June 2008 Archives

Home-Made: Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts by Vladimir Arkhipov (2006)
I randomly happened across this odd little gem of a book when it first appeared at the library in 2006. It continues to fascinate me to this day. The text from the back cover sums it up better than I can:

"This book contains highlights from Russian artist Vladimir Arkhipov's collection of unique artifacts. Objects made by ordinary Russians inspired by a lack of immediate access to manufactured goods during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The archive includes hundreds of objects created with often idiosyncratic functional qualities made for both inside and outside the home, such as a tiny bathplug carefully fashioned from a boot heel; a back massager made from an old wooden abacus; a road sign used as a street cleaner's shovel; and a doormat made from beer bottle tops.

Featuring over 220 individual aftifacts of Soviet culture, each accompanied by a photograph of the creator, their story of how the object came about, its function and the materials used to create it."

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

The Illuminator


The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease (2005)

During the late 1300s, the English widow Lady Kathryn lives a very difficult life limited by the King's and the Church's demands for support and loyalty. Without a husband to aid and guard her, Lady Kathryn strives against all odds to manage her lands and save her sons' inheritance. The characters in this novel develop complex and often dangerous relationships as several exciting story lines entwine.

This is a gripping read speeding out of control to a shocking ending. Check catalog for availability.

Visit the author's website for additional information.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

(not your average) Cinema Guides

If you love movies but are tired of the same boring film lists that seem to endlessly repeat themselves, take a look at two very different books that celebrate cinema from slightly twisted perspectives -


The Film Club by David Gilmour (2008)
Movies have always mattered to Canadian film critic and novelist David Gilmour, so when his unhappy teenage son, Jesse, wants to drop out of high school they strike a deal. David will allow it on two conditions: Jesse must avoid drugs and must agree to watch three dad-selected movies per week with David. The resulting memoir offers insights into a sometimes stormy father-son relationship and chronicles David's viewing suggestions (everything from The Bicycle Thief to Showgirls). Check catalog for availability.


10 Bad Dates With De Niro edited by Richard T. Kelly (2008)
Kelly has put together a collection of favorite movies submitted by directors, fans, screenwriters, obsessives, playwrights and more arranged into some rather provocative categories:

- "Ten Films to Avoid on Medication (or Within Reach of a Cutlery Drawer)"
- "Ten Best Screen Drunks"
- "Playing God? Somebody Has To! – Ten Mad Movie Scientists"
- "Manicure Madness – Ten Shining Examples of Notable Nail Varnish"

There’s a list for every taste… take a look at "Are You Gonna Swallow That?" for proof. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Christine @ MPL Central

Urban Fiction

During the 1970s Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim delivered ‘Urban Fiction’ to readers. Sister Souljah’s Coldest Winter Ever in 1999 and Teri Woods True to the Game strengthened the genre and attracted female readers and writers to what had been a male dominated field. Souljah is unapologetic in tone and honestly depicts the realities of her protagonist. Wood is a star at writing fast-paced stories and has many worthy contemporaries including Vicki Stringer, founder of Triple Crown Publications.

Triple Crown is arguably the most prolific publisher of Urban Fiction, representing writers like Nikki Turner, Keisha Ervin and Tracy Brown, however, the genre keeps growing and here are a few titles hitting MPL’s shelves this summer that you won’t want to miss:

Payback with Ya Life by Wahida Clark
Pregnant by the married Forever, Shan is desperate to start a new life for herself and her baby. She leaves Memphis for Detroit, but the street drama follows her as the now-incarcerated Forever is transferred to a facility in Motor City, and her brother, Peanut, is set on revenge against the thugs who did him wrong. Wires and women are crossed in a storm of action wherein many pay the game back with their lives. Check catalog for availability.

Twisted by Tracy Brown
In a desperate effort to escape her drama-filled life (recounted in Dime Piece), Celeste burns down her Brooklyn, NY, salon and moves to Atlanta. However, tranquility doesn’t last long because Celeste’s lover—a very married drug kingpin named Rah-lo—tracks her down. On his heels is Asia, his scorned, estranged wife. As old characters enter Celeste’s new life, things get really twisted. Check catalog for availability.

Street Vengeance by Evie Rhodes
Eighteen-year-old Brandi Hutchinson is a nice girl with a bright academic future, but her family can’t afford to send her to college. This disappointment—along with the trauma of witnessing her best friend's being beaten into paralysis by police following a rap concert—ignites Brandi’s vengeful side as she heads her own street posse, which gains a reputation for highly organized ruthlessness. But a rival girl gang lead by "Left Eye" challenges Brandi’s status in the hood. At the same time, Ajani enters Brandi’s life, except he’s not the love she thinks he is. At the height of a gang war between the two factions, the murder of a loved one leads Brandi to a change of heart and down a new path. Check catalog for availability.

Down River by John Hart


Down River by John Hart
After being falsely accused of murder by his stepmother five years earlier, Adam Chase reluctantly agrees to return to the family farm in North Carolina after being summoned by a childhood friend's plea for help. Upon his return home, Adam is welcomed by slamming doors, assault, murder and deceit. A horrible secret has been lurking in the Chase family and only Adam can unravel the clues, but can he stay alive long enough to solve the puzzle?
Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

The Art of Racing in the Rain


The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Do you ever wonder what dogs are thinking? Meet Enzo, he's a philosopher (and narrator) who has watched extensive amounts of television, knows a lot about race car driving and believes most of life can be navigated in much the same way that a driver navigates a race track.

Enzo is a Lab terrier mix and is eternally frustrated that he can't speak and doesn't have opposable thumbs like his master, Denny. Denny works in an auto repair shop to earn money so he can race cars. They live in Seattle together, quite happily as bachelors, until Eve comes along, and later, a daughter named Zoe. Though it takes some time for Eve and Enzo to warm up to each other, it does happen. Then Eve's health takes a turn for the worse. She experiences excruciating headaches with more and more frequency and isn’t diagnosed until it’s too late.

This begins a 3-year custody battle between Eve's parents and Denny for daughter Zoe. Denny is accused of rape, causing even more trouble, but he struggles on. Just as he nearly gives up Enzo provides some very timely help. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Jacki @ Central

Graphic Novelist: Jason


Hailing from Norway and known only by his first name, Jason has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novelists. He employs a keen minimalistic style with a playfully sinister air of noir. Words are used sparingly in his anthropomorphic world, but deadpan humor and not-so-subtle social commentary abound.

I highly recommend all of his work – but Hey Wait… is perhaps his finest moment to date and the best starting point. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

Excellent Wisconsin Writer: Michael Perry

I recently read two great books by Wisconsin native Michael Perry:


Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren At A Time

Life in a small Wisconsin town is descibed in this well written and emotional memoir. The author, a volunteer firefighter, uses his on the job experiences as a backdrop for exposing his own life and feelings. This page turner is a gem of a memoir. Check catalog for availabilty.


Truck: A Love Story

Truck isn't quite a sequel to Population 485, but it does refer to some of the same characters. The author's life in a small western Wisconsin town unfolds around him while passionately restoring a 1951 International Harvester pickup truck. Told with an eye for humor and detail, this memoir will warm you on a cold day. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central



Austenland by Shannon Hale (2007)
Austenland's main character, Jane Hayes, is obsessed with Mr. Darcy as he is portrayed by Colin Firth in BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice. And what woman isn't? Jane travels to England to spend three weeks at a resort immersing herself in Jane Austen's world. Here she is surrounded by actors based on Jane Austen's fictional characters. Jane Hayes struggles to decipher which actors are solely acting, which ones are real and sincere, and whether or not she should enjoy her bizarre vacation. Check the catalog for availability

Shannon Hale has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I have enjoyed reading all of her other novels, although this one is definitely my favorite. I rate this book fantastic and highly entertaining. I recommend it to all Jane Austen (and Colin Firth) fans.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey


Atomic Lobster by Tim Dorsey

Hilarious hijinks abound from madcap serial killer Serge Storms and his inebriated sidekick Coleman in the tenth installment of this popular series. This time out, Serge and company foil a South American drug ring while house sitting on a zany street in Tampa named Lobster Lane. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Dan @ Central



Contest by Matthew Reilly---Ever dream of being locked in a library overnight? One man unwillingly finds himself, his daughter, and several "contestants" from all across the universe in the middle of a nightmare. The New York City Public Library is the setting for this competition. How do you win "The Contest"? Just stay alive!

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Alison @ Central

Memoir Mania

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This summer, get caught up in someone else's life. As good as these memoirs are to read they're even better to listen to:

Barbara Walters reads her own, because, as she told Publisher's Weekly, "The book is my voice, and I wanted the audio version to be my voice."

Augusten Burroughs wanted to shake things up; his audiobook contains sound effects and original music by Patti Smith, Sea Wolf, Ingrid Michaelson and Tegan Quin.

David Sedaris's includes four live recordings, "Memento Mori," "In the Waiting Room," "Town and Country" and "Solutions to Sunday's Puzzle."

Julie Andrews also reads her own work and sprinkled through the narration are a few prized archival snippets of her most memorable early Broadway tunes, and Ian Fraser's gentle piano interludes.

So, start reading; or listening...

Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters
Fascinating! In a riveting and candid memoir, the acclaimed television journalist chronicles the people, events, and forces that have shaped her life and career, from childhood to the present day, discussing her relationships with men, family, friends, coworkers, and rivals; her struggle to make it in a man's world; and the interviews she has conducted during her forty-year-career. Check catalog for availability.

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs
The author of the best-selling Running with Scissors traces the story of his relationship with his father, in a psychologically charged tale that evaluates such themes as the line between love and hate and a child's longing for unconditional love.Check catalog for availability.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Public Radio International's "This American Life." In this collection of essays Sedaris chronicles the quirks of everyday life in France and America, from an attempt to make coffee with water from a flower vase to a drug purchase in a North Carolina mobile home. Check catalog for availability.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews
A personal account of the iconic actress's pre-fame life traces the time between her birth in 1935 and her discovery by Walt Disney during her 1962 Broadway performance in Camelot, a period marked by her relationships with a vaudevillian mother and teacher father, the World War II London Blitz, and her work as a Royal Command Performance child soloist. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


As graphic novels continue to gain respect in the literary world, there is a corresponding renaissance of interest in cartoonists of the past.

Jackie Ormes could draw like an angel.

Ormes was an African American cartoonist who drew panels for black newspapers during the 40’s and 50’s, when black men and women were returning from war to face continuing discrimination at home. Segregation continued to make life hard, and what little progress there was seemed to leave black women behind. This climate became the grist of compelling artistic material for Ormes, the first black female cartoonist to achieve national renown.

Way ahead of her time, this trail blazer raised the consciousness of fellow African Americans decades before anyone knew of Dr. King. Ormes drew stylish black female characters who advocated for civil rights and laughed at the House Un-American Activities Committee. Concerned about environmental justice when Al Gore was still a twinkle in his father’s eyes, Ormes created the cartoon Torchy in Heartbeats, depicting a handsome black doctor who saves a black community from environmental poisoning masterminded by a filthy, bigoted industrialist.

Born to a well-to-do family in Pittsburgh, Ormes was a member of Chicago’s black elite (she rubbed elbows with Eartha Kitt and Duke Ellington). A savvy businesswoman, Ormes also made a foray into early black doll production, replacing stereotyped Mammy dolls with elegant black dolls wearing designer wardrobes and sexy frocks.

Illustrated with more than 150 cartoons and photos, this book will appeal to fellow artists, feminists, African American history-lovers, anyone starting a business, and doll historians alike. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Jane @ Martin Luther King Library




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