Many "Curious Incidents"

Mark Haddon, author of the wildly popular Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has written a second book, A Spot of Bother about a family in the midst of chaos. Haddon, however, manages to make their trials quite funny even while dealing with serious subjects like cancer, extra-marital affairs and homosexuality. George Hall, father of the on-again, off-again future bride, Katie, is convinced he has cancer when he discovers a skin irritation, the "spot of bother" on his hip. He plummets into a deep depression characterized by cowering on the floor or hiding in the "loo." Jean, meanwhile, is having an affair with one of George's former business partners. And Jamie, George's gay son, is pining away for lost love, Tony. Nearly farcical, Haddon's novel manages to make all these bumbling characters look all too human. Not as insightful as his first, this story may either strike you as fluff or a comic riff on family dynamics.

Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake" in theaters today!

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake has being turned into a feature film and is in theaters today. It will begin playing at the Michigan Theater March 30th. This article on NPR provides an excerpt from the book and insight into the movie. Check out Fox Searchlight's official movie page for reviews, video excerpts and trailers.

High Profile

Looking for something to read? Look no further. Parker has been turning them out for decades and he's as good as ever. Great reviews for his latest High Profile.
Parkers is well known for the mid 1980's television mystery series featuring the private-eye Spenser who operated out of Boston.

Maison Ikkoku

Rumiko Takahashi might just be the wealthiest woman in Japan—if you have read the Maison Ikkoku series then you know why. Her characters are well developed, interesting, and well loved all over the world.

Yusaku Godai, a starving student, moves into a boarding house run by the beautiful, young, and widowed Kyoko Otonashi. Young Godai quickly falls in love only to find that he has many rivals for her affection (including a dog named after her late husband).

After you’ve read the book, don’t forget to check out the anime version.

The Play Ground

The Play
GroundThe Play
Ground

For those of you who missed last week's lunar eclipse like we did because of cloudy skies, there can still be stars and planets in your future. On March 9 & 23 at the Angell Hall Observatory there are two Open Houses sponsored by the U-M Astronomy Department. All are invited to peer through the telescopes in the observatory on the Angell Hall roof and to view shows in the planetarium. Also, Student Astronomy Society members give short presentations on a variety of astronomy topics. Fifth floor rooftop observatory, Angell Hall (from the large State St. entrance, take one of the elevators on the left to the fifth floor). Free. 764-3440. 9-11 p.m.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (3/4/07)

In Ten Days in the Hills, Jane Smiley consciously set out to remake Boccaccio's Decameron and write a funny sexual satire of our times. Instead of the plague her ten characters are hiding out in the hills above Hollywood from the war in Iraq.

The reviews have been mixed. Some critics and readers are amused and others are decidely not. Beguiling discussions or boring blather. Rollicking escapades or sleazy sex. But all agree there is not much plot.

In either case, Smiley has not scaled the literary heights as she did with her reworking of King Lear in her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres.

You can check out the rest of the List and the three other new additions ( Sisters by Danielle Steel, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill) online.

March New and Noteworthy Historical Fiction

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.
The author of Girl with a Pearl Earring turns her focus this time on 18th century London. The plot centers on young Jem, the fresh-from-the-country chairmaker’s son and Maggie, a poor, sexy firebrand. Their coming-of-age story is to be the inspiration for Songs of Innocence and Experience by Willilam Blake, who makes a cameo appearance as a neighbor. “An easy pleasure to read”.

The God of Spring* by Arabella Edge
“Sparkling, …gorgeous” novel (indeed high praise from the reviewers at Kirkus) of the birth of the classical painting The Raft of Medusa, by French artist, Theodore Gericault.
Six years after winning the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon, Gericault was casting about for a subject to paint and was soon consumed by the Medusa disaster of 1816, when a frigate carrying 400 went aground off the coast of Africa. “This is a thoughtful and richly imagined story about the darker aspects of the artistic process and the costs of obsession”. A good read, especially for art lovers.

* = starred review.

Magic Lessons

If you enjoyed Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness as much as I did, you'll be happy to hear that the sequel, Magic Lessons, just landed at the library. The Magic or Madness trilogy is the story of Reason Cansino, an Australian teen who's been raised not to believe in magic. But when she walks through a mysterious door in the basement of her grandmother's Sydney house and finds herself on a snowy New York City street, she has to admit magic is real.

The third and last book of the trilogy, Magic's Child, is being published later this month. You can read previews of all three books in the series on Larbalestier's web site, which also has a cool glossary of some of the Australian slang used in the books.

What do Piglet and Captain Underpants have in common?

They are sharing the March is Reading Month celebration in the glass display case at the Downtown Library's Youth Department. Take a peek at The Velveteen Rabbit, Madeline and other favorite characters.

Jesus Family Tomb

This sounds unbelievable but intriguing. A new book, The Jesus Family Tomb suggests that archaeologists have ignored evidence pointing to the possibility that the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was found in 1980 during construction in Jerusalem.

On March 5, 2007 on the Diane Rehm show Guest host: Susan Page and her guests, Anthony Tambasco, professor of theology at Georgetown University , Simcha Jacobovici co-author of "The Jesus Family Tomb”and Eric Meyers, professor of Judaic studies and director of the graduate program in religion at Duke University talked about this idea and why it's drawing criticism from Biblical scholars, archeaologists, and other experts.

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