Author Birthdays: Wilde, O'Neill, Grass

October 16th marks the birthday of authors Oscar Wilde, Eugene O'Neill, and Gunter Grass.

Oscar Wilde was an Irish novelist and playwright who was exiled to France after being convicted for being a gay man. You can read about this imprisonment in one of his poems, The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Wilde's most famous works include the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and one of his plays, The Importance of Being Earnest, both of which have been made into films.

Eugene O'Neill was a Nobel-winning American playwright. Some of his plays won Pulitzer Prizes, including Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, and Strange Interlude. He also had a Swedish stage acting award named in his honor.

O'Neill's plays are often tragic and pessimistic. This can perhaps be seen the best in his play Long Day's Journey Into Night, which is a sort of biography of his family. The play was made into films in 1962 and 1987.

Günter Grass is a Nobel-winning German novelist. He is probably most well-known in the States for his first novel, The Tin Drum, which is the first in the Danzig Trilogy. The book was also made into a German language film.

The most recent of Grass's works to be translated into English, aside from his autobiography, is called Crabwalk. It describes the sinking of a German refugee ship in 1945 by a Soviet submarine. The ship, MV Wilhelm Gustloff, really existed, though Grass's characters are fictional.

Reading in Silence: Deaf Memoirs

This month's Library Journal magazine shares an idea that I'd like to share with you, our AADL blog readers. Check out the following titles for a glimpse inside the world of the deaf:
What's That Pig Outdoors? : A Memoir of Deafness, written by retired Chicago Sun-Times book editor Henry Kisor, recalls his life of reliance on lip-reading for communication (including his son's question "What's that big loud noise?" which he misread as "What's that pig outdoors?").
Hands of My Father : A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and The Language of Love, by Myron Uhlberg, recalls his experience growing up in 1940s Brooklyn, NY and the challenges he faced as translator for his family.
The Unheard : A Memoir of Deafness and Africa, written by Josh Swiller, describes his experience as a deaf Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.
Winning Sounds Like This : A Season with the Women's Basketball Team at Gallaudet, the World's Only University for the Deaf follows the 1999-2000 Washington D.C. team, who define themselves as athletes first and deaf second, as they made history by defeating the country's top team.

September Books to Film

American ClooneyAmerican Clooney

The American is adapted from Martin Booth's A Very Private Gentleman.

As an assassin, Jack (George Clooney) is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends badly, Jack holes up in a small medieval town nestled in the mountains of Abruzzo. While there, Jack takes on an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious buyer, accepts the friendship of a local priest, and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful prostitute, Clara.

Julia Roberts stars in this big-budget, glossy, Hollywood adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love : one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. It traces the author's decision to quit her job and travel the world for a year after suffering a midlife crisis and divorce - a journey that took her to three places in her quest to explore her own nature and learn the art of spiritual balance.

Flipped is the deligthful adaptation of Wendelin Van Draanen's teen romantic comedy of errors, told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny new voices.

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed.

Happy Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Today, July 6, Tibetans around the world are celebrating the 75th birthday of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. Born in 1935, he was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. As the world's foremost Buddhist leader, he is the author of numerous books including The Art of Happiness : A Handbook for Living, Toward a True Kinship of Faiths : How the World's Religions Can Come Together, and An Open Heart : Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life. Those not familiar with this amazing man should check out Freedom In Exile : The Autobiography Of The Dalai Lama or watch Dalai Lama: The Soul Of Tibet. For a look at the culture behind the man, check out Dalai Lama, My Son : A Mother's Story which provides an honest, and often unsettling, look into the life of his late mother, Diki Tsering, and the harsh reality of Tibetan life.

dalai lamadalai lama

Living in the Material World

Living in the Material WorldLiving in the Material World

Who is your favorite Beatle? Mine has always been George. So I have been getting anxious ever since I heard that Martin Scorsese has been steadily at work with an upcoming documentary film titled Living in the Material World: George Harrison, set for release in 2011. Having already directed films such as The Rolling Stones' Shine a Light, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and even The Last Waltz in 1978 – handling a Beatles related film seemed inevitable for a man who sure loves rock and roll.

Scorsese has been collaborating with Harrison’s widow Olivia for archival material and it has been quite an undertaking for the last few years. Having been approached numerous times since his death in 2001 with film proposals, Olivia had held off until she realized it “had to be done.” Lucky for us, Harrison was somewhat of a packrat and the film will include some previously unheard recordings as well as never-before-seen footage. Definitely something to look forward to.

There'll come a time when most of us return here
Brought back by our desire to be
A perfect entity
Living through a million years of crying
Until you've realized the Art of Dying
Do you believe me?

-George Harrison

Your Tudor Tutor

Today would be the 501st anniversary for King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catharine of Aragon. I'm not sure what the correct present is for that specific anniversary, but I don't know that I'd be accepting whatever it would be from Henry.

King Henry VIII has fascinated many people, though, regrettably, mostly because of his six marriages (two of which ended in divorce, and two more in beheading). However, it may interest you that these are not his only...accomplishments.

Some notable books on the Tudor king which do not focus on his matrimonial issues include The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII And The Dissolution Of The Monasteries and Henry VIII: The King And His Court.

However, if you'd like to go the more traditional route, you'll have plenty of choices: The Wives of Henry VIII, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII among them.

Of course, there are also historical fiction books that contain the infamous king. While they are not necessarily as accurate as the non-fiction, they are just as entertaining, if not more so. The oldest of these would be Shakespeare's play, given the regal name Henry VIII. Among the more recent, there is the "autobiography" by Margaret George, as well as the well-known The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Though, my personal favorite is not a book at all, but the Showtime television series The Tudors.

You may even want to take a look at his children. Each one showed off one bit of his overbearing personality. And I can guarantee one of them is probably just as interesting as he was.

Louise Bourgeois, Influential Sculptor, Dies at 98

This week, the art world remembers Louise Bourgeois (see the articles in The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times ).

"Petite in size, gruff of voice and manner", Louise Bourgeois, a French-born American artist who gained fame only late in a long career, is known for her psychologically charged abstract sculptures, drawings and prints that had a galvanizing effect on the work of younger artists, particularly women.

"Ms. Bourgeois’s sculptures in wood, steel, stone and cast rubber, often organic in form and sexually explicit, emotionally aggressive yet witty, covered many stylistic bases. But from first to last they shared a set of repeated themes centered on the human body and its need for nurture and protection in a frightening world."

Perhaps the most provocative was “Fillette” (1968), a large, detached latex phallus. Ms. Bourgeois can be seen carrying this object, nonchalantly tucked under one arm, in a portrait by the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe taken for the catalog of her 1982 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (In the catalog, the Mapplethorpe picture is cropped to show only the artist’s smiling face.)

In 1993 she represented the United States in the Venice Biennale. In an art world where women had been treated as second-class citizens and were discouraged from dealing with overtly sexual subject matter, she quickly assumed an emblematic presence.

Her 1994 exhibition entitled “Louise Bourgeois: Locus of Memory, Works 1982-1993,” in which the central image was a spider, is based on a creature she associated with her mother, a woman of ever-changing moods. (More books and videos on Louise Bourgeois in our collection).

Ms. Bourgeois was named Officer of The Order of Arts and Letter by the French minister of culture in 1983. The National Medal of Arts was presented to her by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life

Check out Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life, Suzanne Beecher’s first novel!

For those of you who don’t know, Suzanne Beecher is the creator of the website, which sends you daily (Monday-Friday) selections of a book from the genre of your choice. In her book Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life, released June 1st, Suzanne shares her love of baking (with recipes) and stories about her life from leaving home at a young age and overcoming substance abuse problems to being a hard-working single parent to her now comfortable life encouraging and inspiring others.

A past blog about can be found here.

Role Models

You know him, you love him. Or maybe you hate him. Either way, he can't be ignored. John Waters, the Pope of cinematic trash, has written a new book of memoirs. It’s called Role Models, and that’s exactly what it’s about. Each section in the book profiles a different personality – a personality that has affected and inspired Waters. From singer Johnny Mathis, to playwright Tennessee Williams, and even a bartender in his native home of Baltimore – Waters pays homage to them all. I think it is sure to be a fascinating look inside the mind of a filmmaker who has always followed a path so uniquely his own. The autobiographical book also contains bits of trivia that Waters fans will enjoy, such as how he keeps his pencil thin mustache so perfectly groomed. The library has John Waters’ Role Models on order, and is available to place holds.

Happy Birthday Miles Davis!

As I begin this blog, I am faced with the reality that a proper tribute to Miles Davis is quite a daunting task. To say he was a famous jazz musician is a bit of an understatement. "Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the music during that period, and he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances and recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward. -"
Do yourself a favor and check out some of his incredible music from the AADL or watch one of our DVDs to see him in action. Try Kind of Blue if you need a place to start. We also have many many books about Miles Davis for you to get better acquainted with this icon of music history. miles davismiles davis

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