Thursday, October 9, 2014

High School Book Club:
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

The high school Book Club met yesterday after school to discuss our first book of the year, The Night Circus  by Erin Morganstern.  Most people enjoyed the book, but nobody raved.  Some of the ideas and questions we discussed were:

- how did you imagine the circus?  for folks who have been to a Cirque du Soleil show, did anything seem similar? (to me, the high concept, lack of lions, and the dreamlike quality of the Night Circus reminded me a lot of the Cirque shows I've seen)

- how did the magicians Alexander and Hector serve as father figures? Did they really care about Marco and Celia?  Were they likeable characters? (Hector was universally disliked, Alexander had slightly higher ratings)

- what does the book have to say about the power of storytelling?

There were a few areas where members thought the book was a bit weak, telling more than showing, especially the supposed passion between Marco and Celia.  The Bailey plotline was a little skimpy and mystifying, as was the existence of Isabel. Several thought that Isabel should have figured out years earlier that Marco didn't love her back.

The meaning of the deaths of Tara Burgess and Friedrich Thiessen wasn't clear.  Did Alexander intentionally cause Tara to die, because she was asking inconvenient questions?  It seemed that way, and was building toward Alexander being a truly sinister character covering up a bad thing about the circus, but that goes absolutely nowhere.  Then, the death of Thiessen comes out of nowhere, doesn't connect with how Tara died, and was equally mystifying. We felt those elements were hanging threads that never connected and weren't tied up.

We also talked about magic, illusion and reality.  We liked the fact that Morganstern's magic was everyday, and that anyone could do it if properly trained.  Marco didn't have innate magic but was clever and persistent.  

We watched the following short clips and talked about them.  Turns out several club members have participated in NaNoWriMo -- Alex has even written two full novels, and is working on a middle-grades novel this November!

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Interview with author Erin Morganstern

Watch on YouTube 

What is NaNoWriMo???
National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30.

Excerpts from Author talk

Watch on YouTube

Pre-publication book trailer

Watch on YouTube

The New York Times book review
The Washington Post book review

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