Fabulous Fiction Firsts #127

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo* is the hot Swedish thriller (with 5.5 million copies sold across Europe) that features "one of the most original heroines to come along in years" - a young, prickly tattooed computer hacker, who teams up with an embattled and discredited journalist facing a jail term, to investigate the disappearance of an heiress 40 years ago. Talk about a cold case!!!

Debut novelist Steig Larsson who died of a heart attack in 2004, was an investigative journalist. Girl, (originally published as Män som hatar kvinnor = Men Who Hate Women) is the first of a 3-part series. Highly recommended. Readers might also like to check out another FFF Nordic mystery Redbreast by Jo Nesbo.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #126

An UPI news release dated February 5, 1984 about a killer blizzard in North Dakota sets the stage for Chuck Klosterman's Downtown Owl*, but fails to prepare the readers for its emotional heft as they weather the storm's wrath with the three main characters - all residents of a sleepy little town named Owl. Mitch Hrlicka is a laid-back high school football player; Julia Rabia, a newcomer partial to booze and a buffalo farmer; and old Horace Jones, a widower full of regrets.

Klosterman, an idiosyncratic pop-culture commentator on rock music and sports, and author of several nonfiction titles, proves to have a superb ear for dialogue. His fiction debut is a satisfying character study and "strikes a perfect balance between the funny and the profound".~Publishers Weekly.

No doubt, Klosterman devotees would want to check out this "unpretentious, darkly comic story" but fans of the Coen Borthers, and especially Fargo, would likely find the comparison apt and inevitable.

Mr. Klosterman will be reading and signing at Downtown Borders on September 17, @ 7 p.m.

* = Starred Review

This is not really about Banned Books Week...

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Every year just to remind myself how precious the freedom to read is, I check out how many of our beloved classics and great literature are on the Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.

Close to the top of the pile is J.D. Sailnger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951), and probably on every high school reading list.

To appeal to a new generation (or 2) of readers, Anne Trubek, a professor of English at Oberlin College, argues that it's time to update Salinger's coming-of-age tale. Stating that “ …in the days of Columbine, Katrina, Facebook, and YouTube, Salinger's Holden Caulfield may no longer offer a reflecting pool for adolescent angst", she comes up with a more contemporary list, many written in the last 10 years. (Agree? Disagree? You can join the heated online discussions).

For more details, go to the podcast of Moving Beyond 'Catcher' On School Reading Lists on NPR.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #125

In The Toss of a Lemon* - "a closeup of India’s history, culture, politics and landscape through the domestic lens of one family", Padma Viswanathan, with "compressed, poetic precision", gives us a generational saga, inspired in part, by her grandmother's stories.

Sivakami was married at 10 and widowed at 18. For the next 60 years, she wore widow's white, shaved her head and raised her 2 children in her dead husband's house and village (a defiant act). She almost never ventured outside her family compound and touched no one from dawn to dusk - not even her children.

Here is a link to the author discussing her book on YouTube and some excerpts of well-deserved praise for this major new talent.

For fans of Vikram Seth and Rohinton Mistry and readers of historical fiction and modern India.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #124

A Map of Home* by Ann Arbor author Randa Jarrar hits the bookstores today.

Critics are calling this fiction debut “sparkling”, “intimate, perceptive and very, very funny”. It’s the story of Nidali, an audacious Muslim girl (with a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father) who grows up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas.
As citizens of the world, this family weathered some harrowing experiences that were even funny and wacky at times, but it is Jarrar’s handling of adolescent angst - "stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love; and her exhilarating voice and flawless timing that make this a standout”.

You can find Randa Jarrar's profile in myspace. She will be at Shaman Drum on September 15th, at 7:30 p.m., one of only two Michigan stops on her fall book tour.

* = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #123

This chilling and mesmerizing procedural/cozy debut from the creator of the UK cult award-winning television mystery series Silent Witness introduces Deputy Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie, who suffers from a rare neurological condition.

In Still Waters*, it appears that a clever and ruthless serial killer with keen knowledge of garden plants is targeting little old ladies. Money does not seem to be the motive. They were all poisoned, and what about those missing fingers on their right hands?

Nigel McCrery worked as a police officer before attending Cambridge University. Still Waters is the first in a projected series.

For fans of psychological thrillers of Minette Walters and Val McDermid, and the Inspector Morse and Miss Marple television series. AND a great readalike for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

* = Starred Review

Fighting, action, adventure for a 'tween

This summer our 12-year-old son is crazy about The Five Ancestors series by martial artist Jeff Stone. The books are named for the animal Kung Fu styles of a young gang of orphaned warrior monks, including Tiger (Fu), Monkey (Malao), Snake (She), and Crane (Hok). Wikipedia has more about this series, which moves very fast and offers frighteningly high levels of fighting, action, and adventure. On BOCD Kiki Barrera is a wonderful reader. I told a youth librarian with expertise in 'tweens of our son’s enthusiasm, and she also recommends Archer’s Quest.

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!

alfred hitchcockalfred hitchcock

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.

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