October 2009 Archives

New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro

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Duncan and Lily's marriage is straining and they decide to try to revitalize it by spending the summer in upstate New York. Lily has an old family home there, a collapsing Victorian with plenty of quirks. But those quirks are nothing compared to their run-in with a wild boar (involving a tire iron), the discovery of human bones in the backyard (involving a poodle) and a peeping Tom (involving laughing gas). At times, I wondered where we were going with all these story lines, but they tie together remarkably well and the story took me on a very fun and wild ride! Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

Sex, Thugs, and Rock & Roll Edited by Todd Robinson

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I found this stunning collection of neo-noir short stories to be tasteless, brutal and entirely mesmerizing! I wish this book was twice as long! From the opening story, Double Down, that involves a double-dealing and double-crossing private eye, to Customer Service, a story involving a hit-man with scruples, this hard hitting collection of "not so nice" short stories is sure to please fans of hard-boiled mysteries.
If you liked "Pulp Fiction," chances are you'd also enjoy this book.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan@Central

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

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Leopold Bloom King, so named by his mother because she is a Joycean expert, abhors his name and all the rituals that his mother assigns to it. Given that, he is perhaps the most interesting character I have come across in a long time. The story begins when Leo is in high school, undergoing therapy and on probation for an attempted suicide and possession of drugs. As part of the payback for the grief he has put his mother through, she makes him caretaker of seven other individuals his age, all from very different walks of life, including two whose father is a serial killer. As he helps these seven fit into the school, they begin a lifelong friendship that takes them all through many experiences, good and bad. I loved this book, all the while feeling that I was a part of their friendship. Conroy is a master at the element of surprise. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Mary S. @ MPL Central

Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang

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Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang (c2006)

Police detective Jack Yu is an American-born Chinese assigned to the Chinatown streets of his youth where the local residents have no trust in the mostly non-Chinese NYPD. When a crime takes place the locals go mum and it falls on Yu to piece together any clues he can gather. In Chinatown Beat, which is Chang's first installment of the Detective Jack Yu Investigation series, Yu is investigating both a serial rapist targeting juvenile Asian girls and the murder of a Chinese mob boss. Chang delivers the story in compact chapters with noirish undertones, while deftly intertwining the point of view between different key characters. The writing is such that one can easily visualize the action taking place in a pleasing movie-like fashion. It all makes for an excellent debut novel. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

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Helen and James are a kind of "ghost" that is trapped on earth for the cliché reason of unresolved issues. However, this novel is nothing like the cliché. The eerie story flashes back and forth to Helen's life and her unusual ghost life. The manner in which Helen and James find each other and figure out how to pass beyond earth to the next phase of their "life" mesmerizes the reader. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer

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Published in 1948, The Naked and the Dead was the first novel penned by future two time Pulitzer Prize winning author Norman Mailer. Based on his own experiences as a soldier in the Pacific Theatre during WWII, The Naked and the Dead is widely considered to be one of the finest novels written about WWII and is listed by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels.
The gripping tale revolves around an army platoon fighting the Japanese on a fictional island named Anopopei. The coarse language and journalistic style of writing are as brutal, tenacious and dirty as the battles and experiences they describe and add to the overall realism of the story.

Check catalog availability

Posted by Dan@ Central

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

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Do you believe in ghosts? Lara Lington knows she has a vivid imagination, but when the spirit of her great aunt Sadie starts talking to her on the day of her funeral, she doesn't know what to think. Sadie has a mission for Lara--find a missing necklace that Sadie had for over 75 years, as Sadie cannot rest without it.

Between declaring Sadie was murdered to halt the funeral proceedings, keeping her floundering head-hunting company running and dealing with being dumped by her perfect boyfriend, Lara has a lot on her plate. But, as the search for the missing necklace ensues there is a hilarious tension between the two girls as they learn some surprising truths about themselves. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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Black Sabbatical: Poems by Brett Eugene Ralph (c2009)

I tasted yesterday's rain,
the carcasses of moths,
broken glances, tears,
the smoke of not-so-distant fires -
all the desperate gestures
we collect and call the seasons.

Brett Eugene Ralph was raised Southern working class, playing football under the bright lights and getting into trouble while fronting punk and hardcore bands. Later on he ventured off to pratice Tibetan Buddhism, before returning home to Kentucky. A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Chicago and saw Ralph give a reading from his debut poetry anthology, Black Sabbatical. With a booming voice and commanding presence, he burned his poems into my head. Afterwards, sitting down and reading these same poems to myself, the still hot embers re-ignited and charred their way in even further.

Far off
The way a train sounds
The way a dog barks at night
At nobody
The way phones ring over & over when you
Almost want to answer
When it's not your phone
But you can hear it

This is a man that has seen things and, with his poetry, knows how to focus a powerful lens on their essence. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

(note: excerpts taken from the poems Firm Against the Pattern & Flowering Judas.)

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

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Best friends forever. That's what Addie Downs and Valerie Adler will be, or at least, that's what Addie believes when Valerie moves in across the street when they're both 9 years old. But the usual turmoil of the teen years causes angst and betrayals. Val starts hanging with the 'in' crowd, a cheerleader, while Addie remains mousy and brooding.

Then we flash forward to their fifteen year high school reunion. Val is a celebrity of sorts as a weathergirl at the local TV station and Addie lives alone in her parents' house caring for her troubled brother. She is trying to find Mr. Right via Internet dating, and after returning home from bad date #6 (he thinks he was abducted by aliens), she finds her long lost friend Val, standing there scared and with blood on her coat. Will Addie come to the rescue of her friend Val, who pretty much abandoned her back in high school? Or will she leave her to fend for herself? Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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After his father's death in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 9 year old Oskar Schell begins following and searching for clues to try to understand the past, present and future. Several stories weave together that address Oskar's and his relatives' pasts. The narratives are sometimes entertaining, humorous, sad, and tragic. The sound recording of the book is wonderful to listen to with multiple authors narrating each of their own chapters. The book, however, offers a much different experience interspersed with a sort of journal, bizarre scribbles, photographs, and interesting page layouts. Check the catalog for availability.


Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

Vampires!

To help celebrate the Milwaukee Book Festival, please join us in the Rare Books Room at the Central Library on Tuesday, October 13th from 5:30-6:30 to discuss anything on your mind that concerns vampires! In the meantime, check out some of these classic tales of the Undead:

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This 1897 classic started it all! Follow the exploits of Van Helsing as he battles Count Dracula and his demented sidekick Renfield! Check Dracula availability here.


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The first book in Rice's Vampire Chronicles introduces the vampire Lestat as he creates other undead and inspires the 1994 film! Check Interview with the Vampire availability.


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When Ben returns to his hometown to research a book, he finds a vampire intead! A true modern vampire classic from the "King" of horror fiction! Check Salem's Lot availability.


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The last normal man alive fights a plague of vampires in this inspired and influential vampire classic! Check I am Legend availability.

- Submitted by Dan@Central

Quonset Huts & A-Frames

For some reason I always feel a small sense of joy when I come across an intact quonset hut or A-frame standing humbly along the roadside. I guess something about these simple structures triggers a pleasant ping of nostalgia. So it was with great delight that I came across the following fun-to-read-and-look-at titles from Princeton Architectural Press:

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Quonset Hut: Metal living for a modern age by Julie Decker & Chris Chiel (c2005)
During the 1940's and 50's, Quonset huts peaked in popularity in post-war America. Their ease of assembly and affordability led to frequent use as storage buildings and, in some cases, living space. Check catalog for availability.


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A-Frame by Chad Randl (c2004)

During the 1950's and 60's, A-frames gained popularity as 2nd homes for many an American. Their ease of construction and low cost made them an ideal dwelling to inhabit one's vacation property, be it lakefront or secluded in the woods. Check catalog for availability.


Perhaps future generations will look at modern shipping crate / container architecture in the same way:

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Container Architecture by Jure Kotnik (c2008)
Check catalog for availability.


- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

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The U.S. is getting ready for war in the Middle East, it is post-9/11 and Tassie Keltjin, a 20 year old Midwesterner is heading to college. She takes a nanny job in between semesters and works for a family with an adopted daughter. She used to think kids were uninteresting, but has come to care about this little girl as though she was her own.

As Tassie becomes more and more a part of this family's life, her life back home seems increasingly foreign. Her parents are not as she remembers, her brother, who is in high school, has no idea what he wants to do with his life; join the military? Tassie finds herself changing and becomes further aware of the world around her as life and love bring remarkable and sometimes shocking events her way.

Lorrie Moore has won honors from the Lannan Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish Times International Prize for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the PEN/Malamud Award. She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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