Master of magical realism

Today, March 6, is the birthday of Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez who was born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1928. Most widely known for his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez drew from his colorful life to create his stories. The oldest of twelve children, he was primarily raised by his grandparents. His grandmother was a weaver of tales full of ghosts, omens, and the supernatural. His grandfather was a leftist colonel who fought in two civil wars. Garcia Marquez became a journalist and had no thoughts of writing fiction until driving one day between Mexico City and Acapulco, the whole first chapter of One Hundred Years... came to him. His wife had to pawn household goods, sell their car, and apply for loans to support him while he wrote. To date, that book has sold about 30 million copies.

Garcia Marquez said: "Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry."

Ark's Storytelling Festival

Time Warp tales

Don’t miss the Ark's 22nd Annual Storytelling Festival this weekend, with Beverly Black and Jeff Doyle, members of the Ann Arbor Storyteller's Guild, Sue Black and Antonio Sacre. This is the best way to bring on the warmth of Spring!

Girls with Grit!

Josie photoJosie photo

I am really excited about “Girls with Grit” on March 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch Library! I’ll be joining the talented Josie Barnes Parker, Betsy Beckerman and Sara Melton Keller for an evening of edgy adult storytelling and music in honor of Women’s History Month. Josie and I have made an annual tradition of telling tales from our own colorful “histories” and this year we are delighted to be joined by Betsy and Sara who entertain our littlest listeners every week at storytime and relish the opportunity to choose more sophisticated selections for this adult crowd!

Dickens redux in America

Hannah Tinti's first novel, The Good Thief, evokes a Dickensian world of crippled orphans, exploitive masters, graverobbing, murder and other juicy pasttimes. In colonial New England, Ren, a one-handed orphan at St. Anthony's Orphanage is adopted by Benjamin, a con artist who uses Ren's handicap to his own advantage. Encounters at a mousetrap factory, Ren's unlikely friendship with a dwarf who lives in a chimney and a mad scientist who does strange things to corpses all add up to a dark, funny and truly satisfying read.

For another adventure series, tamer than this one but still fun, read Phillip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mystery series beginning with The Ruby in the Smoke. The other two are Shadow in the North and The Tiger in the Well.

Chesstastic this Sunday at Traverwood

Black and White King

Woody at Howell’s Nature Center and Punxsutawney Phil are staying put in their holes for another six weeks of winter. However, with Sunday’s forecast of 40+ degrees, you just might want to come out of your hole for some chess.

Whether you know a little or a lot about chess drop by for a game or two.

Chesstastic | Sunday, February 8 | 1-4:00 PM | Traverwood Branch | All Ages

Luminous writing marks Phillips' latest

I just finished reading Jayne Anne Phillips' latest novel, Lark and Termite, which is one of the best books I've read in the past year. Her language sings. The story moves back and forth between a week in July, 1950 and 1959. During the earlier week, soldier Robert Leavitt is slowly dying in a tunnel during the Korean War. In 1959, Lark, a daughter by a different father and Termite, her half-brother and Leavitt's son, are living with their aunt Nonie in a small town in West Virginia. Phillips masterfully weaves these two stories together: the tunnel where Leavitt dies, helped by a North Korean girl and her blind brother and the tunnel under the bridge where Termite who cannot speak loves to listen to the trains and the movement of the river. Phillips creates characters who are brave and humble in their willingness to help one another through hard times. And her language carries you inside their minds where Termite, for example, is all sensation, and Lark, a mix of longing and love for family.
The New York Times says: "Jayne Anne Phillips renders what is realistically impossible with such authority that the reader never questions its truth."

Former anti-war activist to speak at U of M

Remember all the hoopla surrounding Obama's supposed relationship with William Ayers who was involved in a bombing during a Vietnam protest by the Weather Underground in the 1960's? Ayers, currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago, will be speaking and then reading from the re-publication of his 2001 book, Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, Room 100. He will be joined by his wife, law professor Bernadine Dohrn. To read some of Ayer's recent thoughts on education and Obama's cabinet picks, check out his blog.

A humble spirit

Poet William Stafford was born on this day, January 17, 1914 in Hutchinson, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas and received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Stafford was a conscientious objector during World War II and worked in a civillian service camp as his alternative service. This experience led to his first prose work, Down My Heart. He taught at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. Stafford wrote every morning and produced several collections of his work, all reflecting his joy in the magic of the moment and his great love for the natural world. He offered questions, not answers. Here's an example:

Level Light

Sometimes the light when evening fails
stains all haystacked country and hills,
runs the cornrows and clasps the barn
with that kind of color escaped from corn
that brings to autumn the winter word—
a level shaft that tells the world:

It is too late now for earlier ways;
now there are only some other ways,
and only one way to find them—fail.

In one stride night then takes the hill.

Cohousing opportunities in Ann Arbor

This Sunday, January 11, at 2 p.m., Nick Meima, founder of the Sunward cohousing community will be talking on "Community, Health, and Well-Being" and leading a tour of the three local cohousing communities. Cohousing is an innovative approach to living in which residents have separate dwellings but share activities and where the physical environment encourages a strong sense of community. Inspired by Danish experiments in intentional living, cohousing has taken off in this country, spawning a diversity of communities that each have their individual character based on needs and goals of residents. The meeting and tour will be held at Sunward Cohousing, 424 Little Lake Dr. Free. Preregistration required. Call 763-2177.

Chesstastic this Sunday, January 11

Black and White King

Drop in to play chess this Sunday at the Traverwood branch. Players of all ages are welcome to try their luck on the chess battlefield. Chess sets are provided but you are welcome to bring your own set.

Chesstastic | Sunday, January 11 | 1:00-4:00 PM | Traverwood Branch | All Ages

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