The Art of Racing in the Rain

Enzo is an aging labrador terrier mix who is obsessed with racing and with opposable thumbs. He is also the narrator of Garth Stein's novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Denny, the dog's owner, is an amateur Formula One driver who maneuvers through a pileup of challenges in order to become a professional driver and keep his family together. If you are willing to suspend your anthropomorphic disbelief and step into the mind of a reflective, emotionally perceptive canine (read: you're a dog lover), then you'll enjoy this fast-paced drama. One highlight of the book is Enzo's ability to draw parallels between his owner's prescient decisions and the skills a driver uses to win a race. Curl up with the book, or listen to the audiobook, both available at the AADL.

Today in History: August 25, 1984 - R.I.P. Truman Capote

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of American icon Truman Capote whose short stories, novels, plays and non-fiction are recognized literary classics. The AADL is bursting at the seams with Capote reading materials including his first novel Summer Crossing (1943), his bestseller/semi-autobiographical novel Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), possibly his best-known novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel". In our DVD department, try Humphrey Bogart in Beat the Devil (1953 screenplay), yummy Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and In Cold Blood (the original 1967 version, filmed at the actual home of the murdered family).
For those of you not familiar with Capote's jet-set, controversial, and often reckless celebrity lifestyle (think "southern gothic homosexual meets Andy Warhol's Studio 54"), check out George Plimpton's Truman Capote : in which various friends, enemies, acquaintances, and detractors recall his turbulent career or Infamous, the film adaptation of the book. True Capote fans will also appreciate his uncredited cameo in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (listen for Allen's character to say something like "Oh, there goes the winner of the Truman Capote Look-Alike Contest" and watch for Capote himself to walk by).

August 13th - Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

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Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, London, England. One of the best-known and most popular filmmakers of all time, he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Here at the AADL our DVD department is stocked with lots of classic Hitchcock films and television shows for your viewing pleasure. Watching Psycho, probably his best known film, will always make your next experience in the shower one to remember. My personal favorite has always been The Birds (love that schoolyard scene!), but we also have lots of other faves like Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Rebecca, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1940, Spellbound and Vertigo. Fans of Hitchcock's old television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents will find season one and two on our library shelves and, for anyone not familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, check out the Dick Cavett Show where he was featured as a guest way back in 1972. Hitchcock died from renal failure in April 1980, just four months after he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Honours.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #121

Wendy Lee's accomplished debut Happy Family* explores the immigrant experience and what it means to belong.

Hua Wu exchanges proverty in Fuzhou with loneliness and back-breaking restaurant work in New York City. Meeting Jane Templeton and her adopted Chinese daughter, Lily, seems a stroke of good fortune, especially when she was asked to nanny. But things are not quite what they seem...

Fans of Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land, and National Book Award winner Ha Jin's latest - A Free Life will find Wendy's debut a compelling read.

Wendy Lee is a graduate of Stanford University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program. She lives in New York City.

* = Starred Reviews

McCarthy's The Road Coming to Theaters

Before film production began on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, there must have been a rather interesting debate over the city that would provide a suitable backdrop for the desolate, ruined landcape so critical to the story. How does one decide between Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, or the many other crumbling post-industrial cities? Perhaps the final vote came down to abandoned coal mines versus abandoned auto plants, so as coal is a fossil itself, Pittsburgh won the crown. Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron will star in the film that is set to be released this November. Check out pictures of the upcoming movie, or borrow the book or the audiobook from the AADL before the film hits the theaters this fall.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #120

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society*, a winning debut from the aunt-niece writing team of Mary Ann Shaffer & children's author Annie Barrows is at once "a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word." ~ Library Journal

This novel is presented as an exchange of letters between Juliet Ashten, a Times columnist turned novelist, and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society during the waning days of WWII. Guernsey, a small fishing British island, was occupied by the Germans during the war. Amid privation, war atrocities, Juliet saw the possibility of her next book - an incredible story of a little pig, a missing prisoner of war, the intriguing man who found her name on the flyleaf of a book by Charles Lamb, and a community with secrets and a big heart.

"Reminiscent of 84 Charing Cross Road", readers might also seek out Peter Ho Davies' The Welsh Girl for readalikes. Highly recommended, and a sure bet for book groups. (Also available as an audiobook download)

* = Starred Review

Muffy's note: Mary Ann Shaffer was born in 1934 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She became interested in Guernsey while visiting London in 1976. She died in February 2008, just before the publication of her book.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #119

In Finding Nouf*, young, privileged Nouf disappears just before her wedding. Her wealthy Saudi family first hires desert tracker Nayir al-Sharqi to find her and then to investigate her death discreetly.

Nayir, a conservative Palestinian Muslim finds it difficult to traverse the world of women, especially with Katya Hijazi - an intelligent, insightful female medical examiner, and his unexpected ally in the investigations.

Debut novelist Zoë Ferraris, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, "gets deep inside Nadir’s and Katya’s very different perspectives, giving a fascinating glimpse into the workings and assumptions of Saudi society." As a mystery, it's fairly well-turned, "but it's the characters and setting that sparkle". An utterly gripping read.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #118

A bestseller in Europe, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key* opens in Paris, July 1942. Thinking she would be home in a few hours, ten year-old Sarah locks her younger brother in their secret hiding place as the police round up Jews for Stadium Vlodrome d'Hiver, en route to Auschwitz.

Sixty years later, American journalist Julia Jarmond is in Paris to investigate the round-up and stumbles onto a trail of family secrets that link her to Sarah.

Book groups all over the world have posted their discussion questions at the Sarah's Key blog site to share. The film rights have been sold to French producer Stéphane Marsil.

Tatiana de Rosnay writes for French ELLE. Since 1992, she has published eight novels in French. Sarah's Key is the first written in English.

This "shocking, profoundly moving, and morally challenging story" is highly recommended for book groups that have enjoyed Suite Française. For information on this time period, try Vichy France and the Jews.

* = Starred Reviews

Slam

Nick Hornby has done it again: he has written a relateable and engaging book that gives a peek into the realities of the average mind. A fun read for anyone looking for a shorter book to check out, Slam is carried at each of our locations. The library carries Hornby's other works as well, including High Fidelity, A Long Way Down, and How To Be Good.

Enough Crying, It's Summer

Tired of all those gut-wrenching, weepy tales of loss and sacrifice from Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, and other emo-mongers? Looking for a fun summertime read instead? Then jump on the Benzini Brothers' traveling circus train with 23 year old Cornell vet school dropout Jacob Jankowski and the amazing menagerie of creatures and freaks that he brawls and befriends in Sara Gruen's novel, Water for Elephants. This novel is a splendid book club selection because the AADL owns copies of the book club to go! We also own single copies of the book and copies of the audio book.

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