February 8, 2016 by Reader's Connection
We have entered the Year of the Monkey.
I gave her a break, this year, and didn’t insist that she find a book that was also available in English.
She has reviewed the Beijing Trilogy by Zhang Haipeng, who writes under the pen-name Feng Tang.
冯唐，男，原名： 张海鹏， 1971年生于北京，中国知名作家，曾是医生，诗人，商人，已出版多部长篇小说，散文和诗集。2015年翻译了《飞鸟集》，因其独特的翻译风格，不被大众所接受，而饱受批评。冯唐经历复杂（跨医，商，文学），中国古典文学底子深厚，又接受了西方文化的熏陶，其视觉独特，文字生猛，清新，技巧圆熟，受到一批文学青年及知识分子的喜爱。
The mandrill photo is from Wikimedia Commons, and is attributed to I, Malene.
May your bucket of luck brim once again with the advent of this new year.
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February 4, 2016 by Reader's Connection
It is once again time to nominate authors for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards.
If you have a favorite author who is connected in some way with Indiana, and you’re wondering if he or she is qualified for the award, click the icon for that information, and for a link to the nomination form.
Note that there are four award categories this year: National, Regional, Emerging, and (the new one) Genre Excellence. The genre for which you can nominate someone in 2016 is Children’s Picture Book.
I need to read the rules more closely, myself. I was going to re-nominate the author I nominated last year, but Caity Withers from the Library Foundation reminded me that a nomination stands for five years. So my writer from last year is still in the running.
Caity suggested that, since children’s literature has its own category this year, I should try to recall some author I loved as a kid–and that it would be great if the author were from Indiana.
Alas, all I can remember reading as a kid were comic books. The fragments above are from Mad Magazine. I had the whole thing memorized at one time, and have never been able to take the William Wordsworth poem seriously.
You can do better than this. Are there children’s writers or illustrators from Indiana who mean something to you? Get your nominatin’ on.
And mark your calendars for the Indy Authors Fair on Saturday, October 29th.
The awards will be presented at a ticketed dinner that evening.
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February 2, 2016 by Reader's Connection
The Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series at IUPUI presents
Thursday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m.
735 W New York St
Mr. Greenwell’s first novel is the newly released What Belongs to You.
This sexually frank, deeply felt, and admirably constructed first novel takes us into a general culture most American readers will have no familiarity with–contemporary Bulgaria–and, further, into a subset of that culture that will be completely foreign to such readers, the gay netherworld of the capital city, Sofia. The opening scene–the novel is told in first person–introduces us to the two participants and sets the tone that will reign throughout. The narrator, a gay American expat who teaches in a Sofia school, seeks sexual trade in the bathroom of the National Palace of Culture, where one day he encounters a hustler named Mitko. Immediately attracted to–no, mesmerized by–Mitko, the two men fall into an uneasy relationship. Mitko is out for what he can get from the “rich” American. The narrator longs for intimacy, an abiding urge that stems from the rejection he felt as a boy from his father. This provocative tale rests on the theme–to which we can all respond–of the human need for possession, both emotional and sexual. — Booklist
What Belongs to You is also available as a downloadable e-book.
January 29, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Titanic. Lusitania. Wilhelm Gustloff. All major maritime disasters, yet the last is virtually unknown. Ruta Sepetys changes that in her gripping historical novel. Told in short snippets, Salt to the Sea rotates between four narrators attempting to escape various tragedies in 1945 Europe. Powerful and haunting, heartbreaking and hopeful–a must read. — Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
Young Amber Alton and her family adore Black Rabbit Hall, and the joy and peace it brings to them all. That is, until a tragic accident changes everything. Three decades later, Lorna decides her wedding must be celebrated at the crumbling hall. As the book moves between these two time periods, secrets slowly unfold. Perfectly twisty with interesting characters and a compelling story that kept me up too late. — Deborah Margeson, Douglas County Libraries, Parker, CO
A Girl’s Guide to Moving On: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
Leanne and her daughter-in-law Nichole both leave cheating husbands to start over. They learn that it is never easy and that hardships abound, but they meet many wonderful people on their way to happily-ever-after. Believable characters and an enjoyable story made this perfect for relaxing reading—definitely one of Macomber’s best. An excellent choice both for long-time fans of the author and for those who have never read her novels. — Linda Tilden, Cherry Hill Public Library, Cherry Hill, NJ
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Meet Frank. Frank is an odd 9-year-old boy who has a higher IQ than Einstein’s and dresses as if he were on a movie set in the early 1920s–and he is someone with whom you are sure to fall in love. Frank’s reclusive mother is an author whose publisher has just sent Alice Whitley to serve as an assistant and ensure the next book is completed. The relationship between Frank and Alice is magical. Readers will devour this book and want more. Just magical. — Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Public Library,Commerce Township, MI
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Flight of Dreams chronicles an author’s imagined scenario on the ill-fated last flight of the Hindenburg, which was shrouded in mystery. Lawhon does a masterful job by giving meticulous detail of the ship and delving into the lives of many of the characters on board. I read with mounting dread and intensity as the storyline of the disaster unfolded. Historical detail and wonderful storytelling make this a must read for historical fiction lovers. — Kristin Fields, Farnhamville Public Library, Farnhamville, IA
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Everyone loves Lizzie–she is the confidant, the late night go-to, and she is always there and hungry for attention. Lizzie becomes even more obsessed and needy when she no longer feels insecure about being overweight and it becomes painfully obvious that she will always feel bad about herself. It is a candid and sad look at how we mistreat people with different body types. — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
Fighting Dirty: An Ultimate Novel by Lori Foster
What. A. Ride! I absolutely loved this book. I loved finally getting Armie and Merissa’s story. I also enjoyed being able to go back and revisit past characters and getting to know future ones! The story was fast-paced and dreamy. Armie’s fight with himself over his emotions wasn’t drawn out, nor did it get tedious to read. All around, this book was an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait to read more from Foster! — Jessica McCroskey, Holston River Regional Library, Johnson City, TN
Find Her by Lisa Gardner
WOW. Find Her is intense. Those initial pages are a testament to the strength of Lisa Gardner’s writing. I had to know what was going to happen! At times it was so bleak and dark, and yet I still had to know what Flora and Stacy were going to be doing. A very suspenseful, twisty, unpredictable page-turner. — Allie Williams, Parnell Memorial Library, Montevallo, AL
The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
Fans of Jackson’s Someone Else’s Love Story will be pleased to see William’s acerbic friend Paula take center stage. A successful divorce lawyer, Paula’s carefully constructed life starts to fracture when family secrets come to light, forcing her to try to come to terms with the power of her story to hurt and heal, and a growing need for family connections. A wonderful cast of offbeat, memorable characters make this book a winner. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
There is not much more terrifying than losing your child. There’s the terror, the guilt, and then the relentless and unending chasm left behind by your child. I am grateful to not know that pain, and yet what Beth, the main character of this book, went through, resonated with me. I have had so many things on my to-do list, and yet I found myself delaying laundry and dusting and research so that I could find out how this story would unfold. — Kim Dorman, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ
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January 28, 2016 by Reader's Connection
I read George Eliot’s Middlemarch in 1972. In that wonderful novel, Dorothea Brooke marries The Reverend Edward Casaubon, in the hope of sharing his intellectual life, but (SPOILER ALERT) Casaubon isn’t a sharing, caring fellow, and the marriage doesn’t go well. He is forever yakking about his ambitious literary project, a “key to all mythologies.” He dies, and Dorothea, looking through his notes, realizes that there was no key to mythologies. Casaubon hadn’t pulled anything together. (END OF ALERT.)
Around the time that I read Middlemarch, I saw Truman Capote on a talk show, talking about his great upcoming novel Answered Prayers. The title was from St. Teresa of Avila: “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
“The novel, Truman maintained,” his editor later wrote,”would be a contemporary equivalent of Proust’s masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past, and would examine the small world of the very rich . . . ”
You can guess what happened, can’t you? Having just finished Middlemarch, and watching Capote gush about his work-in-progress, I had a vision:
|I didn’t really know which syllable of Casaubon’s name was supposed to be accented, but pronouncing it this way fit right in with my instant theory: There was no key to all mythologies, and there was never going to be an Answered Prayers.|
Parts of the coming novel appeared in Esquire, and Capote was criticized for using his “friends” and acquaintances as characters in the book. Barbara Walters went after him on a talk show, saying that he might be a wonderful writer, but she wouldn’t want him as a friend. Capote snorted.
His response to all criticism was to rave on about how he was one of the century’s great authors; and I kept thinking: He doesn’t really have a book, here. Such intuitions almost never come to me–I don’t have the gift–so other viewers were probably able to make the same guess.
After Capote’s death in 1984, it was revealed that indeed the novel had never been finished. In 1987, three episodes were published as Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel. I finally got around to reading them, now, as part of a reading challenge, and I’m annoyed and saddened.
The three sections of the book are narrated by P. B. Jones, one of the least sympathetic narrators of all time. He smears contempt over all manner of characters–many of them real people, with their names unchanged–and the reader isn’t encouraged to give a rip about them, or about Jones.
(The library has different translations of different parts of Proust’s saga, under different titles, and providing you with a link is tricky. If you want to give it a try, enter proust swann’s way in the catalog. That will get you started.)
Reading Answered Prayers, I was reminded that playwright Harold Pinter once wrote a screenplay based on Proust’s epic work (it was never made into a movie), and that John Updike read the screenplay and commented:
. . . we can entertain a suspicion that the most rhapsodic and admiring first-person narrator in twentieth-century fiction has been turned into a surly stick.
Capote’s P. B. Jones is a surly stick from start to finish.
I love the stories of Leonard Michaels and the long narrative poems of Robinson Jeffers and Philip Roth’s novel Sabbath’s Theater. So fiction that is pessimistic about human nature, and our place in the universe, is good by me. I just don’t spend much time reading gossip columns.
Am I coming off as a surly stick, myself? Perhaps I should close by saying that if you haven’t read Capote’s In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, and you want to be chilled while reading about human lives that mean something to someone, go for it. I think the book deserves all the attention it has received through the years.
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