Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #24 - Geography as Character

Two exemplary recent Australian releases treat geography as character - the highly original and witty debut Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany, and The Secret River by the 2001 Orange Prize winner, Kate Grenville.

Set in 1930s Victoria, Everyman is narrated by Jean Cunningham, the young, curious and courageous sewing teacher on the “Better-Farming Train” which travels throughout the country, bringing advice to agricultural communities. Love comes in the form of Robert, an idealistic soil scientist with the rare ability to identify the origin of soil by taste, and who adheres unyieldingly to his Rules for Scientific Living.

The Secret River on the other hand, is inspired by Grenville’s own family history and the early settlement of New South Wales. William Thornhill and his family must struggle for a delicate coexistence with the native population along the savage Hawkesbury River.

Landscape is far more than mere setting. Whether harsh or lush, beneficent or punishing, it drives the plots and leaves indelible marks in the lives of these characters.

The Truth About Bodyfat Loss

Andrew Phelka

Wednesday June 7, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Downtown Multi-Purpose Room

Are you into fitness and personal training? Interested in losing a few inches for the summer season? Then come hear Fitness and Nutrition Counselor Andrew Phelka discuss the myths and facts about losing bodyfat. Mr. Phelka will talk about how nutrition, exercise and metabolism can all affect body fat loss.

Barry Harris: The Spirit of Bebop

Barry Harris

Monday, June 5, 7:00-8:30 pm Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room

Come see this fascinating documentary of jazz innovator Barry Harris. This film, by Edgar Howard, also pays homage to jazz luminaries like Parker, Monk, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie. Jazz scholar Lars Bjorn will introduce this 55 minute film and lead a discussion afterwards.

An extraordinary story

Death becomes a pivotal character in the mezmerizing novel, The Book Thief by Australian author, Marcus Zusak. Death, often hard hearted, is drawn to Liesel Meminger, a nine year old girl growing up near Munich during World War II. Abandoned by her mother and still sffering nightmares about the death of her younger brother, Liesel is taken in by foster parents in the rough working class neighborhood of Molching where she steals her first book. Over the ensuing years, Liesel steals more books which become for her an escape and a silent protest to the totalitarian regime in which she lives. She befriends Max, a Jew, whom her parents hide in their basement and who whitewashes the pages of Mein Kampf to make his own book as a gift to Liesel. To hear an interview done by NPR's John Ydstie with Zusak, log on to the NPR site.

Paul Auster wins major literary award in Spain

Paul Auster wins major literary award in Spain

Paul Auster, 59, was awarded Spain's The Prince of Asturias Award for Letters yesterday.

Auster, whose latest novel, Brooklyn Follies (2006), was released earlier this year was praised by prize committee president, Victor Garcia de la Concha, as "...one of the U.S. greatest living writers."

Auster, married to author Siri Hustvedt, will receive the 50,000 Euro ($70,760) purse in an October 2006 ceremony.

Curiouser and curiouser ...

Ever feel as though it's all been done before? As though you may as well give up trying to create anything new, because your efforts will never equal those of the masters?

The Alexandrians, named "for the fire, not the library," feel the same way.

To help pave the way for new art, they have orchestrated the planned removal from society of works of art, literature, music, film ...

A talking dog, a nine-year pregnancy, Hank Williams ... with this strange brew, Terry Bisson, author of the short story "Bears Discover Fire," delivers the increasingly odd story of one of those charged with doing the removing: The Pickup Artist.

In the Wake of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was a good chance to finish reading Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator by Samuel Hynes, a fabulously personal account of one man's experience learning to fly and fighting in the Pacific at the tail end of World War II. Many veterans of Hynes' generation are participating in the Veterans History Project organized by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Meet Facebook, Myspace, and Other Online Friends

Amazing how many people love to network socially on sites such as Facebook and Myspace - millions of you. John Cassidy nails this trend - and the companies it supports - in his article "The Online Life: Me Media: How hanging out on the Internet became big business," in the May 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Read this article - virtually - from General Reference Center Gold electronic database, or actually from the actual May 15 issue of The New Yorker magazine at the library.

No dancing

Elvis Costello is returning to Ann Arbor! The Summer Festival, which technically starts on June 16th, is bringing him to Hill Auditorium on June 13th. Costello will be acompanied by his band The Imposters and the New Orleans stylings of Allen Toussaint. "No dancing," by the way, is a track from his first album, My Aim is True.

The Today Show features AWOL

The Today Show highlights a new book on "The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service-and How It Hurts Our Country".

How many famous people can you name that are currently serving in the armed forces? Why aren't the rich and famous in uniform? Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaffer discuss how "we were raised in a culture, a privileged culture, that misunderstands and underestimates the meaning of military service".

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