Ages 18+.

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".

X-Men Extravaganza

Loved the new movie and want more? Didn't care for it and want something different? Somewhere in the middle? Wherever you fall, the AADL is here to help.

Ultimate X-Men, a guide to the universe, covers the original Dark Phoenix saga. Astonishing X-Men Volume 1: Gifted contains the story of the "cure" for mutancy, as written by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame.

One thing is certain: for better or for worse, none of the books feature Kelsey Grammer in a Cookie Monster suit.

Mission Impossible, By Order of the Queen

Some books are just better with Robert Ian Mackenzie turning pages for you. This marvelous narrator coaxes, spellbinds, and occasionally sings his way through this unbelievably merry, wildly imaginative and totally entertaining 22-discs Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin.

A series of screwball adventures followed a conspiratorial media debacle aimed at Freddy, the bookish, stiff-upper-lip Prince of Wales and his glamorous and ditsy wife. In order to safeguard the British monarchy, they were sent on a quest to re-conquer a barbarous land – The United States.

Clueless and dressed only in furry bikinis, they hopped freight trains, cleaned toilets, and became enmeshed in the madness of a presidential campaign, all the while gained the dignity and humility required for the future heads of state.

Perfect for long car trips. Do remember to pull over while laughing. We want you safe.

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).

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