A Tempest in Trinidad

In addition to "The Tempest" brewing at Power Center, there's a storm of wills in Elizabeth Nunez's latest book, Prospero's Daughter. Dr. Peter Gardner has been exiled to Trinidad with his daughter, Virginia, after the discovery of a gruesome experiment he performed on a human subject. In this reworking of Shakespeare's play, Nunez poses questions about race and class. Carlos, a Caliban of sorts, is a mixed race orphan who has been living with the Gardner's. He and Virginia have fallen in love. When Gardner who is depicted as a racist lunatic finds out, he accuses Carlos of attempted rape. At the same time, he sexually abuses his native servant, Ariana. Into this mix comes John Mumsford of the British police who fears an uprising of natives against British rule in Trinidad's quest for independence and uses Carlos as an example of the continued stability of his country's authority.

For other fiction that takes place in Trinidad, try:
A Perfect Pledge by Rabindranath Maharaj and
A Thirst for Rain by Roslyn Carrington.

Cranes of Waterloo

The Sandhill Cranes are coming to the Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary. This is one of the Midwestern rest stops for the Cranes on their long migration to their southern homes. Every fall when the cold winds begin to blow, you can spend a lovely afternoon viewing these majestic birds nearby in the Waterloo Recreation Area. Arrive before dusk to see the largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes in Michigan as they fly back in from a day of foraging in nearby fields.

If you do not want to wait for dusk, there is another option. Last Saturday friends of mine went to the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center, saw a video about the sandhill cranes, and then went on an auto tour of possible fields where the birds might be feeding. They saw about one hundred in recently harvested fields and saw a few flying overhead. The tour was going to Haehnle but they did not want to wait for dusk to see the birds returning from the fields.

The Cranes stop in our area from late September through November (a few have even stayed into December!). So take an old-fashioned drive through the colorful countryside and enjoy the spectacle.

NaNoWriMo

Have you always wanted to write the Great American Novel but never seem to find the time? Maybe all you need is a push. That's where Chris Baty, the brain behind NaNoWriMo was coming from. NaNo what? National Novel Writing Month. 2006 marks the seventh year of this pencil-pushing frenzy.

The basics: you have the month of November to pen (or word process) a 50,000 word novel. This is an excercise in quantity, not necessarily quality. That's the joy of the process, or the horror, depending on whom you ask. No head starts; that would be cheating. If you push through to the end, when December rolls around, you can say (to people who would be impressed by this sort of thing) that you wrote a novel.

Will we see you in any of our branches writing your novel this November?

Mountains Beyond Mountains Chosen as Next Community Read

On Tuesday, October 24, a selection committee of community leaders, students and educators in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area chose Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World (2003) for the 2007 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads. The 2007 program will encourage readers of all ages to explore the theme We The People… - the many people that we are, the diverse communities we have created, and the challenges we face in fostering a continuing sense of belonging and civic engagement in a rapidly changing world. Check it out!

When Madeline Was Young

A priests' book group is reading Jane Hamilton's favorably reviewed new book, When Madeline Was Young because it casts a particularly kind eye on human nature. The novel weaves the tale of Madeline Maciver, a beautiful young wife who suffers brain damage in a bike accident early in her marriage to Aaron Maciver. Aaron and his second wife, Julia, care for Madeline, while also raising two children of their own. The book, narrated by their son, Mac, also highlights family rivalries, sibling relationships, and contemporary American history.

Here comes Harry (Hieronymous) Bosch again

I can't wait to read Echo Park the 12th installment begun in 1992 of the Harry Bosch series. Connelly really does a good job developing his characters even the background ones.
Connellys fictional detective Harry Bosch has become so real he's got his own Wiki page and can be found on the web.

Harry Bosch has shown up in cameo roles in books by other authors, including Robert Crais's The Last Detective and in Strange Bedfellows by Paula L. Woods's and in Cons, Scams, and Grifts by Joe Gores

Edo-era Japan + Hip-Hop = Samurai Champloo

Samurai ChamplooSamurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo follows the journey of an unlikely trio through Edo-era Japan. After Fuu, a young waitress, saves Jin and Mugen, two wandering swordsmen, from execution at the hands of a corrupt magistrate, she ropes them into becoming her bodyguards during her search for the mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers.

“Champloo” is an Okinawan word that means to mix or to blend, and that’s exactly what this series does: it combines historical detail and samurai swordplay with music by Japanese and American hip-hop artists. The show’s creative use of anachronism goes well beyond the score, influencing everything from the characters’ attitudes to their wardrobes.

If you’ve already watched the series, you might also be interested in the companion manga.

Help Youngsters Talk About Books

If you're thinking of launching a book club for kids, take some tips from an Ann Arbor parent who has been there: "It started out being almost 100% parent-driven, but now that the girls are older, they run it a little more. They vote on the books and select something from everyone. It works well because they all have very different tastes. Sometimes the parents select a book, but only if we are not organized enough to have the kids' choices lined up! We are trying to have the kids lead the discussions more, but I'm sure that will be a longer process . . . " For more ideas on book groups for children, check out Reading Raps: A Book Club Guide for Librarians, Kids, and Families by Rita Soltan.

A Timeless Tale

Don't ask why. Serendipity.
The stories are timeless; the issues perennial; simple parables, and I share them here. A book, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, was written in 1959. It resonates as if written today. A movie, Black and White in Color, was produced in 1976. This story happens, wherever people and power exist.

Americans in Paris

After a very successful run at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the blockbuster exhibition Americans in Paris, 1860-1900 will open tomorrow (Oct. 24th) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City.

You will most likely recognize the works of many of the 37 artists represented but I can guarantee that the crowd will huddle around Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) - the highly controversial painting, and not just within the high society in which the artist John Singer Sargent traveled.

I am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto is a fictional biography of Virginie Avegno Gautreau, the exquisite beauty with the waxy white skin, so splendidly depicted, in a rather suggestive black gown.

To get behind the scandal (Strap? No strap?) fueled by this highly problematic but much sought-after commission, check out Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis.

And thanks to the generous gift of the Ladies Library Association, the catalog of the Exhibition, by Kathleen Adler will soon be available.

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