Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Week in Reading July 26 - August 1

Authors born this week -

Nobel Prize in Literature
Poet Giosue Carducci (1906), playwright, novelist George Bernard Shaw (1925), novelist Eyvind Johnson (1974)


Novelists and story writers
Richard Henry Dana, Jr, Emily Bronte, Herman Melville, Alexandre Dumas fils, Vladimir Korolenko, Booth Tarkington, Aldous Huxley, Paul Gallico, Joseph Mitchell, Malcolm Lowry, Primo Levi, Elizabeth Hardwick, Edwin O’Connor, Ana Maria Matute, Cees Nooteboom, Patrick Modiano, Harry Mulisch, Chang-rae Lee


Poets and Playwrights
Poets: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Antonio Machado, Stanley Kunitz, Anne Hebert, John Ashbery, Michael Longely, Jim Carroll Playwrights: Dean Pitchford

Thinkers, Believers, Scientists, Historians, Biographers
Thinkers: Thorstein Veblen, Jean Baudrillard, Pierre Bourdieu, John Searle Believers: Helena Blavatsky Scientists: Carl Jung Historians: C. Northcote Parkinson, Ken Burns Biographers: Andre Maurois, Rick Bragg

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Officials, Media and Others
Humorists: Don Marquis, Jean Shepherd, Carol Leifer Essayists: Alexis de Tocqueville, Milton Friedman, Vincent Canby, William J. Bennett, Richard Roeper Journalists: Howard Kurtz Officials: Pat Schroeder Media and others: Melvin Belli, Peter Jennings, Anita Hill, Alton Brown

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers
Mystery:
Brett Halliday Suspense: Jack Higgins

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers
Fantasy:
Cherie Priest Science Fiction: Steve Miller


Visual Artists
Cartoonists:
Jim Davis

Young People’s Writers
Children’s:
Beatrix Potter, Hillaire Belloc, Ernst Jandl, Lynn Reid-Banks, Jan Berenstain, J. K. Rowling Teens: Cat Bauer, James St. James

Events to read about this week:
What's the shortest way with dissenters? Which was worse, the way Daniel Defoe was treated centuries ago, or the way US veterans were treated in the last century? The movies gave us cartoons, a film director, music videos, and a governor. There are two Henrys, two unionists, a Yankee and a flag wagging composer, a killer and a life saver.

Obituaries
Novelist E. Lynn Harris, 54



This Week’s Questions:

How's your summer reading going? Remember that the Adult Summer Reading Program goes on through September 8. Are you dropping off your brief reviews at a library reference desk for the weekly drawings and grand prize drawing?

"In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others." The first modern paperback book was published this week in 1935. Which author, born this week, wrote it, and said that quote? What was the title and who published it?

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:
"It’s hard enough writing books without having to explain them."Ernest Hemingway


"In the long run, however little you talk or even think about it, the most durable thing in writing is style ..." Raymond Chandler

"Clear prose indicates the absence of thought."Marshall McLuhan

"In everything that be called art, there is a quality of redemption. There may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid."Raymond Chandler

"I get this crazy feeling. Every once in a while I get it. I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted."John D. MacDonald

"She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida - the pink ones, not the white ones - except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't." - Eric Rice, 2009 winner in the Detective category of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (Compared to Chandler's more prosaic line from Farewell, My Lovely: "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick out a hole in a stained glass window."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Week in Reading July 19 - 25

Authors Born This Week

Nobel Prize in Literature
Poet Erick Axel Karlfeldt (1931), Novelist Elias Canetti (1981)

Novelists and story writers
Alexandre Dumas pere, E. F. Benson, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, A.J. Cronin, Ernest Hemingway, Herbert Selby, Jr., Thomas Berger, Cormac McCarthy, John Gardner, Tom Robbins, Banana Yoshimoto


Poets and Playwrights
Poets: Petrarch, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Robert Graves, Stephen Vincent Benet, Hart Crane Playwrights: William Gillette, Frank Wedekind, John Leguizamo

Thinkers, Believers, Scientists, Historians, Biographers
Thinkers: Herbert Marcuse, Eric Hoffer, Marshall McLuhan Believers: Oswald Chambers Scientists: Karl Menninger Historians: Richard B. Morris, Nicholas Bethell

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Officials, Media and Others
Journalists: Amy Vanderbilt, Nicholas Gage, Serge Trifkovic, Thomas L. Friedman, Don Van Natta Officials: Bella Abzug, George McGovern Media and other: Zelda Fitzgerald, Orson Bean, Diana Rigg

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers
Crime: Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly Suspense: John D. MacDonald

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers
Fantasy:
Lord Dunsany Science Fiction: C. M. Kornbluth, Gardner Dozois

Visual Artists
Illustrators: Maxfield Parrish Cartoonists: Pat Oliphant, Gerry Trudeau, Colleen Doran

Young People’s Writers
Children’s:
Maria Gripe Teens: S. E. Hinton

Events to read about this week:
A week of civil and criminal disobedience finds women acting up finally at Seneca Falls while a century later a woman flies around the world and another runs for Vice President, Henry David Thoreau refuses to support a war against another country and yet war within this country starts fifteen years later, the Riot Act is passed to prevent disturbances and two centuries later John Dillinger is shot down to end his criminal career and an Italian dictator falls. Gregor Mendel gives birth to the study of genetics and a century later babies are born out of test tubes; some people with genetic talent reach heights of fame in art, acting, and sport.

Obituaries
Biographer Frank McCourt, 78, Angela's Ashes.

This Week’s Questions:
It’s a big week for hardboiled writers but you can't always tell it by what they say or write. Which quotes are from mystery writers born this week and which are from others:

"It’s hard enough writing books without having to explain them."

"In the long run, however little you talk or even think about it, the most durable thing in writing is style ..."

"Clear prose indicates the absence of thought."


"In everything that be called art, there is a quality of redemption. There may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid."

"I get this crazy feeling. Every once in a while I get it. I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted."

"She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida - the pink ones, not the white ones - except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't. "

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:
In addition to last week’s literary lights there are some library lights:

Barge Type Books – Not only is the print bigger but the story jumps out at you

Litterature – throwaway books and the ideas contained therein.

EEEE! Books – Electronic horror stories

Screwy Decimal System – What’s left if you put books back on the shelves yourself instead of leaving them aside for the library to arrange for the next persons looking for them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Week in Reading July 12 - 18

Obituaries: Journalist / fantasist John A. Keel (79), novelist Vassily Aksyonov (76), playwright / screenwriter Judi Ann Mason (54).

Authors born this week -

Nobel Prize in Literature
Novelist S. Y. Agnon (1966), poet Pablo Neruda (1971), playwright Wole Soyinka (1986)

Novelists and story writers
William Makepeace Thackeray, Isaac Babel, Nathalie Sarrault, Christina Stead, Jessamyn West, Irving Stone, Hammond Innes, Margaret Laurence, Anita Brookner, Clive Cussler, Iris Murdoch, Susan Howatch, Richard Russo, Christopher Priest, Joe Keenan

Poets and Playwrights
Poets:
Reinaldo Arenas, Yevgeny Yevtushenko Playwrights: Oscar Hammerstein II, Clifford Odets, Arthur Laurents, Tony Kushner, J. Michael Straczynski

Thinkers, Believers, Scientists, Historians, Biographers
Thinkers: Jacques Derrida, Thomas Kuhn Believers: Mary Baker Eddy Scientists: Paul Stamets Historians: Kenneth Clark, Pierre Berton

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Ida B. Wells Officials, Media and Others
Humorists:
Milton Berle, Phyllis Diller, Peter Schickele, Bill Cosby Essayists: Henry David Thoreau, Walter Benjamin, Rudolf Arnheim, Northrup Frye, Charles Champlin, Jerry Rubin, Maulana Karenga,Tony Kornheiser, Scott Ritter Journalists: Hunter S. Thompson Editors: Thomas Bullfinch, Arianna Huffington Officials: S. I. Hayakawa, Nelson Mandela Media and others: Roald Amundsen, R. Buckminster Fuller, Art Linkletter, Woody Guthrie, Richard Simmons, L. Brent Bozell

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers
Mystery:
Erle Stanley Gardner Crime: Donald E. Westlake Suspense: Jean-Christophe Grange

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers
Science Fiction:
George E. Slusser

Western / Historical Fiction Writers
Westerns: Owen Wister

Visual Artists
Illustrators: Bruno Schulz

Young People’s Writers
Children’s: Clement Moore, Cheech Marin, Brian Selznick Teens: Leon Garfield

Events to read about:
Rembrandt, Joshua Reynolds, the Rosetta Stone, Henry James and J. D. Salinger's books, Wrong Way Corrigan, the last tsar, H. L. Mencken watches the Scopes Trial, Nadia Comaneci earns the first "10."

This Week’s Questions:

Sometimes a new word needs to be coined for a specific literary concept; sometimes a word is created by a typo which looks like it could fit a literary concept. For example:

Lilterature - Sappy books meant primarily to lift one's spirits.

Silence Fiction - Novels about censorship

Buyographies - Ghost written life stories paid for by celebrities

Wisterns - Romance novels with ranch settings

Franticsy Fiction - Suspenseful horror novels

Mastery and Detection Fiction - How-to novels

Deference Encyclopedias - What you want to hear, not what you need to know

And the obvious ones:

Hysterical Fiction
Court Stories

Any others? Send us your humorous literary concepts.

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:
In 1971 Francis Steegmuller won a National Book Award for her biography of playwright Jean Cocteau, Cocteau: a biography.

In 1982 David McCullough won a National Book Award for his biography of Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback.

Short story writer Alice Munro won the United Kingdom's Man Booker International Prize for 2009. The prize is for the author's significant work in fiction overall and is given only every other year.

The books discussed last week in the National Book Awards temporary blog of the 77 Fiction Winners of the National Book Award were The Man with the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren, The Collected Stories of William Faulkner, From Here to Eternity by James Jones, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This week we get novels by Saul Bellow, another Faulkner, John O'Hara, Wright Morris, John Cheever, Bernard Malumud, and Phillip Roth. Enjoyable to read.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Week in Reading July 5 -11

Authors born this week

Nobel Prize in Literature
Poet, novelist Verner van Heidenstam (1916)


Novelists and story writers
Marcel Proust, Margaret Walker, Frederick Buechner, Alice Munro

Poets and Playwrights
Playwrights: Lion Feuchtwanger, Jean Cocteau, Fredricka Sago Maas

Thinkers, Believers, Scientists, Historians, Biographers
Thinkers: Peter Singer Believers: the Dalai Lama Scientists: Robert Chambers, Nikola Tesla, Franz Boas, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Oliver Sacks, Howard Gardner Historians: Frederic Lewis Allen, Richard Krautheimer, David McCullough, Laura Thatcher Ulrich

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Officials, Media and Others
Humorists: Jean Kerr Essayists: William Blackstone, Harold Acton, Joel Siegel, Howard Rheingold, Harold Bloom Journalists: David Brinkley, Anna Quindlen Officials: Nancy Reagan, George W. Bush Media and others: P. T. Barnum, Satchel Paige, Earl Hamner, Jr, Merv Griffin, Wolfgang Puck, Cindy Sheehan

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers
True Crime: John Gilmore Mystery/ Suspense: Dean Koontz

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers
Fantasy:
Jean de la Fontaine, Anne Radcliffe, Mervyn Peake, David Eddings, Jeff Vandermeer Science Fiction: John Wyndham, David Hartwell, Robert Heinlein

Romance / Historical Fiction Writers
Romance: Barbara Cartland

Visual Artists
Graphic Novelists: John Byrne, Thomas Ligotti Manga: Ken Akamatsu, Natsuki Tayaka Cartoonists: Joe Shuster, Bill Watterson

Young People’s Writers
Children’s: E. B. White

Events to read about this week:
Quite a week, indeed: Spam, bikinis, Elvis, the Roswell Incident, cloned animals, a duel between founding fathers and the lowest point in the Depression, but on the other side, the fourteenth amendment, the Hollywood Bowl, Tom Hanks, Gustav Mahler, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, and McCartney meets Lennon.

This Week’s Questions:
There are very few novelists or poets this week, though at least one writer writes in many genre categories. None of this week’s authors has won a National Book Award for fiction but one has won one for biography. One was the subject of a book which won a National Book Award, and one won another major literary prize this year. Who were they?

Also, to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary the National Book Foundation has begun a daily blog celebrating the seventy-seven fiction winners of the award. Check it out.

The blog will run from July 7 to September 21 highlighting information and reviews about one of the winning books and its writer each day. Writers connected to the foundation will choose the top six books, and then, between September 21 and October 21, 2009, for the first time ever the public will be able to vote online for the best of the sixty years from those six nominees. Winning online voters will win a trip to the National Book Awards, to be announced in New York on November 1, and there will be an exhibit at the Library of Congress.

As suggested: “Visit [the National Book Awards blog] every day for the next 77 days, and get your copies of these American classics from your local bookstore, online bookseller, or library.” And comment here, which of the seventy-seven fiction books at the National Book Award blog do you think deserves to win?

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:
"It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect." - Hermann Hesse

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ... A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."Franz Kafka

"Woe to him who doesn't know how to wear his mask, be he king or pope!"Luigi Pirandello

"I write fiction because it is a way of making statements I can disown. I write plays because dialogue is the most respectful way to contradict myself."Tom Stoppard

"In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago."Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish."Hermann Hesse

Monday, July 6, 2009

Julie and Julia

"Julie & Julia", the August 9 movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams as Julia Child and author Julie Powell, is based on Powell’s real life memoir in which she chronicles her experiences cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Powell recorded her daily thoughts and efforts in a blog that was later published as a book in 2005 titled Julie and Julia : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen : how one girl risked her marriage, her job and her sanity to master the art of living.

Julia Child was a real life “top chef” and Powell liberally seasons her memoir with dollops of Child’s extraordinary life. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I suggest that the movie has all the ingredients to be a summer hit. The smart and funny Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay and directed the film, the lead actresses are a gift to your movie palate and both books mentioned here were bestsellers.

Read Julie & Julia and our books by and about Julia Child and see the movie. Bon app├ętit!

Book Review - How Lincoln Learned to Read

How Lincoln Learned to Read: twelve great Americans and the education that made them by Daniel Wolff

“‘I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand.’ … He’d worked through whatever books he could lay his hands on, copying down lines that interested or confused him. Then, his stepmother recalled, he’d test them out loud, ‘always bringing them to me and reading them. He would ask my opinion of what he read, and often explain things to me in his plain and simple language.’ Later, he’d tell a biographer, ‘I catch the idea by two senses, for when I read aloud, I hear what is read and I see it … and I remember it better.’ … How Lincoln learned to read at this level was also at home; slowly, out loud, often before an audience.”

Anyone who loves to read will love this book, will savor it. Not only does Daniel Wolff explain how each of twelve famous Americans learned to read, and learned to use what was read, but he fills in the social, political, psycho-cultural background for each subject to provide an incidental overview history of education and self-education in America from its colonial beginnings to the twentieth century. His selections of historical subjects reflect a wide expanse of class and culture and every segment is a delight to read. From the first chapter, about young Ben Franklin, who was a rebel from his first bored years in rote classrooms, the reader re-experiences his own discoveries that there are more things to enjoy reading than just stuffy recitation material.

The twelve fascinating subjects are Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Henry Ford, W. E. B. Du Bois, Helen Keller, Rachel Carson, Jack Kennedy, and Elvis Presley. Though most have full biographies available here at this library and at others, Daniel Wolff’s focus on the youthful years of learning brings new perspectives on what books and reading materials found in the home and at nearby libraries means to the development of the American character.

One of the ultimate Book Talk books, indeed. I’m sorry to have to return it so you can read it, too. This was my first entry in the adult Summer Reading Program.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

This is a tale of injustice and inequities in a world grown small for those with the right resources and all two vast for those without. It is a big story and Chris Cleave chooses to tell it by alternating the voices of the sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and the English editor of a trendy women’s magazine, as each only possess half of the story. Their relationship was the result of a brief chance encounter on a Nigerian beach between Little Bee, and a British couple, Anthony and Sarah. Because of what occurred there, lives were irrevocably changed.
Mistakenly released from a British detention center for illegal immigrants two years later Little Bee knows no one in England and has no place to go but does have the drivers license that Anthony gave her that day in Nigeria and starts out to find him. The two women are ultimately come together again and try to move forward.
While the cover and the hype printed on this book are deceptive and best ignored, the contents should not. Consider this one for your book group.

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