Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #36

Alternately called “campy”, “intriguing”, “wry”, “mesmerizing”, “overkill” (500+ pages), this artfully structured debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is in the end, a sincere and uniquely twisted look at love, coming of age and identity.

Teen narrator Blue Van Meer is finally staying put her senior year at the St. Gallway School in Stockton, North Carolina, after spending most of her life with her father, an itinerant academic, on a tour of college towns. She is bemused when befriended by a group of eccentric geniuses - “The Bluebloods”. And then, there is a murder. Blue and the "Bluebloods" are deeply enmeshed.

First time novelist Marisha Pessl impresses by modeling this intricately plotted novel after the syllabus of a college literature course, by naming each of the 36 chapters after great works such as Othello and Paradise Lost. Stunning effort – absorbing and great fun. Starred review in Publishers Weekly.

What Do You Think of Fergie's Solo CD?

Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas debuted her solo cd this week.

The Dutchess opened at no. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Other cds by Black Eyed Peas include Elephunk and Monkey Business.
Listen to the group and compare with Fergie's solo.

Ann Arbor Police Department Online Exhibit Debuts

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The Ann Arbor District library's web site is now home to an online pictorial exhibit and history of the Ann Arbor Police Department. The exhibit, one of four local history collections on the library's research page, features a large assemblage of images of the police department and its officers, police vehicles, artifacts and documents. The pictorial collection is accompanied by the complete text of Lieutenant Michael Logghe's True Crimes and the History of the Ann Arbor Police Department which traces the history of the department from its beginnings in the 1870s to the late 1990s. The narrative is filled with fascinating accounts of the organization, development, and controversial issues which faced the department, as well as inside information on the large array of major criminal investigations which have been part of that history, such as the 1908 student riot at the Star Theater, the murder and aftermath of Officer Clifford Stang in 1935, the student unrest of the 1960s and and 1970s, the shocking co-ed murders, and numerous others.

Gold Mine for Teachers at the UM Exhibit Museum of Natural History

If you are looking for fun and educational field trips for your class, check into what the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History has to offer. There are guided tours exploring how fossils form and the cultures of Native Americans indigenous to the Michigan area. The museum also has planetarium shows, with shows specific for a wide age range of students. Located on the museum website are links to teacher and student resources with scavenger hunts and crossword puzzles, as well as the schedule of current program offerings.

Highlights from Fresh Air for the Week of September 18th to 22nd, 2006

On Wednesday, Maureen Corrigan reviewed Nell Freudenberger’s first novel, The Dissident. A September 2006 Book Sense pick, this is “a bold, intricately woven first novel about an enigmatic stranger who disrupts the life of one American family” (publisher synopsis). Also check out her 2003 award-winning short story collection, Lucky Girls. Hear the review on Fresh Air here.

Also Wednesday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich spoke about his new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina. Rich, a former theatre critic for the Times, now writes about politics and culture. Get in line for this new book now – this title is on its way to our shelves and our Hot Books list. Listen to Rich talk about his new book on Fresh Air.

Friday was a movie kind of day on Fresh Air. Critic Robert Edelstein reviewed a new movie version of Robert Penn Warren’s novel All the King’s Men, starring Sean Penn; featuring Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, and James Gandolfini; and directed by Steven Zaillian, best known for writing the screenplay for Schindler’s List. See the 1949 version of the film, starring Broderick Crawford, who won an Oscar for his work in this film. Listen to Edelstein’s review on Fresh Air.

Also Friday, Fresh Air aired a 1999 interview with actor James Woods. Woods can be seen on TV this fall in the new CBS drama Shark, and you can catch some of his big screen work on our shelves in Once Upon a Time In America and The Virgin Suicides. Listen to the interview here.

Viva Italia!

September 28 is the birthday of Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni who was born on this date in 1924. Often cast as a womanizer or a jilted lover,Mastroianni was best known for the films, La Dolce Vita and Divorce, Italian Style. In addition to films with Mastroianni, the Library has an extensive collection of Italian films.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #35 (What I did this summer)

Nordic mysteries.

If you like Sun Storm and Borkmann’s Point, you might just like these…

Jar City is a thriller by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason, the first to be translated by Bernard Scudder from Icelandic. Set in modern day Reykjavik, this police procedural is as twisted as its city streets and as chilling as the arctic wind. It also introduces Inspector Erlendur, a dogged loner of a policeman with a few secrets of his own. Jar City won the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel 2002. (Reviews).

Book Discussion Groups Abound

A book discussion group called McSweeney’s Book Klatch will meet at 4 p.m. Sunday at Shaman Drum Bookshop, to talk about the book "Icelander," by Dustin Long. This group meets monthly to talk about a new title from McSweeney’s, the publishing house founded by Dave Eggers. Authors of the books being discussed weigh in by phone, and members of the klatch get free pizza and book discounts. Other Ann Arbor bookstores - plus schools, churches, and individual readers – organize and host a huge variety of reading groups around our city. Stay tuned. If you haven't read "Icelander," here's what Publishers Weekly had to say: "Nabokov meets Lemony Snicket in this manic Chinese box version of a mystery."

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (9/24/06)

Did you know Brad Meltzer was a graduate of the University of Michigan? He graduated in 1992 with a degree in history. His political thrillers have been selling well but this week he enters the List at #1.

At #1 is The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer: "The apparent murder of a presidential aide reveals Masonic secrets in Washington and a 200-year-old code invented by Thomas Jefferson."

At #3 is Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan: "Carpathians from around the world join together to oppose their enemies' plot to kill all Carpathian women."

At #10 is The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner: "Stories about women and relationships from the author of ''In Her Shoes.''"

At #13 is All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones: "Short stories mostly set in Washington, by the author of "The Known World."

Retrieved in Translation

Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner explores the human repercussions of the
bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II. Barbara Jefferson is a teacher of English in Japan in 1966. There she becomes close with fellow teacher, Michiko Nakamoto, a Hiroshima survivor. The book opens after Michi's death. She has bequeathed Barbara her treasured tansu chest, filled with bottles of plum wine, each wrapped in rice paper on which are written journal entries Barbara wants to have translated. She meets Seiji, a potter, who knew Michi-San and translates some of the text. Barbara learns of Michi-San's and Seiji's tragic past and engages in a complex love affair with Seiji. Set during the time of the Vietnam war, Davis-Gardner raises questions about the "justice" of war. Thought provoking and suspenseful, Plum Wine is to be savored.

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