Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #9

A former researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics and currently a student at Stanford Medical School, Josh Spanogle’s debut medical thriller will bring to mind The Andromeda Strain; written by another young medical student named Michael Crichton some years back.

…"(F)rightening, scalpel-sharp, surprising, challenging," Isolation Ward takes hold of you immediately when young, brash Dr. McCormick must race against time to identify the baffling and unstoppable virus that racked the bodies of three female mentally impaired patients in a Baltimore hospital, and threatens to become an epidemic.

Starred review in Kirkus. A sure bet from a promising newcomer. Read an excerpt

Celebrate Women's History Month through reading

In 1977, the schools of Sonoma County designated March as Women's History Month to raise awareness of women's history and to encourage its inclusion into the public and college curriculum. To help celebrate, here is a list of recent titles that explore the meaningful contributions of women throughout the ages.

Birth of the Chess Queen by Marilyn Yalom. Chess as a courting ritual? The rise of female power is seen through the history of female players of the game as well as many other women of royalty from the ancient Arab world to eleventh century Europe.

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham

And Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is one of them. Interviews with Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig discuss how Zingerman’s made decisions on whether and how to grow and on what was important to them in running the business.

The book discusses fourteen companies that chose to focus on product quality, quality of work life, customer service, community involvement, and company soul or mojo rather than on expansion, IPOs, or merging with corporate conglomerates.

A nice cheerleading account of the history and philosophy of these fourteen “Small Giants.” The concluding paragraph: “There are no businesses that hold themselves to higher standards than do the small giants. Having more of them can’t help but make our world a better place."

Wal-Mart: Recent Books and Movies

Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer with $312.4 billion in sales for the fiscal year ending on January 31, 2006. Wal-Mart is also the largest private employer in the United States with 1.3 million employees.

Wal-Mart says:
"The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want," Sam wrote in his autobiography. "And really, if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; free parking; a pleasant shopping experience.”
The Wal-Mart fact sheets provide an interesting counterpoint to these books and movies.

The books:

Bully of Bentonville: the High Cost of Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Prices by Anthony Bianco
The Wal-Mart Effect: the High Cost of Everyday Low Prices by Charles Fishman
The United States of Wal-Mart by John Dicker
Wal-Mart: the Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism edited by Nelson Lichtenstein

The movies:

Wal*Mart: the High Cost of Low Price from Brave New Films
Is Wal-Mart Good for America? from PBS Video

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (2/26/06)

Jackie Collins followed her sister Joan to Hollywood years ago but preferred writing novels about actors and other players in LaLaLand to starring on the silver screen.

And while Robert B. Parker will be forever linked to his knight-errant character Spenser, he has branched out in the last several years and breathed life into his writing by creating a few new characters. My favorite is Jesse Stone, a man with a drinking problem and a troubled past. Fleeing from both his police career and an ex-wife in California, he takes a job as the police chief of Paradise, a small Massachusetts town. A little while ago I watched Tom Selleck bring this character to life in two good made-for-tv movies, Stone Cold and Night Passage.

At #4 is Sea Change by Robert B. Parker: this time Jesse Stone investigates the murder of a woman who washed ashore in his small town.

At #6 is Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins: more sex and scandal with Red Diamond's family.

If you like Hip Hop...

...then you might already know what's crackin this weekend. Common will perform at theMichigan Theater this Friday March 3rd at 7:30pm . From classic albums like Resurrection to the more recent success of his Grammy-nominated album Be, Common’s socially conscious lyrics have long been a staple for Hip Hop “heads” across the globe.

If you like Common you might also enjoy these artists and albums:
Mos DefThe New Danger
Little Brother - The Minstrel Show
Talib Kweli - Right About Now
Digable Planets - Beyond the Spectrum
Jean Grae - This Week
The Roots - The Tipping Point

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! )

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