Don't panic. The idea I'm about to propose is less like arithmetic and more like probability. Actually, less like probability and more like the Magic 8-ball
Here's the idea: How likely is it that the books you are currently reading, have recently read, or are about to read will be adapted by your book club? This is not an easy question. It is more like a complex algorithm involving members' collective and individual moods, the seasons, the stars and planetary shifts. And of course there's the behind-the-scenes work of Peaches, Hercule, and Carol, all friends of friends of the club who can exert enormous, Rasputin-like influence, though no one has ever really met them.
Let's take my current books out for a spin to see how they might fare, Magic 8-ball style.
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (CR) ? A hardboiled, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 1946, it depicts the rise and fall of Louisiana politician Willie Stark. Based on the life of Huey "Kingfish" Long, we are drawn in and repelled by the mechanics of corruption in this world of telegrams, smoke, and raw populism. ATKM is a triumph of noir style, but it is also overblown and shows its age in spots. The movie starring Sean Penn and Jude Law comes out this year. 8-ball says: Reply hazy, try again. A definite maybe, if the movie is a success. If not, it's back to freshman English for this book.
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (TBR) and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (RR) ? Who can best describe the fractious and murderous world we live in? The journalists and writers on the front lines who are seeing more than is good for them ? and taking a lot of notes. In a heartbreakingly eloquent review of The Looming Tower, we are told in the first paragraph that the 9/11 story "seems, on bad days, to promise war without end." A sadly true thriller of minute analyses, telling detail, missed opportunities and tragedy, I'll suggest The Looming Tower along with A Farewell to Arms (1929). One of the greatest, toughest war novels of all time, Hemingway's unflinching depiction of World War I also happens to be a ripping romance. The new audio version, narrated by John Slattery, is superb. 8-ball says: Without a doubt. The club will read them and weep, even if it takes three months.
72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell (RR) ? Newly released in paperback, 72 Hour Hold is a family drama and a thriller that uses its Los Angeles setting to maximum effect. "After all the praying and tithing I've done, I deserved a heads-up," Keri Whitmore hopes as she struggles with her 18-year-old daughter's bipolar disorder. She doesn't get that warning, but Campbell gives us a pitch-perfect portrayal of a mother in the grip of a crisis, humorous insights included. 8-ball says: As I see it, yes. 72 Hour Hold will provoke a heated and meaningful discussion ? and it's also a sensationally good read.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (CR) ? Set in a large traveling circus during the Depression, Water for Elephants is brimming with offbeat characters and originality, though my anachronism detector has gone off a few times. 8-ball says: Yes, definitely. WFE is already scheduled, and the club will soon get its turn on the jury and on the bench.