Literary I Will Not Follow Where the Path May Lead • May 2020
#1  sun surfer 05-01-2020, 10:46 AM
Help select what we'll read and discuss next!

The topic is I Will Not Follow Where the Path May Lead.

The title is from a poem by Muriel Strode, with the full first line, 'I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.' The topic might refer to anything travel-themed, adventurous and fun. It might refer to a trailblazer, or someone or something off the beaten path, or someone going in an unexpected direction to make their own way. There are also the ideas of exploration, wonder, freshness, discovery, or however else you may interpret.

Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.


Nominations are now complete. Initial voting is complete. Run-off voting is complete. Final results-

#2  sun surfer 05-04-2020, 09:25 AM
I'll begin with nominating Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner. It looks like a great old adventure.

Goodreads, Preview, 272 pages, 1898, England

'"Moonfleet" begins as a mystery and an adventure story, a tale of smuggling set among the cliffs, caves, and downs of Dorset. What will be the outcome of the conflict between smugglers and revenue men? How can the hero, John Trenchard, discover the secret of Colonel John Mohune's treasure?

As the book progresses these two interwoven themes resolve themselves into a third and richer one, with the friendship and suffering of both John Trenchard and the craggy, taciturn Elzevir Block. Falkner's feeling for history and for the landscape of his Dorset setting combine with his gift for storytelling to turn Moonfleet into a historical romance of moving intensity.'

#3  sun surfer 05-04-2020, 03:51 PM
Second up I'll go with Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood. I've always loved the film Cabaret (even though I'm generally not big on musicals) and how darkly and, paradoxically, colourfully evocative it is of such a specific and unique place, time and social set. This is the work that it and other adaptations, including the 1950s play and film I Am a Camera, are based on.

Goodreads, Preview, 218 pages, 1939, England, U.S. & Germany

Here, meine Damen und Herren, is Chrisopther Isherwood's brilliant farewell to a city which was not only buildings, streets, and people, but was also a state of mind which will never come around again.

In linked short stories, he says goodbye to Sally Bowles, to Fraulein Schroeder, to pranksters, perverts, political manipulators; to the very, very guilty and to the dwindling band of innocents. It is goodbye to a Berlin wild, wicked, breathtaking, decadent beyond belief and already - in the years between the wars - welcoming death in through the door, though more with a wink than a whimper.

#4  sun surfer 05-04-2020, 06:02 PM
Lastly I'll offer Nation by Terry Pratchett. I like the idea of examining nationhood from inhabitants and shipwreck survivors on a desert island, and that it sounds like it has a good dose of humour.

Goodreads, Preview, 396 pages, 2008, England

Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire.

Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation.

Encompassing themes of death and nationhood, Terry Pratchett’s new novel is, as can be expected, extremely funny, witty and wise. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!

#5  Bookworm_Girl 05-04-2020, 09:53 PM
Interesting choices! I am still working on mine.

#6  sun surfer 05-05-2020, 12:04 AM
Thanks! I was happy to get mine finished a little early this time.

#7  Bookworm_Girl 05-05-2020, 12:46 AM
My first nomination is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It was a Commonwealth Writers' Prize Nominee for Best First Book (the Pacific Region) in 2004.

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel by Gregory David Roberts, set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas---this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

#8  Bookworm_Girl 05-05-2020, 02:02 AM
My second nomination is The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah.

From Goodreads:
In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.

With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it.

Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.

#9  Bookworm_Girl 05-05-2020, 02:17 AM
My third nomination is The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I loved her novel The Snow Child which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

From Goodreads:
Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey's second novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret.

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part.

#10  sun surfer 05-05-2020, 09:09 AM
It’ll be hard to choose between those. I’ve been wanting to read The Snow Child and I’m glad to hear you liked it so much.

Nominations will be over soon although it might be a little later as they’ll stay open until I can get the list ready.

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