July 2008 Archives

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The Ghost Mountain Boys : Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea - The Forgotten War of the South Pacific by James Campbell
The winner of the 2007 RR Donnelley Literary Award by the Wisconsin Library Association for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author, Ghost Mountain Boys relates the heroic exploits of the storied 32nd "Red Arrow" Division's battles on the mud slicked mountains and mosquito infested swamps of New Guinea during WWII. Primarily comprised of soldiers from Wisconsin and Michigan, the 32nd Division overcame hellacious terrain and a determined Japanese army to obtain victory despite ongoing supply problems and a sometimes overeager General MacArthur. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this long overdue story highlights another piece of Wisconsin's proud military tradition. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @Central

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Widely considered a contemporary classic, this acclaimed short story collection jams seventeen stories into 159 pages! Written in a minimalist style reminescent of Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories, Carver manages to pack a ton of meaning (not to mention emotional jabs) into his sparse, but superb command of words. Carver explores themes of isolation, alcoholism, communication (or lack there of), rejection, marriage, divorce and love. The title story examines the differences between the excitement of new lovers and the quiet resentment of a couple together for five years. Bleak, brilliant and beautiful, Carver is a writer of immense talent and ballyhoo that is richly deserved. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

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Grace came to Riverton Manor as a housemaid in 1914, at 14 years old. Her life became forever enmeshed with David, Hannah and Emmeline, grandchildren of the Master. At age 98, Grace looks back over her years of service and silence and tells her story before it is too late.

As acknowledged by the author in the afterword, this novel is reminiscent of "Remains of the Day," "Gosford Park," "The Great Gatsby" and many other gothic romance novels resulting in a magnificently enjoyable and hard to put down read. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Jacki @ Central

The Echo From Dealey Plaza

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The Echo From Dealey Plaza: The True Story of the First African American on the White House Secret Service Detail and His Quest for Justice After the Assassination of JFK by Abraham Bolden Check catalog for availability.

This reads like an Oliver Stone screenplay and it’s begging to be adapted into a blockbuster movie by an enterprising Milwaukee Public Library reader. Here’s why:

It’s April 28, 1961. A young black Chicago Secret Service agent meets President John F. Kennedy at a post no other agent wants--the entrance to a McCormick Place basement bathroom. After a brief conversation, Kennedy asks Bolden to join the detail as the first black man to serve on the White House security team. (“Would you like to be the first Negro agent on the Secret Service detail, Mr. Bolden?”)

Bolden stands post directly outside the President’s office and shakes hands with Hubert Humphrey, Evelyn Lincoln, Pierre Salinger, and Bobby Kennedy. (Barry Goldwater is introduced but refuses to shake Bolden’s hand.) He recounts minding the adorable Caroline for an idyllic summer hour while President Kennedy takes a leisurely swim at Hyannisport.

It’s the sixties, so it’s no surprise that Camelot turns tragic and elegiac. Bolden soon becomes aware that his fellow Secret Service agents are racists who take an irresponsible approach to security, often surreptitiously slamming down liquor or taking drugs on the sly while on duty. Bolden tells the chief of the White House detail that if there is an attempt to assassinate the president, it will be successful because the agents will be in no condition to react.
Weeks later Kennedy visits Dallas.

This isn’t your average Warren-out-of–Commission/there’s-more-than-one-assassin-on-the-grassy-knoll tome. What ensues post-assassination is so sinister, I won’t be the only baby boomer who reads this and needs to sleep with a nightlight in a post-apocalyptic, empty world.

Submitted by Jane @ Martin Luther King Library

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield, 2006

Setterfield tells the tale of Vida Winter, a popular but secluded author, who grants private interviews to Margaret, a bookseller, in order to write her long awaited biography. A bizarre history with graphic flashbacks horrifies readers and tempts them to read on. Meanwhile Margaret's inquisitive mind and careful research lead readers to an exciting and surprising conclusion.

I'd rate this one engrossing (sometimes gross) and surprising. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips

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The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips
Charlie Arglist is a seedy lawyer who runs a number of bars and strip clubs for local Wichita mob boss Bill Gerard. Charlie and his partner Vic have also been skimming profits from these mob owned businesses. They decide to leave town with the ill gotten goods on Christmas Eve 1979 after saying goodbye to friends and family. That's when the bodies start stacking up in this mildly funny, but wholeheartedly "hardboiled" tale of deceit, greed and irony. This fine debut melds elements of Noir with modern crime, mafia etiquette and tongue in cheek narration.
Check catalog for availabilty.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

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The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber
Despite needing money to pay his son’s medical bills, painter Chaz Wilmot, Jr. refuses to compromise his talent and pander to the trends of the modern art marketplace. Instead, Wilmot struggles along churning out illustrations for magazines (and infuriating his ex-wife) until he agrees to take part in a medical experiment to test the effects of a drug that is supposed to enhance creativity. His first dose seems to transport him back to the seventeenth century and into the body and mind of a Spanish boy. Soon after, in a sudden burst of brilliance and energy, he finds himself effortlessly painting exactly like Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez. His unexplainable new paintings attract the attention of Krebs, a mysterious German patron of the arts and Wilmot quickly becomes ensnared in the dangerous, high priced world of meticulous fakes and Nazi-looted masterpieces. Check catalog for availability.


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The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier
When researching the history of her own home on the English coast, author Daphne Du Maurier became inspired to write The House on the Strand. While vacationing in Kilmarth, the six hundred year old home of his long time friend, Magnus Lane, protagonist Richard Young is persuaded to try a "time travel" drug of Lane's making. Since Young’s wife and stepsons aren’t due to arrive for several days, he accepts the challenge and is plunged into the entrancing, sometimes brutal, world of fourteenth century Cornwall. A best seller when published in 1969, this riveting, intricately plotted thriller has certainly stood the test of time. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Christine @ Central

Steppin' On A Rainbow by Kinky Friedman

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Steppin' On A Rainbow by Kinky Friedman

The 14th entry in this engaging and bawdy series from the former country music star has detective Kinky jetting off to Hawaii in search of his missing buddy McGovern. Joined by his platonic (much to his chagrin!) friend Stephanie, Kinky encounters ancient myths, cults, treachery and the occasional lei! Touching, outrageous and thoroughly engaging, Kinky Friedman's books are as hot as Texas salsa!

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

Urban Fiction: Keeping It Real

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Fiction has its advantages over reality, especially for people who don’t get to take the 9 to 5 route. In his famous essay, “The Soul of Black Folk”, WEB Dubois spoke of a “veil” which separates the African American community from the outside world. People of color who live in the megalopolis often have lives replete with danger, and their journeys involve a subtext:

Drama is danger mixed with opportunity.

By extension, many faithful readers might be unaware of experience grounded in inner-city life. Urban fiction is the most-requested and much-loved literary genre at King Library, creating a significant new audience for books. It has registered impressive national sales ($$$$ millions), catching the attention of the publishing industry. Previously sold as typewritten photocopies on street corners, these stories now appear in slick paperback. The tone is usually dark, focusing on urban variations of an underside, with occasional explicit sex and violence. The chatter may include George Carlin’s seven dirty words, and the plots are in your face—nothing gets watered down. Check out one of these page turnas:

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Sister Souljah The Coldest Winter Ever
The mother of street lit, Sister Souljah (aka Lisa Williamson) sold this novel out of the trunk of her car. After the novel found a major publisher as a result of the buzz it created, it was praised by the The New Yorker. Vibe Magazine recently reported that Jada Pinkett Smith is executive-producer of a film-in-development based on this book. Check catalog for availability.


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Vickie Stringer Dirty Red
Having tricked her boyfriend into believing she is pregnant, eighteen-year-old Red enjoys his lavish attentions until she becomes pregnant for real by an ex-boyfriend who is in jail, a situation that leads her into home ownership and a successful new career. By the author of Imagine This and founder of Triple Crown Publications. Check catalog for availability.


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Street Love: A Triple Crown Anthology
A sampler pack of urban fiction by African American authors featuring themes like sacrifice, race, survival, and the importance of family. The fifth story, “Allure of the Game", is so beautifully executed it feels like a play-by-play done in real time. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jane @ Martin Luther King Library


The Disappearance by Genevieve Jurgensen

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The Disappearance by Genevieve Jurgensen (Translated by Adriana Hunter)

This is an almost unbearably sad, yet stunningly beautiful, memoir written by a mother a dozen years after her two daughters, ages four and seven, were killed in an automobile accident. The callous reaction of the driver responsible for the tragedy inspired the author to co-found France’s League Against Road Violence, and her efforts to change laws and driving habits helped drastically cut traffic fatalities in France. In spite of the achingly poignant subject matter, this is a book that is hard to put down. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Anna @ Central

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

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The Condition (check catalog for availability) tells the story of the McKotches, a proper New England family that comes apart during one fateful summer. The year is 1976, and the family, Frank McKotch, an eminent scientist; his pedigreed wife, Paulette; and their three beautiful children has embarked on its annual vacation at the Captain's House, the grand old family retreat on Cape Cod. One day on the beach, Frank is struck by an image he cannot forget: his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gwen, strangely infantile in her child-sized bikini, standing a full head shorter than her younger cousin Charlotte. At that moment he knows a truth; that something is terribly wrong with his only daughter. The McKotch family will never be the same.

Twenty years after Gwen's diagnosis with Turner's syndrome, a genetic condition that has prevented her from maturing, trapping her forever in the body of a child, all five family members are still dealing with the fallout. Each believes himself crippled by some secret pathology; each feels responsible for the family's demise. Frank and Paulette are acrimoniously divorced. Billy, the eldest son, is dutiful but distant, a handsome Manhattan cardiologist with a life built on compromise. His brother, Scott, awakens from a pot-addled adolescence to a soul-killing job, a regrettable marriage, and a vinyl-sided tract house in the suburbs. And Gwen is silent and emotionally aloof, a bright, accomplished woman who spurns any interaction with those around her. She makes peace with the hermetic life she's constructed until, well into her thirties, she falls in love for the first time. And suddenly, once again, the family's world is tilted on its axis.

Compassionate yet unflinchingly honest, witty and almost painfully astute, The Condition explores the power of family mythologies, the self-delusions, denials, and inescapable truths that forever bind fathers and mothers and siblings.

Jennifer Haigh is the author of the New York Times bestseller Baker Towers, winner of the 2006 PEN/L. L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author, and Mrs. Kimble, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and was a finalist for the Book Sense Book of the Year. Both novels were number one Book Sense picks. Her fiction has appeared in Granta, Ploughshares, Good Housekeeping, and elsewhere. She lives in the Boston area.

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