February 2010 Archives

A Prayer For The Dying by Stewart O'Nan


Set in Friendship, Wisconsin shortly after the end of the Civil War, this haunting story of a diphtheria epidemic is a shocking exercise in literary brutality. Jacob Hansen is the constable, deacon and undertaker of a small Wisconsin town who desperately tries to perform his civic duties while trying to protect his family from the terrifying disease that is ravaging his beloved town. As the world collapses around Jacob, so does his sanity, humanity and reasoning.

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Submitted by Dan@Central

This Book Is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson

This Book.jpg

The author of This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, appeared on the NPR program On the Media this weekend to strike up some interest in her new book. She said:

"More & more people are not only using the library, they need the services of the librarian to help them weave their way around the bureaucracy ...it's a tragedy that the economic stimulus package doesn't put more money into libraries...librarians are really economical, they're not expensive resources and they're helping put this country back to work."

Ms. Johnson entertainingly tackles not only stereotypes of librarians, but of libraries too. Yet, she also includes very sobering stories like the chapter detailing a Connecticut's confrontation with the government regarding the Patriot Act. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

The Overlook by Michael Connelly


The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Originally published as a serial in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the 13th novel in this mystery series will satisfy fans of unconventional homicide detective Harry Bosch. This time around, Harry investigates the murder of a nuclear physicist and the theft of a large amount of radioactive cesium. With the potential for a nuclear disaster on the horizon, Harry races against time, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to thwart a plot against national security. Can Harry figure out the caper and bring the guilty to justice before it's too late?

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Submitted by Dan @ Central

Wild Child: Stories by T. Coraghessan Boyle


This absorbing collection of stories from the prolific author of The Women and The Road to Wellville is an uneven, but worthwhile read. With story topics ranging from California mudslides to a boy who cannot feel pain, this collection covers a lot of subject territory! What doesn't vary, however, is the consistently good writing and solid tone that joins this assortment of stories together. My favorite story was one titled "The Lie" that tells the tale of a man who tells his co-workers that his baby died to get out of going to work!

Check catalog availability for Wild Child here.

Submitted by Dan@Central

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann


This novel is a number of stories that seem to be disconnected, but are actually intricately interwoven. Set in Manhattan in the 1970's the book opens with a tightrope walker, balancing high above the city. What happens to him affects millions.

At the beginning we meet two Irish brothers who immigrate to New York; from there, the characters spin. When I finished reading the book I realized I had neglected some characters because I didn't realize how important they were. McCann is very good at describing and making you feel a part of things, sometimes in only a few pages. This is the most complex and rewarding read I've had recently. I suggest that when you give this one a go, you take your time and savor every detail and every character... Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway


The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway (c1972)

This book compiles and places into chronological order all of Hemingway's short stories (eight of which were found after his death and previously unpublished) that feature his "everyman/self" character Nick Adams. Many of these stories showcase the author at his best and fully justify his place among the literary heavyweights. Especially strong are those that take place where Hemingway spent his boyhood summers in the cabins, woods and waters of northern Michigan. If you haven't read Hemingway before (or like me hadn't read him in quite some time) this is a great place to start (or jump back in). Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central


During the summer of 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and continued their offensive towards the key port city of Pusan. General MacArthur, with his Army troops in full retreat, reluctantly called for U.S. Marines to stop the North Korean advance. The Marines did, indeed, stop the rampaging North Koreans and gave the Army some valuable time to regroup. After the Marines earlier success, MacArthur decided to use the First Marine Division to land behind the North Korean lines at the port of Inchon and sweep across the nation to retake Seoul and effectively free South Korea from occupation. Unfortunately, MacArthur then decided to invade North Korea, but that is another book!!! This is a finely written and detailed history of two key battles of the Korean War. Check Catalog Availability

Check out these other great books by Bill Sloan:
Brotherhood of Heroes : the Marines at Peleliu, 1944 : the Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War
Given up for Dead : America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island

Submitted by Dan@Central

Alberto Giacometti by Christian Klemm


Alberto Giacometti by Christian Klemm

Giacometti's roughly sculpted figures stretch up thin and tall. Despite, or because of, their simplicity, I love spending time looking at them (See the Milwaukee Art Museum). Apparently other art lovers like looking at them too. I just read an article in the New York Times about a recent auction of one of Giacometti's sculptures. His 6 foot tall bronze, "Walking Man I," sold for $92.5 million. This is a record price, more than a Picasso or a Van Gogh. I was shocked. I instantly wanted to know more. Klemm's beautifully illustrated book follows Giacometti's life and works from beginning to end. I was delighted to discover many wonderful sketches and paintings that I was not aware of. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain


When Mark Twain published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court in 1889, he was already a widely popular author and humorist. With this novel, the tone of Twain's work seems to shift to his later period of harshly satirical and pessimistic writing. Rest assured, I think this novel is still hilarious, but there is underlying feeling of biting social satire mixed with madcap hijinks and merry mirth.
When mechanic Hank Morgan is knocked cold during a quarrel, he awakens in the land of Camelot surrounded by medieval peasants and King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. When Hank introduces technology from the late nineteenth century to his current medieval world, it temporarily dazzles the residents, but ultimately leads to chaos, social upheaval and the death of King Arthur.
This fine novel is a great place to start if you want to read Twain at his witty, sarcastic best. After reading this story, check out one of the two great adaptations that were filmed!
The first version stars famed comedian Will Rogers from 1931 and another musical version starring crooner Bing Crosby from 1949.

Submitted by Dan@Central

Murders at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson


The factual account of serial killer H.H. Holmes, who murdered between 27 and 200 people in Chicago during the 1893 World's Fair, is engagingly documented in this fascinating true story. As much a story of the building of the World's Fair as it is a crime drama, this well written book brings the reader back to a time that wasn't as innocent as it appears.

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Submitted by Dan @ Central




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