Ages 18+.

January New and Noteworthy

The Song is You* by Megan Abbott.
Noir crime fiction by an Edgar Award nominee. "Shiz-bang adventure through Tinseltown's underbelly" when two starlets gone missing. A retro thrill ride.

The Sidewalk Artist (FFF) by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk.
Alternating between contemporary Paris and Renaissance Italy this debut novel follows two parallel, intertwined romances. Novelist Tulia Rose comes to Europe looking for inspiration but unexpectedly finds romance with a mysterious, talented sidewalk artist while researching the story of Renaissance painter Raphael and his secret lover. A touch of magic and plenty of cappuccino.

Arlington Park* by Rachel Cusk.
Over the course of one rainy day, the Whitbread Award-winner plumbs the extraordinary inner nature of the ordinary suburban English life. “Darkly comic, deeply affecting and wise”.

The Bastard of Istanbul* by Elif Shafak
Turkish author recently cleared by the government of “denigrating Turkishness” because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy, gives us this enlightening and entertaining novel of 4 generations of the Kazanci women, set in Istanbul.

The Terror* by Dan Simmons.
Scurvy, frostbite, botulism, and an enomous THING out on the ice plagued Sir John Franklin’s failed 1840 mission to find the Northwest Passage. A spellbinding sea story with grisly details.

Red River* by Lalita Tademy
A follow-up to her 2001 Oprah sensation Cane River – this time the repercussions of the Colfax Riot of 1873 – an engrossing and eye-opening emotional family saga.

* = Starred Review(s)

New Year’s Resolution: Write a Bioblog

Bioblogs: Resumes for the 21st Century by Michael Holley Smith.

From the back cover of the book: "What is a Bioblog? It is a stunning, attention-getting, graphics-based art form that workers of the future will use to get hired by the best employers. A Bioblog will make you, as a knowledge worker, stand out from the pack of job seekers. It will present a unique version of you and tell employers what you can do for them in the future, as opposed to what you have done for different employers in the past. The old standard is no more. Bioblogs are the resumes of the future."

eve Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionelle

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eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionnelle by Eve Aronoff is a beautiful and daunting cookbook, celebrating the food from the restaurant in Kerrytown.

Be sure you have thoroughly read the recipes before attempting to prepare them. You may need to make a trip to a local Asian or Middle Eastern ethnic food store, order some spices online, run out to Zingerman’s, Durham’s Tracklements, Monahan’s Seafood Market, Sparrow’s Meat Market, Morgan and York, or the Farmer’s Market. You may have to prepare some of the ingredients listed before attempting the main recipe.

For me the recipes are more likely to entice me to eat at eve than to attempt to actually cook the dishes. The chapter on Accompaniments has some recipes that are simpler. Even here the Fingerling Potatoes are best fried in rendered duck fat pulled from Durham Tracklement’s cured duck breast prosciutto.

In addition to the recipes and the lovely photographs there are occasional charming pieces by Eve Aronoff about the restaurant, her culinary background, her family, local food purveyors, and members of the staff.

Great stuff I have been reading...

I read a lot of great graphic novels and manga this past year and some of the titles that really left lasting impressions on me include: Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihrio Tatsumi, the seminal gekiga style mangaka. The manga series One Piece by Eiichiro Oda - wacked out and super fun pirate tales jammed with memorable characters, places and stories. Another is Ellen Forney's I Love Led Zeppelin - yet another wild ride celebrating alternative lifestyles and musings on memories. Rounding out the list are Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: a family Tragicomic - yes, it's as good as they say it is! Be sure to check out her Dykes to Watch Out For collections too...

”It’s easy to become anything you wish…”

“…so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel, American Born Chinese, follows three separate stories: the Monkey King who wants to be seen as a god; Jin Yang, the only Chinese-American attending a predominantly white suburban school; and Danny, a white adolescent trying to maintain a social standing while being visited yearly by his boorish Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee. Yang skillfully weaves the three stories into one (with the help of an Herbalist’s wife and Transformers) while exploring self-image, acceptance, and pride.
Yang’s humor and simplified drawing style highlight his talent for storytelling. It’s no wonder this book was a 2006 finalist for the National Book Award in the category of Young People’s Literature—a first for a graphic novel.

Time's 2006 Book of the Year

This year, a comic book holds the number one place on Time Magazine’s 10 Best Books of the year—Alison Bechdel’s memoir in comics form, Fun Home.
Bechdel beautifully tells the story of her life, and her father’s life. After her father’s death (believed to be suicide), Bechdel retraces her formative years by contemplating the similarities and distance between two people living in the same house.

A memoir on the love of art

Patricia Hampl, author of A Romantic Education has written a new memoir, Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime. The book starts with a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago where she encounters a painting by Matisse titled "Woman Before an Aquarium." The painting sets off a series of meditations on the act of introspection and its effect on art. In the process, Hampl discusses the artists Delacroix and Ingres and the journals of Katherine Mansfield. She also describes the career of Jerome Hill, a documentary filmaker from her hometown of St. Paul. A starred review in Booklist states, "Hampl does with words what Matisse does with line and color, that is, reaches to the essence of perception, 'not simply what was seen, but how seeing was experienced.'"

He Was 'A Ford, Not a Lincoln'

"I told you I was a Ford, not a Lincoln. Tonight I say I am still a Ford, but I am not a Model T." Pres. Gerald Ford, August 12, 1974

Those humble words were spoken by President Gerald Ford days after President Nixon resigned and Ford assumed the presidency. President Ford passed away this week, but his important role in history will be long remembered.

If you'd like to read more about Jerry Ford (who was also a Wolverine football player), you might consider these books:

The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by John Robert Greene;

A Ford, Not a Lincoln by Richard Reeves;

Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History by James Cannon.

And, if you're interested in Betty Ford- including her courageous struggle with drug addiction- take a look at Betty: A Glad Awakening by Betty Ford with Chris Chase, or First Lady's Lady by Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld.

Also, check out First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents by Bonnie Angelo, for a really fascinating account of Ford's mother and childhood.

Starting a home-based business?

If you're thinking about starting a home-based business, you might wish to sign up for the 'Starting Your Home-Based Business: What You Need to Know' workshop being offered by the Washtenaw County office of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. The workshop will provide a step-by-step approach to planning, opening and growing a new home-based business. Call the MI-SBTDC office at (734)547-9170 to preregister [there is a small registration fee]. The program will be held at the MI-SBTDC office at 301 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 101, Ypsilanti, on January 31, 2007 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. In the meantime you can also prepare using some of the library's home-based business books.

Wonderful Holiday Reading in Two Hours

Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith, the spiritual autobiography of author Reynolds Price, is wonderful holiday reading, a wise little book that can be read in maybe two hours. Perhaps most memorable is the author’s recollection of being shown a Very Big Picture when he was still a very small child: "In a single moment, I was allowed to see how intricately the vast contraption of nature... was bound into a single vast ongoing wheel by one immense power that had willed us into being." Price also writes eloquently about his second mystical experience, right before surgery for spinal cancer that made him a paraplegic in his fifties. The author started to write this book in 2000 following the baptism of Harper Peck Voll, the son of long-time friends. Harper is a lucky child, and we readers are also lucky to share Price’s stories and advice.

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