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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Classic Travelogues

Believe it or not, travel writing dates back to c. 440 BC  when Herodotus authored his Histories chronicling travels to Egypt and other parts of the ancient world.  Smithsonian magazine recently published a selection of classic travel literature ("The Top Ten Most Influential Travel Books," March 20, 2013) that, in addition to Herodotus, includes other travel books that have endured.  You can find many at the library.
The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo (c. 1300)
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (1869)
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (1977)
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (1989)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tournament of Books

As March Madness gears up, there is another tournament for those who prefer a good book to the basketball court. ("March Madness for the Book Rolls On," New York Times, March 18, 2013). Since 2005, the Morning News has sponsored its Tournament of Books complete with brackets, opening rounds, quarterfinals and of course, ultimately a champion. Sixteen novels published in 2012 face off in one-on-one matches decided by a panel of judges. Some of the early results in the opening round and quarterfinals are below; don’t miss the championship round March 29.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl beat out underdog Ivyland by Miles Klee

Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son squeezed past Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Hilary Mandel’s Bring Up the Bodies triumphed over Laurent Binet’s HHhH

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti edged past Lauren Goff’s Arcadia

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013

Formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, this British prize devoted to fiction by women recently announced its list of finalists. Among them are more well-known bestsellers such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies as well as works by Barbara Kingsolver and Zadie Smith. Here are a few lesser-known titles you may wish to try:

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The Forrests by Emily Perkins

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Thursday, March 07, 2013

History as Fiction

Thomas Mallon’s Watergate was just named a finalist for the Pen-Faulkner Award, an honor bestowed on authors by fellow writers.  Once described by John Updike as “one of the most interesting novelists at work,” Mallon specializes in history through the lives of ordinary people at the edge of major historical events.  In his first novel Henry and Clara, Mallon recreated the tragic story of Henry and Clara Rathbone--the young couple who sat in the President's box on the night of Lincoln's assassination.  If you wish to sample some of Mallon’s other work and their historical eras, here are a few selections:
Fellow Travelers                  (The McCarthy Era)
Bandbox                                (The Jazz Age)
Dewey Defeats Truman      (1948 Presidential Election)
Two Moons                    (Reconstruction Washington, D.C.)