New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/23/06)

Who knew Mary Higgins Clark was such a star in France? The Jerry Lewis of fiction writers? According to the Times, she hits the bestseller list over there regularly at #1, just as she did here last Sunday.

Coincidentally the other three new titles are all set in the states hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.

At #1 is Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark: "A small girl communicates telepathically with her kidnapped twin."

At #4 is Shiver by Lisa Jackson: "A New Orleans detective tracks a serial killer."

At #12 is Hey, Good Looking by Fern Michaels: "Family feuds and forgiveness in Baton Rouge."

At #16 is We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg: "In Mississippi in 1964, a paralyzed woman struggles to raise her teenage daughter with the help of an African-American aide."

And You Know You Should be Glad...

Award-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, broadcast journalist on ABC's Nightline, and bestselling author Bob Green (Duty), (All Summer Long) will be a featured speaker at the 2006 Ann Arbor Book Festival on May 13th.

He will be reading from his latest And You Know You Should be Glad. This true story of a lifelong friendship of five pals from Bexley, Ohio – the “ABCDJ” gang (Allen, Bob, Chuck, Dan and Jack) and their emotional reunion due to Jack’s terminal illness, is both nostalgic and heartwarming.

"Readers who enjoyed Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking will find Greenes writing to be more wistful and plainspoken but similarly rewarding." (Library Journal).

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #18

So it is not new, but decidedly it is ”first rate”(Booklist)!

Ken Kalfus’ debut novel is a “sweeping, quasihistorical fiction spanning two tumultuous decades in Russia” (PW). It traces the rise of a young cinematographer at Tolstoy's deathbed, to a high post in The Commissariat of Enlightenment (2003), Stalin’s powerful agency in charge of propaganda. The intricate plot brings to life many minor-and major-characters with double identities and secret agenda.

Ken Kalfus will be at this year’s Ann Arbor Book Festival on May 13. Besides reading from his new novel A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, he will be joined by his agent on a panel discussion on how to get published, a primer for aspiring writers.

Dad Jackie, and Me by Myron Uhlberg

It's 1947 and Jackie Robinson will play for the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time. A young boy and his deaf father attend the game. The crowd cheers Jackie, Jackie, Jackie!, but his father who is deaf yells Aghee, Aghee, Aghee! The boy is embarrassed. They go to every game that summer. The boy wonders why his father is so interested in baseball and why he is so fascinated with Jackie Robinson. He later learns that his father and Jackie Robinson have a lot in common. They both have to live in a world of prejudice. Myon Ulberg uses his own life experience to create a story of triumph over adversity.

The Play Ground

Who doesn't love Charlotte? Or Wilbur? Or E.B. White? Or the Wild Swan Theater? Well, The Play Ground certainly loves them all and we are all in luck. E. B. White's classic play Charlotte's Web with Charlotte, Fern, Templeton, Goose and a host of others including some pig named Wilbur will be performed by the Wild Swan Theater at the Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawrence Building at the WCC on May 2-7. Information & Tickets: 734/995-530

Anniversary of a mutiny

mutiny

On April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian led a mutiny of the ship HMS Bounty, which was loaded with breadfruit tree plants from Tahiti and bound for Jamaica. Rebelling against their cruel captain, Lieutenant William Bligh, Christian took some of his crew and some Tahitians to Pitcairn Island where they burned the Bounty and remained undiscovered for eighteen years. Bligh and some of his followers miraculously survived a forty-seven day journey in an open boat and landed on the island of Timor.

To get the full details, read Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff or see either of two films, one made in 1935 with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, the other in 1962 with Marlon Brando.

Literary Mysteries by Boris Akunin

The Diane Rehm Show on Tuesday, April 25th featured an interview with Russian author Boris Akunin, the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili. His literary detective novels became bestsellers in Russia and soon spread to the English-speaking world. The AADL owns several of his books in both English and Russian, as well as The Winter Queen and Murder on the Leviathan as books-on-CD. Can anyone spot the sly allusion to a certain Russian thinker hidden in Chkhartishvili's pen name?

A New Novel by Reynolds Price

reynolds price

Reynolds Price, acclaimed Southern author, in his latest novel, The Good Priest's Son uses the tragedy of 9/11 to set in motion a chain of events that leads to art conservator Mabry Kincaid's reconciliation with his Episcopal priest father. The towers are crumbling as Mabry is flying back to New York from Europe. Not able to return to his apartment, he goes to his boyhood home in North Carolina where his father, Tasker, still lives. In the course of the story, Mabry forms a bond with Audrey, his father's caretaker and her son and begins to come to grips with his mortality on discovering he has the beginning symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Birdwatching

April 26 is ornithologist, artist and wildlife conservationist John James Audubon's birthday---reason enough to pick up the addicting habit of watching birds. Here are a few ways to get started:

Lounge in your backyard with National Audubon Society North American Birder's Handbook. Pop The Audubon Videoguide to 505 Birds of North America into your DVD player, or Backyard Bird Songs into your CD player. Join the Washtenaw Audubon Society's "Tuesday Evening Birders" every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. through May 23 for evening walks at local birding sites (call 994-3569 for more info), or attend the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission's "May Morning Bird Walk" on Saturday, May 6, from 8-10 p.m. in the Brauer Preserve (call 971-6337 for more info). Visit the Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary and watch for Sandhill Cranes; read The Boy Who Drew Birds: John James Audubon, or marvel over Audubon's original plates.

Ma Rainey turns 120

April 26 marks the 120th birthday of Gertrude Pridgett, otherwise known as Ma Rainey, legendary "Mother of the Blues." Rainey was the first great professional blues recording artist and, by all accounts, the first woman to incorporate blues into vaudeville and minstrel shows. AADL owns a variety of books and CDs on the life and work of the blues pioneer, including, "Ma Rainey" and Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. She's also featured in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's 1982 play about racism and black rage set during a fictional recording session in a run-down Chicago recording studio in 1927.

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