Ages 18+.

Frederick Busch, 1941 - 2006

Frederick Busch

Frederick Busch, an elegant, prolific writer of brilliant fiction and non-fiction A Memory of War and Letters to a Fiction Writer, died Thursday, February 23, in Manhattan, a place he loved and immortalized in his books.

A professor of writing and literature at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, for 37 years, Busch shaped and inspired dozens of bright young writers who went on to successful careers of their own.

Busch, who richly deserved the accolades and awards h

A debut novel on South Africa

Lisa Fugard, daughter of acclaimed South African playwright, Athol Fugard, in her debut novel, Skinner's Drift evokes a vivid sense of place as Eva van Rensburg returns to Johannesburg from the U.S.after a ten year absence. Her father Martin is dying and Eva returns to care for him. Interspersed with the present are excerpts from her mother's diaries and flashbacks to Eva's childhood. Her Africaner parents try to maintain the farm. Barricades are erected on the border with Botswana as uprisings grow more frequent.

History Bits - Flint, MI.

LUTHER T. FARRELL has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. He would rather be known as a Philosopher, rather than "The Sarge's Son". Michigan author Christopher Paul Curtis (website) tells another great story in Bucking The Sarge.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists!

There once was a guitarist named Ted
Who turned to a Pharmacist and said
“I shall come to the Pig
And dance such a jig
That they’ll cheer ‘til we all go to bed.”

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Live at the Blind Pig on Wednesday, March 8. All ages show, $10 cover, with special guests The Duke Spirit and Les Aus. Jigs not guaranteed... but if we can get him to play “Me and Mia” or “The High Party” he usually does. (Incidentally, that’s the same night as the Pioneer High School career fair. Professionals such as yours truly will be there to talk about what we do. Hope to see you there! )

Octavia E. Butler, 6/22/1947 - 2/25/2006

Author Elizabeth Bear reports in her journal that Octavia Butler passed away this weekend as the result of a stroke.

In 1995, Butler became the first science fiction writer ever to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant." Her novel Parable of the Talents won the Nebula Award for best novel in 2000. She also received both a Nebula and a Hugo award for her novelette "Bloodchild," collected in Bloodchild, and Other Stories, and won a Hugo in 1984 for her story "Speech Sounds."

Third book in trilogy is a good weekend read

Frank McCourt is the best-selling author and former teacher who skyrocketed to fame with "Angela's Ashes," followed by "'Tis." His third book, Teacher Man, is about his days teaching English in New York City, when he did creative things in the classroom such as urging young people to write down excuses for not having done their homework. The book, which I found witty and entertaining, ends with the author's decision to write "Angela's Ashes."

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (2/19/06)

Four new titles jump on board. And for the first time Jay McInerney becomes a "Best Sellers" author. Hard to believe that Bright Lights, Big City, his debut novel and the one that made him famous, never made it.

At #4 is Gone by Lisa Gardner: an FBI agent searches for his ex-wife's kidnapper.

At #7 is Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn: a new Star Wars novel.

At #14 is Changing Faces by Kimberla Lawson Roby: the intertwining story of three women who have been friends since high school.

At #16* is The Good Life by Jay McInerney: his characters are older but still glamorous and decadent in this post-9/11 novel.

Webster's dictionary turns 200. What's next?

200 years ago this month Noah Webster published "A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language" to the horror of English language purists who were shocked by the Americanized spellings (such as "honor" instead of "honour"), the inclusion of new words American words, and the elimination of ancient British words such as "fishefy." But Webster's aim--to promote homegrown culture and reflect the language America was actually speaking--proved highly successful and today there are hundreds of dictionaries and books devoted to American English usage such as last year's Right, Wrong and Risky: A Dictionary of Today's American English Usage and Contemporary American Slang. There's also every manner of online dictionary, notably the collaborative wiki dictionary Wiktionary, an offshoot of Wikipedia. And that's just a start, since collabulary--a new word worth looking up, by the way--may alter the digital dictionary in ways Noah Webster could never have imagined.

E.L. Doctorow wins the 2006 PEN/Faulkner award

E. L. Doctorow has just been named the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel The March.

In his novel, Doctorow brings to savage life General William Tecumseh Sherman's devastating sweep through Georgia and the Carolinas in toward the end of the Civil War.

The PEN/Faulkner, founded in 1980, is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction writers. It has gone to such esteemed authors as Ann Patchett, Ha Jin, John Updike, and Michael Cunningham.

Finalists for the 2006 award are:

Karen Fisher for A Sudden Country
William Henry Lewis for I Got Somebody in Staunton
James Salter for Last Night
Bruce Wagner for The Chrysanthemum Palace

This is Mr. Doctorow's second PEN/Faulkner award. He won in 1990 for Billy Bathgate.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts # 7

Filmmaker-turned-first-time-novelist, Galt Niederhoffer’s A taxonomy of Barnacles is a charming and sly spoof of the concept of the survival of the fittest, and the nature-versus-nurture debate. Starred review in Booklist.

Barry Barnacle announced to his 6 daughters during a Passover Seder that whoever could immortalize the Barnacle name would be the sole beneficiary of his pantyhose fortune. This challenge plunged Bell, Bridget, Beth, Belinda, Beryl and Benita Barnacle, ranging in age from 10 to 29 into merciless fistfights trying to best each other.

Titled after Darwin's monograph on the arthropods, which he studied before he used the Galapagos finch to illustrate his theory of evolution, this zany 1930s-style romantic comedy will certainly bring to mind The Royal Tenenbaums. Pure Fun.

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