Ages 18+.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (3/4/07)

In Ten Days in the Hills, Jane Smiley consciously set out to remake Boccaccio's Decameron and write a funny sexual satire of our times. Instead of the plague her ten characters are hiding out in the hills above Hollywood from the war in Iraq.

The reviews have been mixed. Some critics and readers are amused and others are decidely not. Beguiling discussions or boring blather. Rollicking escapades or sleazy sex. But all agree there is not much plot.

In either case, Smiley has not scaled the literary heights as she did with her reworking of King Lear in her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres.

You can check out the rest of the List and the three other new additions ( Sisters by Danielle Steel, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill) online.

March New and Noteworthy Historical Fiction

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.
The author of Girl with a Pearl Earring turns her focus this time on 18th century London. The plot centers on young Jem, the fresh-from-the-country chairmaker’s son and Maggie, a poor, sexy firebrand. Their coming-of-age story is to be the inspiration for Songs of Innocence and Experience by Willilam Blake, who makes a cameo appearance as a neighbor. “An easy pleasure to read”.

The God of Spring* by Arabella Edge
“Sparkling, …gorgeous” novel (indeed high praise from the reviewers at Kirkus) of the birth of the classical painting The Raft of Medusa, by French artist, Theodore Gericault.
Six years after winning the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon, Gericault was casting about for a subject to paint and was soon consumed by the Medusa disaster of 1816, when a frigate carrying 400 went aground off the coast of Africa. “This is a thoughtful and richly imagined story about the darker aspects of the artistic process and the costs of obsession”. A good read, especially for art lovers.

* = starred review.


Talib KweliTalib Kweli

Catch one of Hip-hop's greatest, Talib Kweli in concert w/ special guest, Jean Grae this Friday, March 9th - 9pm at Clutch Cargo's in Pontiac. This Brooklyn native is consider a legend among his peers. If you know your Hip-hop facts, you may remember Jay-Z's famous rhyme from "Moment of Clarity" on The Black album, "If skills sold, truth be told / I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli."

Need another Hip-Hop lesson? Check out these artists:

Mary Gordon wins 3rd annual Story Prize

Mary Gordon, author of such highly acclaimed novels as Pearl (2005) and Men and Angels (1985), as well as the compelling biography of her father, The Shadow Man (1996), has won the 3rd annual Story Prize for The Stories of Mary Gordon (2006).

The finalists were Rick Bass for The Lives of Rocks: Stories (2006) and George Saunders for In Persuasion Nation: Stories(2006).

Ms. Gordon, 57, will receive a purse of $20,000.

Remember Dick Cavett?

March 4, 1968 marked the TV premiere of The Dick Cavett Show, then a daytime talk show on ABC which morphed into late night entertainment. Cavett was known for his quick wit and adeptness as an interviwer. The Library has a collection of his shows, "Comic Legends" and "Rock Icons" which include interviews and performances by such greats as Groucho Marx and the Rolling Stones.

Crazy World? Try Some Stories!

If you are looking for clever ways to deal with uncertainty and conflict in this wild time, Dan Keding’s collection of folktales, Stories of Hope and Spirit; Folktales from Eastern Europe may give you resolution. From the Croatian version of Stone Soup, to the Slovakian Cinderella, these tales share the wit, wisdom and strength of the Slavic culture and fuel the human spirit. Keding is an award-winning storyteller and musician who grew up on tales from his Croatian grandmother.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #55

Finn* by first-time novelist Jon Clinch, is an imaginative reconstruction of the life and death of Finn, Huck's father, "Pap.".

In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck and Jim find Pap Finn's body in a house floating down the Mississippi River, among such oddities as women’s underclothes, a wooden leg and two black cloth masks, and the walls covered with “the ignorantest” kind of scrawling.

Shunned by his father, Adams County Judge James Manchester Finn and his successful brother Will, Finn is a violent, bigoted, ne’r-do well drunk, and often in trouble with the law. He blames his black sheep status on his on-again, off-again relationship with his black mistress, the mother of his pale mulatto child, also named Huck.

Working from a few tantalizing hints in Mark Twain's text, Clinch not only fleshes out the shadowy figure of Huckleberry Finn's father but creates clever and plausible backstories for the likes of Widow Douglas and the Thatcher family, and all the while, following Twain’s lead – allows the Mississippi to play a prominent role in the unfolding tale. Highly recommended.

* = Starred Review

John Irving is 65

Today is the birthday of John Irving, celebrated author of many books, his most famous being The World According to Garp which was published in 1978. This story of a fatherless son of a radical feminist began a thematic thread that runs through some of his other work , especially The Cider House Rules and his latest, Until I Find You. Irving never met his father and hoped through his fame, his father would contact him but he never did. Not only is Irving an accomplished writer but in college was a champion wrestler. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

A Team of Horses To Remove Ash Trees From New Branch Library Site


Individuals passing by Traverwood Drive at Huron Parkway next Wednesday will see an unusual sight. A sturdy team of draft horses will be assisting in the tree removal process as site construction for Ann Arbor’s newest branch library continues.

Early next week, some of the dead ash trees remaining on the site will be cut down. Wednesday, March 7 at 9:00 am, (weather permitting) a team of draft horses from the firm of Johnson Hardwood Floors will arrive. At 10 am, the horses will be begin to pull the dead logs from the site.

The process, which should take several hours, is in keeping with the Library’s pledge of sustainable practices. Removing the dead logs in this way limits root damage to the remaining trees on the site. The ash trees will then be milled and used as building material for the new branch.

The construction manager for the new branch library is O‘Neal Construction, Inc. The architects for the building are Van Tine|Guthrie Studio and the landscape architects are Grissim Metz Andriese Associates.

The new library is being constructed on 4.34 acres of vacant land, located on the southwest corner of Traverwood Drive and Huron Parkway in Ann Arbor, and will be a one-story building of approximately 16,500 square feet. It will serve as a community-based learning center that delivers superior customer service, primarily to the residents of the northeast quadrant of Ann Arbor.

Happy 46th birthday, Peace Corps

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Michigan Union and by executive order announced the beginning of the Peace Corps. This experiment in activism was a huge success with many young people out of college as well as older retirees venturing to far off countries to teach, help with farming and start health clinics. The Peace Corps is alive and well today, still offering those who want to serve exciting and challenging opportunities.

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