Ages 18+.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (7/23/06)

It's hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since the publication of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe in 1987. Fannie Flagg returns again to the List with a new book set in another small American town.

At #3 is Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg: we're back in Elmwood Springs, MO enjoying Flagg's funny, light-hearted exploration of mortality and her celebration of the joys of simplicity.

At #14 is Proof Postive by Phillip Margolin: this third Jaffe legal thriller looks at how forensic evidence can be manipulated to influence trials.

Grenville wins 2006 Commonwealth Prize

Kate Grenville has won the overall best book Commonwealth Prize for 2006 for The Secret River. Grenville's latest is gripping, revealing story of the struggle of exiled British criminals in New South Wales, specifically Will Thornhill. Will grew up in the slums of London and is caught stealing lumber, his life saved but doomed to exile. Once free, Will, his wife Sarah and their growing brood find land outside Sydney where Will dreams of prosperity as a trader.

Mickey Spillane, pulp crime fiction giant, is dead

Mickey Spillane, pulp crime fiction giant, is dead

Mickey Spillane, creator of the Mike Hammer private eye novels, has died.

Mike Hammer, crime fiction’s politically correct nightmare, captured the attention of Spillane fans for decades. Brutal, violent, murderous toward women, and shaky on the subtle nuances of the law, Hammer kept readers demanding more for decades.

Spillane, a former Jehovah’s Witness, laughed at the scorn critics heaped upon his novels, such as Murder Is My Business, The Snake and Kiss Me, Deadly, one of several Spillane titles turned into a movie. He referred to his books as “the chewing gum of American literaure” and precious few reviewers disagreed.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #28

It sneaked in under the media radar…

Before Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, there was Sleep, Pale Sister.

It was Joanne Harris’ debut novel, originally published in 1993 in England but never before available in the U.S.

This haunting gothic romance is set in 19th century London. Middle-aged Henry Chester, an artist of independent means has an unhealthy interest in virginal young girls. Beautiful, fatherless Effie - his model/wife is kept drugged with laudanum so as to remain his vision of feminine perfection — passive, docile, innocent, unsullied. That is, until a roguish fellow artist awakes her passion.

Multiple plot twists complete with ghosts, illicit sex and murder make for a page-turner. Harris' sensual, elegant style and atmospheric prose admired in her subsequent works, is very much evident here. You will love this one.

Think "Food" - then watch

Perhaps you viewed them. Perhaps not. Have you viewed them lately? ...Think "Food"... The Big Night; Tampopo; Eat, Drink, Man, Woman; Chocolat.

Info Bits - Mummies!

Mummies! They are in museums, and books, and movies. You can begin with Tutankhamun: The Mystery Of The Boy King. If you want more about Egyptian mummies try Mummies And Pyramids; for mummies from different cultures try Mummies; and for info you forgot to ask try Mummies, Dinosaurs And Moon Rocks: How We Know How Old Things Are. If you like extension activities you can browse The Detroit Institue Of Art site for some good ideas. Now maybe you're ready for a trip to the museum!

Dorothy Uhnak dies at 76

Dorothy Uhnak dies at 76

Before there was Sue Grafton, before there was Patricia Cornwell, mystery fans had Dorothy Uhnak.

Twice cited for bravery by New York City, Ms. Uhnak, a former New York City Transit and NYPD police officer traded in her badge for the pen in 1967.

Her first gripping novel, The Bait starring Christie Opara, won the 1968 Edgar for Best First Mystery. Opara had two more appearances, in The Witness and The Ledger (all are out of print, but may be available through Interlibrary Loan. Uhnak then Uhnak wrote several more titles, including the bestselling The Investigation and False Witness which added a political element -- the victim had ties to the PLO.

Ms. Uhnak was 76.

Into the Wild

Sean Penn is currently filming Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild (1996) about Chris McCandless' ill-fated Alaskan wilderness odyssey of 1992. Although the book is dramatic enough, it's unlikely Penn will spin off, as Krakauer does, into the intriguing stories of other fanatical adventurers--Everett Ruess, John Waterman, Gene Rosellini--who also ventured off into the wild full of ideals and hubris, never to return. Part cautionary tale, Krakauer also does his bit to counter those who would dismiss the bright, Tolstoy-quoting Jack London-loving McCandless as mere crackpot by setting him within the context of other intensely motivated nature lovers (John Muir, Henry David Thoreau) who also retreated from society into the seductive refuge of nature.

Chappelle's Block Party

You may have missed the live concert in Brooklyn. Then you might have missed it again when it was in theaters. Guess what? We got it! Dave Chappelle's Block Party, complete with comedy from the man himself. Also featuring the livest music from some of Dave's favorite artists: Erykah Badu, Common, Black Star, Bilal, Cody ChesnuTT, The Roots, Jill Scott and more. Will this be the start of more block parties from Dave? We can only hope...

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