Author Birthdays: Williams, O'Connor, Stewart

September 17th marks the birthday of authors William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Connor, and Mary Stewart.

William Carlos Williams was an American poet and pediatrician. He is typically regarded as a Modernist, though sometimes as an Imagist. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1963 for his collection Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems.

Williams also wrote Paterson, a five-book poem, often considered his "epic". The 1992 edition contains clarifying notes on the poem. A Library Journal review noted that "By exploring the local, Williams sought to descry the universal and to find in city and landscape symbolic analogues for the essential issues of human life."

Frank O'Connor was an Irish short-story writer who served in the Irish War of Independence; he was published in The New Yorker. One of his autobiographies, An Only Child, was even quoted by JFK in a speech he gave while president.

In addition to his own, O'Connor also wrote a book on the subject of short stories in general, called The Lonely Voice. The book discusses other authors such as Chekhov, Joyce, and Hemingway.

Mary Stewart is an English writer, probably most well-known for her historical fantasy quintet, The Merlin Chronicles, which begins with the book The Crystal Cave.

Stewart has also written mystery novels, most of which have a touch of romance, such as The Stormy Petrel and My Brother Michael.

September Books to Film, Part 2

nevernever

The highly acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro has been adapted into film, to be released September 15.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

Kazuo Ishiguro created a remarkable story of love, loss and hidden truths. In it he posed the fundamental question: What makes us human?

The Town is based on Chuck Hogan's Prince of Thieves.

Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang’s latest job, when they briefly took a hostage --- bank manager Claire Keesey. Then Claire meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug, not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

Cast includes: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, and Blake Lively. In select theaters September 17.

Author Birthdays: Burroughs, Cherryh

September 1st marks the birthday of authors Edgar Rice Burroughs and C. J. Cherryh.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American writer best known for his characters Tarzan (of the series by the same name) and John Carter (of the Barsoom series).

Burroughs also wrote the famous novel The Land that Time Forgot (first in the Caspak trilogy), which was originally published as a serial. The story is much like other famous "lost world" stories, like Journey to the Center of the Earth. The novel has been made into two films.

C. J. Cherryh is an American author of science-fiction and fantasy. Out of her impressive bibliography, two novels have won Hugo Awards for best novel: Downbelow Station and Cyteen. A department of NASA named an asteroid after her (77185 Cherryh), and said, in reference to it, "She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them."

Among Cherryh's works are at least 15 series and a few solo novels. One of the series, called The Gene Wars, starts out with the book Hammerfall, which Publisher's Weekly summed up as "two women with superhuman powers wage psychic and genetic war for control of a civilization."

Author Birthdays: Garth Nix

Today is the birthday of Australian fantasy writer Garth Nix, who just happens to be one of my favorite authors.

Nix has written many books for children and teens, including The Seventh Tower Series, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Abhorsen Trilogy, and a great collection of short stories, called One Beastly Beast: (two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales).

I highly recommend checking out his website; it includes writing advice, news, some of his favorite books, as well as an interactive story, kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Also, we might be expecting an addition to the Abhorsen Trilogy sometime this year.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #214

Debut novelist Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion** is "Shakespeare's The Tempest in a steampunk setting".

It opens with Harry Winslow, a lone narrator floating endlessly in an enormous zeppelin, with only the voice of his beloved Miranda for company. In a wild tale full of tin men, monsters, a magical playhouse, and a unicorn, Harry recounts his history with the Taligent family: Miranda, his lifelong love, her mad scientist of a father, and the role he plays to render them virtual prisoners in perpetual motion.

"Intoxicatingly ambitious", this novel is pointedly a commentary on language, art, technology, and alienation... It walks the tightrope between madness and genius, between profoundly difficult truths and pure nonsense, without a safety net for either writer or reader. A novel of ideas that holds together like a dream". Thoughtful, challenging and totally captivating.

Dexter Palmer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the works of James Joyce, William Gaddis , and Thomas Pynchon.

** = starred reviews

Speaking of dragons...

Since Summer Reading's got some serious dragon power, I thought I'd mention a few teen fantasies. Great segue, huh?

The first is Robin McKinley's Newbery Medal winner, The Hero and the Crown, which was also an ALA Notable Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults book. It tells the story of Aerin, a princess--and an outcast--who grows up to defeat dragons rather than become a queen. The story takes place in a land called Damar, and is a prequel to another of McKinley's Newbery winners, The Blue Sword. See? There was a dragon in that one.

Secondly, I'd like to mention the Books of Pellinor, written by Alison Croggon. The series is a quartet, and takes place is a civilization which Croggon tries to convince us once existed, sometime 10,000 years ago. She even includes fake citations, as if she were doing research in a library with its ancient manuscripts. The first book, The Naming, starts us off with the main character, Maerad, and her companion, Cadvan. The second continues their story, and the third focuses on her brother, Hem, and his mentor, Saliman. The fourth concludes with the siblings united, and working against evil. Unfortunately, there aren't really any dragons, though we do encounter some talking animals.

By the way, if you haven't seen them yet, check out the dragons in the Downtown Youth area, as well as at the West and Malletts Creek branches.

June's Books to Film

Jonah HexJonah Hex

Jonah Hex is a movie based on the DC Comics Jonah Hex comic books.

"One of the meanest antiheroes in the comic-book world", bounty hunter Jonah Hex (played by Josh Brolin) has spent his entire life roaming from town to town searching for his next paycheck and earning it with a fierceness that's earned him a reputation for being a stern dealer of frontier justice. But behind that hard exterior exists a man who longs for the same comforts as any man - including love. (trailer)

The comic "Jonah Hex" began as a DC character first written by John Albano and Illustrated by Tony DeZuniga in the early 1970s.

Eclipse is based on Book 3 in theTwilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob --- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. (official trailer).

Princesses, Dragons, and Wizards… Oh My!

Princess Cimorene refuses to be a proper princess. She prefers fencing to embroidery, Latin and magic lessons to dancing lessons. And she certainly doesn’t want to marry the stuffy prince her parents have picked for her. So she runs away. To live with the dragons. Where she meets other captive princesses, a stone prince, a friendly and practical witch (with 9 cats), and some nasty wizards with nefarious schemes. Find out how she saves the day and gets an unconventional “happily ever after” in Dealing with Dragons, the first book in Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

May Books to Film, Already in Theaters

Iron Man 2 is based on Marvel’s Iron Man comic series. In this sequel, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, now a famous high-tech superhero comes up against the U.S. military’s demands to control the most powerful weapon on earth -- the Iron Man suit, while being hunted by a vengeful Russian criminal with some lethal technology of his own. Meanwhile, he could no longer count on his beautiful new assistant or best friend, Rhodey who are hatching their own strange, mysterious agendas.

Letters to Juliet is adapted from Lise Friedman's Letters to Juliet: celebrating Shakespeare’s greatest heroine, the magical city of Verona, and the power of love - an enchanting love story of encountering new sparks and rekindling old flames. (The scenery isn't bad either).

When Sophie, a young American, travels to Verona, Italy -- the romantic city where Romeo first met Juliet -- she meets a group of volunteers who respond to letters written to Juliet seeking romantic advice. Sophie finds and answers a letter that has been lost for 50 years, and is stunned when its author Claire arrives in Italy with her handsome but overprotective grandson to find the man she left decades before. Fascinated by Claire's quest, Sophie joins them on an adventure through the beautiful hills of Tuscany searching for Claire's long lost Lorenzo.

Over the years, there have been various big screen and television interpretations of the legend of Robin Hood – from the recent TV series; Mel Brooks’ farcical Robin Hood Men in Tights; to Errol Flynn’s 1938 iconic The Adventures of Robin Hood. Now see Russell Crowe as a beefy Robin Hood .

Instead, fantasy and alternative history fan might opt to try Hood : The Legend Begins Anew by Stephen R. Lawhead. In this first of the King Raven Trilogy, Hood tells the story of an alternative Robin Hood. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting – “ …(a) highly imaginative, earthy adventure that has little to do with Errol Flynn but is just as rousing”.

Author Birthdays: Eoin Colfer

Today, May 14th, is the birthday of Irish author Eoin Colfer.

Perhaps best known for his Artemis Fowl series, Colfer has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list many times over.

In 2008, Colfer wrote Airman, a teen novel which Publisher's Weekly believes is "An homage both to the 19th-century science fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and to the superheroes of Marvel and DC comics..."

More recently Colfer has written a sixth book, And Another Thing... for Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

One of his most interesting recent works is the collaborative novel Click. Published in 2007, it is the work of ten well-loved authors, including Colfer. Each of the authors, including such greats as Linda Sue Park, Gregory Maguire, and Tim Wynne-Jones, wrote a chapter of the life and impact of a photographer named George Keane. Also, the royalties for the book are donated to Amnesty International.

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