Ages 18+.

John Vaillant receives prestigious Canadian literary award

John Vaillant has won a Governor General's Literary Award in the non-fiction category for his book, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed. Described by the Governor General’s jury as the quintessential Canadian story, The Golden Spruce brings to life the story of a furious logger who destroyed a famous, beloved 300 year old tree on Queen Charlotte’s Island in 1997, outraging environmentalists and lumbermen alike.
The Governor General’s Literary Award, which comes with a $15,000 purse, is under the aegis of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Book Groups Always Need Good Books

Ann Arbor has dozens of lively book groups, some of which may need to fuel their fires and lengthen their lists this winter. If you don’t mind being slightly behind publishing trends, consider titles that were popular about a year ago. The library is likely to have more copies of these than of current bestsellers. One example is the 2004 book “Truth and Beauty: A Friendship,” by Ann Patchett. The book chronicles Patchett’s long-time friendship with writer Lucy Grealy "Autobiography of a Face”, and how that friendship changed over time. The writing is just as good and the story just as compelling as on the day the book was published.

2005 National Book Award winners announced

Last night, William T. Vollmann’s searing complicated epic, Europe Central, received the much-coveted National Book Award in the fiction category. The NBA judges described Vollmann’s 811 page masterpiece as…”heroic art, the writer’s courageous immersion in totalitarian ugliness to retrieve forgotten moral heroes…”

Vollmann, 46, won over four other formidable finalists:

E.L. Doctorow for The March
Mary Gaitskill for Veronica
Christopher Sorrentino for Trance
Renè Steinke for Holy skirts

Winners in the other categories of the 2005 National Book Awards are:

Young People’s Literature

Jeanne Birdsall for The Penderwicks – for more details on this title, watch the upcoming blog from Kidlit


W.S. Merwin for Migration: New and Selected Poems


Joan Didion for The Year of Magical Thinking

Mr. Vollmann considered himself such an underdog, given his competition, that, when presented with the National Book Foundation’s sculpture and check for $10,000, said, “I thought I would lose, so I didn’t prepare a speech.”

The Man in Black is Back

This week actor Joaquin Phoenix walks the line as Johnny Cash in a a new film earning positive reviews across the board. Phoenix is a good choice to play the rough-hewn, emotionally-charged Man in Black, who calls "one of the most imposing and influential figures in post-World War II country music....He created his own subgenre, falling halfway between the blunt emotional honesty of folk, the rebelliousness of rock & roll, and the world weariness of country." Check out The Fabulous Johnny Cash, left, or last year's excellent Cash, a special tribute book from Rolling Stone magazine featuring new and old essays, plus a fascinating overview of Cash's life and detailed critical discography.

David Westheimer, 1917-2005

David Westheimer

David Westheimer, author of the Von Ryan’s Express (1964), died yesterday in Los Angeles.

The former WWII POW and later editor of the former Houston Post newspaper, used his wartime experience to pen Von Ryan’s Express which was made into a movie by the same name a year later, and starred Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard. In 1980, Westheimer wrote the sequel, Van Ryan’s Return.

Westheimer also wrote My Sweet Charlie (1965), which became a Broadway play in 1966 and which netted Patty Duke an Emmy for the TV adaptation in 1970.

Vine Deloria, Jr., 1933-2005

Vine Deloria, Jr., generally considered by historians and anthropologists to be the most important spokesperson for Native American issues for the last thirty-five years, died November 13, 2005.

Deloria exploded into the national consciousness in 1969 with his incendiary Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto.

Several of his other writings – God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (1973), Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence (1974), and Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact (1995) – showcased his dual background training as both a student of theology and an attorney.

Ruth Duckworth, Modernist Sculptor

The first U.S. retrospective of acclaimed ceramic artist Ruth Duckworth, one of the world’s foremost ceramic sculptors will open at Cranbrook Art Museum November 18th.

This exhibition of approximately eighty vessels and sculptural artworks spanning six decades of Duckworth’s career will travel to the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City in January.

Ruth Duckworth: Modernist sculptor is part of a continuous gift of art books by the Ladies Library Association to the community since 1931.

Madonna Confesses

On Confessions of a Dance Floor, Madonna returns unapologetically to her roots. A stunning blend of musical styles with one foot in early disco and the other pointed toward the future, Confessions On A Dance Floor "is all about having a good time straight through and non-stop," says the Material Mom, who co-wrote and co-produced every track. For Madonna and music fans everywhere, the all-dance, no-ballad Confessions on a Dance Floor is a welcome guilty pleasure. Now let's see if there is any truth to the rumors that she may play the halftime show during the Superbowl next February.

Super Folk!

Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale and Mrs. Cruise, is now available on DVD at the library. Could this be the best movie based off a comicbook ever made? Maybe, but here are some others that were pretty good too: Spider-man, Spider-man 2, The X-men, Hellboy, and The Crow. Of course, the best ever might be the man in blue tights, who'll return in 2006.

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