July 28, 2014 by Reader's Connection
There will also be writing workshops and beer sampling and meditation this month. Our Adult Summer Reading Program, with pop-ups around town, continues into August.
Following the shared reading, a poem will be read. Refreshments will be eaten throughout the morning.
Anja Petrakopoulos, as always, will be your facilitator.
One of America’s most popular historians and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, McCullough has hit the historical jackpot. Travelers before the telephone era loved to write letters and journals, and McCullough has turned this avalanche of material into an entertaining chronicle of several dozen 19th-century Americans who went to Paris, an immense, supremely civilized city flowing with ideas, the arts, and elegance, where no one spit tobacco juice or defaced public property. They discovered beautiful clothing, delicious food, the art of dining (“The French dine to gratify, we to appease appetite,” wrote John Sanderson). Paris had not only pleasures but professional attractions as well. Artists such as Samuel F.B. Morse, Whistler, Sargent, and Cassatt came to train. At a time when American medical education was fairly primitive, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and other prospective physicians studied at the Sorbonne’s vast hospitals and lecture halls–with tuition free to foreigners. Authors from Cooper to Stowe, Twain, and James sometimes took up residence. McCullough mixes famous and obscure names and delivers capsule biographies of everyone to produce a colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris. — Publishers Weekly
And not only that: In keeping with the novel’s Indian setting, bring your yoga mat and participate in an invigorating 30-minute meditation. Sun King beer samples will be provided during the book talk and a writing workshop led by the Indiana Writers Center.
The clever Mitra brothers are inseparable even though Subhash is serious, cautious, and reliable, while Udayan is brash, impassioned, and rebellious. Both excel in their studies even though, thanks to Udayan, they get into mischief in their quiet, middle-class Calcutta enclave with its two adjacent ponds and water hyacinth-laced lowland, a gorgeously rendered landscape Lahiri uses to profound effect. In college, Subhash studies chemistry, Udayan physics, but while Subhash prepares to go to America to earn his PhD, Udayan experiences a life-altering political awakening. It’s the late 1960s, a time of international protest, and Udayan joins the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement, which demands justice for the poor. He also secretly marries self-reliant, scholarly Gauri. Subhash’s indoctrination into American life and Rhode Island’s seasons and seashore is bracing and mind-expanding, while Udayan’s descent into the Naxalite underground puts him in grave danger. — Booklist
In general terms, the novel is a staggering visit to a time and place when a monumental health crisis dominated the way people led their day-to-day lives. Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s (a common setting for this author) experienced, as the war in Europe was looking better for the Allies, a scare as deadly as warfare. The city has been hit by an epidemic of polio. Of course, at that time, how the disease spread and its cure were unknown. The city is in a panic, with residents so suspicious of other individuals and ethnic groups that emotions quickly escalate into hostility and even rage. Our hero, and he proves truly heroic, is Bucky Canter, playground director in the Jewish neighborhood of Newark. As the summer progresses, Bucky sees more and more of his teenage charges succumb to the disease. When an opportunity presents itself to leave the city for work in a Catskills summer camp, Bucky is torn between personal safety and personal duty. What happens is heartbreaking, but the joy of having met Bucky redeems any residual sadness. — Booklist
Daemon is a trained fighter dog and is a favorite of the crowds who come to the Roman amphitheater to witness the bloody fights. He puts fear into every creature he meets until one day he turns against his handlers. After escaping his own upcoming execution, Daemon lives free and trails a man called “Jesus” until he finally meets him alone. – Publisher’s note
When Miriam’s fireman husband, Chauncey, dies while rescuing students from a school fire, Miriam feels like her life is over. How is she going to raise her three children all by herself? How will she survive without the love of her life? Luckily, Miriam’s sister-friend Emily and Emily’s husband, Jamal, are there to comfort her. Jamal and Chauncey grew up together and were best friends; Jamal and Emily know they will do all they can to support Miriam through her grief. Jamal steps in and helps Miriam with the funeral arrangements and with her children, plus he gives her hope that she has a future. But all the time that they spend together—grieving, sharing, and reminiscing—brings the two closer in ways they never planned. — Author’s website
This will be happening at New Day Craft (1102 Prospect Street).
Here’s a Library Journal review of the novel, written by IndyPL’s own Susanne Wells:
As a native Haitian, Danticat (Brother, I’m Dying) is known for taking an innate cultural understanding and mixing it with a spare, striking writing style, always with marvelous results. The setting for her latest is Ville Rose, a small coastal town in Haiti, where baby Claire is born as her mother dies in childbirth. The novel begins on Claire’s seventh birthday and then flows back in time, revisiting previous birthdays and their parallel events. In the village, life and death coexist in heartrending fashion, and the people live with the understanding that any one of them may be instantly and forever altered by natural forces, irrational acts, or simple circumstances. As Claire’s father, a poor fisherman, makes a difficult decision, personal histories converge and the village comes together both to mourn a death and to save a life. Throughout, everything seems to be driven by the mystical power of the sea, for which Claire is named. VERDICT A new offering from National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author Danticat is always cause for celebration. She has the ability to conjure up the rarified air of Haiti as she manages to pull tightly at one’s heartstrings; this novel is no exception. Highly recommended. — Susanne Wells, Indianapolis
Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart, a book by Carol Wall, will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, August 14th, at 1:30 p.m.
In this moving memoir chronicling the many lasting rewards garnered from an unexpected friendship, writer Wall enlists a neighbor’s gardener, a man from Kenya, to help her maintain her garden. What begins as a purely professional relationship, with Wall hoping to learn more about gardening, blossoms into an intimate friendship. Wall, a breast cancer patient, admits that, before she met Giles Owita, her outlook on life was less than sunny. Always an introvert and prone to social gaffes, Wall was dealing at the time with her parent’s decline. Slowly, over three years, Owita, a quiet and unassuming man, transforms Wall’s unkempt lawn into a living masterpiece, showing Wall the beauty inherent in everyday life . . . This tender narrative gently probes the complicated terrain of American race relations, dealing with serious illness and facing the death of loved ones. — Publishers Weekly
Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening is also available as a downloadable audiobook.
Author visit: At the Irvington Library on Thursday, August 14th, at 1:30 p.m., the Irvington Afternoon Book Discussion Group will join the American Villages Book Club to discuss the book, Affectionately Yours: The Civil War Home-Front: Letters Of The Ovid Butler Family by Barbara Butler Davis. The author will visit to share letters, photographs and family history, while also discussing the home front in Indianapolis through the lens of the Butlers.
This program is presented by Indiana Humanities and the ALA Making Sense of the Civil War, and is funded by a grant from Indiana Humanities.
Historical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series. In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne’s annual ball, “regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year.” Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen’s original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James’s pleasing and agreeable sequel. — Publishers Weekly
On May 21, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh set off to be the first man to cross the Atlantic alone in an airplane, he profoundly changed the culture and commerce of America and its image abroad. Add to that Babe Ruth’s efforts to break the home-run record he set, Henry Ford’s retooling of the Model T into the Model A, the execution of accused anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and Al Jolson appearing in the first talkie, and 1927 became the pivot point when the U.S. began to dominate the world in virtually everything–military, culture, commerce, and technology. Bryson’s inimitable wit and exuberance are on full display in this wide-ranging look at the major events in an exciting summer in America . . . Among the other events in a frenzied summer: record flooding of the Mississippi River and the ominous beginnings of the Great Depression. Bryson offers delicious detail and breathtaking suspense about events whose outcomes are already known. A glorious look at one summer in America. — Booklist
Following the discussion, participate in a writing activity led by the Indiana Writers Center and browse the IMA’s vast Asian Collection.
A detailed, grim portrait of daily life under the repressive North Korean dictatorship, where schoolchildren are taught to sing anthems in praise of their leader asserting that they “have nothing to envy in this world.`Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent Demick bases her account on seven years of interviews with North Koreans who escaped to South Korea. She focuses on individuals whose stories began in the 1990s and continue to the present, including Mi-ran, a lower-class girl who became a teacher; Jun-sang, a university student who eventually got a glimpse of outside life through books, radio and television; Mrs. Song, a middle-aged true believer, and her defiant daughter Oak-hee; Dr. Kim, an idealistic female physician; and Kim Hyuck, an orphan boy surviving alone on the streets. Along with their personal stories, Demick includes background information on the Korean War and the dictatorships of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il . . . In one unforgettable scene, Dr. Kim, having crossed a river into China, sees that dogs in China eat better than human beings in North Korea . . . Demick shows the state of mind of each of her subjects, what their daily life was like, how they coped and eventually how each escaped. — Kirkus Reviews
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, August 24th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
The theme for August is “Global” – It’s true that our Adult Summer Reading Program has been quite global, with titles reflecting life from all over the world. But the Portal global discussion will relate to science fiction and fantasy.
Before Sex and the City, Hollywood Wives and Desperate Housewives, there was Valley of the Dolls. First published in 1966, the tale of three young women who fight their way to fame and fortune while fighting their addiction to “dolls”—a euphemism for pills and drugs—Valley of the Dolls cemented Jacqueline Susann’s place in publishing and pop-culture history. Valley of the Dolls has sold more than 30 million copies, been turned into a feature film and been published in over 20 languages. Our three heroines—innocent Anne, sultry Jennifer and firecracker Neely find themselves in a bi-coastal saga of friendship and betrayal, ambition and rivalry, sex and drugs. It’s not too long before they discover the true price of fame. Sound familiar? With Hollywood’s young stars burning out before they even get a chance to start, Valley is more relevant today than ever before. Valley was the original. — jacquelinesusann.com
The month began with Nathaniel Hawthorne at Spades Park and will finish with Anne Sexton at Spades Park.
The Spades Park Poetry Club will be meeting on Tuesday, August 26th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., and poems by Sexton will be read and discussed.
Patrick Dugan, as always, will be your facilitator.
July 24, 2014 by Reader's Connection
I finished reading Lauren Owen’s novel The Quick last night, and am scanning the first 100 pages, seeking clues about the events that come later. James Norbury, raised in the English countryside in the 19th century, moves to London, makes a friend named Christopher Paige, tries to write poetry, then a play.
And that’s all I can tell you about the story, right now. The notes on the dust jacket (and in our catalog) give some details about what goes on, but are in some ways secretive. And Lucy Lockley, a librarian in Missouri, was discreet when recommending the book on LibraryReads.
I think that’s great. I hate it when too much is revealed.
Why do you suppose blood is spelled the way it is? Shouldn’t it be spelled blud? Or, spelled the way it is, shouldn’t it be pronounced blued?
Don’t know why I brought that up. Sorry.
Siblings, and the forms that their love can take, are central to the novel. James has a sister Charlotte, who comes to London searching for him after they’ve lost contact. Christopher has a brother Eustace, who doesn’t want James around Christopher, and even threatens James. Two other important brothers, Edmund and Michael Bier, are members of the mysterious Aegolius Club. Their relationship is strained. I’ll leave it at that.
The Quick is also available as a downloadable audiobook, and I imagine that listening to this thing would be . . . excuse me, there’s blood coming out of my ear.
Ms. Lockley in Missouri persuaded me to request the book, but it was the cover blurbs that made me sure I wanted to read it. Novelist Hilary Mantel, for example, thinks that The Quick is “a sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre . . . As soon as you have breathed with relief, much worse horrors begin.”
I need some brandy. Enjoy the book.
July 21, 2014 by Reader's Connection
From seven states, reviews of ten books being released in August and late July. For the first time since I started posting this map, all the reviewing states are contiguous. Good thing I’m not prone to conspiracy theories.
Two from Indiana libraries this month!
One Kick by Chelsea Cain
Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at twenty-one, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller. — Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Is a family the people you are born to, or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm, and believable. — Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA
Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read. — Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH
Lock In by John Scalzi
There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right. — Jane Jorgenson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
A dollhouse whose figures and furnishings foretell life events, mysterious notes, family secrets and the powerful guild and church of 1686 Amsterdam. All these elements combine for an engaging story of a young bride’s struggle to be the ‘architect of her own fortune.’ — Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY
A horrible act of violence occurs at the Pirriwee Public School’s trivia night fundraiser for parents, but what happened and who was involved? The novel begins six months before that fateful evening and lets us in on the lives of single mother Jane, divorcee Madeline, and Celeste, who secretly suffers from domestic abuse. Big Little Lies is another page-turning read from Moriarty that had me gasping with surprise at the end. — Lora Bruggeman, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL
The Truth about Leo by Katie MacAlister
I always adore Katie MacAlister! Her sense of humor is outstanding, and her heroines have real bodies. This is another installment in the delightful historical Noble series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Fans of humor with their romance are sure to enjoy this regency romp. — Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Bess Crawford, a courageous World War I battlefield nurse, is faced with another complex mystery. A patient about to receive a high honor from the King manages to disappear on Bess’s watch, sending her life into a tailspin. In order to clear her name, she must find the missing patient and find out why he is now accused of murder. Intelligent and fantastic, just like the others in this series! — Monicah Fratena, La Porte County Public Library, La Porte, IN
The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
Even if you haven’t read the first two books in the wonderful Magicians Trilogy, you will enjoy the escapades of Quentin Coldwater. Now 30 years old, Quentin finds himself back at Brakebills, experiencing school from the teacher’s side of the desk. But his adventures are far from over! Although I’m not generally a fantasy reader, I’ve been rooting for Quentin ever since I first picked up this series and am sad to see it end. — Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN
The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Another beautifully written novel by Thrity Umrigar. A relationship develops between Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a troubled Indian woman. As their stories develop, it is hard to figure out which woman does more to impact the other’s life. Highly recommended. — Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY
July 17, 2014 by Reader's Connection
The Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards will be presented on Saturday, October 25th. The winners of the National and Regional Author Awards, and the Finalists for the Emerging Author Awards, were announced this week.
Click on the authors’ names to see more of their titles, or their titles in other formats.
Winner–National Author Award: Michael Shelden
Of Mark Twain in his final years, William Dean Howells remarks, “His literature grew less and less and his life more and more.” In Twain’s remarkable late-life surge in vitality, Sheldon discerns the surprising origin of the author’s iconic image. Challenging the widespread belief that Twain dwindled into impotent despair, Sheldon chronicles his last years as the triumph of an exuberant showman. This, after all, is the man who unexpectedly appears for a Congressional hearing clad in a stunning white suit and who never thereafter abandons his new sartorial luster. This, too, is the comic genius who in his seventies still sparkles with irreverent wit. Though it flashes through a few final published works (including a spoof on the afterlife and an iconoclastic swipe at Shakespeare), Twain’s septuagenarian wit mostly serves to punctuate an amazing range of nonliterary enterprises: building a new family mansion, waging legal battles to secure his legacy, underwriting a theater for impoverished children, claiming an honorary degree from Oxford. Yet, as Shelden recognizes, that wit ultimately reflects personal resilience in the face of financial reverses and family tragedy. Even on his deathbed, Twain rallies to bid farewell with wisecracks. Impressive scholarship delivers the authentic accents of a truly American voice — Booklist
Winner–Regional Author Award: Norbert Krapf
Mr. Krapf gave me permission last year to use two poems from his 1993 collection Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins.
Here’s a link to those. Neither was from the section of the book called “The Woods of Southern Indiana,” so now I’ve asked for & received his permission to reprint “Indigo Bunting.” Thanks to him for that.
If you click on the author’s name up above, you’ll see that he has released several books since Somewhere. I seem to be hung up on it.
Back when I was
as convinced as only
a young skeptic can be
that I would never meet
anyone to fall in love with
would never wake up
between warm sheets
breathing in unison
with the right woman
would certainly never marry
couldn’t conceivably know
the pleasure of looking
deep into the eyes
of a son or daughter
I was walking alone
along a winding rockroad
in my beloved hills
of southern Indiana.
I was kicking rocks
with my right foot
into dry Queen Anne’s lace
in the hot August sun.
A faint whir skimmed
across those flat
tops of snowy white.
I looked up just in time
to see a streak of blue
so pure and sweet
I thought I had never
looked up at the sky.
For the first time,
my friend, I was
ashamed of my certainty.
This blue is for you.
Finalists–Emerging Author Award: Jessica Brockmole
|Letters from SkyeBrockmole uses letters to tell a remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars, cutting to the important matters that letter writers struggle to put into just the right words. In 1912, young poet Mrs. Elspeth Dunn, who has never left Scotland’s Isle of Skye because of her fear of boats, receives her first fan letter from David Graham, a college student in Urbana, Ill. They begin a long correspondence. After Elspeth’s husband goes off to war, she overcomes her fear and crosses to London to meet briefly with David, who is on his way to France to serve in the American Ambulance Field Service. Interspersed with Elspeth and David’s letters are 1940 missives from Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, to her uncle and her fiancé as she tries to find out about her father, since Elspeth will not talk about her past. The beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination. — Publishers Weekly|
Mr Garstang’s titles will soon go on order.
What the Zhang Boys Know has a dozen chapters, each one a vivid short story in itself. Garstang makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The lives of the inhabitants of a condominium in Washington, D.C’s Chinatown are told separately AND as part of a web of entanglements. The entrances and exits are handled with the deftness of a French comedy, but the empathy of the author brings all the characters achingly alive. What the Zhang Boys Know is a wonderful and haunting book. – John Casey, author of Compass Rose and Spartina, winner of the National Book Award
America now imports twice as much food as it did a decade ago. What does this increased reliance on imported food mean for the people around the globe who produce our food? Kelsey Timmerman set out on a global quest to meet the farmers and fisherman who grow and catch our food, and also worked alongside them: loading lobster boats in Nicaragua, splitting cocoa beans with a machete in Ivory Coast, and hauling tomatoes in Ohio. Where Am I Eating? tells fascinating stories of the farmers and fishermen around the world who produce the food we eat, explaining what their lives are like and how our habits affect them. — Publisher’s note
July 15, 2014 by Reader's Connection
That’s what I kept muttering while reading Michelle Huneven’s new novel Off Course.
Cressida Hartley would like to have been an artist, but doesn’t have the talent. To her surprise, she has a talent for economics, so that’s what she ends up studying in college. She has retreated to her parents’ A-frame up in the mountains to write her doctoral dissertation on art in the marketplace.
But the little community in the Sierras–which was supposed to turn into a resort, way back when, and never quite managed–has its own distracting culture; and Cress goes off course. One of her love affairs becomes an obsession. It was this second affair, insanely protracted, that had me muttering to Cress, and thinking This is my least favorite Michelle Huneven novel.
But guess what. I finished the novel last night, and there are scenes and characters and wild animals and a bearskin (in the trunk of Cress’s Saab) that are with me this morning. This is a strange, brave novel. Ms. Huneven took some risks, and has left me with a vivid sense of the wilds of California, of the way people are perched there, and of the ways a person–a middle-class person, educated and all that–can go off into the wilds herself.