Great Reminiscences

The Library has just the thing to generate lively conversations at your next group or family gathering. Bi-Folkal Kits come in an attractive navy and yellow bag and provide a multi-media approach to a variety of topics for reminiscence, such as pets, the seasons, school days, African American lives, and fashion. Besides a full slide show on DVD, each kit contains twenty-five large print songbooks with a sing-along CD, a true crowd-pleaser! An instruction manual is also included to lead you through the many suggested activities, for the different interests and capabilities of participants. With a little planning, it offers a fun atmosphere for older adults, inter-generational groups, or people with dementia. The kits may be borrowed for two weeks.

Author Birthdays: Miller, Toomer, Sedaris

December 26th marks the birthday of authors Henry Miller, Jean Toomer, and David Sedaris.

Henry Miller was an American writer whose book Tropic of Cancer was tried as "obscene" in the U.S. Supreme Court; the book was found to be a work of literature, and was then published.

Almost all of Miller's works are at least semi-autobiographical. Among such "fictional" novels are the three books of the series The Rosy Crucifixion: Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus. The first discusses his divorce and remarriage, the second describes his second marriage and struggle to find himself, and the third focuses on his problems with his second wife and her lover.

Jean Toomer was an American writer and figure of the Harlem Renaissance, and grandson of the first African-American governor of a U.S. state. His novel Cane, a short story cycle, describes the origins of African-Americans in the United States; the most well-known of the stories within the novel is called "Harvest Song".

While he is most well known for Cane, Toomer also wrote many essays on race relations, as well as literary criticisms of other authors--many of these are collected in one volume.

David Sedaris is an American writer and humorist, and brother to actress and fellow author Amy Sedaris, with whom he has written plays under the name "The Talent Family".

Sedaris mostly writes short, autobiographical stories, almost always funny. My personal favorite is Me Talk Pretty One Day, which discusses very important and serious subjects like menu options and mistaken identity. His latest, however, called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, is animal-related, and looks to be pretty hilarious itself.

Author Birthdays: Solzhenitsyn, Paley, Harrison

December 11th marks the birthday of authors Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Grace Paley, and Jim Harrison.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian historian and writer of fiction, as well as a Nobel laureate. His most extensive work of history is called The Gulag Archipelago; it discusses Soviet forced labor in the early 20th century, including the author's own experiences in a work camp.

Solzhenitsyn's fictional works are interesting and extensive. The First Circle is a tale written after the author's experiences at Gulag, as well as his diagnosis of cancer, and exile. Booklist called it a "many-voiced, flashback-rich, philosophical, suspenseful, ironic, and wrenching tale". Along those same lines, One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich is a book about hope and life during Communist tyranny and its Siberian work camps.

Grace Paley was an American short story writer and poet. Among her works of prose are collections like The Little Disturbances Of Man and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute.

Paley's poetry has been described as having a "strong pulsating rhythm". Here at AADL we have a few collections, including Fidelity, Leaning Forward, and her New And Collected Poems. The Collected Stories has many of what are considered her "classic" stories in one volume.

Jim Harrison is an American author, born in Grayling, Michigan. His most well-known work might be Legends of the Fall, which is actually made up of three stories and was later put to film. His latest publications, from last year, are called The Farmer's Daughter, another collection of three novellas, and a collection of poetry entitled In Search of Small Gods.

Harrison also wrote a memoir. The book outlines his life, including childhood tragedy, his alcoholism and cocaine habit, love of nature, and, the hopefully more upbeat discussion of his associations with famous men like Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Buffett.

Author Birthdays: Rilke, Butler, Woolrich

December 4th marks the birthday of authors Rainer Maria Rilke, Samuel Butler, and Cornell Woolrich.

Rainer Maria Rilke was an Austrian poet who wrote in both verse and lyrical styles. His best known work is called Duino Elegies (German Duineser Elegien), which he wrote in the early 20th century. Other works include the Book of Hours (German Stundenbuch), which was inspired by the spirituality of Russia, and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, written in Paris and centered around themes of existentialism.

Rilke often used figures of Greek mythology in his poetry. One, Sonnets to Orpheus, has a public domain translation which you can read online. You may also be interested in checking out a biography on him.

Samuel Butler was a Victorian writer. His most famous pieces are probably the satire Erewhon and the novel The Way of All Flesh.

If you are interested in reading any of Butler's works, many are available for free download on Project Gutenberg. He wrote many essays as well as fiction, and they discuss anything from Darwin and evolution to the possible homosexuality of Shakespeare.

Cornell Woolrich was an American writer who also wrote under the names William Irish and George Hopley. He wrote many, many mysteries, including Fright, the story of a man who strangled his mistress after his wedding day, and Manhattan Love Song, which is widely considered one of the beginning works of noir.

Woolrich also wrote short stories, some of which have been made into movies. Rear Window is probably the most well known. For a more complete listing of the 20+ films based on his works, visit Wikipedia.

Author Birthdays: Pohl, Schulz, Robinson

November 26th marks the birthday of authors Frederik Pohl, Charles Schulz, and Marilynne Robinson.

Frederik Pohl is a 90-year-old American science fiction writer and National Book Award, Hugo Award, and Nebula Award winner. His book Jem won the National Book Award in 1980, Man Plus and Gateway both won the Nebula Award in 1976 and 1977 respectively, and Gateway also won the Hugo Award in 1978.

Pohl has written 7 series and at least 30 other novels, over 20 collections, as well as an autobiography and some non-fiction works. One of the stand-alone novels is The Coming of the Quantum Cats, which includes Nancy Reagan as President of the United States and an escapee Stalin who found his refuge in America. His latest work, the finishing of a novel started by Arthur C. Clarke, is called The Last Theorem.

Charles Schulz was an American cartoonist, best known for the comic strip and cartoon Peanuts and its characters, though his first cartoon was actually one called Li'l Folks. His honors are probably a bit more prestigious than most authors': the Congressional Gold Medal, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even being the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade.

Schulz has one "autobiography", and had many biographies written about him, including Sparky: The Life And Art Of Charles Schulz and Schulz And Peanuts: A Biography.

Marilynne Robinson is a five-time award-winning American writer. Housekeeping won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award; Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Ambassador Book Award; and Home, a companion to Gilead, won the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Robinson's newest book is a non-fiction work entitled Absence Of Mind: The Dispelling Of Inwardness From The Modern Myth Of The Self. The book consists of lectures given at Yale University about science, religion, and consciousness.

November's Books to Film

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As the holiday season approaches, November promises big movie hits inspired by even bigger bestsellers.

A suspenseful and star-studded adaptation of an ex-undercover agent’s autobiography entitled Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government. This riveting action-thriller is based on real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson whose career was destroyed when her covert identity was illegally exposed.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is based on the last and final installment in Stieg Larsson's mega-bestseller, the Millennium trilogy.

Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, fighting for her life. If and when she recovers, she’ll be stand trial for three murders, unless she can prove her innocence, and will plot revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Love & Other Drugs is a comedic exposé of the highly competitive and cutthroat world of pharmaceuticals. It is based on the real-life experiences of one-time Pfizer rep Jamie Reidy, who as an ambitious college grad schmoozes doctors, nurses, hospitals and begins a relationship with a woman suffering from Parkinson's, all while competing against other salesmen who try to push their brand of drugs. Loosely based on Jamie Reidy's Hard Sell : The evolution of a Viagra salesman.

No shortage of eye-candy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway starring.

Author Birthdays: Turgenev, Sexton, Kertész

November 9th marks the birthday of authors Ivan Turgenev, Anne Sexton, and Imre Kertész.

Ivan Turgenev was a Russian writer best known for his works Fathers and Sons and A Sportsman's Sketches (also known as Sketches from a Hunter's Album or Notes of a Hunter). Though he was more a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he was perhaps closer to the French writer Gustave Flaubert.

In Russia, Turgenev's most read work was probably Home of the Gentry, which was about the desire of Russians to turn away from European ideals. Among his other works are First Love and The Diary of a Superfluous Man. We also have some of his novels in their native Russian.

Anne Sexton was an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her collection called Live or Die. Her work is mostly categorized as "confessional"; major themes include guilt, motherhood, sexuality, and mental illness.

Sexton was more widely read due to her later works like Transformations, which is a sort of retelling of Grimm fairy tales. Another later work is The Book of Folly, a dark collection of poems centered around alienation and death.

Imre Kertész is a Jewish-Hungarian author, survivor of Auschwitz, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his somewhat autobiographical work Fatelessness, the story of a young man who is sent to Auschwitz, which he later wrote a Hungarian film script for.

Among Kertész's other works are Liquidation, the story of a man who commits suicide after surviving both Auschwitz and Communist Hungary, and The Pathseeker, which Publishers Weekly called "a taut, grim allegory of man in the face of oppression".

Author Birthdays: Dostoyevsky, Pound, Kimmel

October 30th marks the birthday of authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ezra Pound, and Eric A. Kimmel.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer, and is probably now best know for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Among Dostoyevsky's other works are Notes from Underground, often considered the first existentialist novel, and The Idiot, which tells the story of a socially-outcast epileptic.

Ezra Pound was an early 20th-century American poet. As an expatriate, he lived in London, and later in Italy. During WWII he was imprisoned there for treason because of statements he made about FDR. During that time, he wrote The Pisan Cantos, which were later published as part of a larger work of 120 cantos.

Pound also wrote a long poem called Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. It is made up of 18 shorter poems, the first section of which is a sort of autobiographical epitaph. For more on this man's troubled life, you can read one of the many biographies we have on him.

Eric A. Kimmel is a Jewish-American children's book author. He won the Caldecott Honor and Newbury Honor for his picture book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, as well as the Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Chanukkah Guest and Gershon's Monster.

Kimmel does not only write picture books, nor does he do exclusively Jewish tales. He has many other folklore stories in his grasp, like the Russian Baba Yaga, the Norwegian Boots and His Brothers, and the Mexican The Witch's Face. Also, his story of The Gingerbread Man has been described as having a "strong narrative, good dialogue, and a fine chorus" by School Library Journal Review.

Author Birthdays: Crichton, Korman, Burroughs

October 23rd marks the birthday of authors Michael Crichton, Gordon Korman, and Augusten Burroughs.

Michael Crichton was an American author and screenwriter, probably most famous for Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, both of which were novels turned into movies. Among his lesser known--but critically praised--works is A Case of Need, his debut and award-winning mystery novel.

Crichton's final work, published the year after his death, is Pirate Latitudes. As you might guess from the title, it's about a 17th-century Caribbean pirate trying to take a Spanish galleon.

Gordon Korman is a 47-year-old Canadian children's and young adult author. He won the Air Canada Award for promising authors in Canada when he was only 16. He also has many ALA recognitions for his young adult novels.

Korman has written many youth series, including the Everest, Island, and Dive series. He also wrote the second book in the 39 Clues series, One False Note.

Augusten Burroughs is an American writer, best known for his novel Running with Scissors. The story was intended by Burroughs to be a "memoir" of a family, which he later had to call a "book", since the family it was based on sued. The story was made into a film in 2006.

Burroughs' latest work was published last year. Called You Better Not Cry: Stories For Christmas, it's a set of short autobiographical stories relating to the holidays.

I Know It's Only Keith Richards, But I Like Him

Keith Richards’ highly anticipated autobiography, simply titled "Life", hits bookstores next week – and will hit the library very soon! Co-written with author James Fox, Keith recounts the dramatic highs and lows in his life – and there are plenty. From his life with The Rolling Stones and his Glimmer Twin Mick Jagger, multiple wives, and the insane amount of debauchery in the 1970s, Richards seems to have lived the lives of ten men and is still going. Also look for Keith in the October 14th issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, as well as on the cover! You got the silver, Keith.

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