Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #23

With a poet’s sensibility and a Southern writer’s gift of storytelling Darnell Arnoult’s (website) accomplished first novel Sufficient Grace is moving, captivating, and destined to be in a few beach bags this summer. (Starred review in Publishers Weekly).

Character-rich and evocative of place, this is the story of Gracie Hollaman and her two very different Southern families – the white, middleclass one that she abandoned and the black one that took her in and allowed her to develop a special gift. Written with warmth and gentle humor, this novel is also about grit, dignity, and about lives reclaimed with faith and love.

For readers of Kaye Gibbons’ Charms for The Easy Life (1993); Clyde Edgerton’s Walking Across Egypt, (1987); and Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies, (1988).

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (5/28/06)

Summer begins this Memorial Day weekend for me. Time to start thinking about books to pack for the beach and cottage or just to enjoy while lazing in the back yard. While it may never make the List, I just finished an absolutely wonderful, spellbinding novel. Black Swan Green is the latest by David Mitchell, a critically acclaimed young British author, and I cannot recommend it enough.

At #14 is Bad Twin by Gary Troup:"Remember the manuscript that Hurley (Jorge Garcia, left) found in a suitcase a few episodes ago on Lost? Now you can read it: Bad Twin is a mystery novel by "Gary Troup," who was supposedly aboard the ill-fated Oceanic Flight 815 (real author: unknown). The book, sanctioned by the hit ABC show's producers, could be a treasure chest of possible Lost clues. Or not." (Entertainment Weekly)

At #16 is Second Sight by Amanda Quick: another romantic thriller by this dependable best-selling author; this time the danger threatens a psychic Victorian photographer.

Golden Age of Magic...

...stage magic, that is. Anyone with even a passing interest in the magicians of the 1920s (or anyone who just wants to read a good historical mystery) should try out Carter Beats the Devil, by Glen David Gold. The action starts when Warren Harding (generally considered to be the worst president in American history) is torn apart (then eaten, by a lion, on stage, in front of a live audience) during a trick called "Carter Beats the Devil", performed by the famous magician Carter the Great. Though it is revealed to be just a another clever illusion (and the President is clearly seen walking off stage after), Harding is found dead a few hours later, and the police would like to have a word or two with Carter...

A Marriage Made in History

Modern marriage may seem to be in flux, but most of what we see today has been seen before, according to Stephanie Coontz whose book Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage is featured this week in five-minute e-mail chunks at DearReader.com. The book came out in hardback a year ago and in paperback in February. Coontz also wrote the popular 1992 book The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.

Jane Kenyon- 1947-1995

Today, May 23, is the birthday of Jane Kenyon. She was born in Ann Arbor in 1947 and attended the University of Michigan. Her first book, Let Evening Come was published in 1990. Kenyon's poetry is known for its quiet yet profound reflections and in her years with her husband, Donald Hall, on her life with him at their farmhouse in Wilmot, New Hampshire.

Her final poems describe her struggle with depression and the leukemia which finally took her life in 1995. Shortly before her death, she and Hall were interviewed by Bill Moyers for a television documentary, A Life Together. Following is a poem that pays tribute to her dog, Biscuit:

Peter Viereck, Pulitzer Prize poet, has died

Peter Viereck

It's been a hard for month for poets. Last week, America lost two noted Pulitzer Prize winners -- Stanley Kunitz died at age 100 on May 14, 2006, and now Peter Viereck has passed away at 89.

Viereck was as passionate about his idea of conservatism as he was about poetry. He won the 1949 Pulitzer for his very first collection of poetry, Terror and Decorum.

As we are seeing by today's headlines, Professor Viereck's strong beliefs that "...conservative is not to be satanic..." could be part of the national dialog.

Professor Viereck died May 20, 2006.

Deconstructing the 'Mommy Myth'

If you are interested in feminism, motherhood and the ways that the popular media are portraying and shaping the image of mothers be sure to watch Susan J. Douglas speak on her book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women on Ann Arbor's Community Television Cable Channel 17. Douglas, Professor of Communications at the University of Michigan, examines how the mass media have promoted a conception of motherhood which result in unrealistic demands on women. Based on extensive scholarly research, the book is an accessible (and occasionally humorous) look at popular magazines, radio and television and their portrayals of the 'ideal' mother. The program, part of the Library's Sunday Edition author lecture series can be viewed on Tuesday, May 23 at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m.; and Friday, May 26 at 5:00 p.m. Video recordings of the program are also available to be borrowed from the library in both VHS and DVD format.

Anniversary of a famous crime

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, bank robbers accused of twelve murders, were gunned down by a law enforcement posse in Gibsland, LA.. Romanticized by the film, Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the real life criminals grew up in poverty striken families in rural Texas. When the Depression came, they hit the road, devoted to each other and knowing their ultimate demise was death. Cult heroes like Robin Hood or Jesse James, they embodied a fantasy of freedom for the downtrodden.

Stanley Kunitz, Poet Laureate in 2000, dies

Stanley Kunitz, Poet Laureate in 2000, dies

Stanley Kunitz, the United States Poet Laureate in 2000, died in his home in Manhattan on May 14, 2006.

Mr. Kunitz, who graduated from Harvard in 1926 with a BA and in 1927 with an MA, enjoyed a prolific career that spanned more than eight decades. His brilliance was recognized with one prestigious award after another. He won a Guggenheim in 1945-46; the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1959 for Selected Poems, 1928-1958; the National Book Award in 1995 for Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected; the National Medal of the Arts at age 88 in 1993; and the highly coveted Bollingen Prize in poetry in 1987.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #22

I frankly cannot remember the last time a debut thriller generated such buzz. Library Journal, Booklist, as well as Publishers Weekly all gave John Hart’s The King of Lies starred reviews.

Critics are calling it ”stunning…, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller”; “The writing is beautiful and the story is gripping, but it is the character study… that puts this debut novel on the must-read list.”

At the center of the mystery is Work(man) Pickens, a struggling North Carolina attorney with some serious baggage – one of them is being accused of his father’s murder. You won’t want to miss this one.

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