September 2008 Archives

Urban Fiction: Quick Picks

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Dirty Money by Ashley JaQuavis
Driven by revenge and a thirst for the finer things in life, Anari and her best friend Tanya quickly rise to the top of New Jersey's dope game, using everyone in their path and stopping at nothing--even murder--to get what they want. Check the catalog for availability.

Gutter by K'wan
In this sequel to Gangsta, after Lou-loc's brutal murder, his best friend, Gutter, vows to seek revenge on the entire Blood faction in New York City. Check the catalog for availability.

Get Money Chicks by Anna J.
When tragedy strikes, Mina, who uses sex to get what she wants, questions her morality and fast money lifestyle, which causes a rift between her and her best friends Shanna and Karen. Check the catalog for availability.


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In many ways, the title of this biography of singer/songwriter Warren Zevon encapsulates his life in a single descriptive sentence. Written by his estranged wife through personal recollections, interviews from a vast assortment of colleagues and friends, and from his own journal entries, Zevon's story is more of an oral history than a traditional biography. Zevon was an "Excitable Boy" in real life, as well as in song. This bio offers a "warts and all" look at a talented, but flawed artist who self medicated himself with alcohol, groupies and nastiness. All the grisly details are here, but the overall picture paints Zevon as a brilliant artist who was his own worst enemy. The legacy of Zevon's work has yet to be determined, but he lived quite a life building it. Zevon died of lung cancer in 2003 at age 56. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

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A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age by William Manchester (1992)
This exciting history truly flows like a novel and is an interesting read. Manchester recounts the fascinating transformation of Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Check catalog for availability.

I'd rate this one entertaining and illuminating.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

Want the Dish?

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Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by The Waiter
What started (and continues) as a blog at waiterrant.net is now also a book. The Waiter has many tales to tell about his customers and coworkers. My favorite chapters involved Valentine’s Day and NYEve—two dates, in fact entire weekends, that people should consider eating at home. Why, you ask? Read Waiter Rant. Check the catalog for availability.

Service Included: Four-star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch
While Phoebe was deciding what to do with her life, she worked as a waiter. Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the creation of master chef Thomas Keller. This is the story of her experiences there: her obsession with food, her love affair with a sommelier, and her observations of the highly competitive world of fine dining. Check the catalog for availability.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
Buford is a writer for The New Yorker currently and this is his account of working for free in the kitchen of Babbo, a New York restaurant owned by Chef Mario Batali. Buford's premise is that he considered himself to be a capable home cook and wondered if he had the skill to work in a busy restaurant kitchen. Check the catalog for availability.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
This book is pretty much about Bourdain and not so much about cooking. As such, cursing, vulgarity and sexual references abound. Anthony Bourdain is the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York, and he is the host of the series No Reservations on the Travel Channel. Check the catalog for availability.

Girl Cook: A Novel by Hannah McCouch
Layla Mitchner is a twenty-eight-year-old Cordon Bleu graduate trying to find a space in the fast-paced, high-pressure world of Manhattan’s top restaurant kitchens. She knows she’s got the talent to be a great chef, but there she is slaving for a misogynistic boss who’d sooner promote the dishwasher than give a woman the chance to prove her sous-chef mettle. Check the catalog for availability.

My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea
The coffee table book for foodies! 50 famous chefs describe what they would have as their final meal, who they would be with and where. Recipes are included at the end, but the absolutely gorgeous portraits of each chef steal the show. Even if you aren’t familiar with these people or their restaurants, you’ll enjoy perusing this immensely. Check the catalog for availability.


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Born in Boston in 1809, Poe published his first book of poems in 1827 and his first collection of short stories twelve years later in 1839. Over the next ten years until his death in 1849, Poe was an especially prolific writer despite heavy drinking, poverty and illness. It was during these ten years that he wrote Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) which is widely considered to be the first detective story and his most famous poem, The Raven. (1845) This beautiful collection of works from a true literary genius showcases the author's talent through short horror stories like The Masque of the Red Death(1842), The Tell-Tale Heart(1843), The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), and The Cask of Amontillado(1846).
Besides The Raven, Poe wrote many stunning poems filled with stark imagery and desolate thoughts, but also with a remarkable command of language and prose that is simply astonishing.

Some other notable poems are Ulalume(1847), Annabel Lee(1849), The Haunted Palace(1839), The Conqueror Worm(1843), and The Bells(1849).

With the seasons changing and Halloween approaching, now is a fantastic time to visit the dreary, bleak, and horrific works of this magnificent writer. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central


Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis

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Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis
When US Marines landed on the island of Guadalcanal during the first American offensive of WWII, International News Service correspondent Richard Tregaskis landed with them. Besides the news dispatches he sent back home, he kept a wonderfully written diary describing the fierce jungle battles and hardships he and the Marines endured while fighting the Japanese in August and September of 1942. Written in a matter of fact style and told in the present tense, Tregaskis manages to humanize brutal combat while injecting humor and sophistication along the way. Widely considered a classic war narrative, Guadalcanal Diary will educate as much as entertain the reader. This book was also made into a Hollywood "flag waver" movie in 1943. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

The deadliest hurricane in history

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Isaac's Storm: A man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history (1999) by Erik Larson
This non-fiction historically accurate suspense book reads like a novel and takes place in the city of Galveston in 1900. Although indigenous weathermen from Cuba predicted a terrible storm, America’s Weather Bureau disagreed. The children of Galveston frolicked in the water flooding the city streets as others flocked to the beaches to see the beautiful waves. Little did they know, their city was about to be devastated by the most horrific hurricane to ever hit the shores of America. Check catalog for availability.

Erik Larson is also the author of the well known The Devil in the White City: Murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America.


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Galveston and the 1900 Storm (2000) by Patricia Bellis Bixel and Elizabeth Hayes Turner
This is a non-fiction illustrated account of the 1900 Galveston hurricane and an excellent companion to Erik Larson's book. Check the catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Paula @ Central

Best of September

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Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg
This memoir begins with a bang: "On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad." It chronicles the summer when 15-year-old Sally experienced her first full-blown manic episode--an event that in a "single stroke" changed her identity and, by extension, that of her entire family. Check the catalog for availability.

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant
After blinding headaches cut short his distinguished career as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, Dahl became part of an elite group of British spies working against the United States' neutrality at the onset of World War II. Check the catalog for availability.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The debut thriller is a total page-turner and the first in a trilogy. Readers who enjoy Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly will want to pick this up. Check the catalog for availability.

Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

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"It's Alive! It's Alive!" When Dr. Frankenstein shrieked those memorable words in the famous creation scene of the 1931 film version of Frankenstein, a new pop culture icon was born! Or was it? In Susan Tyler Hitchcock's engaging history of all things Frankensteinian, we learn that the big green monster was actually a popular figure on the stage in England in the mid 1820's! Created in 1816 by Mary Shelley for her groundbreaking novel, the Frankenstein monster (Frankenstein was the creator, not the monster!) has had an astounding impact on popular culture worldwide ever since. From cartoons, movies, science and literature, Shelley's creation refuses to die and in fact, continues to add to it's legend. Hitchcock literally brings Shelley's creation to life in this engaging and fun history of one of the oldest and most famous of monsters of all time.
Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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The alliance between humans and dogs is celebrated as we follow speech-disabled Wisconsin boy Edgar as he bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle, Claude, is responsible for his father's death.

This is David Wroblewski's first novel; he is from Wisconsin and masterfully captures the spirit of the Northwoods and the changing of seasons in the Midwest. Although I sometimes found this book difficult to read because of the weighty sadness, it is a story that will remain with me for a long time. Not to spoil anything here, but the end frustrated me. I really wanted to see Claude held responsible for all the evil he caused; and retribution was delivered, but I was hoping to see it come around in a different way. I feel this character got off pretty easily considering the pain and suffering he caused for the many he claimed to love...Check the catalog for availability.

The Time Traveler's Wife: A novel

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The Time Traveler's Wife : A Novel (2003) by Audrey Niffenegger.

I found this book on the Staff Recommends table at the Central Library. This is a long but extraordinary story about the lives of Henry, a librarian, and Clare, an artist. I am not sure if this book would be difficult to read with the time line flashing from past, present and future repeatedly. I listened to this book on CD and found it easy to follow along with the time changes, because there were two readers - one male for Henry and one female for Clare. I actually laughed out loud and cried while reading this book. It is an amazing trip. Check the catalog for availability

I plan to reread this book. I can't remember the last book I read where I was so completely enraptured by the story and characters.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

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