Slow-burning Drama for Cold Week

Sex, religion, and passion enliven The End of California by Steve Yarbrough, this week’s fiction pick at DearReader.com. In this domestic portrait of small-town life in Loring, Mississippi, the author examines the intersecting lives of two family guys with really complicated lives. To quote Publishers Weekly: “Yarbrough gives each character in his slow-burning drama the complex emotional scars of broken marriage and, more importantly, the space and voice with which to explore them.” If you're not sure yet, why not sign up for daily e-mail chunks to be sent to you from DearReader.com. Yarbrough was a PEN/Faulkner finalist for his acclaimed previous novel Prisoners of War set in the same town during World War II.

Anime books and magazines

The library doesn’t just have great anime tv series and films in its dvd collection; it also has books about anime in our nonfiction collection. I especially like Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation by Susan J. Napier and The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation since 1917 by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy.

And if you want the very latest news on anime, take a look at Newtype USA magazine, which is available at all library branches.

Ann Arbor's African American Community to be Discussed

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, local authors Carol Gibson and Lola Jones will be presenting an introduction to the history of the African American community in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County at the Sunday, January 14 session of 'Sunday Edition' at the Downtown Library at 2:00 pm. Their presentation will be based on their new book Another Ann Arbor, a photographic survey of the history and contributions of African Americans. The program will include a selection of the images from the book. Additional information about the local African American community can be found at the Another Ann Arbor web site. The 'Sunday Edition Program' is free and open to all.

"The fog comes on...."

January 6 is the birthday of poet, journalist, children's writer and biographer, Carl Sandburg. Born to Swedish immigrants in 1878 in a three room shack in Galeburg, Illinois, Sandburg was the quintessential Midwesterner. He stayed in the heartland, writing about his beloved Lincoln, the slaughter houses of Chicago and the whimsical characters of his Rootabaga Stories. Sandburg wrote what he knew from personal experience having dropped out of school in eighth grade, taken on odd jobs and traveled with hobos and tramps across the country.

Who can forget his wonderfully gravelly voice, shock of white hair and his image of fog in a poem of the same name:

"The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #46

Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, “this brilliant debut is a must read”.

Set in Chicago, The Blade Itself opens with a botched pawnshop robbery that would send young Evan to prison while Danny, his partner and childhood friend walks away and builds himself a respectable life. Seven years later, Evan is out and looking for payback. In an attempt to outwit Evan without succumbing to his past life, Danny devises a kidnap/ransom scheme that would bring on escalating collateral damage.

The Most Magnificent Mosque by Ann Jungman

The Most Magnificent Mosque celebrates the beauty of Cordoba’s Great Mosque and the cooperation of three clever boys of different faiths.

Michigan Notable Books 2007

The Library of Michigan's annual selection (annotations are from the Library of Michigan list):

Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke by Dean Kuipers. Bloomsbury.
This detailed and readable account describes the 2001 tragedy on Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm's farm in Vandalia, a rural Cass County town. Crosslin founded Rainbow Farm in 1993 as a shelter for marijuana smokers, libertarians, disconnected gays and lovers of live music. Local authorities charged Crosslin and Rohm with growing marijuana, used social services to remove Rohm's son from the farm, and began taking the necessary steps to confiscate the property. Kuipers provides an account of the incident and argues that maximum force is not always morally justified when dealing with the emotional issues surrounding the War on Drugs.

Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder by Steve Lehto. Momentum Books.
This book explores the enduring mystery and drama surrounding the 1913 Christmas Eve tragedy at Italian Hall in Calumet. After a still-unidentified man falsely cried, "Fire," more than 70 people, many of them children, were crushed to death in the stairwell amidst the panicked crush to flee the building. The author expertly analyzes the objectivity of the local newspaper coverage, the coroner's inquest, and the mystery surrounding the doors (did they open inward or outward?), and reaches several thought-provoking, startling, and controversial conclusions.

Donutheart by Sue Stauffacher. Alfred A. Knopf.
In this young adult sequel to Donuthead set in fictional central and west Michigan, Franklin is still obsessive but begins to gain a heart for others. His good friend Sarah needs help, but will not tell Franklin what is going on. Will Franklin take action and help Sarah? An enthralling tale of two youngsters who each learn to make their own decisions and deal in very individual ways with a puzzling grownup world. The story is a beautiful mixture of funny and original characters, intermingled with the frustrating issues of growing up.

January New and Noteworthy

The Song is You* by Megan Abbott.
Noir crime fiction by an Edgar Award nominee. "Shiz-bang adventure through Tinseltown's underbelly" when two starlets gone missing. A retro thrill ride.

The Sidewalk Artist (FFF) by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk.
Alternating between contemporary Paris and Renaissance Italy this debut novel follows two parallel, intertwined romances. Novelist Tulia Rose comes to Europe looking for inspiration but unexpectedly finds romance with a mysterious, talented sidewalk artist while researching the story of Renaissance painter Raphael and his secret lover. A touch of magic and plenty of cappuccino.

Arlington Park* by Rachel Cusk.
Over the course of one rainy day, the Whitbread Award-winner plumbs the extraordinary inner nature of the ordinary suburban English life. “Darkly comic, deeply affecting and wise”.

The Bastard of Istanbul* by Elif Shafak
Turkish author recently cleared by the government of “denigrating Turkishness” because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy, gives us this enlightening and entertaining novel of 4 generations of the Kazanci women, set in Istanbul.

The Terror* by Dan Simmons.
Scurvy, frostbite, botulism, and an enomous THING out on the ice plagued Sir John Franklin’s failed 1840 mission to find the Northwest Passage. A spellbinding sea story with grisly details.

Red River* by Lalita Tademy
A follow-up to her 2001 Oprah sensation Cane River – this time the repercussions of the Colfax Riot of 1873 – an engrossing and eye-opening emotional family saga.

* = Starred Review(s)

New Year’s Resolution: Write a Bioblog

Bioblogs: Resumes for the 21st Century by Michael Holley Smith.

From the back cover of the book: "What is a Bioblog? It is a stunning, attention-getting, graphics-based art form that workers of the future will use to get hired by the best employers. A Bioblog will make you, as a knowledge worker, stand out from the pack of job seekers. It will present a unique version of you and tell employers what you can do for them in the future, as opposed to what you have done for different employers in the past. The old standard is no more. Bioblogs are the resumes of the future."

eve Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionelle

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eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionnelle by Eve Aronoff is a beautiful and daunting cookbook, celebrating the food from the restaurant in Kerrytown.

Be sure you have thoroughly read the recipes before attempting to prepare them. You may need to make a trip to a local Asian or Middle Eastern ethnic food store, order some spices online, run out to Zingerman’s, Durham’s Tracklements, Monahan’s Seafood Market, Sparrow’s Meat Market, Morgan and York, or the Farmer’s Market. You may have to prepare some of the ingredients listed before attempting the main recipe.

For me the recipes are more likely to entice me to eat at eve than to attempt to actually cook the dishes. The chapter on Accompaniments has some recipes that are simpler. Even here the Fingerling Potatoes are best fried in rendered duck fat pulled from Durham Tracklement’s cured duck breast prosciutto.

In addition to the recipes and the lovely photographs there are occasional charming pieces by Eve Aronoff about the restaurant, her culinary background, her family, local food purveyors, and members of the staff.

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