New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (11/5/06)

Just last week I wrote that Michael Connelly was my favorite American mystery writer. When I looked at the List this week I realized I had to qualify that claim. I also rank Elizabeth George at the top but her detectuve is the very British Inspector Lynley. The author may be from Southern California but you would never guess that from reading her critically acclaimed novels. I strongly recommend reading her series in order, beginning with the begiining in A Great Deliverance.

At #2 is The Collectors by David Baldacci: The Camel Club is back to solve a murder in the Library of Congress. Title brings back memories of an earlier book The Collector, which was made into one of the creepiest movies of all time.

At #7 is What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George: the prequel to her last mystery With No One As Witness which left many of her fans in tears.

At #10 is The Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum: this franchise continues after the author's death with this thriller involving an intelligence agent and a banker caught up kidnapping, terrorists, conspiracies and the possibly nefarious shenanigans of a family foundation.

The women behind poets dying young

I know Halloween overshadowed (no pun intended) everything on October 31, but we must also remember John Keats who was born on that day, as well as his cronies Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. John Keats was born on October 31, 1795 and died an untimely death from tuberculosis on February 23, 1821. Shelley and Byron also died young, leaving only William Wordsworth, the father of the Romantic poets to live to a ripe old age.

A new novel, Passion by Jude Morgan looks at the lives of their wives and lovers including Mary Shelley and Fanny Brawne.] Morgan's novel gives us a glimpse of early nineteenth century life where these women flouted the more rigid conventions of the time and created their own identities apart from the men they loved.

Fala Day: November 4, 2007 (The First Saturday in November Each Year)


Fala was the nickname of Murray the Outlaw of Falahill (after John Murray of Falahill, a famous Roosevelt Scottish ancestor), Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier.

Roosevelt, during the 1944 election, was accused of sending a destroyer to fetch Fala, who supposedly had been left behind on the Aleutian Islands during a campaign tour. FDR responded with the Fala speech:

“These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks – but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him – at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or 20 million dollars – his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since! I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself – such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.”

Fala is with his master FDR in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the Tidal Basin. Fala was a late addition to the memorial, suggested by Senator Carl Levin, a member of the Roosevelt Memorial Commission.

My son, who had a fascination with the Presidents (as a three year old, he recited the names of the Presidents in order to the other tourists on a Tourmobile ride around Washington, D. C.), had a stuffed black Scottish terrier plush toy named Fala.

Books about Presidential Pets:

First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends by Roy Rowan
Presidential Pets by Niall Kelly
Wackiest White House Pets by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

Dollars for Scholars

The State of Michigan has published a new guide for students and parents contemplating college – and how to pay for it. Paying for College in Michigan covers state-sponsored savings programs like MET and MESP, state financial aid programs including the Michigan Merit Award, Michigan Competitive Scholarship and the Michigan Tuition Grant. The guide also covers the entire federal financial aid process, known to we FA veterans as FAFSAworld. The library has even more books and resources available to help you get going on going to college.

Tonight: Anne Carson Reads from Her Translation of Euripides

Shaman Drum sponsors a reading (and signing) at East Hall (Room 1324), 530 Church Street, Thursday, November 2 at 8:00 p.m.

Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides (Alkestis, Hekabe, Herakles, and Hippolytos)

From the Shaman Drum Events Calendar:

“Following an acclaimed translation of Sappho’s poems and fragments, If Not, Winter, the acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson now turns to the plays of Euripides, chronologically the latest and certainly the most troubled of the major Greek tragedians. One of the most versatile, accomplished, fertile, and plain astonishing writers of our day, Carson is a poet with the acumen of an essayist; an essayist with the lyric gift of a poet; a scholar who is as daring as she is erudite. Euripides, Carson says, is the most unpleasant of the tragedians, which is to say the most tragic, and her bold new translation of his chronicles of superstition and despair offers a new view of his discordant and unsparing art.”

The starred Publishers Weekly review:

"Writing with a pitch and heat that gets to the heart of the unforgiving classical world, Carson, a poet (The Autobiography of Red) and classicist (Economy of the Unlost), translates four of the 18 surviving plays by Euripides (485–406 B.C.): Alkestis, Herakles, Hekabe and Hippolytos. All feature characters trading single lines that somehow contain the essence of human tragedy. Alkestis blunderingly trades his wife's life for his own, then gets her back—but has to live with the embarrassment of having given her up. Herakles returns triumphant from the underworld, only to perform a fate-induced infanticide on his own children. Hekabe, a former queen now slave to the wily Odysseus, is reduced to a vengeful form of will to power. Hippolytos's uncomprehending state as the object of stepmother Phaidra's desire unravels all concerned. Carson is nothing less than brilliant—unfalteringly sharp in diction, audacious and judicious in taking liberties. In four separate prefaces, she introduces the plays succinctly, picking apart their structures and showing where flaws may be intentional. Worth the price of admission alone is Carson's blistering essay-afterword, written in Euripides's voice, which asks questions like "Is all anger sexual?" This amazing book gets very close to the playwright's enigmatic answers.”

Michigan Football: Recent Books

Ball State has played two Big Ten teams already this season, losing to Indiana 24-23 (a far better showing than displayed by the team from East Lansing) and to Purdue 38-28. They have played before a total of 74,178 fans in five home games and a total of 104,593 fans in four away games.

Brady Hoke, a Ball State grad and their head coach, was a Michigan assistant coach for eight years. In his remarks about the game Coach Hoke said “Coach Carr is a great man who I admire more than anybody in football. He is an outstanding football coach, but even more important he is a better man.”

He also said “We are playing 11 players and they are playing 11 players.” That sounds like a distinct disadvantage for Ball State. He should have negotiated that they could have at least 12 players.

Halftime Reading:

A Season in the Big House: an Unscripted Insider Look at the Marvel of Michigan Football by George Cantor
Game Day: Michigan Football: the Greatest Games, Players, Coaches and Teams in the Glorious Tradition of Wolverine Football by Athlon Sports
Tales from Michigan Stadium, Volume 2 by Jim Brandstatter

And No One is Looking Ahead, But:

The Ten Year War: Ten Classic Games Between Bo and Woody by Joel Pennington
Unrivaled: Michigan vs. Ohio State by The Ann Arbor News
The 100-Yard War: Inside the 100-Year-Old Michigan – Ohio State Football Rivalry by Greg Emmanuel

William Styron, Pultizer Prize author, has died

William Styron, Pultizer Prize author, has diedWilliam Styron, Pultizer Prize author, has died

A powerful voice of American letters has been silenced.

William Styron, author of The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice, two important novels that changed the national discussion about slavery and the Holocaust respectively, died November 1, 2006 in Martha’s Vineyard of pneumonia.

Often labeled the ‘new William Faulkner’, a comparison he strongly protested, he published Lie Down in Darkness, his first novel. in 1951. In 1968 he was awarded the Pulitzer for The Confessions of Nat Turner, based on an actual uprising by slaves in 1831. Nat Turner originally was highly praised and then later renounced as a misrepresentation of that chapter in African American history.

Sophie’s Choice, the wrenching story of a Holocaust survivor driven to despair from the impossibly horrific choice she was forced to make at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, won the American Book Award for Fiction in 1980 and was made into a powerful movie starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline.

Mr. Styron was 81.

November is National Adoption Month

If you're an adoptive parent, birth parent, thinking about adoption, an adopted child or someone interested in learning more about adoption, here are some new titles that may be of interest:

For teens and adults:
A Brief Chapter of My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
Simone, 16, has always known she was adopted but now, with the encouragement of her parents, has a chance to meet her birthmother, Rivka who helps her through a tough period of her life.
Store-Bought Baby by Sandra Belton
Leah mourns the death of her beloved older adopted brother Luce in a car accident. An unusual take, this is an adoption story from the biological child's point of view.
Peck on the Cheek, a film by Mani Ratnam tells the story of Amedha, of Sri Lankan and Tamil parentage, who is told of her adoption on her ninth birthday and goes with her family to war torn Sri Lanka in search of her birthparents.
Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child by Dawn Davenport. This up to date book covers everything you need to know about the adoption process, practical, legal and emotional aspects as well as poignant accounts of adoptive parents. A comprehensive resource guide is included. (On order).

For children:
Megan's Birthday Tree: A true Story About Open Adoption by Laurie Lears Kendra, Megan's birth mother sends Megan photos every year of the tree she has planted when Megan was born. Now that Kendra's moving, Megan worries if she will forget her without the tree as a reminder.
Just Add One Chinese Sister by Patricia McMahon. The story of an American family's adoption of a Chinese toddler is told in scrap book fashion. Imaginative and playful illustrations make this a great book to share with all members of an
adoptive family.

For a deliciously scary time....

Vincent PriceVincent Price

In honor of Halloween, why not check out a Vincent Price movie from our collection? The Fly is always a good choice.
There is also the Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection narrated by Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone.
If you’re not in the mood for a good scare, why not try a gourmet cookbook?
Many people equate Vincent Price with camp horror classics, but few know that he was also a gourmet. In 1965, he and his wife published "A Treasury of Great Recipes". This book contains 456 pages of wonderfully delicious recipes, most containing at least 1 stick of butter. Unfortunately, this great book is out of print, but available used through amazon.

NPR Pick for the Weekend of October 28th, 2006

Does Halloween make you feel like a bit of a kid again? Join Bill Bryson as he takes you on a tour of his children in 1950s Des Moines, Iowa in his latest book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson will take you on a tour of the local establishments that he remembers fondly, from the local supermarket with its comic books to the department store with a tea room fit for a queen. Listen to an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition, see pictures of a young Bill Bryson, and read an excerpt of the book here.

Bryson is also the author of several other popular books, including A Walk in the Woods, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Notes from a Small Island.

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