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.
The Mystery Writers of America hold a banquet each Spring to recognize achievement mystery and crime writing. The nominees for the Edgar awards, named for the founding father of detective fiction Edgar Allan Poe, were announced on January 19, the 203rd anniversary of Poe's birth. The awards banquet was held Thursday, April 26. Mystery fans ordering tickets for the awards gala online were advised about appropriate attire: Dress to Kill.
Mo Hayder's "Gone" won in the Best Novel category. In Hayder's fifth novel featuring detective Jack Caffery a serial carjacker is targeting vehicles with children.
Best First Novel was awarded to Lori Roy's "Bent Road." In this tense novel, Arthur Scott moves his wife and children from turbulent Detroit in 1967 to his hometown in Kansas where his sister was killed twenty years earlier.
Mark your calendars, the 2012 Adult Reading Club will kick-off on May 29. This year's theme encourages participants to "Step Into New Worlds." Here's how it works: complete either 10 books or 50 hours and you'll be entered into a drawing to win great prizes. Not sure where to start? Reading logs will be available in all 20 branches later this month, inside you'll find great sci-fi reading suggestions. Staff can also help you pick your next read, and of course checking this blog will offer plenty of ideas! Prizes this year include gift cards from Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Companion and St. Louis Bread Company, Mary Engelbreit tote bags, signed first editions of popular books, and tickets from the St. Louis Cardinals and Landmark Theatres. Several branches will offer ARC kick-off parties, check the events calendar for a happening near you. Happy reading!
--Jennifer M., Headquarters
Charles D'Angelo spoke at Headquarters on April 25 to an audience hungry for tips on how to diet successfully. What they got was an inspiring pep talk about how to think of eating not as a diet, but as a part of a commitment to health, intelligence and purposeful living. "Think and grow thin : the revolutionary diet & weight-loss system that will change your life in 88 days" is D'Angelo's book, which I have not read, but if it's anything like the author's program, it must be a no-nonsense guide to getting control of your life and eating.
The author lost 160 lbs using this plan, and the book is endorsed by none other than former President Bill Clinton. Clinton, who used to be a poster boy for bad eating, has lost considerable weight in his post-presidential years. Regardless of your politics, you may give credence to his testimony in this realm. The audience included several of D'Angelo's clients who praised him and the plan glowingly.