Fabulous Fiction Firsts #373

A runaway bestseller in its native Germany since its publication in 2011, Alex Capus's Leon & Louise has just been longlisted for the German Book Prize. This story of enduring love that survives the tribulations of two world wars is inspired by the author's French paternal grandfather, a police chemist at the Quai des Orfèvres.

Leon Le Gall and Louise Janvier met as teenagers in the summer of 1918 in the village of Saint-Luc-sur-Marne. Their tentative romance was cut short when both were severely wounded by German artillery fire. When they met up in Paris a decade later, circumstances and their strong conviction about family and responsibility kept them apart. The Occupation of Paris during WWII sent Louise into the wilds of Africa and Leon under the watchful eye of the SS. Their love, however remain constant.

"On its surface, this is a story about enduring love. But it is also about the way that power can be abused, particularly in times of war, and the daily sacrifices people make to preserve what they hold most dear."

Capus was born to a French father and a Swiss mother. He spent his formative years in his grandfather's house in Normandy and may account for the lovely depiction of the locale (map) as the haven for Parisian holidaymakers at the turn of the 20th century. As a student of history and a former journalist, Capus was able to recreate, in great details and stoic realism the Nazi occupation of Paris and the hardships on its citizens.

A captivating read for a cold dreary day. Will appeal to fans of Tatiana de Rosnay. Readers might also like The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman, and Anita Shreve's Resistance.

Double Dash Duo Derby

Saturday December 22, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

It's the return of networked Mario Kart: Double Dash gameplay! This team event lets you experience Double Dash the way it was meant to be, played on a GameCube - one screen per team! Come with your cart-mate to enjoy some tense competition! We'll have prizes for champions!

This event is for teens (grade 6 and up) and adults.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #372

The New York Times review by Francine Prose called Deborah Levy's 2012 Man Booker Prize finalist Swimming Home a "spare, disturbing and frequently funny novel... that suggest an improbable hybrid of Virginia Woolf, Edward St. Aubyn, Absolutely Fabulous (a BBC sitcom), and Patricia Highsmith? ... (one that) should be read with care".

Two British couples are to share a vacation home in the South of France - idyllic, right? When Joe Jacobs arrives with his family at the villa, he sees a beautiful girl emerging from the swimming pool, naked. She is Kitty Finch and she walks right into the heart of their holiday.

"Levy winds her characters up and watches them go, and they do as most humans do, which is to mess up in the face of desire. Her novel is utterly beautiful and lyrical throughout, even at the most tragic turns"

South African–born Londoner Deborah Levy (author website) writes fiction, plays, and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast on the BBC.

In the meantime, if you are way down on the waiting list, don't despair. Try Lawrence Osborne's The Forgiven * * (2012) about other not-so-innocents abroad, sets in the Moroccan desert. Here is another Fabulous Fiction Firsts that has been selected by The Economist and Library Journal as one of the 10 Best Books of 2012.

You might also like Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins "Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising... a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams."

* * = starred reviews

Michigan Notable Books 2012

Looking for some local reads? Look no further than these books, hot off the press and certified fresh!

From absolutemichigan.com: "Each year, the Michigan Notable Books list features 20 books published during the previous calendar year that are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region or are written by a native or resident of Michigan.

'This year's Michigan Notable Books bring to life the Michigan experience through vivid storytelling that creates portraits of the people and places that make Michigan great,' State Librarian Nancy Robertson said. 'Addressing Michigan's natural beauty, its innovative leaders or the faith of its people, these books celebrate Michigan as a place and a people that even in the most trying of times find transformation.'"

The AADL has most of these books in our catalog! Among some of the most popular include:

Non-fiction:
- Once Upon A Car, "the story of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Big Three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler," by Bill Vlasic, the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times.
- Ghost Writers, a chilling collection of fantastical ghost stories written by Michigan authors.
- Vintage Views along the West Michigan Pike features beautiful "vintage postcards, photographs, maps, and ephemera" that give readers a glimpse into the history of Michigan's famous road, US-31.

Memoir:
- Magic trash: a Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art, reflects on Guyton's influence on the city of Detroit, and his arguably most inspiring and popular project, The Heidelberg Project.
- Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life by Michael Moore, a Flint, Michigan native who is best known for his unique humor and politically-themed documentaries.
- Elly Peterson: "Mother" of the Moderates, an inspiring story about Elly Peterson's journey as a woman heavily involved in politics during the 1970s; she was the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Fiction:
- Once Upon A River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell, is a soul-searching tale about sixteen-year-old Margo Crane's adventures through rural Michigan as she searches for her long lost mother.
- Motor City Shakedown, by D.E. Johnson, tells a murder mystery set in 1911 about Detroit's first mob-wars.
- Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton is yet another in his series of mystery books set in Michigan's upper peninsula.

Poetry:
- Songs of Unreason, a book of poetry inspired by Michigan people and places, by Michigan native, author and poet Jim Harrison.

Click here for the full list of Michigan's Notable Books of 2012.

Small Gems - Short Story Collections

Shorter days, short on time, short attention span? We've got you covered. Take a look at these fabulous short-story collections on our New Book shelves.

Award-winning, Ann Arbor's homegrown Steven Gillis gives us The Law of Strings and Other Stories which fellow author Michael Griffith called "a revelation - strange, barbed and original" - an existential yelp examining individual choices and our all-too-human response to unexpected events. Will please fans of Aimee Bender and George Saunders (BTW, don't miss his brand new SS collection coming out in January - blew me away! and that MacArthur grant is so well-deserved).

The Lives of Things : short stories collects Nobel laureate José Saramago's early short stories, infused with satire and fantastical elements and showcasing his efforts to expose the tyranny of the Salazar regime in his native Portugal.

Karen Brown leads off her SS collection (a FFF) with the titular Little Sinners - stories that capture the domestic world in all its blighted promises, a world where women's roles in housekeeping, marriage, childbirth, and sex have been all too well defined, and where the characters fashion, recklessly and passionately, their own methods of escape. This winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction will appeal to fans of Lucia Perillo's fabulous Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain (also a FFF, see blog).

This Will be Difficult to Explain : and other stories by Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author Johanna Skibsrud, is 9 loosely connected stories with an unforgettable cast of characters. A young maid at a hotel in France encounters a man who asks to paint her portrait, only to find out later that he is someone other than who she thinks. A divorced father, fearing estrangement from his thirteen-year-old daughter, allows her to take the wheel of his car before he realizes that being a grave mistake.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #370

Based on the 80 year-old unsolved murder case of Dorothy Dexter Moormeister, City of Saints * * by debut novelist Andrew Hunt is the 2011 Tony Hillerman Prize winner.

On a cold February morning in 1930, Salt Lake City Sheriff Deputy Art Oveson is called to a gruesome crime scene where young Helen Pfalzgraf, wife of a prominent physician, lay battered and dead in an open field. As it is an election year, Art and his foul-mouthed partner Roscoe Lund are under great pressure to quickly solve this high-profile case.

Among the suspects are the victim's husband, her adoring step-daughter, and her many lovers. The investigations take Oveson and Lund into the underbelly of Salt Lake City, a place rife with blackmail and corruption, underneath a veneer of "upright Mormonism and congeniality".

This engrossing...procedural steadily builds up steam and explodes in all the right places".

"(T)his hard-edged whodunit with echoes of James Ellroy warrants a sequel."

Andrew Hunt is a professor of history in Waterloo, Ontario. He grew up in Salt Lake City.

* * = Starred reviews

November's New Book Clubs to Go

We have 5 new sets of Book Clubs to Go for your book clubs. Again, we tried to strike a balance between the classics, the literary, the popular, and the award winners - fiction and nonfiction.

A Death in the Family is the 1958 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel by James Agee who reconstructs through the lens of fiction the real-life car accident that claimed his father when James was not yet six years old.

Half Broke Horses, called a true-life novel (read the New York Times review) by Jeannette Walls who brings us the story of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith, a no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working woman who survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy.

Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, a gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when her mother the headliner dies, the family is plunged into chaos and it is left up to Ava to save them all. Karen Russell's Swamplandia is a seriously fun read to share.

The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how you can be humbled by a thirteen-year-old.

In The Tiger's Wife , Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife. Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for debut novelist Tea Obreht.

2012 Teen NBA Winner Announced

NBA winner medalNBA winner medal

Goblin Secrets has received the 2012 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving—and only the goblins know how. Don’t miss Goblin Secrets!

Author William Alexander studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College and English at the University of Vermont. He currently lives, writes, and teaches in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His short stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Weird Tales, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Interfictions 2, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008. Catch an interview with William on The Enchanted Inkpot.

2012 National Book Award winners have been announced

Last night, the The National Book Award winners for 2012 were announced at a gala event at the posh Cipriani on Wall Street.

The big winners were:

Louise Erdrich, 58, received the fiction award for The Round House. An adult Joe Coutts looks back in time when, as a teenager, he went in search of the man who brutalized his mother on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. This winning title is part two of a trilogy. The Coutts family was first introduced in The Plague of Doves (2008). Erdrich's win is especially poignant as, shortly after she started writing The Round House, she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, which she has beat.Ms. Erdrich, who is part Ojibwe, delighted last night's audience by addressing some of her remarks in her tribal tongue.

Katherine Boo, 48, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the The New Yorker, received the nonfiction award for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life,Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, a wrenching account of a teenage boy who lives in the slums that are hidden from view by some of India's luxury hotels.

Poet David Ferry, 88, tearfully accepted what he described as "preposterous pre-posthumous award" for his Bewilderment; New Poems and Translations. "We're all in this apart" (From FoundSingle-Line Poems). Ferry has a PhD from Harvard and is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley, where he taught for many years.

William Joseph Alexander, 36, is a first-time novelist who captured the Young People's Literature prize for his fantasy, Goblin Secrets. In this steampunk/witch-infested tale, Rownie escapes Graba who 'adopts' orphans to do her bidding, and sets out on a quest to find his missing older brother.

Rounding out the evening, host Faith Salie, a media star on NPR, the BBC and CBS Sunday Morning, bestowed two special awards. Detroit author, Elmore Leonard, 88, accepted the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters prize. New York Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., 61, was honored for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. NPR's Fresh Air host, Terry Gross, introduced Mr. Sulzberger and said the New York Times Book Review was like "...a shopping catalog...[for] authors I've overlooked."

Each winner received $10,000.

Vote for your favorite Michigan author

Nominate your favorite Michigan Author so the Michigan Library Association can reward them! Any author who lives in Michigan or writes about Michigan can win, regardless of the genre they write, as long as they have published at least 3 titles. See the list of authors who have won over the years and access the nomination form here. This year's winner was Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River and several other Michigan based books.

Syndicate content