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Literary Fruitfulness

September 12, 2016 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Emily Chandler: Orchards are popular destinations to visit during the summer and fall, as people flock there for fruit picking and often stay to enjoy food, drink, and entertainment. Why not sweeten the experience by checking out and reading some of these great novels about orchards?

The book descriptions have been provided by the publishers.

Cane, Emma
At Fairfield Orchard

At Fairfield OrchardFor Amy Fairfield, the family orchard is more than a business. With its blossom-scented air and rows of trees framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s her heritage and her future. But right now, it’s also a headache. Putting a painful breakup behind her, Amy has come home to help revitalize Fairfield Orchard. She doesn’t have time for the handsome—distracting—professor who wants to dig into her family’s history for his research.
Jonathan Gebhart knows he needs the Fairfields’ cooperation to make his new book a success. As for Amy—nothing in his years of academia could have prepared him for their sudden and intense attraction. He doesn’t want to complicate her life further, especially since she seems uneasy about his poking around in the past and he knows he’s not the sort of man built for forever. But some sparks can’t help but grow, and Jonathan and Amy may just learn that unexpected love can be the sweetest of all.


Chevalier, Tracy
At The Edge of the Orchard

At The Edge of the Orchard

James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838. As swamp fever gradually picks off their children and they wrestle daily with survival. This course will see their family engulfed in tragedy and fifteen years later we pick up with their youngest son, Robert who has been running west since the trying to escape his memories of what happened, taking solace in a very different kind of tree–the redwoods and sequoias of California. But Robert’s past catches up with him and he’s forced to confront what he’s running from and work out for himself that you can’t run for ever.


Connolly, Sheila
A Gala Event

A Gala EventThe fall harvest may be just about over, but orchard owner Meg Corey is busier than ever planning her wedding to Seth Chapin. Who knew picking apples would be less work than picking out rings and a dress? And even though the happy couple has invited most of Granford, Massachusetts, to the ceremony, they might have to make room for one more guest…Ex-con Aaron Eastman has unexpectedly reappeared in his hometown, searching for answers to the tragic fire in his family’s past that put him behind bars twenty-five years ago. Moved by his sincerity, Meg vows to do everything she can to help him solve the cold case. As she cobbles together the clues, it becomes increasingly clear that Aaron may have been considered the bad seed of the family, but someone else was one bad apple.


Furlong, Susan
Peaches and Scream

Peaches and ScreamTo help run the family peach farm during her parents’ absence, Nola Harper returns to her childhood home of Cays Mill, Georgia, and soon discovers that things back at the farm aren’t exactly peachy. A poor harvest and rising costs are threatening to ruin the Harpers’ livelihood, and small-town gossip is spreading like blight thanks to Nola’s juicy reputation as a wild teenager way back when. But Nola really finds herself in the pits when she stumbles upon a local businessman murdered among the peach trees. With suspicions and family tensions heating up faster than a cobbler in the oven, this sweet Georgia peach will have to prune through a list of murder suspects–before she too becomes ripe for the killer’s picking.


Hamilton, Jane
The Excellent Lombards

The Excellent LombardsMary Frances “Frankie” Lombard is fiercely in love with her family’s sprawling apple orchard and the tangled web of family members who inhabit it. Content to spend her days planning capers with her brother William, competing with her brainy cousin Amanda, and expertly tending the orchard with her father, Frankie desires nothing more than for the rhythm of life to continue undisturbed. But she cannot help being haunted by the historical fact that some family members end up staying on the farm and others must leave. Change is inevitable, and threats of urbanization, disinheritance, and college applications shake the foundation of Frankie’s roots. As Frankie is forced to shed her childhood fantasies and face the possibility of losing the idyllic future she had envisioned for her family, she must decide whether loving something means clinging tightly or letting go.


McCoy, Shirlee
The Orchard at the Edge of Town

The Orchard at the Edge of TownApricot Sunshine Devereux-Miller needs to stay lost. Her eccentric aunt’s home in Apple Valley is the perfect place to forget her cheating ex-fiance and get her no-longer-perfect life back under control. Plus, it couldn’t hurt to fix up the house and turn its neglected orchard into a thriving business. And if Apricot can keep deputy sheriff Simon Baylor’s two lively young daughters out of mischief, maybe she can ignore that he’s downright irresistible–and everything she never dreamed she’d find. Simon isn’t looking to have his heart broken again. He already has his hands full raising his girls. And lately he’s thinking way too much about Apricot’s take-charge energy and unwitting knack for stirring up trouble. He can’t see a single way they could ever be right for each other. Unless they can take a crazy chance on trusting their hearts–and risking the courage to finally find their way home.


Rice, Luanne
The Lemon Orchard

The Lemon Orchard
After the death of her daughter, Julie housesits the Mailbu home of her aunt and uncle where she finds herself drawn to Roberto, the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard and whose daughter was lost but never found.








Sanna, Lucy
The Cherry Harvest

The Cherry HarvestThe war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe. When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit — unleashing unexpected consequences.


Wiggs, Susan
The Apple Orchard

The Apple Orchard
Set to inherit half of Bella Vista, a one hundred-acre apple orchard in a town called Archangel, along with a half-sister she’s never heard of, Tess Delaney, who makes a living restoring stolen treasures to their rightful owners, discovers a world filled with the simple pleasures of food and family.




Leslie Pietrzyk to visit IUPUI.

September 8, 2016 by Reader's Connection

As a part of the Rufus and Louise Reiberg Reading Series, novelist and story writer Leslie Pietrzyk will appear at IUPUI’s Library Auditorium (755 W Michigan St) on Wednesday, September 14th at 7:30 p.m.

Click here for a link to free tickets and a link to a campus map.


This Angel on My Chest 

This Angel on My Chest

Linked autobiographical fictions explore the loss of a young husband.With a delicate balance of cleverness and emotion, the 16 stories in Pietrzyk’s collection explore the event of her husband’s sudden death at the breakfast table in 1997. Literal facts (“My husband, Robert K. Rauth, Jr., died of a heart attack when he was only 37”) in some stories stand beside slightly altered ones in others (a husband named Roger, a husband who drove off the road, a husband who died in his early 40s). The author’s wit, clarity, and literary inventiveness dance circles around the omnipresent sadness, making this book a prime example of the furious creative energy that can explode from the collision of grief with talent and craftsmanship. A few stories are traditionally told; many rely on formal strategies—a list, a quiz, a speech, an annotated index, various narrative voices, and a metafiction about the use of narrative voices. Running through them are recurrent details that add the weight of obsessive memory: a carefully organized library of books, a bowl of cornflakes, the music of Springsteen (a misunderstood line of which gives the collection its name), an extramarital affair. Pietrzyk explores every aspect of the truth, including the parts you have to make up, and never gives in to sentimentality or self-pity . . . This book is the winner of the distinguished Drue Heinz Literature Prize, upholding its tradition of excellence in short fiction. Like Magic Rocks in a fishbowl, these stories turn the stones of grief into something bright, crystalline, mesmerizing. — Kirkus Reviews


Pears on a Willow Tree

Pears on a Willow Tree

A family saga comprising 16 self-contained chapters, each a monologue (or dialogue) featuring one of four women in a prolific Polish-American clan, this compelling debut is an example of the novel-in-stories at its best. In prose as plain and four-square as her protagonists, Pietrzyk traces the family’s evolution from 1919 through the late 1980s, from its transplantation to the U.S. specifically, Detroit through three generations, showing how the older women (who privately refer to themselves as Marchewskas, after matriarch Rose’s maiden name) preserve ethnic traditions and family customs and why their daughters shake them off. Of the 10 women of the Marchewska family, the book focuses upon Rose, her daughter Helen, granddaughter Ginger (the rebel who abandons Detroit and settles in Phoenix) and great-granddaughter Amy. The voices of these four women are quite different Rose’s primal and earthy; Helen’s pathetic; Ginger’s cool, irreverent, iconoclastic and questioning; Amy’s tempered and mature beyond her years. Reading this novel is like leafing through a family photo album (one of Pietrzyk’s favored motifs) except that, once you pick up this book, it’s hard to put it down. — Publishers Weekly


If you don’t like this blog post, blame Librarian Gregg Jackson at Southport

September 5, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Poems and Other WritingsThis year’s Bicentennial Reading Challenge is a mix of Hoosier-related challenges that I made up, and goals borrowed from Rachel Manwill’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge on Book Riot.

One of her hurdles is Read a book originally published in the decade you were born. I’ve decided to be more strict than Rachel, and find a book from the year I was born, not just the decade. I am reading and enjoying a 1947 release.

But when I first posted the challenge, Southport Librarian Gregg Jackson made a suggestion: How ‘bout reading something originally written in the same decade as you were born BUT with a twist – minus 100 years.

Courtesy of Gregg, we are now going to enter the forest primeval.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s novella-length poem Evangeline first appeared in 1847. It is available in the Library of America volume Poems and Other Writings and separately in other editions.

Northern Lights, Southern CrossIf you’ve heard the song “Acadian Driftwood,” on the album Northern Lights, Southern Cross by the rock group The Band, then you have some background. 4/5 of the group’s members were Canadian, so they had an interest in Britain’s 1755 expulsion of the French Acadians from the Nova Scotia region.

A more detailed, less musical account of the expulsion is available on the website Historica Canada. If you’ve ever wondered where the Cajuns in Louisiana came from, you can read up.

The Acadian way of life is captured rather idealistically in the opening passages of Longfellow’s poem. Evangeline is a young Acadian woman who is in love with Gabriel. The two of them are separated at the time of the expulsion, and they wander like the “driftwood” in the Band’s song.

I enjoyed the poem, so you can ignore the grouchy tone I’m taking with Gregg. Reading Longfellow aloud with a thundering voice, allowing his unrhymed lines to cascade around you, is great fun. This isn’t always possible, and I had to be subdued when reading at the Lincoln Square Pancake House across 24th Street from the Library Services Center where I work.

The waiters & waitresses there are always sweet, but they might have spilled my decaf if I’d tried to chant through my mouthful of omelette:


This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea or decaf or anything, but the journeys of the Acadians make up a soulful American story, and Longfellow provided one of its most popular re-tellings.

Back on the subject of this year’s reading challenge: I’m making Hoosier adaptations of some of Rachel Manwill’s hurdles. My book of essays is by an Indiana author, as is my 1947 release. I didn’t go Hoosier with my 1847 read, but there is  a mention of our shores as Evangeline and her company row south.


So there you go. Longfellow, looking back over his shoulder, waves and wishes us a Happy 200th.


Indiana-Inspired Books & Movies

September 1, 2016 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Jessica Lawrence: Indiana, with its natural beauty, prominent history and lush wilderness, has inspired numerous writers and artists, and provides the perfect setting for quite a few books and movies. As we celebrate our great state’s Bicentennial, now is the perfect time to revisit some of our favorite Hoosier-inspired books and movies.

Item descriptions and plot summaries provided below.



Asphalt Moon


Asphalt Moon by Ronald Tierney

The murder rate in Indianapolis is climbing, and someone wants to add 70-year-old private eye Deets Shanahan to the citys crime statistics. Who is it? Why? While the veteran investigator is willing to take on the mysterious stalker, he fears that the love of his life, live-in girlfriend Maureen, is in the killers sights as well…






Barefoot SummerBarefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job, the loss still haunts her. To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill his dream of winning her small Indiana town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast. She’ll even work with the infamous Beckett to reach her goal. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?




The Bright Forever


The Bright Forever by Lee Martin (eBook)

On an evening like any other, nine-year-old Katie Mackey, daughter of the most affluent family in a small town on the plains of Indiana, sets out on her bicycle to return some library books. This simple act is at the heart of The Bright Forever, a suspenseful, deeply affecting novel about the choices people make that change their lives forever.





City of the Sun


City of the Sun by David Levien

Jamie Gabriel gets on his bike before dawn to deliver newspapers in his suburban Indianapolis neighborhood. Somewhere en route, he vanishes without a trace. This, haunting and thrilling novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the author explores suburban Indianapolis and the city’s sordid underworld.






A Criminal AppealA Criminal Appeal by D.R. Schanker

Fresh out of law school, Nora Lumsey has just started working for the Indiana Court of Appeals when she finds her passion to do justice at odds with her role for the judge Risking disbarment. Nora sets out to find truth and justice and is drawn into a complex web of inner-city Indy politics, gang warfare, and racial tensions. At once a page-turning thriller, a chilling look at a city in a crisis of violent crime, and a moving, finely drawn portrait of a fiercely independent young woman.




The Fault in Our Stars


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Set in Indiana, sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.







A Girl Named Zippy


A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet. Nicknamed “Zippy”, she possessed big eyes and even bigger ears. In this loving memoir, Kimmel takes readers back in time to when small-town America was still in the innocent postwar period and treats readers to an appealing, and knowing, heroine.





A Girl of the Limberlost


A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

Set in Indiana, most of the action takes place either in or around the Limberlost Swamp, or in the nearby town of Onabasha. Deeply wounded by her embittered mother’s lack of sympathy for her aspirations, Elnora finds comfort in the nearby Limberlost Swamp, whose beauty and rich abundance provide her with the means to better her life.





God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater


God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

Set in fictional Rosewater County, Indiana, this novel focuses on Eliot Rosewater—drunk, volunteer fireman, and President of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation—who attempts a noble experiment with human nature. The result is an etched-in-acid portrayal of universal greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh.





Going All the Way


Going All the Way by Dan Wakefield

In this fun coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1954, two friends come of age in Indianapolis at the close of the Korean War.








The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

The lives and changing fortunes of three generations of a once-powerful and socially prominent Indiana family are chronicled in this vivid tale of the corrupting influence of greed and materialism.







Over and Under


Over and Under by Todd Tucker

In the summer of 1979, two fourteen-year-old boys in rural southern Indiana are blissfully unaware of the local labor strife. But in the building summer heat, violence quickly erupts—including an explosion, a murder, and the escape of two fugitives. What began as a season of independence becomes a summer of growth and change, of adventure and misbehavior. Reminiscent of Stand by Me and To Kill a Mockingbird.




So Cold the River


So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

After he is hired to research the life of a 95-year-old billionaire, Eric Shaw visits the small Indiana town of West Baden, where he discovers a restored hotel that has a checkered past–and a newly reawakened evil bent on revenge.







A Son Comes Home

A Son Comes Home by Joseph Bentz

Chris LaRue had fled his Indiana home after the grief and pain surrounding his brother’s death became too much to bear. Now, two summers later, he returns and though the secrets that Chris’ brother took to the grave still linger over the family—especially over Chris’ strained relationship with his perfectionist father—there is still a flicker of hope that leads them forward.






Breaking Away


Breaking Away

The Academy Award winning comedy about an idealistic young man and his friends and their pursuit to find jobs and a purpose to life in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.







By the Light of the Silvery Moon


By the Light of the Silvery Moon

It’s 1918 in Milburn, Indiana. Returning World War I soldier and his fiancée are readjusting to life in the heartland; he wants to postpone their marriage until he is financially secure, and the waiting causes some misunderstandings.






A Christmas Story


A Christmas Story

It’s 1940, in the northern Indiana town of Hohman. 9-year-old Ralph “Ralphie” Parker wants only one thing for Christmas — an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle. Will Ralphie get his Christmas wish or will holiday shenanigans get in the way?






Close Encounters of the Third Kind


Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Roy Neary sets out to investigate a power outage in Muncie, Indiana when his truck stalls and he is bathed in light from above. After this, strange visions and five musical notes keep running through his mind. Will he find the meaning of the visions, and who – or what – placed them in his mind?





Falling From Grace


Falling From Grace

A singer and his wife returns to his Indiana hometown to celebrate his grandfather 80th birthday. But once there he risks his marriage by renewing a love affair with his high school sweetheart and risks his life with the hard drinking and high wire antics that made him famous.





Hard Rain


Hard Rain

Set during a massive flood started by a dam accident in a small Indiana town, Christian Slater is an armored truck guard who gets robbed by Morgan Freeman. In a panic, Slater tells the sheriff about the area he hid the money in and the sheriff locks him up. Now Slater has to get to the money and keep himself alive battling the sheriff, Morgan Freeman and the elements.



A History of Violence


A History of Violence

Tom is a loving, well-respected family man from a small Indiana town. When two criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly he is heralded as a local hero, but all the media attention attracts the likes of the mob, who show up at Tom’s doorstep. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about?






Based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954, this movie chronicles the attempts of a coach with a spotty past, and the town’s basketball-loving drunk to lead their high school team to victory.







In & Out

In & Out

All of Greenleaf, Indiana is watching this year’s Oscars as Hollywood heartthrob and local Indiana-boy made good Cameron Drake has been nominated for his first ever Best Actor Oscar. Cameron’s high school English teacher Howard Brackett is overjoyed when Cameron wins the award and mentions Howard’s contribution in his acting life, but what he says next wreaks havoc in Howard’s world.





The Judge


The Judge

Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home in Indiana where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.








A portrait of Indiana University professor Alfred Kinsey, who was driven to uncover the most private secrets of the nation, and journey into the mystery of human behavior.










The independent feature film Madison is a father-son action/drama based on the inspiring true story of the tiny river town of Madison, Indiana and its legendary efforts during the hydroplane racing season of 1971.







The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons

Lavish new production made from Orson Welles’ original shooting script, allowing audiences to finally see his epic vision of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Booth Tarkington novel fully realized. The haunting story of a wealthy Indiana family’s struggle to adapt to the rapidly changing world at the dawn of the 20th century.








Although people have told Rudy all his life he’s not good enough, smart enough or big enough, nothing can stop his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame.







Some Came Running


Some Came Running

Dave Hirsch, a writer and army veteran, returns to 1948 Parkman, Indiana, his hometown. His prosperous brother introduces him to Gwen French, a local teacher. But the more flamboyant Ginny has followed him to Parkton, where he also meets gambler Bama Dillert. Dave must come to terms with his roots and with his future.





The Winning Season


The Winning Season

A comedy centered on a has-been coach in a Hoosier town who is given a shot at redemption when he’s asked to run his local high school’s girls basketball team.






Discover all of these titles and more at the Indianapolis Public Library!


Butler Announces its Fall Visiting Writers Series

August 29, 2016 by Reader's Connection

The Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series at Butler University will begin its fall sequence on September 13th.

All events in the series are free and open to the public, but tickets are required to see Elizabeth Strout. Free tickets will be available beginning September 15 by calling 317-940-9861, and you can call that number for other information about the Visiting Writers Series.

You can click the authors’ names to see which of their titles are at IndyPL, though Elizabeth Strout wasn’t really involved with the writing of A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters.

Click here for information about parking at Butler.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Tuesday, September 13, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

The Emperor of Water Clocks

The Emperor of Water Clocks

The personae encountered in Pulitzer Prize winner Komunyakaa’s latest collection span the length and breadth of the human enterprise, from Cleopatra to President Obama, from 19th-century whalers to contemporary protesters in Russia and Ferguson. Always aware of how history (“a tyranny of frescoes”) is perceived and understood through the individual’s consciousness (“our dream-headed, separate eternities”), Komunyakaa deftly maintains a personal focus no matter how ancient or distant his triggering subjects, resisting the sprawl of narrative exposition in favor of the lyric form’s concision and compression, its capacity to contain “seasons of blossoms in a single seed.” And scattered throughout, the poet’s signature invocations of jazz masters–Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and others–provide resonant touchstones with his own life and times. Though ambitious in scope, Komunyakaa’s globe- and time-traveling lyrics are disarmingly subtle and soft-spoken, intimate and candid, repaying multiple readings. — Library Journal



Hanya Yanagihara

Tuesday, September 27, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Art Center

A Little Life

A Little LifeYanagihara follows her debut novel, The People in the Trees, with a deceptively simple tale of four male friends, Jude, Willem, Malcolm, and JB, who meet during their college years at Ivy League institutions. The men choose to continue their journeys into adulthood together by relocating jointly to New York. As they sustain their friendships into their fifties, the author delivers tales of their loyalty, love, and support for one another. However, lying beneath the surface is an emotionally disturbing story line about Jude, a highly successful lawyer and the brightest of the four men. The horrors of Jude’s victimization during his youth by the brothers of a monastery and his eventual abduction by Brother Luke, a pedophile and pimp, force him to struggle relentlessly with inner demons and a deep-seated distrust of others, with his pain manifested in constant acts of cutting. VERDICT As in her previous novel, Yanagihara fearlessly broaches difficult topics while simultaneously creating an environment that her audience will find caring and sensitive. Not all readers will embrace this work, given its intense subject. However, for those strong of stomach or bold enough to follow the characters’ road of friendship, this heartbreaking story certainly won’t be easily forgotten. — Library Journal



Robert Wrigley

Tuesday, October 25, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems

Earthly Meditations: New and Selected PoemsWrigley has been offering up well-crafted, articulate and largely autobiographical free verse since the 1970s, often reflecting his Great Plains roots or his longtime residence among the woods of northern Idaho. This ample career-spanning selection shows how little the essence of his carefully wrought poems appears to have changed: the notion that “the body’s one life, constant, expansive, simultaneous” informs all his observations and invocations, cast, often, into sinuously subordinated, easy-to-follow sentences. Wrigley’s personality remains a granite constant even as his attention wanders from the distant past to the near future, from his parents to cottonmouth snakes, from a confident mare in spring to a “Sad Moose”: “Each day for a week I’ve watched him,/ the ribs defined into claws.” Wrigley’s quiet respect for nonhuman nature and his consistent interest in the meaning of sex, paternity and literary inheritance unify his detailed and trustworthy, if rarely pyrotechnic, work, in which “Living is a slow dance you know/ you’re dreaming, but the chill at your neck/ is real.” — Publishers Weekly



Brenda Shaughnessy

Tuesday, November 1, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

So Much Synth

So Much SynthShaughnessy finds ever new ways to rend the heart in this biting and poignant anthropological study of girlhood and adolescence. The opening poem, “I Have a Time Machine,” sets the tone for the four-part collection, simmering in the obsessive nature of regrets and paths not taken. Her lush snapshots of youth portray triumph, anger, and agony, the poet unashamed to explore the abscesses of adolescence. “Dress Form,” a first-person confessional of self-esteem and body issues, pinpoints the rationale behind such self-inflicted wounds: “Like I learned: no dress could ever be// beautiful or best if it had me in it.” Shaughnessy uses language in a way that honors the power of imagery. This depiction of girlhood is not meant to serve as a unifier of personal experiences, but as the nuanced experience of growing up as a woman of color in a world dominated by white men. This is apparent in powerhouse poems such as “Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992” and “Is There Something I Should Know?” The latter, a long poem that forms the collection’s fierce core, is a sweeping love letter to the poet’s young daughter as well as a powerful indictment of rape culture and the white and/or male gaze. “This is not a book anyone wants to read,” Shaughnessy writes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. — Publishers Weekly



Elizabeth Strout

Wednesday, November 9, 7:30 PM
Indianapolis Spirit and Place Celebration Signature Event
Free tickets required. Call 317-940-9861 beginning September 15.
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy BartonLucy Barton recalls her months-long stay in the hospital after suffering complications during a routine appendectomy. Her husband, overwhelmed with job and child-care responsibilities, summons Lucy’s mother to stay with her, though they have long been estranged. Within the confines of her hospital room, Lucy and her mother seek to find common ground, gossiping about the neighbors in the small, rural town of Amgash, Illinois, where Lucy was raised. In this way, they avoid talking about the central event of Lucy’s life, her impoverished childhood. Obliquely, the harsh details are revealed: Lucy was frequently hungry, dirty, and terrorized by her abusive father. She felt isolated, ashamed, and fearful, feelings that still surface in adulthood. It seems a small miracle that she escaped to college, got married, had children, and became a writer while her siblings remained mired in dysfunction. She never confronts her mother about the fact that she failed to protect Lucy; indeed, though they seem incapable of expressing it, their love for each other is palpable. In a compact novel brimming with insight and emotion, Strout relays with great tenderness and sadness the way family relationships can both make and break us. — Booklist



Meghan Daum

Tuesday, November 29, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of DiscussionDaum opens this collection of personal essays with the scene at her mother’s deathbed and confesses that she wishes her mother would hurry up and die, setting the honest tone for the pieces that follow. The author proceeds to examine her attitudes about children, dogs, food, lesbianism, Joni Mitchell, etc., often expressing offbeat views counter to those of her friends–she prefers animals to children and devotes one essay to over-the-top love for her dog, Rex, while feeling relieved after having a miscarriage. Daum’s fearlessness is to be admired, as is her writing ability. She’s a skilled stylist who leavens serious topics with a smidgen of humor, such as attributing her dislike of food preparation to an overall laziness that arises from deep insecurities about not being able to master math, Middle English, and team sports. In the closing essay, the author recounts her close brush with death from a flea-borne bacterial infection with amazing detail and insight, bookending her memoir with her mother’s and her medical experiences. This book will appeal to memoir enthusiasts seeking an insightful reading experience that will entertain as well as challenge. — Library Journal