Ages 18+.

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.

Booklist Editors' Choice 2006: Non-fiction

Booklist joins Library Journal, the New York Times Book Review, and Michigan Notable Books with their list of the year’s best books.

Annotations are from Booklist

Arts and Literature

Brothers, Thomas. Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans.
Exploring how a boy from the poorest of the poor became the central figure in the most significant musical development in U.S. history, Brothers reveals the uniquely deep and broad musical culture of the historically most multicultural American city.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile
Popular New York Times nature writer Klinkenborg writes with mischievous wit from the point of view of an observant and skeptical tortoise living in the garden of the eighteenth-century British curate and author Gilbert White.

Off to see the world—three days at a time

Kino’s Journey is a story in the tradition of Gulliver’s Travels. In each episode, we follow Kino, a young adventurer, and Hermes, Kino’s talking motorcycle, as they travel through new and strange lands. Their journey has only one rule: they won’t stay in any one country for more than three days and two nights. While Kino’s world isn’t exactly magical—well, aside from the talking motorcycle—it has a certain dreamlike, fairy-tale quality, and the viewer soon begins to see the truth in Kino’s words: “The world is not beautiful; and that, in a way, lends it a sort of beauty.”

American Born Chinese is 2007 Printz Award winner

The first graphic novel to win the Printz Award is American Born Chinese by Gene Yang. Announced today in Seattle, the 2007 Printz Award winner “focuses on three characters in tales that touch on facets of Chinese American life. Jin is a boy faced with the casual racism of fellow students and the pressure of his crush on a Caucasian girl; the Monkey King, a character from Chinese folklore, has attained great power but feels he is being held back because of what the gods perceive as his lowly status; and Danny, a popular high-school student, suffers through an annual visit from his cousin Chin-Kee, a walking, talking compendium of exaggerated Chinese stereotypes.” (Booklist review)

Printz Honor books are:

Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Taken From Accounts by his Own Hand and Other Sundry Sources by M.T. Anderson
Abundance of Katherines by John Greene
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/21/07)

It is no longer surprising to find the latest books in series by popular genre writers on the List. This week is no exception. There is, however, also a new book by the critically acclaimed young writer, Dave Eggers. His book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius announced the arrival of a serious writer with a sense of humor (and a bit of hubris). In that memoir, he explored his family's tragedies and triumphs and indeed did cause readers to weep. This time Eggers struggled to write another aching story of loss and found he could only tell the truth of the story by making it a work of fiction. (Check out this interview with him on McSweeney's website).

At #2 is The Hunters by W.E.B. Griffin: "An Army officer seeks the killers of a shady American diplomat murdered in Uruguay; follows from Griffin’s “Hostage.’’

At #10 is The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun: "The columnist Jim Qwilleran and his cats probe a mysterious death in the 29th “Cat Who” book."

At #16 is What is the What by Dave Eggers: "The fictionalized autobiography of one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys,” refugees from its civil war."

The Diversity of Islam in America

Here is a new non-fiction book with strong promise, American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion by Paul Barrett, a former reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal. The book offers a collection of portraits of American Muslims, all struggling with their religion and its place in the world. This book got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Laura Miller writing at Salon. In the review, Miller calls the book "the ideal book to enlighten a whole host of people who don't realize they need it." Barrett also is the author of The Good Black: The True Story of Race in America.

Angels and Demons

Do you believe in angels and demons? Frank Peretti does. His book This Present Darkness and its sequal Piercing the Darkness explore the world of spiritual warfare from a Christian perspective. Why does prayer matter? What good does it do? What is spiritual warfare and how does it affect us? The stories provide insight into what the struggle of light and darkness MAY be like.

AA/Y Reads Key Event Happening January 25

Tracy Kidder writes about the everyday lives of people—a couple building a home, a year in a fifth-grade classroom, a doctor caring for the poor—but his attention to detail and the nuances in life make his work anything but ordinary. He will visit our community on Thurs., Jan. 25, 7:30 pm at Washtenaw Community College to talk about writing his book, the 2007 selection for AA/Y Reads, Mountains Beyond Mountains—The Quest Of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure The World. Kidder won a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1982 for The Soul of a New Machine, a now-classic chronicle of the computer age and the people who created it.

Sundance Festival 2007

The 2007 Sundance Film Festival is being held in Park City, Utah from January 18-28.This is the top US festival for independent filmakers. More than 120 feature-length films and more than 80 shorts are shown. Although most believe that Robert Redford, founder of the Sundance Institute, was also the founder of the festival, it was originally established by some film people from Utah as a retrospective. But the focus changed with Redford who opened up the festival to new, independent filmmakers. And it's been this way ever since. If you can't get to Utah, The Library has many of the films originally shown at the festival.

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