May 21st, 2013
New York: the Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Brandishing this heavy tome (almost 900 pages) at the beach this summer might give pause to any approaching bullies contemplating kicking sand in your face. Deterrent possibilities aside, this novel is a totally engrossing read which is informed, as usual in Rutherfurd’s novels, by his technique of following the fortunes of evolving generations of families and noting recurring traits among the descendents of key characters. Rutherfurd has applied this technique to such locales as London, Russia and, most recently, Paris. Fans of New York, though, whether native to the city or otherwise, will be particularly enthralled with the often shocking and violent history of the now somewhat-tamed city. The circuitous, evolving fortunes of early Manhattanites – from the Manates, the Native American tribe originally inhabiting (and providing its name) to the island of Manhattan — to the continuing stream of New Yorkers over several centuries (Dutch, English, African, Irish, Jewish, Italian, etc.) will keep readers engrossed until the novel reaches the current century. Over each historical period, family descendents and others whose lives intersect with them, continue to climb the sometimes treacherous ladder to, if not always material success, at least to survival in “the city that never sleeps.” Readers may never either, until they finish the last page.
Submitted by Selecto
May 2nd, 2013
The shortlist of finalists has been announced for the 2nd annual Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Winners will be announced at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago on June 30.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Canada by Richard Ford
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan
The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
For the longlist, see here.
April 22nd, 2013
廖閱鵬催眠聖經 Liao Yuepeng cui mian sheng jing 廖閱鵬著 2012.
April 15th, 2013
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced today. Here are the winners in letters and drama:
The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson
What We Talk About When we Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander; and The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, by Gilbert King
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo; and The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss
Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of a Masterpiece, by Michael Gorra; and The Patriarch: the Remarkable Life and Turbulent times of Joseph P. Kennedy, by David Nasaw.
Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam, by Fredrik Logevall
The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North American; The Confilict of Civilizations, 1600-1675, by Bernard Bailyn; and Lincoln’scode: the Laws of war in American History, by John Fabaian Witt
Stag’s Leap, by Sharon Olds
Collected Poems, by the late Jack Gilbert; and The Abundance of Nothing, by Bruce Weigl
Disgraced, by Akhtar (on order at SFPL)
Rapture, Blister, Burn, by Gina Giofriddo; and 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog
April 13th, 2013
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
The recent death of Nora Ephron made me feel a little sad; I’ve always thought that readers have a more intimate relationship with authors than other fans of celebrities, and this is maybe especially true about Nora Ephron. If you are a fan of her essays, then you might understand how readers feel as if they know the real life Nora.
This is a collection of essays that are a little about “being a woman” but moves discursively around all kinds of subjects: parenting, why purses are awful (the only thing worse than using a purse is not using a purse), illness and looming mortality and grief, food you’ve loved and lost, cooking and entertaining, falling in love with journalism, an apartment, a spouse — and then the painful falling out of love with the same, being a writer, being a New Yorker, how reading a great book is one of the best things ever (in a chapter aptly named, “Rapture”). She’s wry, and funny and self-deprecatingly wise; as I read, I kept either laughing in delight or sighing wistfully: Nora Ephron just gets it.
April 1st, 2013
Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
These stories, set in the conjoined metropolitan area of El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, deal with borders and the way they divide us. Borders of identity: Mexican/gringo/or mixed; borders of desire: gay/straight/or bisexual; borders of territory: the relative safety of the streets of El Paso vs. the threat of death – or, worse, disappearance in Juarez. Characters are also separated by their education, their aspirations, their class. Love is a painful thing in most of these stories with characters so damaged they can rarely accept what is offered. Characters understand that love can sometimes only be shown with money, rules, or fists – and yet Alire Sáenz often offers a sense of hopefulness: a school counselor gets an abused teen to safety, a classmate loans a former enemy his hard-earned money to escape the wrath of his homophobic father, a teen believes enough in himself to go away to college, a family’s love helps a teen attacked in a hate crime find the will to live.
Submitted by Nancy S
March 29th, 2013
《兒腦開竅手冊》Sandra Aamodt, 王聲宏著 ; 楊玉齡譯 2012.
《兒腦開竅手冊》(英文原名Welcome to your child’s brain : how the mind grows from conception to college) 由Sandra Aamodt 和王聲宏兩位神經學博士合著，楊玉齡翻譯。教育小孩是所有家長都極爲關心的問題，但是往往由於家長缺乏對兒童生理和心理發展的認識，以致許多兒童成長中的問題令家長頭痛不已。本書兩位作者試圖從兒童大腦和神經發育的特點來指導家長如何因時制宜地對兒童進行身心教育，以達到最好的教育效果。
March 19th, 2013
I heard Erik Haywood on West Coast Live a couple weeks ago. Take a look at his fun and quirky book / bookish shop.
J at Branches
March 7th, 2013
The winners of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last week in New York City. The award for Fiction went to Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. See the full list of winners (in bold) and finalists below:
Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton Reyna Grande. The Distance Between Us
Maureen N. McLane. My Poets
Anthony Shadid. House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. In the House of the Interpreter
The Passage of Power , vol 4 – The years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro
Lisa Cohen. All We Know: Three Lives.
Michael Gorra. Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
Lisa Jarnot. Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography
Tom Reiss. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. Crown Publishers
Stranger Magic by Marina Warner
Paul Elie. Reinventing Bach
Daniel Mendelsohn. Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture
Mary Ruefle. Madness, Rack, and Honey
Kevin Young. The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Laurent Binet. HHhH. tr. by Sam Taylor
Adam Johnson. The Orphan Master’s Son
Lydia Millet, Magnificence
Zadie Smith. NW
Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon
Katherine Boo. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Steve Coll. Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
Jim Holt. Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story
David Quammen. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys by D.A. Powell
David Ferry. Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations
Lucia Perillo. On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths
Allan Peterson. Fragile Acts
A. E. Stallings. Olives
February 27th, 2013
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
No, this isn’t a musical version of the Iliad! The song in the title is more a reference to Homer’s epic poetry, wherein most readers first encounter Achilles. Music does, however, play a part in this novel. Readers of the Iliad, familiar with the wrath of Achilles and his super-human combat skills, may be surprised at his more artistic side depicted here, with musical skills among his many attributes. They will also find a more romantic hero and gain a fuller understanding of the major love of Achilles’ life, Patroclus. While the romantic nature of their relationship has been debated pro and con since classical times (Plato and Xenophon, respectively), it is placed unambiguously at the heart of this novel.
What makes this novel so believable and compelling (in addition to the elegantly modern prose in lieu of the Iliad’s Dactylic hexameters) is the author’s choice of narrator. Rather than an omniscient bard, it is Achilles’ most intimate companion, Patroclus, who tells the tale. Exiled to the court of Achilles’ father for a youthful act of manslaughter, Patroclus winds up the unlikely best friend of Achilles. Perhaps an example of the attraction of opposites, the relationship between the insecure, nonathletic Patroclus and the godlike Achilles is made completely believable, not to mention deeply moving. The author’s grounding in classical literature informs each of the classical characters and settings, even a woodland interval involving a wise centaur. The slow, yet inexorable, attraction between the two lead characters is played out among many other strange creatures as well, from semi-savage royals to even more harrowing, interfering deities. One of these, Achilles’ mother, a sea goddess named Thetis, is, in equal parts, terrifying and fascinating – truly a mother-in-law to rival Jane Fonda’s performance in Monster-in-Law! Mary Renault fans are obvious easy-sells for this novel, but fans of romantic fiction of any historical period should be equally entranced.
Submitted by Selecto