital city, whether it was the sixties, seventies, eighties, etc.

I did not get a sense that any of the characters were deserving of remembering or being sympathetic with. I personally thought that the story would have been much better if it had had a clear plot, rather than just a jumble of people and their own small stories, but that’s just me.
At the end of the evening, we each drew a name of a member for whom to buy a gift for our next meeting, to be held at John R's house on December 17th. I passed out the new book, “Gone with the Night” by Beryl Markham. I’m pretty excited about this first selection on the topic of “The Sky.” 

Beryl Markham was born to a British family that emigrated  to British East Africa (Kenya). Her family owned and operated a large farm and bred race horses. Fame came to her for being not only a pioneer aviator - but especially  first woman to cross the Atlantic, from East to West. Her love of horses and of Africa are two  defining characteristics of Beryl Markham.
I hope everyone enjoys it!
                               Click here for: Amazon's information about "West with the Night"

Saturday, November 9, 2013

When we met at Drew's to discuss Gail Collins' book As Goes Texas we were pleasantly surprised that the evening's fare included grilled rib eye steaks! Drew adds such a rich culinary dimension to our meetings.

We did feel that As Goes Texas was a bit condescending, and the comments about how ugly Houston is were not really warranted. Very little of the book related anything positive about Texas, and our abysmal educational system, poverty rate, and the fact that we are dead last in the nation in providing medical care don't really give us any bragging rights.

We do however have good highways in general, which is about the best thing we can be proud of. Texas is a great place to live as long as you aren't poor, undereducated, or sick. Saudi princes fly here for treatment at the medical center, but a few blocks away, rheumy old black men sleep on sidewalks.

Drew selected the new book, Waterloo by Karen Olsson. Part of the Amazon.com blurb about it - "Bittersweet and biting, elegiac and sharply observed, Waterloo is a portrait of a generation in search of itself--and a love letter to the slackers, rockers, hustlers, hacks, and hangers-on who populate Austin, Texas--from a formidable new intelligence in American fiction."

We will meet at the home of the webmaster on 19 November, 2013, though I don't think I'll be having rib eyes - probably go for Chinese since Sally Jo's Barbecue is now a T-Mobile store. Since I have to work that day, we'll not be cooking my world-famous Arroz Con Pollo.

Our NEW TOPIC is "the Sky." I will select and distribute the traditional book to John R and Sylvia S, while the rest of the crew will download their digital editions.

Thanks for looking
Louis Hemmi

Saturday, August 24, 2013

When we met at Linda's to discuss Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson (1900 Hurricane in Galveston), we were sad that John R who is from Galveston and expert on events historical was unable to provide his incite and phenomenal breadth of knowledge.

However, we enjoyed discussing many of the details of the book, and of course with food from "India's" how could one go wrong.

We all agreed that the writer was successful in keeping us engaged, and that is was an outrage that the weather service prohibited any warnings to Galveston, for purely political reasons.

Linda selected the new book, "The Last Picture Show" as our current selection a coming of age story in a small town called Thalia by Larry McMurtry. This book is the first of a trilogy about life in Thalia.

In Greek mythology, Thalia (Θαλία / Thalía, "Abundance") was one of the three Graces or Charites with her sisters Aglaea and Euphrosyne. They were the daughters of Zeus and either the Oceanid Eurynome or Eunomia, goddess of good order and lawful conduct. Thalia was the goddess of festivity and rich banquets. The Greek word thalia is an adjective applied to banquets, meaning rich, plentiful, luxuriant and abundant.[1]

Amazon's "The Last Picture Show" listing

My apologies for not being good about maintaining this blog, but I get so much more input from the Facebook page that I've neglected it. However, I do realize that a lot of folks don't like to use Facebook, so this one's for you!

-=Louis Hemmi=-

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January / February meetings

What can I say? The meeting at 'Down House"  Down House - in the Houston Heights on Yale St was just super! Our host for this month's meeting sprang for sever hungry readers in our very own party room.

In addition to the great variety of food, the wine, ambiance, and camaraderie were  definitely at all-time highs. We discussed "Every Patient Tells a Story" by Lisa Sanders, MD Learn More on Amazon  and the consensus was that it was a competent and enjoyable selection.

I loved the author's many anecdotes, and enjoyed her writing, though I think she got a little carried away by the topic of Lyme Disease.

This is the first meeting at which I've enjoyed shrimp and grits, tomato bisque, and bread pudding with a caramel topping.

I know we all had a great time, and will long remember it. I had intended to bring my camera, but forgot it and did not get away from work in time to go home and retrieve it. Great is the pity!

Next up on the 28th of February at Maison Louis, will be The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat . It deals with people with what may be termed "bizarre" behaviors that arise from neurological and other disorders. He deals with these fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations in this book, and I for one look forward to reading it.

Thanks, Drew for a wonderful January meeting, and for the January / February selection!