Fabulous Fiction Firsts #172

Bich Minh Nguyen's memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner was named one of the 2008 Michigan Notable Books and the Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2007. It received the 2008 Kiriyama Prize and the PEN/Jerard Award. It has been selected by the Michigan Humanities Council as the current The Great Michigan Read.

In Nguyen's fiction debut Short Girls, narrators (in alternate chapters) Van and Linny Leong, estranged sisters who have chosen divergent paths since their latch-key days, returned home to celebrate their father’s U.S. citizenship and his reality TV debut to demo the Leong Arm - an invention for short people.

With keen insight, humor and compassion, the author examines what it means to be short – from stature, identity, expectations, ambition, to the distance between us. Beautifully written and expertly told, this is ultimately a universal tale about sisterhood; the cultural and family history that binds us; and the rights to set the standard by which we are measured.

Readers of women's fiction on the theme of sibling relationships might also enjoy The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele, or Julia Alvarez's wonderful portrayal of the immigrant experience in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. For pure entertainment value - there is nothing more delightful than Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes.

* = Starred Reviews.

Mr. Show on DVD

Mr. ShowMr. Show

Laugh with Bob and David again, or introduce yourself to Mr. Show with Bob and David. The hilarious Mr. Show, starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, is a sketch comedy series that ran on HBO from 1995-1998. The offbeat, and not always politically correct, sketches featured occasional recurring characters, and each sketch transitioned into the next, creating a seamless flow of hilarity, with nods to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If you’re itching for some funny, have a "tofutti break" and check out both discs of Seasons 1 and 2, available on DVD at AADL.

Found On The Shelf: Requiem For A Paper Bag

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Ann Arbor’s own Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine, presents us with a new collection of “found” items in Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World. This time around we get to hear the stories behind finding the items! Davy reports, “I asked my favorite writers, musicians, artists & entertainers to tell me about the things they’ve found. These are the stories they’ve shared.” The found items range anywhere from love letters, hate notes and birthday cards, to shoppings lists, dirty laundry and homework assignments. Read in their own words how Seth Rogen, Miranda July, David Simon (creator of The Wire), and Chuck Klosterman came across some interesting items.

For more of Rothbart’s unique and hilarious collection of found items, check out Found and Found II, which are bouth laugh out loud funny and quick reading.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #163

This "wickedly brilliant" cozy by Canadian journalist Alan Bradley won the 2007 Debut Dagger Award of the Crimewriter's Association.

Set in a quaint English village, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie* features one of the most engaging amateur sleuths since Harriet the Spy.

11 year-old Flavia de Luce, a walking encyclopedia of the practical use of poison, is thrilled to find a corpse in the cucumber patch of the family's crumbling manor. A missing piece of custard pie, a dead snipe bearing a priceless "gift" on the door step, a retired librarian with a menacing secret and a shell-shocked WWII soldier are among her suspects but the bumbling police arrest her father for the crime. It is all up to Flavia to save the day.

Pure delight. Sequel likely, and most eagerly anticipated.

* = starred reviews

Then She Found Me


ThenSheFoundMeThenSheFoundMe

Recently I saddled down to watch the Oscar and Emmy award winning Helen Hunt's 2007 triumph Then She Found Me. Then She Found Me, a film whose screenplay was co-written, directed, starred and produced by Hunt, depicts the story of April Epner, a 39 year old schoolteacher whose main ambition in life to is have a child of her own. April's hopes are put on hold on the day that her husband Ben (Matthew Broderick) leaves her. However, that same day she meets Frank (Colin Firth), the father of one of her students. Also, April's birth mother, a TV personality, played by (Bette Midler), enters her life and turns things upside down. This is a great film with superb performances by all leading actors especially Helen Hunt, Bette Midler and Colin Firth.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #157

In Aussie Toni Jordan's Addition, there is no getting around the fact that Grace Lisa Vandenburg is neurotic - lovable but definitely neurotic! - counting the bristles on the toothbrush and the poppy seeds on her cake (daily) neurotic. Her obsession with counting renders her unemployable and very much a loner except for Nikola Tesla, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century inventor whose portrait sits on her bedside table and who rescues her in her dreams.

Seamus Joseph O'Reilly, an Irish transplant is intrigued by Grace who steals his banana at the check-out line. A shared table at Grace's morning coffee run soon blossoms into romance, and Grace begins to want a normal life with this passionate and darling man. The path to recovery as well as true love is never smooth - but on the way, Grace learns a few valuable lessons and we are treated to a "sweet, agreeable romantic comedy".

This superb debut marks Jordan (interview) as a writer to watch.Discussion questions are available for an upbeat book group choice.

For a novel on the topic of obsessive-compulsive disorder, try teen novelist Terry Spencer Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs. For another humorous take on the subject, try Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company.

Twilight on DVD!

TwilightDVDTwilightDVD

Twilight is now officially on DVD! Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t expect much when she moves to the small town of Forks, Washington, until she meets the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson)— who happens to be hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire. As their worlds collide, Edward must battle the bloodlust raging inside him as well as a coterie of undead that would make Bella their prey. The movie is comparatively close to it's book counterpart and has action, comedy and romance. While it can get melodramatic at parts and some scenes are funny without meaning to be, over all it's a fair representation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel. The two-disc copies AADL acquired features: Audio commentary by Director Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson, music videos by Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park, five extended scenes with director introductions, five deleted scenes with director introductions and the seven-part documentary: "The Adventure Begins: The Journey from Page to Screen"

Request your copy today!

This weekend, try comic opera

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Check out Albert Herring, which opens today at Mendelssohn Theatre. The music in this three-act comic chamber opera is by Benjamin Britten, one of England’s best known composers. The libretto is by Eric Crozier. The U-M production was wittily previewed last month by the director, U-M Professor Robert Swedberg, in an appearance at our Pittsfield branch.. Read a preview of the show at Mlive.

Ever gone fishing with John?

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Well, here is your chance. You can be taken away on a fishing trip with Mr. John Lurie in the DVD Fishing With John. And to make things even more fun… Matt Dillon comes along on at trip to Costa Rica and Tom Waits joins him while fishing for snapper in Jamaica. This gem of a TV series, with directing, writing and music done by Lurie, is from 1991 and is available from The Criterion Collection. The deadpan dialog and lack of knowledge of actual fishing leaves these trips as something to be seen. The drowsy lull of the narrator and the whole show itself is reminiscent of the fishing shows you’d wake up at 3am to find on the tube, only it’s John Lurie and a friend fishing each time, and you’re sucked in and can’t stop watching. Jim Jarmusch, Willem Dafoe and Dennis Hopper also appear on episodes of Fishing With John. File under: hilarious.

Speeding ticket campaign is hoax

A Michigan “speeding ticket campaign” is a hoax, maybe even an urban legend. Check your e-mail for this: "Beware all you lead foots!!! Spring is Coming! . . . and so is Operation Yellow Jacket. Look out for MI-DOT trucks parked along the road or suddenly appearing behind you pacing you - it could be a Trooper driving the truck. Called 'Operation Yellow Jacket', each Michigan State Police District has a truck cleaned up and ready to go! These trucks have specially modified engines that can virtually catapult the truck from snow-plow speed to intercept speed in seconds. And when the engine boost kicks in, the warning lights automatically change from flashing yellow to the dreaded red and blue! . . . “

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