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VALE NEWS: Book club delves into sci-fi with ‘Canticle’

Books on the Vale Book Club’s reading list can be checked out at the Vale Library. (The Enterprise/file)

Walter M. Miller’s acclaimed science fiction classic “A Canticle for Leibowitz” will be the topic at the Vale book club meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7.

Steve Reynolds will facilitate the discussion in the meeting, at the home of Carol Spears, Vale.

The tale opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased memo, scrawled by the hand of Saint Leibowitz, that reads: “Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels—bring home for Emma.”

To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-Century engineer, is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the “Simplification,” a fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance.

As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so this 1959 novel warns of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over 600-700 years, the funny but bleak “Canticle” tackles the implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history a person is canonized.

The author wrote many short stories, but this was the only novel published during his lifetime. He was recognized with the Hugo Award in 1959 and 1961. 

His life was greatly affected by his World War II experience as a tail gunner during 55 missions over Italy. One of his missions destroyed the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino, the oldest monastery in the Western world. He struggled with depression in his later years, and he took his own life in 1996.

The book selection for the May 5 meeting will be “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown.

Anyone interested in the book club may contact Lucy Hutchens, 208-739-6954, or Marge Mitchell, 208-739-6777.

Note: Review information is excerpted from Goodreads, Litlovers, and Amazon online.

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