Wednesday, June 25, 2008

America America by Ethan Canin

"It's refreshing -- and almost quaint -- to see someone try to write a Great American Novel in the 21st century. These days, writers are more apt to pursue the Great American Screenplay or the Not-So-Great American Ironic, Postmodern Fiction. But Ethan Canin's sixth book, with its flag-waving title, "America America," is a big, ambitious, old-fashioned, quintessentially American novel about politics, power, ambition, class, ethics and loyalty........

The principal action of "America America" takes place in western New York in 1971-72, when the nation is mired in a losing war in Vietnam and President Nixon is determined to win a second term. It centers on a liberal U.S. senator's run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Henry Bonwiller of New York is a champion of the workingman with a "deep-held sense of what it was like to be excluded from the bounty of this country." He campaigns on the promise of bringing U.S. troops home........

Among its pleasures, "America America" offers thought-provoking aper├žus on journalism and politics, including Corey's debatable observation that "an undifferentiated silt-panning for truth serves the citizenry only slightly better than a crooked disregard for it." Also intriguing is his elegant summation of the making of a politician -- "how the ritual of deference precedes the auction of influence, and eventually the orgy of slaughter."

~ from The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Heller McAlpin reviews books for a variety of publications, including Newsday and the Boston Globe. Complete review.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Flirt with Romance at The Brookfield Library"

From Connecticut Romance Writers
An Author Panel Featuring:

Lori Avocato
Mary Beth Bass
Kristan Higgins
Sharon Schulze
Saturday, June 14, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. at
The Brookfield Library

What better way to kick off a hot summer of reading and our 2008 Adult Summer Reading Program?

Come and discover - or rediscover - why women (and men, too) enjoy reading this popular bestselling genre about smart, independent and strong women. Also, if you're an aspiring writer or thinking about writing the Great American Novel, get insider tips on the writing process and getting published. Plan to join us for lively conversation and dessert.

Call 203-775-6241 or stop in to sign up. You may also register online.

Sponsored by The Friends of The Brookfield Library and The Brookfield Library
182 Whisconier Road
Brookfield, CT

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Song Yet Sung by James McBride

"Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride's intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre–Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future—from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop—in her dreams. Liz's visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed The Gimp, who has a surprising streak of morality.Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her The Code that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn't lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Breath by Tim Winton

"MaineThis slender book packs an emotional wallop. Two thrill-seeking boys, Bruce and Loonie, are young teenagers in smalltown Australia, circa the early 1970s. Their attraction is focused on the water—ponds, rivers, the sea—but they do little more than play around until they fall in with a mysterious, older man named Sando. He recognizes their daredevil wildness and takes it upon himself to teach them to surf. As the boys become more skilled, their exploits become more reckless; narrator Bruce (nicknamed Pikelet) has doubts about where all this is heading, while the aptly named Loonie wants only bigger and bolder thrills. This mix of doubt and desire intensifies when the boys make a discovery about their mentor's past.Surfing isn't the only dangerous game in town. As Sando's attentions and favor flip-flop from one boy to the other, the rivalry between the two, present from the beginning, grows stronger and more sinister. Sando's American wife, Eva, becomes more of a presence, too. She walks with a limp, has plenty of secrets of her own and becomes increasingly involved in Pikelet's life, in ways that even a 15-year-old might recognize as not entirely appropriate........The author of 13 previous books, Winton is well-known in Australia and should be here. He touches upon important themes, of death, life, breathing and its absence, while looking dispassionately upon the relentless pursuit of thrills, pleasure, sex, status: the mundane obsessions of the ordinary and extraordinary alike."

~David Maine, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

"Based on a real-life World War II diary, Bohjalian's (The Double Bind) 12th novel chronicles the last days of the Nazi regime through the eyes of an unlikely threesome. Anna Emmerich, an 18-year-old Prussian aristocrat, along with her mother and younger brother, is making a desperate attempt to journey west across the Reich out of the path of the advancing Red Army. Callum Finnella, Anna's lover and a Scottish POW who worked on the Emmerich family estate, is also traveling with the family. Uri Singer, a German Jew who escaped from a train bound for Auschwitz, is ironically the group's guardian as they travel through Germany. The novel is immensely readable, but the characters—the Jewish escapee, the heroic Allied soldier, and the beautiful Prussian aristocrat—seem more like archetypes than individuals. However, Bohjalian takes a fresh perspective and details the brutal realities of World War II in a novel that for once does not focus entirely on the Allies."

~Andrea Y. Griffith, Loma Linda Univ. Libs., CA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.