Ages 18+.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/28/07)

While Richard North Patterson has been writing big (!) bestsellers for several years, his first book The Outside Man is still my favorite. The story is compelling, the plotting tight, the prose concise and he delivers all this in only 236 pages.

At #1 is Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich: "A mysterious man in Stephanie Plum’s life helps her track down a matchmaker who skipped bail."

At #6 is Exile by Richard North Patterson: "A San Francisco lawyer defends a Palestinian woman accused of assassinating the Israeli prime minister."

At #15 is Web of Evil by J.A. Jance: "Alison Reynolds, a former Los Angeles news anchor. comes under suspicion when her about-to-be-ex husband is murdered."

See ya, space cowboy

Cowboy Bebop is an anime that wears its influences on its sleeves. On its surface, it’s a cool science fiction story set in a future where most of humanity has left the ruined Earth to seek better lives in other parts of the solar system. But it’s also steeped in the traditions of noir and westerns, with bounty hunters and mysterious femme fatales, and all those influences come together to make it one of the most stylish and memorable anime series around.

Come for the very pretty animation and jazzy score; stay for the memorable characters. Spike and Jet, our protagonists, have all the mercenary instincts of the very good bounty hunters that they are, but they’re hampered by bad luck and the occasional twinge of conscience. Along the way they meet Faye Valentine, who’s trying to pay off a really big debt; Ed, a brilliant hacker; and Ein, the smartest Welsh corgi that you’ll ever meet.

If you like the anime tv series, you might also be interested in the feature film and the companion manga.

Homes With Visitability

Americans are not accustomed to designing single-family homes for the probability that someone close to them will have mobility problems in the future. At a recent meeting of Senior Advocates of Washtenaw (SAW), a workgroup of Blueprint for Aging, Carolyn Grawi, Sue Hart and David Esau introduced the concept of visitablility. The goal is for anyone living in or visiting your home to be able to enter, move about, and use the bathroom.

AADL is barrier-free, and has books that address this concept: Design for Assisted Living, Design for Dignity, Beautiful Barrier-Free, and Building Design for Handicapped and Aged Persons. Go to concretechange.org for more information.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish journalist and author, has died

Ryszard KapuscinskiRyszard Kapuscinski

Ryszard Kapuscinski, a world-renowned Polish journalist and author, died yesterday in Warsaw.

Kapuscinski’s personal reporting of political events, a style he referred as “literature by foot.,” transcended the bounds of traditional journalism with his inclusion of illustrative examples of magical realism,

His 1978 book about Ethiopian leader, Haile Selassie, The Emperor:Downfall of an Autocrat first brought him to the world’s attention. Among his impressive body of work, he wrote about Latin America (The Soccer War) and Angola (Another Day of Life).

Kapuscinski was 74.

Barbara Seranella, creator of the “Munch” Mancini mystery series, has died

Barbara SeranellaBarbara Seranella

Mystery lovers have lost one of the genre's most original voices. Barbara Seranella, creator of the eight-book series featuring “Munch” Mancini, died January 21 in Ohio while awaiting a liver transplant.

Ms. Seranella’s complicated, troubled anti-hero P.I., “Munch” Mancini, is an ex-con prostitute who fled her dreadful past to pull her life together as a Brentwood mechanic. Munch’s first appearance was in No Human Involved. The last entry, An Unacceptable Death, was published last year.

Ms. Seranella, whose last book, Deadman’s Switch, will be published posthumously in April, was 50.

Like a Star

Corinne Bailey Rae shined on the http://www.oprah.com/Oprah.com last week. Since her appearance on the show, Corinne Bailey Rae soared into the number 4 spot on the Billboard 200 Chart. This British artist is also up for three Grammys next week.

Prize Winning Stories

short storyshort story

Prize Winning Stories are available to check out. Short Stories are published in a booklet with the top three winning stories in each of the three grade categories. Last year winning writers came from Community, Rudolf Steiner, and Huron. Middle school contest winners came from Tappan in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Dexter. You might be inspired to contribute a story to this year's contest, or simply read them for the fun of it. We are taking submissions until March 19th, and click here for current contest guidelines

The Story Prize finalists are announced

The Story PrizeThe Story Prize

The Story Prize, a three-year old award that recognizes excellence in short fiction, has announced its three finalists from titles published last year.

The finalists are:

Rick Bass's The Lives of Rocks
The Stories of Mary Gordon, by Mary Gordon
In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders

Edwidge Danticat is one of the three judges.

The Story Prize purses ($20,000 for the winner; $5,000 each for the two runners-up)will be awarded on February 28 in New York City.

What Can Fiction Teach Us?

Yesterday I started reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. What I find so interesting about the book is the amount of research that has gone into the story. The author spent 10 years working on this, her first novel. The story revolves around a group of people who are studying Vlad the Impailer aka Dracula. Much of the information is given to the readers in the form of letters written by various researchers, from primary and secondary sources. As I've been going through the story I keep asking myself how much of the information is real and how much the author invented. Some people may find the amount of detail slows the story down. I found it provides added depth to the story, making it more real. I hope you enjoy it.

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