Ages 18+.

Coal town blues

In her debut novel, When We Get There, Shauna Seliy describes the coming of age of 13 year old Lucas who in 1974 lives in one of the few remaining coal mining towns in Western Pennsylvania. His large Eastern European family is ruled by Lucas' grandmother, Slats. Lucas' father has recently died in a mining accident. His grief-stricken mother, Mirjana flees and Lucas goes off in search of her. Seliy's novel is a moving and authentic description of a vanishing culture and way of life and the maturation of a young man who faces his losses head on.

For two other novels that expose union busting by coal companies in Kentucky and West Virginia, try Denise Giardina's Storming Heaven and its sequel, An Unquiet Earth.

Literary Insights

With increasing life expectancy, family relationships may change over the course of many years. How can we make the most of these years and learn from the experience? Good books—both fiction and non-fiction—have a lot to say about family dynamics and aging. Gerontology educator and consultant Joanne Grabinski will address the topic in Aging and Family: Literary Insights on Sat., July 21 at 2 - 3:30 pm at the Malletts Creek Branch. Join the discussion and bring your own recommendations of helpful literature.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/24/07)

Ian McEwan has been one of my favorite authors from the start. His earliest novels were short and weird, with unsettling characters caught up in strange relationships and violence just lurking around the corner. McEwan was definitely an acquired taste but the brilliance of his prose won him early kudos and many fans. Through the years his work matured and he has written in the last few years what I consider some of the greatest fiction of his generation, culminating in the sublime Atonement. In On Chesil Beach, the time is the early Sixties and his naive honeymooners find confusion and unhappiness there instead of bliss.

The other new entries are The Harlequin by Hamilton, The Navigator by Cussler, The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Brashares, The Bourne Betrayal by Van Lustbader, The Sleeping Doll by Deaver, and Spare Change by Parker. What more proof do you need to know it is summer!

You can look at the entire List here.

Two Wheel Tango BIKE Experts!

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Two Wheel Tango has recently been named the best bike store in Ann Arbor by many local publications. Check out their website for cool gear, cycling events, and bike maintenance classes.
They will be at the Downtown Library from 12 - 1pm on June 23rd. Check out gear, see a demo on quick and easy bike repairs, and ask questions from our local bike experts at the Two Wheel Tango.
A couple cycling books you might be interested in, Bicycling Magazine's New Cyclist Handbook or the Complete Bike Book

City of God

City Of God is a very interesting title for a movie that gives us a glimpse into a world of hell on earth. What I found most disturbing about this movie is that it is based on a true story. While I loved this movie for showing me a world I never knew existed, I simultaneously found myself in a state of agitation throughout the film. Watching this film was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to cover my eyes, but I could not turn them away. The setting for this film is a Brazilian ghetto filled with poverty, anarchy, crime, violence, and drug dealing. The youth running wild in the streets brought to mind the William Golding masterpiece "Lord of the Flies". Watch this movie for a jarring dose of reality, but be prepared for a raw shot of cinematography served straight up. The official FFG rating of this movie is a 10.

Innocent or guilty?

On June 20 in 1893, the verdict was announced in the trial of Lizzie Borden who was accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an ax. It was the first murder trial to be covered by the national media. All the evidence against Lizzie was circumstantial since no one had actually witnessed the murder and no weapon was found. All that could be proven was that Lizzie had been at the house at the time of the murder, had a lot of money to gain and that she had recently bought poison at a local pharmacy.
Lizzie was found innocent and no one else was ever tried for the murder. Even though the New York Times wrote that the trial had been cruel and unjust, there were many other writers of articles and books who still accused her of the murder and the trial has become an icon for sensationalized crime coverage to this day.

Another Dillard classic

Annie Dillard, known for her evocative nature writing in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, fiction and poetry brings us a tender, beautifully written love story called The Maytrees. Set in Provincetown, Cape Cod, the novel is about Toby Maytree, poet and handyman and his livelong love, Lou Bigelow, a painter, who meet and marry in this bohemian town after World War II. They read books together, cook lots of soup and raise a son, Petie. Dillard evokes the windswept beauty of the Cape as a backdrop for changes that to others may seem cruel when Tobey, leaves Lou to live with another woman. The Maytrees is a poetically imagined story of love's resillience and proves once again that Dillard is truly a master of her craft.

Any bug lovers out there?

The periodical cicada has invaded the Midwest by the billions over the past few weeks- particularly in parts of llinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. These red-eyed beauties (yes, I said beauties!) spend 17 years underground before they emerge, and when they emerge, boy are they en masse! Some people find them amazing, others find them loud and messy. You can be your own judge of that. Find more cicada facts, and colorful pictures too, here. Happy reading, and don’t let them bug you too much!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #72

I am sure if you are a reader of mysteries, you would have come across some very famous feline detectives. Occasionally, a dog or two have tried to get in on the act. Clever, I am sure, but they have always relied on their two-legged sidekicks.

Now Leonie Swann, in her debut mystery (translated from German) Three Bags Full* introduces fleecy ones who work alone!

In the bucolic Irish village of Glennkill, a flock of sheep has just come across the murdered body of its beloved shepherd George Glenn. Led by the very smart Miss Marple, they are determined to bring the killer to justice, not withstanding all the obstacles in their way (they can’t talk, their chief suspects is the BUTCHER!).

Already a bestseller in Europe, U.S critics are calling Three Bags Full a “quirky philosophical mystery”, “refreshingly original” and “magical”. Swann also “peppers the text with literary allusion that add humor and lighten the existential gloom of both people and sheep”.

* = Starred Review

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/17/07)

I'm not a big fan of horror, in books or in films. I prefer mysteries for my chills and thrills. Along with Stephen King, however, Dean Koontz is bending the genres with dark and suspenseful tales that may feature a major plot element outside the norm. Think Hitchcock. Think classic film noir. Good Guy is his latest breathtaking thriller, featuring a "wrong man" and leaving readers enthralled.

The other new entries are Sacrifice by Karen Traviss, the latest addition to the Star Wars saga, and Lawman by Diana Palmer, another romantic thriller from this prolific author.

For a look at the entire List go to this site.

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