Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #33

Reyna Grande’s debut novel Across a Hundred Mountains is a stunning and poignant story of migration, loss and discovery.

Under desperate circumstances in a Tijuana jail, young Juana Garcia and teenage prostitute Adelina Vasquez met and their heartbreaking stories intertwined in the novel's alternating chapters, and re-crossed years later in the most unexpected ways. Starred review in Publishers Weekly.

A 2003 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, Grande was born in Guerrero, Mexico. With an insider’s perspective, she puts a human face on one of the most controversial issues of our time – Mexican immigration to the United States. A writer to watch, she is currently at work on her second novel.

college 101

If you're just starting college, thinking about it or looking back, you might find these novels about college life entertaining if not totally realistic.

In Making Stuff Up, by Bill James, passions and rivalries erupt in a creative writing class. The president of the college tries to smooth things over while struggling to keep the college afloat.

Blue Angel by Francine Prose is a hilarious and cynical portrayal of college life, especially writers and English departments. She satirizes the pervasive feminist interpretation of literature by the women's studies teachers and empathizes with the disillusioned creative writing instructors who are resigned to reading some awful student work.

Elinor Lipman has also presented a farcical account of college life in her newest novel, My Latest Grievance, the story of Frederica Hatch, the precocious daughter of two activist professors who are also dorm parents at a small New England women's college.`

Presidential Summer Reading

Apparently The Stranger, by Albert Camus was not the only intellectually challenging book on President Bush's reading list this summer. Adam Gopnik, writing in the Aug. 28 New Yorker, names two others on what he describes as "An amazingly strenuous list, actually." The bonus books were American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power, by Richard Carwardine. Whether Bush has actually read either of these books is unclear to me. But even if he has, that's only three for the summer - two short of the five books required to finish the AADL Summer Reading Game. Better luck next year, Mr. President.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #32

Playwright and actress Pamela Gien was commissioned by Random House to turn her 2001 Obie-Award for Best Play The Syringa Tree into a novel.

Set in her homeland of South Africa during the turbulent 1960s, Gien tells the story of 6 year-old Lizzie, a child of privilege, her Xhosa nanny, Salamina, and their fierce devotion to each other. As the meaning of apartheid unfolds, Lizzie takes her worries to sit in the welcoming arms of the large lilac-blooming syringa tree in her backyard, trying to make sense of the violence, the injustice and racism amidst the intoxicating beauty of the land.

Moving and illuminating, it will interest readers of social issues and modern history.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #31

Theodore "Teddy" Ruzak of Knoxville, TN is the bumbling but determined detective in Richard Yancey's entertaining mystery series debut The Highly Effective Detective.

Overweight and unschooled, Teddy quits his job as a night watchman to set up his own detective agency with a small inheritance. For his first case, Teddy is hired to track down a hit-and-run goose-killer. Before long, however, the case turns decidedly homicidal.

Endearing and colorful characters, suspenseful plots twists and witty dialogues make for a fun read. Highly recommended. Starred review in Publishers' Weekly. Definitely for fans of Monk and Columbo series.

Poets, Start Your Engines

Looks like prize-winning poet James Tate is among dozens of poets participating in the Wave Books Poetry Bus Tour set to start rolling Sept. 4 from Seattle. The tour is planning stops in 50 cities in 50 days, carrying poets, musicians, filmmakers and journalists. The still-under-construction web site says the poetry bus "will go more places with more poets reading more poems than was ever previously believed possible." A stop is scheduled in Ann Arbor Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at the U-M Residential College Auditorium.

Munch Masterpieces Found by Police

Scream

Police believe they have recovered The Scream and Madonna, two modern masterpieces, by artist Edvard Munch stolen from the Munch Museum in August, 2004. Both paintings were in better-than-expected condition, police said at a news conference.

“The pictures came into our hands this afternoon after a successful police action,” said Iver Stensrud, head of the police investigation. “All that remains is an expert examination to confirm with 100 percent certainty, that these are the original paintings. We believe these are the originals,” Stensrud said. Read the rest of the AP story Police recover stolen Munch masterpieces.

Gerald Green, author of The Last Angry Man, has died

Gerald Green, creator of beloved Dr. Sam Abelman who railed against the “galoots” in The Last Angry Man (1956), has died.

Green’s writing accolades popped up everywhere during his more than 50-year career. In 1952, he was one of the creators of the Today show. He wrote a mini-series for NBC, Holocaust, which won an Emmy in 1978. He then penned the novelization which earned the Dag Hammarskjold International Prize in 1979.

Steve Hamilton, 2006 Michigan Author Award winner

Steve Hamilton

Detroit native, Steve Hamilton, has been named the 2006 Michigan Author. This award, co-sponsored by the Michigan Library Association and the Library of Michigan’s Michigan Center for the Book, is bestowed on a Michigan author for his or her “…contributions to literature based on an outstanding published body of work.”

Alex McKnight, Hamilton’s private eye character, made his first appearance in1998 in A Cold Day in Paradise, which won the Edgar in 1999 for Best First Novel. The seventh title in this series, A Stolen Season, will be released in September of this year.

Plan a Michigan Wine Harvest Tour

Plenty of Ann Arborites are planning fall trips to visit Michigan wineries - to witness the harvest and buy wine. You can plan your own midwestern oenological adventure by checking out Wineries of the Great Lakes: A Guidebook, by Joe Borrello. For complete and updated information on Michigan wineries - locations, hours, and more - go to the Michigan wine website.

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