I would be remiss in not mentioning the passing of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys who died on May 4 of throat cancer at the age of 47. The Beast Boys were a band I knew since the release of "License to Ill" in 1987, but I wasn't into rap, so I discounted the value of the music they made. It wasn't until the mid-1990s that I actually started listening to their music and I quickly regretted not taking them seriously from the beginning. I guess it was easy to dismiss them since their first hit was titled "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" They struck me as college goofs who had nothing of value to say.
Mayer Hawthorne, a 33-year-old singer from Ann Arbor, MI, started off as a rapper and was toying with the Motown Sound when a record producer heard him and immediately signed him to a contract. Hawthorne has released two albums, "A Strange Arrangement" in 2009 and "How Do You Do" in 2011 and has received critical acclaim for both. While he is not garnering much air play on corporate radio stations, college and independent radio have been highlighting him since the release of "A Strange Arrangement."
I picked up Wild Child and other stories by T. Coraghessan Boyle from the Playaway display, not even noticing that it was a collection of short stories. I just saw the author's name and figured it would be worth listening to. It was.
The Playaway device is easy to use, although the on/off button for this one was a bit temperamental. Unlike my own MP3 player, it did not have a hair trigger, which is good. Somewhere between sluggish and hair is what you want in a trigger and an on/off button.
Growing up in the rural Midwest, my family had to pay the yearly membership fee to use the local library and man, did we all get our money's worth! While I found our library to be a great place to find books and movies, my ravenous appetite for books had not yet been developed. That all changed when I randomly added "Outside Over There" by Maurice Sendak to my basket.
When you encounter the obsessions of an aged, fictional Mark Twain, you realize you've entered the unsettling twilight zone of Joyce Carol Oates. Frightening danger lurks throughout her novel, "Wild Nights," subtitled as "stories about the last days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James and Hemingway."
However, she isn't recreating the last days of their historic lives; instead, she's imagining a warmth of imagination that lingers after the flame has gone out. She well knows that writers live in the worlds they can imagine. For example, Poe's imagination outlasts the tumble that ended his historic life in Baltimore and puts him as a solitary lighthouse keeper in the South Pacific.
Dickinson appears in the time of malls and the Internet as the prized robotic possession of a childless couple. As a mechanical projection of the historic Emily Dickinson, she is chiefly a figment of her owners. Yet, like her quaint clothing, she wears vestiges of the inner poet's imagination.
Charlotte Rogan's debut novel "The Lifeboat" is a good bet for readers who enjoy psychological drama. As the book opens Grace Winter is on trial for murder. Readers learn how she arrived in this situation from her recollections and her trial.
No stranger to presidential politics himself, John Dean's biography of Warren G. Harding illustrates the life and presidency of one of the 20th century's least-known presidents. Dean traces Harding's life from childhood to his rise to power through Ohio politics and ultimately, the presidency. Frequently considered one of the most corrupt presidents, Dean's biography gives a different take, showing the reader that Harding himself was an unfortunate victim of the corruption of his political allies but who himself was a man of character; a fact highlighted in the book by Harding's comment that his friends cause him more problems than his enemies.
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch
Katherine Boo's " Behind The Beautiful Forevers' is a non-fiction narrative detailing life in a Mumbai undercity. She spent four years following the inhabitants of Annawaddi, an unexceptional slum, one of so many in India.
Graphic novels are more popular than ever. Readers of all ages are picking them up, especially kids! Below are several recent and soon-to-be-released graphic novels that everyone should check out.