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The 2012 Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts

October 4, 2012 by Reader's Connection

The 2012 Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts will run from October 24th through November 17th at the Jewish Community Center. Click on that Festival link for a complete list of author visits, films, concerts, workshops and other activities.

Here are some of the authors who will appear. There is a $5.00 charge to attend each of these programs ($3.00 for JCC members).

Unless otherwise noted, the programs begin at 7:00 p.m.

Delia Ephron
Wednesday, October 24th

The Lion Is In

The Lion Is InEphron’s newest follows a trio of women looking to escape their pasts and build a new life in an unlikely place and with an even stranger companion–a former circus lion named Marcel. Lana is a tough recovering alcoholic who has always served as protector of her best friend, Tracee, a kleptomaniac abandoned by her parents when she was young, and currently on the run from dashed hopes that her bum ex would propose. While fixing a flat on their getaway Mustang, Lana and Tracee–still in her immaculate stolen gown–meet Rita, a middle-aged wife and mother wandering down the road, seeking a life apart from her controlling and unloving pastor husband. When an accident leaves them stranded outside a haphazardly built diner called The Lion–complete with a big cat in a big cage–the women’s journeys stall, but their lives intertwine and grow together. Taking up as waitresses at the restaurant, they find comfort in their differences, and the strange allure of Marcel–once the center of attention in the big-top–impels the women to reclaim their lives. Ephron fans and newcomers alike will find plenty to enjoy in this fun, refreshing, and incredibly touching read. — Publishers Weekly

Alicia Oltuski
Monday, October 29th

Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life

Precious ObjectsOltuski’s fascinating look at the diamond industry weaves together an intricate, comprehensive study of the origins and future of the trade and a family narrative. Oltuski’s father is a veteran jeweler in New York’s Forty-Seventh Street Diamond District, one of the major centers of the industry. Here deals based on reputation and connection are haggled over, and transactions closed by spoken word. Oltuski explores the intricacy of such negotiations as well as the nature of the industry, from its deep history to such more current controversies as those concerning conflict or blood diamonds and the effect of list pricing in the marketplace. Oltuski also covers basic diamond science and how emerging technologies are changing the way the precious gems are manufactured. Throughout, she highlights a variety of persons who rely on diamonds for income, including her father, and how the ever-changing industry, rooted in old traditions, poses threats to their livelihoods. An inclusive, intimate account of a complex business. — Booklist


David Javerbaum
Tuesday, October 30th

The Last Testament: A Memoir by God

The Last Testament: A Memoir by GodThough the media-savvy Creator proves to be a 21st-century deity, he reveals, in this tell-all memoir, that he took a century off since sinking the Titanic in 1912. Apparently, he was messing with other universes. Now He’s back and funnier than His first rib tickler with Adam and Steve; for lo, Steve came before Eve! Revelations, of interest to Jews, Christians, Muslims, the Perpetually Confused and a few fans of stray gods, cover such earthly matters as food, sports, crusades, America and, ever popular, sex. Many ecclesiastical secrets are explained in chapter and verse marked by faith, piety and extreme silliness. The Author, CEO of a major enterprise, takes time from His busy schedule to present much Holy Shtick. Judging by the jacket photo, the Timeless One hasn’t aged since the official portrait by Michelangelo. Certainly, there are, as in His prior books, some arid, less-than-hilarious passages, but his Self-given wit offers much mirth for heathens and other Americans. Before we come to the End (of Days and the memoir), the Author provides a big finish with boffo one-liners regarding eschatological matters. — Kirkus Reviews


Ira, Shapiro
Thursday, November 1st

The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis

The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of CrisisThe U.S. Congress wasn’t always gridlocked. Members of the Senate weren’t always hyperpartisan. Controversial issues like SALT II and the Panama Canal Treaty would probably be DOA in Congress today, but Shapiro, who was on the staff of several senators during that time, reminds readers that during the Carter administration, the Senate passed controversial landmark legislation with bipartisan support, facing issues on their merits. Shapiro identifies important legislation and treaties debated in the Senate from 1978 to 1980, explaining positions and senators who played important roles on each side. He describes the debate and amendment process used to create a bill that could pass. He also discusses domestic issues the Senate battled over, such as government-backed loans to save New York City from default and a bailout for the Chrysler Corporation. Senators Ted Kennedy, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Robert Byrd, Howard Baker, and Ted Stevens, for example, found ways to compromise, allowing national interest to prevail over partisan and ideological rhetoric. VERDICT Shapiro’s thorough analysis and background stories of these senators remind readers that the Senate once worked despite partisanship. Readers interested in political science and government history will enjoy the author’s engaging style and historical perspective. — Library Journal


Eric Weiner
Wednesday, November 7th

Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine

Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine“Tell no one the way your mind travels,” is a Nepal proverb author Weiner noticed on a sign while seeking God in Kathmandu. Thank God the New York Times best-selling author didn’t heed this advice. Otherwise, Weiner would have never shared this hilarious, up-front-and-personal account of his “flirtations with the divine.” What starts with a bad bout of gas that lands him in the hospital at the hands of a nurse who asks, “Have you found your God yet?” progresses to a personal and inviting communion with the all-knowing. That communion comes to include plenty of heartwarming accounts of people reaching out to share their religious practices and philosophies for Sufism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism, Wicca, and even a UFO-based religion. Throughout this marvelously entertaining journey, precious and universal truths emerge amid the churning of Weiner’s self-consciousness intellect and self-deprecating sense of humor. Weiner manages to suspend disbelief long enough to share tales of divine wonders. — Booklist


Gregory Dawson
Monday, November 12th

Judgment Before Nuremberg: The Holocaust in the Ukraine and the First Nazi War Crimes Trial

Judgment Before Nuremberg: The Holocaust in the Ukraine and the First Nazi War Crimes TrialThe systematic extermination of Jews by Nazis did not begin in Germany or even Poland but in the Soviet Ukraine following the invasion, in June 1941, and the first effort to try the perpetrators for war crimes occurred not at Nuremberg but in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, in December 1943. Dawson, a journalist whose mother escaped the Holocaust in the Ukraine, utilized newly available Soviet archival material to chronicle both the horrors of the massacres and the subsequent trial, and his narrative is interspersed with the riveting story of his mother’s struggle to survive. The task of rounding up and slaughtering Jews was carried out primarily by specially trained murder squads called Einsatzgruppen, and Dawson chillingly describes both their training and actions. But their mass shootings were messy and inefficient, which led Himmler and the SS to devise a more efficient method of genocide in the death camps. Dawson allows his narrative to get sidetracked with ruminations over the origins of German anti-Semitism, but when he stays on point, he provides a valuable, if terrifying, glimpse into one of the more neglected aspects of the Holocaust. — Booklist


Matthew Tully
Wednesday, November 14th

Searching for Hope: Life at a Failing School in the Heart of America

Searching for Hope: Life at a Failing School in the Heart of AmericaIn this evocative and sensitive account, Indianapolis Star journalist Tully investigates Emmerich Manual High, an Indianapolis school facing a state takeover, debilitating budget cuts, and the “apathy, low expectations, and assembly-line mentality” often associated with urban schools. Tully unblinkingly describes drug deals, violence, the desperation of pregnant students, absent and overwhelmed parents, bored teachers, and ineffectual (if well intentioned) leadership. He also offers honest moments of hope, as the book’s title promises: college dreams are fulfilled; shattered families are reunited; special education students surpass all expectations; teenagers finally taste triumph at a choir concert and, briefly, on the football field; and a community comes alive with unexpected generosity . . . Tully is “a journalist and not an education expert,” and while the book offers no unfamiliar insight into the plight of urban schools, it does give a powerful, ultimately genuine voice to the complicated, imperfect individuals whose victories and hopes are often unreported. — Publishers Weekly

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