Confessions of A Serial Novelist

If you have enjoyed the books of Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, we have a real treat for you in the audiobooks section. Confessions of a Serial Novelist is a recording of a hilarious, live presentation by him in New York City while on tour.

Many of us know him as a talented and amusing author of numerous series, including The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club and 44 Scotland Street. If you are a fan of his writing, and enjoy his erudite commentary, cheerful manner and quirky sense of humor, this recording of him talking about being an author and reading from his work is so laugh-out-loud funny and so thoroughly delightful and entertaining it is not to be missed.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #292

Admittedly, William Giraldi's debut Busy Monsters * * appears at first a bit outside my comfort zone. But I have learned from experience that adventurous reading is often its own reward.

I was intrigued by the publisher's blurb... "Echoing a narrative tradition that includes Don Quixote and Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, William Giraldi's debut novel is a love story of linguistic bravado that explores American excess, the diaphanous line between fiction and fact, and what desperate men and women will do to one another."

Charles Homar, a "memoirist of mediocre fame" for a weekly magazine rescues Gillian Lee, superman-style, from a stalled Ferris wheel and is immediately smitten. Before he could march her down the aisle, she takes off to pursue her passion for a legendary giant squid. To win her back, Charlie crisscrosses the country seeking counsel, confronting creatures both mythic and real: Bigfoot on the Canadian border, space aliens in Seattle, a professional bodybuilder with Asiatic sex slaves in suburban New Jersey, all the while "battling his own equally dangerous internal monsters", and writing about it.

"Charlie's last name is no coincidence as here we have a seriocomic picaresque that references everything from the Odyssey to medieval romances to Don Quixote and Moby-Dick. A brilliant first novel that may well be in the running for 2011's literary awards." (Remember how Goon Squad came out of nowhere to snatch several major awards?)

Quirky, hilarious at times, and surprisingly engaging. Well worth the time and effort.

* * = starred reviews

Next Week In Booklists

Significant Dates for the Week of September 25 to October 1

Sunday September 25: Kick off Banned Books Week by reading some Banned Books.

Monday September 26: Johnny Appleseed Day

Tuesday September 27: Ancestor Appreciation Day

Wednesday September 28: Rosh Hashanah

Thursday September 29: National Coffee Day

Friday September 30: Ask A Stupid Question Day

Saturday October 1: First day of Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

Always remember that every day is a celebration!

TV Shows: Bored to Death

It seems like offbeat comedy TV sure is easy to come by these days, and though it may not all be quality, it exists. HBO’s Bored To Death (A noir-otic comedy) is one that hits the funny bone, and hard.

Created by author Jonathan Ames, the show centers around a fictional Jonathan Ames, played by Jason Schwartzman. He is a well meaning but struggling writer, living in New York, who decides to lead a double life by pretending to be a private detective. He starts out by placing an ad on Craigslist, and ends up getting calls for cases that take him on crazy adventures with his two friends George and Ray, played by Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.

Schwartsman's great, but Danson and Galifianakis kind of steal the show in this one. Their style of comedy is less stuffy than Schwartzman, and their wacky characters allow for some killer scenes with even more killer lines. Danson is at his best in this one.

It’s akin to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Party Down, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Community, if you’re into that. Season 3 of Bored To Death begins this fall on HBO.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #278

Your read the New York Times review, now you cannot wait to read the book. Can't blame you.

I have to admit, this is my first Colin Cotterill, (and the first of a project new series) and it is sending me straight to his Dr. Siri Paiboun series, another unlikely and exotic sleuth (a septuagenarian Laotian coroner).

The intriguing title had me laughing out loud when I realized that it is derived from one of the many George W. Bush quotes, each heading a new chapter. “Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.” (September 17, 2004) Too far-fetched? It's for real, check it out!

Killed at the Whim of a Hat * * * features Jimm Juree, a thirtysomething "sardonic, self-important 'almost award-winning' " female crime reporter who has been exiled to Chumphon, (Southern Thailand) to run a seedy and decrepit beach resort with her eccentric and loony family.

The discovery of a buried Volkswagen van from the 1970s with two buried hippie passengers brings a flurry of excitement to this tiny village and hopes for a big journalistic break for Jimm Juree. Then there is a real murder and Jimm just cannot stay away, even if her life depends on it.

You will thank me later for not giving away the plot. "Cotterill combines plenty of humor with fascinating and unusual characters, a solid mystery, and the relatively unfamiliar setting of southern Thailand to launch what may be the best new international mystery series".

British expat. and CWA Dagger Awards winner Colin Cotterill taught in Israel, Australia, the U.S. and Japan before started training teachers in Thailand. He and his wife live in a small fishing village on the Gulf of Siam in Southern Thailand.

* * * = Starred reviews

June's Books to Film

Green Lantern is based on the grahic novel series by DC Comics. In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force call the Green Lantern Corps has been dependent upon as protectors of peace and intergalactic order. When a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power, the fate lies in the hands of Green Lantern's newest recruit, the first human ever selected to wear the ring that grants them superpower.

In Submarine, 15 year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents' marriage via carefully plotted intervention and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Worried that his mom is having an affair, Oliver forges suggestive love letters from his Mom to his Dad. Meanwhile, Oliver attempts to woo his classmate, Jordana, a self-professed, bossy, pyromaniac who supervises his journal writing --- especially the bits about her. I look forward to this delightful adaptation from Joe Dunthorne's humorous and imaginative novel (2008).

Based on the The X-Men comics created by Stan Lee, the current box-office smash X-Men, First Class is set up as a prequel. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men, closest of friends, working together to prevent nuclear Armageddon.

green lanterngreen lantern

Documentary Alert: Winnebago Man

Ever wonder what becomes of some of the stars of the viral videos that get viewed a million times on YouTube? Do these stars have happy or sad endings? What about a video that went viral on VHS before the internet was around? Winnebago Man tells one such story. It’s been called madly entertaining and one of the funniest documentaries ever made. (Click the item link to view a trailer of the film right on the AADL website!)

Jack Rebney, aka the angriest man in the world, became famous after profanity laden outtakes of a Winnebago sales spot of his were videotaped, and copies of the VHS tape spread like wildfire. This of course eventually led to an internet phenomenon.

20 Years later a filmmaker named Ben Steinbauer decided to track down Rebney to see what became of all that anger. He found him living a life of solitude on top of a mountain. Ben finds that he’s not such a crude guy after all. Well, maybe just a bit. This smart documentary is funny and heartwarming. It’s a hilarious look at humanity and what people can do for each other, even when they don’t know they’re doing it. And it's really, really funny.

Jon Scieszka: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories

If you're looking for a fun, family-oriented BOCD, consider Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka, read by the author, Jon Scieszka. Not only are listeners treated to the story of how one of Scieszka's five brothers once tried to sell Jon his own shirt -- they also hear how Jon once made a list of all the bad words he knew -- for his teacher, who was a nun. This two-hour-long BOCD will keep you laughing, chuckling, and wanting to hear more. From the BOCD cover: "Here, at last, is the memoir that might answer some of the questions of how the heck does someone think up a story of a little man made of very smelly cheese."

Tales of the City

An incredibly colorful cast of characters and a funny, witty, irreverent style has made the Tales of the City series a modern classic. First published in serial form in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1972, Armistead Maupin’s outrageous stories of love and lust in the City by the Bay have been charming readers for more than 30 years.

In Mary Ann in Autumn, the eighth book of the series, Mary Ann Singleton returns to San Francisco, the site of all her youthful indiscretions. She moves in with her old friend Michael and his husband, and begins to confront the consequences of her past. Fans of the series will be happy to see most of the old favorites from 28 Barbary Lane, like Mrs. Madrigal and Mouse. Added to the mix are Shawna, a sex blogger, and her boyfriend Otto, a professional clown. Maupin is back to his sassy best with this novel. I just hope we don’t have to wait another decade for the next one.

(My) Fabulous Fiction Firsts #247

For someone who is eternally looking for the next Chick Lit. read, I have no idea how Jill Mansell gets by me. Mind you, not once, but 3 times. But I will be making up for lost time.

Charming and cheery, Staying at Daisy's (originally published in the UK, 2002) was just the thing to ward off the lingering winter chill and the incessant sleet and snow.

In this "screwball romantic comedy" set at a posh hotel in picturesque Bristol, Daisy MacLean handily juggles the hospitality business, misbehaving guests, an odd assortment of staff and the embarrassing excuse for an owner who happens to her father; but is leery and tentative with rich, successful (and very hot) former rugby player Dev Tyzack who might just be pursuing her romantically.

Daisy's personal history, small town secrets, serendipity and surprises enrich the plot, add to the humor, and heighten the suspense, making it a "clever, absorbing, and very enjoyable read".

For fans of British Katie Fforde; Madeleine Wickham; and Isabel Wolff who enjoy lighthearted, contemporary women's fiction.

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