Fabulous Fiction Firsts #448 - "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time" ~Abraham Lincoln

Author and New York Times critic Stacey D'Erasmo called Greg Baxter's debut novel The Apartment * "one of the best novels I have read in a long time, ...(f)ollowing the lead of James Joyce (Ulysses) Don DeLillo (Cosmopolis) and others, the novel takes place over the course of a single day."

On a snowy day in late December, an unnamed American leaves his shabby hotel in an old European city to meet a woman who has agreed to help him find an apartment. As the day unfolds, they meet some of her friends, attend a party, and by dribs and drabs, we learn that the forty-something American served in Iraq, became a highly paid military contractor, a past he hopes to forget, while at the brink of an uncertain future as a couple.

"Baxter's clear-eyed first novel provides an unflinching portrait of the ways that guilt shapes us, and demonstrates an ultimately redemptive faith in the alchemies and uncertainties of friendship and love."

"A very smart novel that recognizes the limits of intelligence and the distortions of memory."

This thoughtful, quietly penetrating book is for those seeking more than a quick read.

For other novels that take place in the span of a day, try Saturday by Ian McEwan, Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk, A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, and not to forget Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.

* = starred review

Two New Teen Fiction Series

Looking for a new series to get into? Consider these recent additions to AADL’s catalog:

The Opportunity is a series about Harmon Holt, a millionaire who’s giving back to his community by offering internships at the companies he owns to students from his old high school. These lucky teens have the chance to intern in their dream career fields – fashion, music, pro-football – but the jobs aren’t all sunshine and roses. In Size 0, Thea works with a big-deal LA fashion designer and struggles with how models are treated and the impact of fashion on body image. In Box Office Smash, Jason can’t wait to get into the movie business and discovers the unfortunate truth that sometimes you have to start small to get where you want to be.

For those of you who enjoy the Fast and the Furious movie series or restoring old cars, don’t miss Turbocharged. This series explores the exciting, action-packed world of street-racing, drifting, and modded cars. Drift: Nissan Skyline is the story of Kekoa, a new kid in town who runs afoul of the local drifting king and must beat him in a showdown to prove he’s not going to let anyone bully him. In Blind Curve: Acura Integra, Penny and her brother revamp the old car that has been in their family’s garage of years, but before Penny can show off her modding and racing skills, a hit-and-run accident that almost kills a classmate leaves her shaken.

Red Libraries

In the epilogue of Rosamund Bartlett's Tolstoy: A Russian Life, she traces the evolution of the great writer’s place in the new Bolshevik state. Some of this appraisal, not surprisingly, was based on an article V.I. Lenin wrote in 1908 praising Tolstoy's immense pride in his mother country, while being critical of his lifelong attachment to the gentry. In a speech by Anatoly Lunacharsky, made on Sept. 9, 1928, the centenary of the Tolstoy’s birth, the Bolshevik journal Red Librarian stated that Count Leo Tolstoy was the only pre-revolutionary Russian writer to have maintained his popularity. Bartlett stated that rural Russians often waited for months to read the one copy of War and Peace from the local library. It’s good to know that libraries and the Red Librarian had a place in the Soviet Union, and that you can still get many of Tolstoy’s works at aadl!

Rubber Band Bracelets!

It seems like kids everywhere are making and wearing jewelry out of colorful rubber bands. Perhaps a Rainbow Loom made its way to your house in December? Rubber band bracelet fun is a book that offers more designs to create with the loom, including the triple rainbow bracelet, the beaded bonanza and the flower bracelet. There’s also Totally awesome rubber band jewelry, which offers tips, tricks and more designs to create. If you’ve got a stash of tiny rubber bands on hand and are waiting for the next project, give them a whirl!

Now Available Through AADL: Downloadable Issues of Midwestern Gothic

Literary journals can be a marvelous way to discover work by writers you might not already be familiar with — a gateway to some of the most interesting new writing. Midwestern Gothic is "a quarterly print literary journal out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here."

Is this limiting? The breadth of work collected in Midwestern Gothic — issue after issue — proves that it's not.

The journal, now on its twelfth release, "aims to collect the very best in Midwestern fiction writing in a way that has never been done before, cataloging the oeuvre of an often-overlooked region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales." An August interview with AnnArbor.com gives more insight into the journal's background and its founders, Robert James Russell and Jeff Pfaller.

We're happy to report that now you can read every issue of Midwestern Gothic by downloading them directly from AADL's website! A dozen issues are currently in our catalog, and new issues will be added upon release.

If you like what you read in Midwestern Gothic, their MG Press imprint will be celebrating the release of the novel Above All Men with an event at Literati Bookstore on Monday, Feb 17 at 7pm.

The 780s - Music Books at AADL

If music occupies a big room in your pleasure palace, then browsing the 780s at Ann Arbor District Library will provide great rewards. Whether you're looking for scores to practice or perform, biographies to explore, or genre histories to absorb, surfing aadl.org or browsing on the third floor at the Downtown Library or in the Youth Dept. will be the mother lode. Titles like French Baroque Music: From Beaujoyeulx to Rameau, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘N’ Roll, Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, Cats of Any Color: Jazz, Black and White, Yiddish Folk Songs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues, Sabastian: A Book About Bach, The Mikado, or Teach Yourself Guitar, give you just a smattering of the wide selection. So visit aadl soon and find your musical bliss!

Parent’s Corner: Science Fair Time!

The Downtown library has a shelf in the Youth Department known as the Parent Shelf. On this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including everything from language to behavior to safety to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Winter is in high gear, the new year started and the kids are back in school. This means that science fair season will soon be upon us! Many children in the area will complete a project for school. AADL has a slew of books with a variety of science fair projects in them, including a few on the parent shelf. It’s not too early to browse through the experiments and see what might be a good choice for you to work on!

Citizen Science

Science is everywhere. This gives scientists a lot of work to do, and many questions to work toward solving. Because of this, scientists also have much data to collect. Enter citizen science!

Citizen science is scientific research conducted entirely or in part by amateurs.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard encourages kids to try four different activities, one for each season. The team behind this book aim to promote science as a rewarding hands-on activity.

If this sounds like a good book, you might also like The Hive Detectives: A Chronicle of a Bee Catastrophe, also by Loree Griffin Burns.

The Story Prize finalists have been announced

The Story Prize, now in its 10th year, announced their three finalists competing for the top prize which recognizes an "...author of an outstanding collection of short fiction..." published in the previous year.

This year's finalists are:

Andrea Barrett, for Archangel -- Ms. Barrett is no stranger to literary awards. She won the 1996 National Book Award for Ship Fever and Other Stories. The four stories in Archangel span two centuries and use science as a backdrop for the protagonists' efforts to make sense of a dangerous world.

Novelist Rebecca Lee (The City Is a Rising Tide (2006) got the nod for her first short story collection, Bobcat: & Other Stories, seven tales that examine the messy interiors of human relationships in all their chaotic permutations.

It is hard to find a critic who did not rave about George Saunders' Tenth of December. This, his his seventh collection of short stories, already has won the Pem/Malamud Award for Excellence. In these ten short pieces, Saunders writes beautifully about heroism, PTSD, and hope in the face of a devastating medical crisis.

There is already a Story Prize winner. For the second time in its history it has award The Story Prize Spotlight Award. This year's recipient is Ben Stroud, for his ten-entry collection of historical fiction short stories, Byzantium, for which he received $1000.

The winner, who will receive a $20,000 purse and an engraved bowl, will be announced Wedneday, March 5th at the New School's Auditorium in New York City.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads: Present and Past

On Tuesday, January 21, from 7-9 pm at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building, Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray, this year's AA/Ypsi Reads selection, discusses her book as well as signs copies. (With doors opening at 6 pm.)

But you can explore previous AA/Ypsi Reads authors right now. Our online Video Collection includes the AA/Ypsi Reads lectures from Jonathan Weiner, author of the 2006 selection The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Own Time, William Poy Lee, author of the 2008 selection The Eighth Promise: An American Son's Tribute to His Toisanese Mother, Timothy Ferris, author of the 2009 selection Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe, Jerry Dennis, author of the 2010 selection The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, and Richard Glaubman, co-author of the 2011 selection Life is So Good.

There are also audio podcasts featuring interviews with Timothy Ferris, Jerry Dennis, and Richard Glaubman.

And if you're looking to expand your AA/Ypsi Reads horizons beyond the authors, check out the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Video Collection Page containing related lectures and discussions from the past nine years.

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