Ursula Madden's Book Club for January - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ursula Madden's Book Club for January

"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote
"Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

The books I chose for January were picked because they were each made into movies; "In Cold Blood" in 1967, "Memoirs of a Geisha" in 2005, but no two stories could be further apart.

"In Cold Blood"--the title really says it all, details the murders of a farmer and his family in a small town. Truman Capote does something that is extremely hard to do when writing non-fiction. Capote makes the reader feel like he or she is part of the small Kansas community disrupted by a shocking crime. You feel like you know the murdered family, the Clutters. You get to know the neighbors. You even feel like you know the killers, the investigators, and the other death row inmates who are waiting for the ultimate judgement.

Many people who know what the book is about might think the story is too gory to read. It's a gruesome crime, but Truman Capote does not sensationalize it with his storytelling, at least not by today's standards.

It's a fast read because the writing will keep you from putting the book down until the very end.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" was written by Tennessee native Arthur Golden.  And while it's the fictional tale of a one geisha's life story, it likely required just as much research as "In Cold Blood."

As a child, Sayuri-san is basically sold into slavery. She struggles to become a geisha so she can lead the more glamorous lifestyle as a kept woman.  But the life of a geisha means a life of hard work. The stories of Sayuri-san span from the depression era through the 1950's are sometimes cruel, beautiful, and on occasion a little drawn out.

Memoirs does have that "Pretty Woman" aspect to it.  While Sayuri is not a prostitute, she does hang her hopes on a rich provider---who seems to come through in the end.  But my guess is that life doesn't turn out that well for a majority of prostitutes, kept women, or geisha.   It's definitely worth the read. I found the most interesting parts of the book centered not around the love story, but the various things Sayuri-san had to do to actually become a famous geisha.

The only thing left is rent the movies and see if the story on screen comes close to being as good as the books.

Book Descriptions:

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, by Truman Capote, details the 1959 murders of Herb Clutter, a wealthy farmer from Holcomb, Kansas; his wife, Bonnie; his sixteen-year-old daughter, Nancy; and his fifteen-year-old son, Kenyon, and the aftermath.

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Authur Golden, is a literary tour de force, as novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. The protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture starring Gregory Peck by director Robert Mulligan in 1962. A coming-of-age story, it is told from the point of view of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, the young daughter of Atticus Finch, an educated lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama, a small town in the deep South of the United States. She is accompanied by her brother Jem and their mutual friend Dill.

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