Monday, December 31, 2007
Caan was the right man at the right time for this rather overlooked film acutely portraying one man's abuse of an age-old vice. Freed deserves no sympathy and gets none as his countless efforts to confront the 'disease' fail miserably deepening his depravity, throwing him at the feet of others, and further isolating those who love him. The Gambler has a very raw, edgy 1970's New York City feel similar to movies like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, or Dog Day Afternoon. (DVD GAMBLER)
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Needing some re-evaluation time, Amy decides on a personal vacation to clear her head. So following her grandmother's funeral, Amy takes an indefinite residence at the family country home in North Carolina. It's here she comes across some old archives revealing several long buried secrets about the family's source of wealth; secrets that don't line up to what she's been told. Amy's tranquil holiday soon turns treacherous as certain 'accidents' (perhaps intended to frighten or even harm Amy) start happening. It's all too evident that someone is targeting Amy. But why? Could one of her own family be out to harm her?
Maron is most well-known for her 'Deborah Knott' mysteries about a North Carolina district court judge. But her other writings include several stand-alone novels this one, exhibiting a sort-of 'big city vs. good 'ole boy' contrast, all surrounding female protagonists. The story's themes and motives may seem a little overblown and impractical (family money from toddler story books, Amy as the only heir, relatives she's never met/known about, husband Ted as a virtual non-entity the entire book, etc.) but Maron won't have trouble finding an audience with people wanting a little more umph to a domestic fiction. (MYS MARON)
The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal: More Than 450 Infamous Incidents from the 1600s to the Present [REF] / George Kohn, ed.
Though Thomas' later books were less well-received, Rats Saw God will find an audience with its drenched-in-sarcasm attitude and gritty realism. The 'then and now' style really fleshes out Steve's personality and relationships; displaying how both compliment each other and play off his actions. Generation X & Y'ers of the 80's/90's period will identify with the book's cultural aspects.
Life Expectancy is, at most, a 'lighthearted' thriller and too radically far-reaching to sense any real danger despite some severely traumatic incidents which attempt to pique the reader's concern. With the exception of Punchonello-- Beezo's son, all the characters are one-dimensional bores as Koontz fails to flesh out any real-ness amidst the various bizarre episodes. Life Expectancy is quirky and absurd but may attract readers who like "fun" plots.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Professor Timothy Baker Shutt of Kenyon College (MI) is an expert on the literature of C.S. Lewis, particularly his Science Fiction and Fantasy works. His literal and transfigural insight into Lewis' fictional Narnian world really enhances the characters and motifs elucidating each book's relevance within the 6-part series. With the second Narnia movie, 'Prince Caspian', appearing in theaters, this is really a great (and not too hard) read for inquiring minds. Shutt also chronicles important events in Lewis' personal life detailing how certain incidents may ultimately have impacted his literary style.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Network (DVD) 1975 / w/ William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, et. al.
William Holden was a man with "voice"; a sort of primal authority extending from his vocal chords. He was a good actor too prompting Hollywood scripts to provide Holden's characters at least one passion-driven monologue per film intended to vocally 'stamp' the movie (think Sunset Blvd, Born Yesterday, Stalag 17, etc.). Here he has like 3 or 4 such rants and yet is almost (though not altogether) overshadowed by Peter Finch's oscar-winning performance of a man driven to fanatical 'revelations' about television's vacuous hold over the masses. Faye Dunaway is the cold-hearted executive willing to sacrifice humanity for higher ratings and only prevented so by Schumacher, an on-the-outs program manager and Beal's longtime friend. In his only scene, Ned Beatty delivers a core truth (worth at least some 'real world' validity) about network television's partnership with corporate enterprise.
Ironic Footnote: (SPOILERS!!!) Howard Beal dies at the end of the movie and Finch himself died from a heart attack only months prior to being awarded a (posthumous) best-actor oscar for 'Network'.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Freakonomics remained on the bestseller lists for several months and has sold over 3 million copies. This book is an informative leisure read as well as serious book for educational purposes and contains some interesting factoids on life in general. Both authors write for The Economist magazine and have made appearances on several TV talk shows.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime meets Hamlet in this dark comedy/parody full of funny (sort-of) characters and believable circumstances surrounding supernatural events. Serious things like murder, robberies, and death only seem to enhance the humor as Philip applies himself to the task of murdering his uncle while sorting out his own life's details. Like in ‘Nighttime’ (or South Park), childlike innocence reflects badly on adults whose buffoonish behavior allows them little dignity. Yet child protagonist Philip is human too with his own foibles and a conscience that tends not to portray him as an outright hero evidenced when the plot eventually balances the scales without making anyone a victim.
All is well in the town of Castle Rock until a storm comes bringing with it a strange individual and his curious boutique shop--"Needful Things". The store has something for everyone; in fact, it has just the right thing for anyone. No one entering the shop leaves empty-handed as Leland Gaunt's assortment of items satisfy even the deepest desires; a cherished baseball card, sunglasses worn by Elvis, even beauty tablets all purchased for a convenient price. But sinister motives conceal the shop’s true enterprise as Leland Gaunt is more than he seems and he trades in more than earthly wares. What makes you pick up a book (even really thick ones), read the first page and keep going? Try to pin it down. So, to say King is a master of macabre is almost to neglect his real strength at storytelling; a literary magnetism worthy of Harry Potter. The intangible quality of his characters, emotional intrigue and plot structure seem to make his stories almost addictive. Needful Things is one of those books; one in which it doesn’t matter what genre you like, you just enjoy it. (FIC KING)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So it goes with Beverly Donofrio, a bad girl who makes good in this memoir of an early-life crisis. Pregnant at 16, she rode the downward spiral for some time before things finally improved. Here she shamelessly chronicles her life as a high school dropout, parental reject, early bride, wife of a junkie, divorced teenage mom, hippie chick, liberated woman, drug user/dealer, and welfare recipient. Only after a nervous breakdown (of sorts) does she acclimate herself to a better life; growing and learning life's lessons even as her son, Jason, matures with her.
You can't spell memoir without "me" (or moi), an all-too-ironic nuance of this book which practically begins each sentence with "I" or "My" and ends in an angry expletive. With no shortage of attitude Donofrio entertains as she self-evaluates going so far as to infuriate her own (real life) parents at the time of publication. Drew Barrymore stars in the 2001 film adaptation that won several independent film awards.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Before Cris Crutcher made it cool to be a triathlete, Terry Davis wrote Vision Quest. Published in 1979, this was a new kind of YA novel. This is not a sports book as there are no archetypal action sequences or inevitable 'championship' climaxes. Rather it's an intrapersonal soul journey, a story of being not doing. Louden’s focus is the pain, the emotional reflection as he trains the theme rather than the culminating event itself. Like any 'YA' book, it's concentrated on adolescence but doesn't exclude other audiences and would be a great read for anyone.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
ALLDATA can be accessed through Moore Library's computer terminals and assistance from the library reference staff is available. This database allows options for printing diagrams and other essential information at $0.10/page.
American Psycho (both book and movie) made Ellis a cult icon but Less Than Zero first acknowledged him as a voice for Generation X. Published in 1985, the novel stirred controversy with its revelation of California’s drug culture and some its most loyal patrons--children of LA’s wealthy upper-crust. Perpetually aware but never surprised, Ellis’ style remains devoid of emotion. Clay’s world is one without hope, without feeling where characters exist below the surface. No action is interpreted and reactions are never personalized as Clay's own reflections remain far from the plot's content focusing instead on distant memories from the past. Despite this, or perhaps even because of it, Clay’s character is still felt by the book’s end.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Lord Peter Wimsey is (in today-speak) an uber-hustler. Never ruffled, he is the definition of composure eliciting a sort of classy elitism all over the place. His only weakness is, of course, Harriet for whom he remains the devoted fool. The book is as much a social novel as it is mystery dissecting personalities while simultaneously perusing crime scenes. Somehow Sayers was a master at this, meshing relational intrigue with CSI-type drama to form an addictive type of character series. This book could be enjoyed by fans of the "cozy" mystery as much as domestic fiction.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Mockumentaries have an uncanny knack for revealing the true-to-life quirks of 'normal' situations. This movie with its ribald band of British comedians pokes serious fun at the institution of marriage and its hangers-on. Showing the lengths people go to for a real "wedding experience" (and to win a free house), the largely improv'd footage characterizes the outrageousness of oft to-be-wed couples and other players involved with wedding planning. The satire is dead-on; especially as family feuds erupt amid preparations and wannabe limelight stealers threaten to sabotage the ceremony. Alison Lohman (A&E's Pride and Prejudice) is perfect as another eccentric mother-in-law.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Chocolate War author Cormier sticks to his New England roots in this psychological thriller about two people linked by a twisted consciousness and a third monitoring their every move. The real clutch of this book is intuition, an awareness of each character's contribution to the story and the motives which propel their actions. Nowhere is this better seen than the author's despiction of Eric, a most unlikely teenage sociopath. (YP FIC CORMIER)
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The author, Fadia Faqir, tells the story as a mosaic, showing us small parts of Salma’s life in seemingly disjointed order. Some of the parts are pages long, others just a brief paragraph, a glimpse of a scene We see her in the hills herding goats, as a love-struck teenager, and then are abruptly brought back into the bleakness of her present circumstance. In Exeter, with her pidgin English and work as a seamstress for low wages, Salma is driven by loneliness to venture into pubs, looking for companionship. The juxtaposition of the different times of her life works by capturing our engagement in our present while being carried by currents of the past.
Salma’s particular tragedy and its pain speak to us, as we in the West seek to discover how these new neighbors of ours are like us and not alike. Faqir shows us the suspicion and misguided ideas that confront Salma regarding her identity, as an Arab and a Muslim, and in tandem with these we see our Western culture with her eyes, helping us to see what is strange to her and to other foreigners.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Mr. Dark and his Pandemonium Show are a carnival like no other. Rolling into town one full-moon October night, their eerie attractions soon entrance even the cynical and possess a power beyond conception. But a strange fate awaits fairgoers as fulfilled dreams can become nightmares when beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive. With their town succumbing to Mr. Dark's malevolence, 12-year-old Jim Nightshade and best friend Will are the only ones to foresee a dreadful end for their town and those they love.
Ray Bradbury's imagination knows no bounds. A figurehead of the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre for decades, his works include Farenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and The Martian Chronicles. This book marks the debut of 'The Illustrated Man', a character whose unusual tattoos come alive. First published in 1962, Something Wicked... was made into a Disney movie starring Jason Robards.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Royal Military Academy lecturer and scholar John Keegan accomplishes the impossible in this equally comprehensive and concise book chronicling each phase, each front, each nation, and every major player of World War I. Discussing in detail the root catalysts and initial conflicts which ultimately led to bloodshed, carnage, and revolution; Keegan provides a fresh and unbiased view on the "War to end all Wars". This is a great and relatively easy read for anyone interested in history or war. The audio version is read by narrator Simon Prebble.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Kingsley is routinely robbed of Oscar caliber performances but depriving him here was way off. His portrayal of the menacing Don, a man who long ago crossed the line from steady delinquent to reprobate psychopath, is too grotesque to look away from. Winstone's ('Gal') 'reformed criminal' is the perfect foil to Don's demonic wilfullness and the supporting cast is perfect. As a psychological thriller, 'Beast' is comparable to Silence of the Lambs or Seven and on par with Miller's Crossing or Pulp Fiction for a glance into the criminal underground.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Class reunions can bring out the worst in people. At a special gathering of high school alums, a killer secretly stalks those who made him the victim 20 years earlier.
A northeastern prep school catering to rich, talented, foreword-leaning teens; this former Stonecroft Academy class features a distinguished group of scholars, businessmen, and hollywood stars. Yet the glamour of this reunion is overshadowed due to the deaths of several former students--all women--from recent "accidents". Scandal soon takes center stage as another of the "lunch table girls" disappears. Another scandal ups the tension for former student Jean Sheridan as she returns to confront a past she can't forget and a child she's never met. Coincidences become unlikely when another disappearance, along with a series of taunting hints at Jean, force detective Sam Keegan and plucky student-turned-investigator Jake Perkins to speculate on a revenge plot. But who among the 42 attendees could be the killer and how could he (or she?) know so much about Jean's secret? Are Jean and the daughter she's yet to meet next?
Currently top-billed mystery/suspense author Clark knows how to tell a story and the intrigue of 'Nighttime' will keep her loyal fans page turning. While practiced mystery buffs may yawn at the (somewhat) overblown motive of the killer and cringe at his darkside alter-ego (The Owl???), the plot survives on melodrama alone. Despite larger-than-life characters and predictable dialogue, 'Nighttime' delivers on its action making for a good night time read.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Ever wanted to write a story or a novel, but felt like you needed a little push? A growing international phenomenon, which last year included almost 80,000 registered participants, declares that November is the month to begin!
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately called by participants, begins in November. The idea is to write a 50,000 word book in the thirty days of November. For those of you counting, that's about 1,670 words a day. Or, in simpler numbers, 2,000 words a day means finishing a rough draft in 25 days.
Participants can register at the NaNoWriMo website. The website includes message boards, word meters, posted drafts, and more to support the writers. You can even order supportive emails from best selling authors including Neil Gaiman, Sue Grafton, Garth Nix, and Tom Robbins to name a few.
Begun in 1999 with a total of 21 participants, National Novel Writing Month is the brainchild of Chris Baty, who has written a book-No Plot? No Problem (808.3 Baty)-that tells the story of how NaNoWriMo came to be and provides many useful tips for writing a novel in just thirty days.
In his book, Baty explains that after his first experience trying to write a novel in only 30 days he realized, "The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline." He also states that writing at such a crazy pace helps people to overcome their need for perfection in their writing and to take risks that they wouldn't otherwise.
The book is positive and upbeat. Included with the writing tips are time management tips (make large dishes with lots of leftovers so you don't have to cook every day), questions to ask yourself about your writing style and about the story that you want to write, week-by-week information about potential pitfalls, and ideas for revising your messy rough draft once you finish.
So are you thinking you may be interested? Let us know here at the Moore Memorial Library. We'd be happy to set up a writing group/support group for anyone interested.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
In Adam Bede, a young carpenter's devotion to a strikingly beautiful farm hand turns sour when she catches the eye of the local landowner. The passions of both men climax at the realization of each's feelings. The real genius of this book is Eliot's use of few characters and even fewer settings as opposed to a Dickens novel where people and places reach into the dozens. Australian David Case masterfully enhances the story's mood and maintains the reader's interest in each character. Though the realism abides throughout, the tone is never somber or cynical and all four protagonists contain just the right amount of ambiguity to create an intriguing plot with no heroes or villains. Even the seemingly victimized are never cast a shadow over as redemption and reconciliation are present by the story's end. (AD FIC ELIOT)
Taking the creed of "anti-tourism" (which frankly, I never before knew existed), it offers a series of travel games or "experiments" to get you where you're going and then occupy your time once you're there. A few examples are: go to a new city, borrow a dog and let the dog take you on a walk; choose your hotel based not on its amenities but from the view from your hotel window; honor the second-highest mountain on earth (called K-2) by selecting a map at random and visiting the place located at the square K-2 on the map's grid. All of the travel exercises are designed to make their adherents look at the world around them with a new perspective.
While I don't know if I would actually use this book to plan my vacation, I had a great time reading through all of the exercises and imagining where I'd end up if I did. It's definitely worth picking up.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness /
by Kay Redfield Jamison, M.D.
Dr. Jamison is Chief of the Psychiatry Department at Johns Hopkins. She is also a life long manic-depressive making her a leading authority on this brand of bipolar disorder. Extreme despair and hyperactivity accompany Jamison from adolescence into her 40’s as she struggles through tattered relationships, spending spree manias, even a near fatal suicide attempt—all resulting from her condition. An acute perspective in the realm of depressive illnesses, her memoir is extremely insightful for anyone involved with someone suffering from a disease of this type.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid / by Bill Bryson
Think of Beaver Cleaver in his cuffed jeans and buzz cut eating dinner with his family. Now picture him sneaking in to a strip club. Such is the dichotomy of this authentic, humorous, and openly lascivious memoir by Bill Bryson who somehow embraces the 1950's America without censoring human nature. Bryson uproots his own Iowa childhood reminiscing on a wide spectrum of nuances like grade school drama, red scare follies, and Sunday morning TV. An easy read perhaps most aimed at baby boomers, this is for anyone wanting a laugh with a dose of nostalgia.
The Lost: A Search for Six of the Six Million / by Daniel Mendolshon
All or most of Holocaust literature is retrospective in nature. And while this book deals heavily with the past, it closes the gap between living history and the present day via Mendelshon’s passionate journey of discovery. Almost like true crime or forensic literature, we see a heavily involved man—Mendolsohn—seeking the truth behind his holocaust era Jewish relatives who vanished during the final solution. Plodding at times, readers may get too bogged down with details to appreciate the mystery.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Hitchcock never fails to deliver in the suspense genre and this film is one his best combining the all-star talents of Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, and Hume Cronyn to create one of the best lost-at-sea movies of the 20th century.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Walker's easy style allows any reader to tap into her characters even during the most "out-there" episodes and the down-to-earth frankness in her delivery will relate well to any reader. Fans of Walker's poetry and non-fiction will recognize her own voice clearly realized in Kate's oft-given reflections on personal, social, political, and relational concerns. This is a great book for anyone seeking a bit of fantasy within realistic fiction and as well as some new vacation ideas. (FIC WALKER)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Our Endangered Values by Former President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter is still active within many circles of social and political life in America. Indirectly, he supports and maintains several humanitarian missions like “Habitat for Humanity” and the “Carter Center” in his hometown of Atlanta. Here he analyzes some fundamental issues foreign and domestic, social and political that he feels threaten our current standard of living. Things such as religious fundamentalism, the growing economic divide between the upper and lower classes, global warming, and American military presence abroad are subjects which Carter evaluates and expresses with his own viewpoints. No matter what your political leaning, anyone should be able to appreciate someone as involved and influential as Carter speaking up on the existing state of the nation.
Kozol is a former Harvard graduate and veteran Civil Rights advocate who’s been engaged in American public schools in one way or another for over forty years. Stating that social reforms originally established to eliminate segregation of American public schools have backslidden, he argues that our nation’s public schools (particularly in highly diverse inner-city communities) are at a worse state now than they were in the pre-Civil Rights era. Using an abundance of personally observed conditions and interviews with politicians, administrators, teachers, and students (some as young as 4 or 5), Kozol makes no debate about what the problem is, the source of it, and who is to blame. This book is very “leftist” but not without validity concerning where the nation is headed if the educational system is not reformed. The book is a good read for anyone who is involved in some area of the public schools – be it directly as a parent/teacher or indirectly as a taxpayer.
Acclaimed author of The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing is back again with a new novel confronting young people’s difficulties and concerns as seen through one girl’s transition into womanhood. We meet Sophie Applebaum as an early teenager in suburban Pennsylvania struggling to cement an identity while encountering the issues of people in her life. Sophie emerges as a single New York woman more confident but still feeling around for confirmation and affection. This book is for individuals with a more sincere interest in chick lit rather than the over-the-top, Janet Evanovitch style. Personally I felt a little detached from Sophie’s character, perhaps due in part to Bank’s more laid back style of revelation. Purely seen as a story, however, The Wonder Spot won’t disappoint too many readers.
This is a locally edited and published reference book dealing with the present day juvenile justice system. Topically indexed alphabetically, subjects like delinquency, petty vandalism, and misdemeanor or addressed in a well referenced and documented form. Cross-references to related subject headings make for a very solid syndetic scheme. This reference book is something we may not have a lot of “out-right” reference questions about. But it nonetheless provides some fluid information on the maintenance and operation of our nation’s juvenile justice system.
King’s latest macabre extaordinaire rewards the many long-time faithful readers of his horror classics with another solid, well-paced tale of conformity gone mad. Cell has just the right balance of drama, action, and curiosity along with--as always--blood and gore for most readers. A master storyteller who fashions literature anyone will gravitate toward, King modernizes this horror tale with a little ingenuity by creating a virus spread by cell phones. This virus or “pulse” is spread as a person holds their cell phone to his or her ear as radio waves are dispersed from the satellite signals. The immediate influx of literally millions of infected persons creates a frenzy of zombie-like maniacal beings reaking havoc through the streets. The plot for the story is almost immediately set down as we see the “normies” (people without cell phones and who haven’t used one since the virus began) are at war with the infected converts. King will never go wrong in appealing to the mass market readers. But anyone looking to graduate from overly-sympathetic characters and saccharin themes of good, evil, hypocrisy, and sentimentalism might need to look elsewhere.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Chabon's most recent book is The Yiddish Policmen's Union, which is a detective story set in a world in which Jews settled in Alaska instead of Israel after World War II. Chabon won a Pulitzer in 2001 for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. He also wrote The Wonder Boys, which was made into a movie starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Author Kate Horsley has a simple but lyrical writing style and a penchant for unusual storylines. Her characters tend to have a mystical bent and live in times of great cultural change. She also wrote Confessions of a Pagan Nun (FIC HORSLEY), the story of a Druid woman who becomes a Christian nun in the days of the expansion of the Christianity to the British Isles. I give both books the thumbs-up.