CLSC / Welcome
When: 3:30 p.m., Thursdays
(unless otherwise noted)
Where: Hall of Philosophy
Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming. Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.
2013 CLSC Selections
Please keep checking back for updates to the list of 2013 CLSC Selections.
Huge Martin, The Stick Soldiers
Attica Locke, The Cutting Season
Margaret Atwood,The Handmaid's Tale
Kati Marton, Paris: A Love Story
Doron Weber, Immortal Bird
June 27, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
Last Ape Standing:
The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived
Over the past 180 years scientists have discovered evidence that at least 27 species of humans evolved on planet Earth. What enabled us to survive when all the others were shown the evolutionary door? In Last Ape Standing, Chip Walter tells the intriguing tale of how against all odds and despite nature’s capricious ways we stand here today, the planet’s most dominant species.
Drawing on a wide variety of scientific disciplines, Walter reveals how a rare evolutionary phenomenon led to the uniquely long childhoods that make us so resourceful and emotionally complex. Walter explains how the evolution of our highly social nature has shaped our moral (and immoral) behavior. He also plumbs the roots of our creativity and investigates why we became self-aware in ways that no other animal is. Along the way, Last Ape Standing profiles the mysterious “others” who evolved with us — the Neanderthals of Europe, the “hobbits” of Indonesia, the Denisovans of Siberia, and the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people of China, who died off just as we stood on the brink of civilization 11,000 years ago.
Walter is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former San Francisco bureau chief for CNN. He is co-author (with William Shatner) of I'm Working on That and author of Space Age, the companion book to the primetime PBS series of the same title. He teaches science writing at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently is a senior manager of strategic communications and public information at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He has been awarded the Christopher Award 1984 for Best Science Documentary.
July 4, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
The Stick Soldiers
At age 19, Hugh Martin withdrew from college for deployment to Iraq. After training at Fort Bragg, Martin spent 11 months in Iraq as the driver of his platoon sergeant’s Humvee. He participated in hundreds of missions including raids, conducting foot patrols, clearing routes for IEDs, disposing of Unexploded Ordnance, and searching thousands of Iraqi vehicles.
The poems in The Stick Soldiers, Martin’s Poulin Prize-winning debut collection, recount his time in basic training, his preparation for Iraq, his experience withdrawing from school, and ultimately, the final journey to Iraq and back home to Ohio. As acclaimed poet Cornelius Eady writes in the foreword, “Somehow, Hugh Martin has wrung poetry from a scab, and now, the full shock and beauty and mystery of the things of war that won’t let go will stick to you.”
Martin is originally from northeast Ohio and he spent six years in the Army National Guard. He is also the author of a chapbook, So, How Was The War?, published by Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center. Martin is the winner of the 11th annual A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions Ltd. and the 2012 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans from The Iowa Review. His poems have appeared in journals such as The Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse and The New Republic. Martin graduated from Muskingum University and has an MFA from Arizona State University. Currently he is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, Calif.
July 11, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
The Cutting Season
Caren Gray is the general manager of Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation where the past and the present coexist uneasily. The estate’s owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction complete with full-dress reenactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, an ambitious corporation has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have grown sugar cane for generations, replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property, her throat cut clean. The list of suspects is long, but when the cops zero in on a person of interest, Caren has a feeling they’re chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she unearths startling new facts about an old mystery — the long-ago disappearance of a former slave — that has unsettling ties to the modern-day crime. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie’s history — and her own — Caren discovers secrets about both cases that an increasingly desperate killer will do anything to keep hidden. Taut, hauntingly resonant, and beautifully written, The Cutting Season is at once a thoughtful meditation on how America reckons its past with its future and a high-octane page-turner that unfolds with tremendous skill and vision, demonstrating once again that Attica Locke is “a writer wise beyond her years.”
Locke is the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Black Water Rising, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was shortlisted for the U.K.’s Orange Prize. As a screenwriter, Locke has produced scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and HBO. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and has served on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A native of Houston, Texas, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
Monday, July 15, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
Michael J. Sandel
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong? What are the moral limits of markets?
Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980. He is the author of many books, including Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, a New York Times best-seller in hardcover and paperback and a CLSC selection in 2011. Sandel has taught his undergraduate course “Justice” to more than 15,000 Harvard students over the years, and served on the George W. Bush administration’s President's Council on Bioethics. He lives in Brookline, Mass.
Thursday, July 18, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
We Are Taking Only What We Need
Stephanie Powell Watts
African-American women protagonists lose and find love, confront sanity and craziness, and strive to make sense of their lives in North Carolina. A Jehovah’s Witness girl goes door to door with an expert field-service partner from up north. At a call center, operator Sheila fields a caller’s uncomfortable questions under a ruthless supervisor’s eye. Forty-something Aunt Ginny surprises the family by finding a husband, but soon she gives them more to talk about.
Stephanie Powell Watts’ short story collection We Are Taking Only What We Need was a finalist for the 2012 Chautauqua Prize. “Each story seems, at the same time, to be a breath of fresh air and an instant classic,” says fiction writer Marly Swick. Author Alyce Miller notes that “Watts writes with a penetrating eye for the extraordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people. As I read, I found myself holding my breath.”
Watts teaches at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “Unassigned Territory” from this collection received the Pushcart Prize and a citation from Best American Short Stories. Two stories from the book appeared in Best New Stories from the South anthologies. Watts’ work has appeared in Oxford American, New Letters, African American Review and elsewhere. A former Jehovah’s Witness minister born and raised in Lenoir, N.C., she holds a doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has received the Southern Women Writers Conference's emerging writer of the year award in fiction.
July 25, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
The Handmaid’s Tale
In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.
Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge — but all of that is gone now. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, a finalist for the 1986 Man Booker Prize, is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.
Atwood’s books have been published in more 40 countries. She is the author of more than 50 volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction and nonfiction and is perhaps best known for her novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize; and, most recently, The Year of the Flood. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
Aug. 1, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar's mother's affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires — spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward. David Wroblewski’s breathtaking scenes — the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain — create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.
Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is set. He earned his master's degree from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and now lives in Colorado with his partner, the writer Kimberly McClintock, and their dog, Lola. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is his first novel.
Friday, Aug. 2, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
Crime and Punishment
presented by Irwin Weil, Northwestern professor of Slavic languages and literatures
Mired in poverty, the student Raskolnikov nevertheless thinks well of himself. Of his pawnbroker he takes a different view, and in deciding to do away with her he sets in motion his own tragic downfall. Dostoevsky's penetrating novel of an intellectual whose moral compass goes haywire, and the detective who hunts him down for his terrible crime, is a stunning psychological portrait, a thriller and a profound meditation on guilt and retribution.
Irwin Weil is professor emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University. Initially an economics major at the University of Chicago, he chose Slavic studies after reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, which, he said, "knocked me for a loop." Weil immediately purchased Crime and Punishment, read it in one weekend, and called it "probably the most powerful learning experience I've ever had in my life." He went on to receive bachelor's and master's degrees in Slavic studies from Chicago and a doctorate from Harvard University, followed by seven years on the faculty at Brandeis University. Weil has taught at Northwestern for more than 40 years and is one of the university's most popular professors.
Crime and Punishment is the CLSC's "classic" selection, a new designation, in 2013. The translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, published by Random House, will be available at the Chautauqua Bookstore. The book will be honored during the week themed "Crime and Punishment," which will feature lectures examining the state of our criminal justice system.
Aug. 8, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
Paris: A Love Story
In this remarkably honest and candid memoir, award-winning journalist and distinguished author Kati Marton narrates an impassioned and romantic story of love, loss, and life after loss. Paris is at the heart of this deeply moving account. At every stage of her life, Marton finds beauty and excitement in Paris, and now, after the sudden death of her husband, Richard Holbrooke, the city offers a chance for a fresh beginning.
With intimate and nuanced portraits of Peter Jennings, the man to whom she was married for 15 years and with whom she had two children, and Holbrooke, with whom she found enduring love, Marton paints a vivid account of an adventuresome life in the stream of history. Inspirational and deeply human, Paris: A Love Story will touch every generation.
Marton is the author of seven books, most recently, Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, the subject of an upcoming motion picture and a CLSC selection in 2010. Her other books include The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World and the New York Times best-seller Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, as well as Wallenberg, The Polk Conspiracy and A Death in Jerusalem. She is an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent. She lives in New York City.
Aug. 15, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
The Long Walk:
The Story of War and the Life That Follows
Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them in Iraq as the head of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. Whenever IEDs were discovered, he and his men would lead the way in either disarming the deadly devices or searching through rubble and remains for clues to the bomb-makers’ identities. And when robots and other remote means failed, one technician would suit up and take the Long Walk to disarm the bomb by hand. This lethal game of cat and mouse was, and continues to be, the real war within America’s wars in the Middle East. When Brian returned stateside to his wife and family, he entered an equally inexorable struggle against the enemy within, which he comes to call the “Crazy.” A thrilling, heartbreaking, stunningly honest book, The Long Walk alternates between two harrowing realities: the terror, excitement, and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the unshakeable fear, anxiety, and survivor guilt that he — like so many veterans — carries inside.
Castner, a graduate of Marquette University with an electrical engineering degree, served three tours in the Middle East as an officer of the U.S. Air Force — two of them leading an EOD unit in Iraq. In 2006, he received a Bronze Star for his service. Upon returning to the United States, he consulted as an independent civilian contractor, training military EOD units on tactical bomb-disposal bomb-disposal procedures prior to their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives near Buffalo, N.Y., with his wife and children.
Aug. 22, 3:30–4:30 p.m. · Hall of Philosophy
Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir
Maybe I’ve finally beaten this thing, maybe three years’ struggle will not have been in vain. Maybe this is finally over . . .” —from Damon’s blog, May 2004
A family’s love lies at the heart of this gifted boy’s fight to survive. Born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery when he was a baby, Damon Weber lives a big life with spirit and independence that have always been a source of pride to his parents, Doron and Shealagh. But when Damon is diagnosed with a new illness as a teenager, his triumphant coming-of-age tale turns into a darker and more dramatic quest: his family’s race against time and a flawed heath care system.
Immortal Bird is a searing account of a father’s struggle to save his remarkable son, a story of a young boy’s passion for life, and a tribute to his family’s love. It is also a story of the perils of modern medicine and the redemptive power of art in the face of the unthinkable.
Doron Weber was born in Israel, grew up in New York, and was educated at Brown University and Oxford. He has worked as a newspaper boy, busboy, waiter and taxi driver and is the co-author of three published nonfiction books and various articles. For 15 years he has worked at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a nonprofit that supports science and education.