November Selection: Electric City (2014)

At our November meeting we will discuss a book selected by Burk,

Elizabeth Rosner, Electric City: A Novel (2014).

Burk provides the following pre-discussion information about his selection:

I believe chance has a lot to do with what happens in our lives. A chance meeting led to my move across the US in 1997. Most of the books I have recommended over the years have come to my attention by some chance event. My selection of the novel “Electric City” is no exception. As most of you know, I do some art. Two years ago I determined that to be a better artist I needed to improve my drawing skills. So in 2014 I made a resolution to do a sketch a day and did the same in 2015 and 2016. I achieved that goal in 2014 and 2015 and am on course to do the same this year. Those, I must admit, were the first times in my life I ever kept New Year’s resolutions.

I do sketches of heads from photographs and frequently find them in the three alumni magazines that come to me from Union College, Columbia University and Wellesley College. No, I didn’t go to Wellesley but my deceased wife did. Many of you may not know of Union College in Schenectady, NY. It is a small college offering both liberal arts and engineering degrees and is the second oldest to Columbia in New York State. Its distinguished graduates include a President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, and Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Earlier this year there was a photo of an attractive woman in the Union alumni magazine who had come to the campus for a lecture about her novel. I did a sketch of her and in the process read about her novel “Electric City.” Electric City really is Schenectady, NY where for many years General Electric had its largest manufacturing facility. The author, Elizabeth Rosner, the daughter of survivors of the Holocaust, grew up in Schenectady where her dad worked for GE and went on to Stanford and now teaches writing in Berkeley.

I selected this novel before most of our recent books about quantum physics, debt collection, mathematics and coming of age came up for discussion. So it is another chance happening that a major character in the novel was a famous mathematician employed by GE. Don’t worry guys! No differential equations to ponder. Known as “The Wizard of Schenectady,” his house near the campus gets some mention in the novel and it so happened that it had been converted into a fraternity house where I lived during my senior year in 1948, I brought this to the attention of Elizabeth Rosner and in the process of several email exchanges she volunteered to join us by Skype when we meet in November.

For a change from a lot of nonfiction this is a love story where chance brings together those from different sides of the ocean and the tracks in “Electric City.” I do not think the book is available at the Tacoma Public Library. I purchased my copy through King’s Books but you can order it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM. Powell’s and probably other sources you may know.

That about covers it.



About Ron Boothe

I am a Professor Emeritus at Emory University, currently living in Tacoma Washington USA.
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