Six More Weeks of Winter

Famous groundhog weather expert, Punxsutawney Phil, has predicted six more weeks of winter in response to seeing his shadow this morning at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania. Groundhogs, or whistle pigs as they are sometimes called, are traditionally associated with Candlemas, a Christian holiday that has long been paired with prognosticating.

Though Groundhog’s day has nearly passed, why not repeat the day’s festivities tomorrow and rent Groundhog Day (1997) starring Bill Murray? Or stock up on woodchuck fact and fiction to pass the long winter nights to come.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #5

Two sisters, two wars, one hot summer, one thoughtless act with devastating consequences, and one achingly beautiful first novel.

Adolescent Kate, watchful and sensitive, her wild and theatrical sister Frankie, (the gwaimui White Ghost Girls, lovingly called by their Chinese nanny) were left navigating an idyllic summer in Hong Kong while their photographer father was on assignment for Time magazine, covering the Vietnam war. It was 1967. The Mao rebellion in China was spilling over the border.

The story was set against the backdrop of the insular colonial American/English society of tea parties, cricket games and private schools and the awakening Chinese nationalism.

Newcomer Alice Greenway gave us one of the most memorable debut novels in a long while. Starred review from Booklist. Don’t miss this one.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

February 4, 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Though he was an accomplished theologian and writer, Bonhoeffer is best known for his resistance to the Nazi regime and his involvement with plots to assassinate Hitler. On April 5, 1943, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his subversive activities and he spent the rest of his life in prison. He was hanged at Flossenberg on April 8, 1945.

A number of books about or by Bonhoeffer are available at the library, including Letters and Papers from Prison, Christ the Center, The Cost of Moral Leadership: the Spirituality of Bonhoeffer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Man of Vision, Man of Courage.

The library also has a documentary about Bonhoeffer called Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace. Also, PBS will be showing a more recent documentary called Bonhoeffer. It will be shown on Detroit Public TV on Sunday, February 12 at 3pm.

Marginalia: Writing in Books

When you search the library catalog and find a title there is a new link to “Card Catalog Image”. Clicking on this link brings you to a yellowed old catalog card for that title (A note says: “This service is somewhat experimental and is here as a novelty”). You are offered the opportunity to add your marginalia to the catalog card. I larded one of my favorite recent reads, Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, with remarks. Years ago the library used to stick a Reader’s Comment sheet in the front of fiction titles, with room for brief comments from six to eight patrons.

The library has two books by H. J. Jackson on marginalia:
Romantic Readers: the Evidence of Marginalia and
Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books

Nicholas Basbanes, who has written numerous books on books and reading, has a little about marginalia in Every Book Its Reader: the Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World.

My wife has a copy of one of her grandfather’s college textbooks in which his roommate, Reginald Marsh, had drawn a variety of sketches.

(please note: the library definitely discourages writing in library materials)

Women Writing

Journalistas: 100 Years of the Best Writing and Reporting by Women Journalists, edited by Eleanor Mills and Kira Cochrane. Jill Abramson, in her review in The New York Times Book Review (January 8, 2006), hated the title and was doubtful of the concept but she was won over, “most of the pieces…are so marvelous I quickly cast aside my doubts. Their choice of writers, including Martha Gellhorn, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag and Mary McCarthy, as well as a number of British writers who were less familiar to me, is superb.”

This Day in the Life: Diaries from Women Across America created, compiled, and edited by Joni B. Cole, Rebecca Joffrey, and B. K. Rakhra. On June 29, 2004, a diverse group of women wrote down their thoughts. “The results are fantastically complex: an entertaining, heartwarming, and empathetic glimpse into many lives” (Library Journal, November 2005).

Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present, edited by Stephen J. Adler. Chronologically arranged letters from the famous and the unknown with biographical information on the writers, contextual information about the letter or topic, and many period illustrations.

The Aunt Lute Anthology of U. S. Women Writers, edited by Lisa Maria Hogeland and Mary Klages. The editors have “gathered a startling variety of female texts, from a report of Anne Hutchinson's 1638 heresy trial to Emily Dickinson's poetry and an anti-lynching essay by Ida B. Wells” (Choice Reviews, June 2005).

Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

In a story eeriely relevant for our time, Myla Goldberg, acclaimed author of Bee Season, creates in Wickett's Remedy a tale that chronicles the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 through the travails of the main character, Lydia Wickett, who creates a medicinal tasting mixture that her husband tries to market. Lydia loses her husband to influenza and is exploited by a shady businessman who converts the remedy into QD Soda which becomes a nationwide sensation and makes him millions. Returning to South Boston, Lydia begins nursing victims of the disease and then naively volunteers for an unethical research project on Gallups Island using prisoners as subjects to be exposed to the virus. Along with the narrative are bulletins describing the 75th anniversary of QD Soda and articles on the ravages of the influenza. Sidebars in the margins are written from "the other side," i.e. the dead, commenting on the story. Wickett's Remedy is an ambitious undertaking that vividly depicts the tragedy that took so many lives.

Calling all Edge Chronicle Fans!

Mark your calenders to meet the authors, Englishmen Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, of the popular series the Edge Chronicles at Nicola's Bookstore on Wednesday, March 15th at 11am. The Edge Chronicles is a cool British fantasy series with woodtrolls and sky pirates. You might even be able to get your books signed! If you love Harry Potter, you should try this series out.

Barnyard Chuckles

Who couldn't use a giggle or two during these gray days of winter?

Two recent picture books that both take place in the barnyard are sure to provide laughter for both children and the adults that read to them.

Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka is about a rock band (cow, pig, goat, sheep and chicken) that swings into action when Farmer Joe goes off to bed. The concert will have all readers and listeners singing along.

Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds will have readers rushing off to the kitchen in search of munchies. This is the story of what happens to a normally quiet barnyard after the rooster sneaks up to the farmhouse and sees an episode of a cooking show on television.

For more barnyard antics, also check out Doreen Cronin's classics Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert takes the reader on an imaginary journey of a leaf with two acorns for eyes and a burr for a mouth. The beautiful collage pictures of ducks, geese and prairie animals accentuate the simple text with the refrain "A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows."

2006 Michigan Notable Books, part 1 -- Non-fiction winners

MI notable books 2006

The Library of Michigan announced the winners of the 2006 Michigan Notable Books. These twenty titles, all published last year, highlight “…Michigan people, places and events.” They must be written by a Michigan native or resident and are wide-reaching in coverage.

On the list this year are 14 non-fiction titles, four novels, and two children’s books. The winners in alphabetical order are:

Non-fiction

Beast of Never, Cat of God: The Search for the Eastern Puma by Bob Butz

Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink by David Margolick

Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans by Thomas Lynch

The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy by Charles K. Hyde

Grit, Noise, and Revolution: The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll by David A. Carson

Legends of Light: A Michigan Lighthouse Portfolio photographs by Ed Wargin

Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir by Paul Clemens

Michigan Agricultural College: The Evolution of a Land-grant Philosophy, 1855-1925 by Keith R. Widder

Michigan Shadow Towns: A Study of Vanishing and Vibrant Villages by Gene Scott

Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher

Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore

Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams by Thomas J. Noer

Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan's Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker

Vintage Views of the Charlevoix-Petoskey Region by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson

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