Thursday, April 29, 2010

That Brazilian Beat

I had the pleasure of attending a Brazilian concert on Friday night at the Green Dolphin Street club. (What a beautiful nightclub and a great venue!) I was so excited because I don’t get a chance to see many concerts on account of the fact that most of them start after I go to sleep. But I heard great things about Céu so I decided to stay up late and I was so glad I did. Her name interestingly enough means heaven. She was amazing even better than I expected; what an accomplished musician. Her performance was sultry, smoky, sexy, and steamy. I wanted to be Brazilian after just one song and even though I don’t speak Portuguese, I was a fan. Céu received a Latin Grammy nomination for “best new artist” of 2006 and just received a Grammy nomination for "Best Contemporary World Music Album." of 2007. And in 2008, she received a Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary World Music Album” of 2007 for her debut album Céu. Here is a link to some cool information about Céu and the band (also very accomplished) Ceu's Myspace page

And here are the links to holdings in the consortium.

Vagarosa - Ceu

Ceu - Ceu

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For those interested in contemporary China

A Sinophile is a person who demonstrates a strong interest in aspects of Chinese culture and its people. To understand modern China is to learn about life during Mao’s reign, immigration to other countries and current life in modern, technology-driven China. The fiction and non-fiction below, in no particular order, and available in Glenview Public Library’s collection, make for fascinating reading.

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li –
A novel with a consistent voice, highly readable prose, fascinating and believable characters and bursting with interesting details, Li illuminates the period two years after the death of Mao. This first novel is reminiscent of the work of Ha Jin as the author is fairly new to writing in English. She came to the US in 1996 as an immunology major at the University of Iowa, but soon found herself in a writing class there. This is a memorable experience which enhances one's knowledge of what Chinese people have lived through.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang –
331.40951 CHA
These young women must re-invent themselves as they move to a factory town, Dongguan, that provides a dormitory, stores, friends and work. There is nothing there but the factories that make the imported goods found all over the world. English is the only way to upward mobility. Chang, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, traces her own family history while living with the factory girls and learning about their day to day dramas and rather unromantic courtships and grueling hours. A real eye opener.

The Bitter Sea: coming of age in a China before Mao by Charles N. Li
952.05 Li
An exceptionally well written and gripping memoir of growing up in China. Born near the beginning of World War II, Li was the youngest son of a wealthy Chinese government official. He saw his father jailed for treason and his family's fortunes dashed when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists came to power in 1945. He went from living amongst the most wealthy and then the reversal of fortune found him living in a slum. A difficult father and a much removed mother added to his difficult life. Now a professor of linguistics at U of California, Santa Barbara, this appears to be the first in a continuing saga of his life. I can't wait for the next one.

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates
A family comes to Canada from Communist China in the late 1950's. They own a Chinese restaurant in rural Ontario that consumes them. Su-Jen Chou tells her story--her life as the only Chinese girl in her high school-- in this deeply affecting coming-of-age novel. Her father is the proprietor of the local Canadian-Chinese “greasy spoon”. Her mother is haunted with yearnings for her homeland, and unpleasant family secrets are revealed. A memorable, well-told story that reads like a memoir.

Wild Swans: three daughters of China by Jung Chang
951.05 CHA
An ode to courage and resilience, this autobiography is about three generations of women in China. It provides a thorough portrait of China during World War II and what Mao’s version of communism did to one family. Chang was one of the lucky few permitted to leave Communist China and earn a doctorate in the west. Essential reading for those seeking to understand how China evolved.

A Good Fall by Ha Jin
Deceptively simple, but well-crafted short stories represent a variety of Chinese immigrant experiences. Characters are often academics newly arrived in New York (Queens especially). Jin's characters share a simple goal: how to successfully live in America in spite of baggage. Two stories had a particularly virulent form of baggage: a hate spewing mother-in-law. I have a question for Mr. Jin: could visiting mother-in-laws really be that rude to their daughter-in-laws?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's the word?

Many genres have their own periodicals. There are magazines that review mysteries, romances, and historical fiction. For those who enjoy science fiction and fantasy, that magazine is Locus. Whether you prefer Larry Niven or Tad Williams, Connie Willis or Alistair Reynolds, this magazine covers it. Locus covers information in the publishing world, news about authors and publishers, rights sold, books delivered, awards received, births and deaths, and so on.

Locus magazine was founded in 1968. It was Published and edited by Charles N Brown until his death in 2009. Its current editor in chief is Liza Groen Tombi. Since 1971, it has presented the Locus Award, given to winners of its annual readers’ poll. Also at the beginning of each year is a “year in review” issue which provides recommended reading lists from books published in the previous year.

Not only is it a good source of reviews for books and magazines, it’s a good way to find out what is being published in the near future. Four times a year a “forthcoming books” issue is done that gives a general schedule for books due to be published in the near future.

In addition to reviews, Locus also interviews popular authors and editors as well as those that are up and coming. Typically two authors are interviewed per issue. Conventions are also covered, often with a photo gallery.

Issues of Locus can be found in the Periodicals department. It also has a website, which contains an index to the reviews and interviews it has done, at


Monday, April 19, 2010

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction has been awarded to Paul Harding for his debut novel Tinkers. With only eight days to live, George Washington Crosby’s thoughts drift back to his childhood and to the father who abandoned him when he was twelve. The life of George and his father, Howard, is explored through the metaphor of George’s hobby of repairing clocks.

Paul Harding has a MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has taught writing at Harvard and the University of Iowa. He lives near Boston with his wife and two sons, Tinkers is his first novel.

Pulitzer prizes are awarded annually for achievements in American newspaper journalism, literature and music. The prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer, journalist and newspaper publisher, and administered by Columbia University. The first Pulitzer prizes were awarded in June, 1917; they are now announced each April. Recipients are selected by an independent board.

On a personal note, last year I had the pleasure hearing Mr. Harding speak at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago, a humble man just hoping that someone would read his book. They sure have! Congratulations Paul.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Waiting for "The Help"?

Bestselling title, "The Help" has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 51 weeks. It's one of the hottest titles now. Even with 25 copies, we can't keep it on the shelves, but it's well worth the wait! If you're of the many who have been on reserve for it for weeks (myself included) or haven't been able to snag a Rental copy, here's some other titles you may enjoy while you wait:

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (and after you've read it, join us on Monday, May 3 when our Monday Afternoon Book Group, Page Turners, will discuss it) Set in 1946, Laura McAllan tries to adjust after moving with her husband and two children to an isolated cotton farm in the Mississipi Delta.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg. It is the summer of 1964 in Tupelo, Mississippi, and tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently--and violently--across the state. But in Paige Dunn's small, ramshackle house, challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, she is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit--with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

The Summer We Got Saved by Pat Cunningham Devoto. Embracing the belief systems of her Southern hometown, Tab witnesses changes in the attitudes throughout the course of a 1960s gubernatorial campaign, which is marked by the establishment of a voting school for church members.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Two African American sisters, one a missionary in Africa and the other a child-wife living in the South, support each other through their correspondence, beginning in the 1920s.

The Air Between Us by Deborah Johnson. Racial segregation in a small 1960s Mississippi community is brought into question in the aftermath of an apparent hunting accident, an event that also tests the views of two prominent physicians.

Right as Rain by Bev Marshall. Living and working on the rural Southern farm belonging to their white employers, Tee Wee and Icey forge a bond based on their shared servitude and their equally painful pasts.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout's father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town during the 1930s.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blues Hall of Fame

Honored this year are Louisiana-born, Chicago-based bluesman Lonnie Brooks, blues singer and harpist Charlie Musselwhite and singer/guitarist Bonnie Raitt.

Lonnie Brooks moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1960. He worked in the West Side clubs as well as in Gary and East chicago, IN and the Rush Street North Side entertainment area. in 1969, he recorded his first album, Broke An' Hungry. Rolling Stone says, "Brooks' music is witty, soulful and ferociously energetic, brimming with novel harmonic turnarounds, committed vocals and simply astonishing guitar work."

Charlie Musselwhite was born in Mississippi and is of Cherokee descent. He is reportedly the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd's Blues Brothers.

Bonnie Lynn Raitt is best know for her recordings in the 1990s (CD 781.642 RAI) including "Nick of Time", Something to talk About", "Love Sneakin' Up on You", and "I Can't Make You Love Me." Raitt received nine Grammy Awards in her career.

Other veterans are W.C. Handy "Father of the Blues", jug band pioneer in the 1920s and 1930s Gus Cannon and Cannon's Jug Stompers and Amos Milburn, African American rhythm and blues singer and pianist popular during the 1940s and 1950s.

Songs recognized are "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" (CD 781.643 ESS) by Otis Rush, "Fever" by Little Willie John, "Key To The Highway" by big Bill Broonzy, "Match Box Blues" (CD 781.643 JEF) by Blinda Lemon Jefferson and "Spoonful" (CD 781.643 HOW) by Howlin' Wolf, as well as Robert Cray's album Strong Persuader (CD 781.63 ROB), Hung Down Head by Lowell Fulson and I Hear Some Blues Downstairs (CD 781.643 CRU) by Fenton Robinson.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April is National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media--to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage and to poetry books and journals. It is celebrated every year in April since its inception in 1996. The goals are to highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing contributions of American poets and introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry.

The best point of entry to the world of poetry is, of course, the poem. Anthologies can be great starting points for browsing and sampling diverse styles and time periods. A great classic anthology is the group of Norton anthologies which comprises a huge resource for and guidebook to the history of poetry in English. Another classic is Poems for the Millennium. This collection includes poetry from post-World War II through the Cold War and its aftermath. For a contemporary anthology, try the Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry, for readers who value fresh and original poetry. A bestselling anthology is Into the Garden: A Wedding Anthology: Poetry and Prose on Love and Marriage edited by Robert Hass. You will also find a brand new book in our new non-fiction collection entitled 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book/Marvin Bell. This collaborative book collects 80 poems by seven poets, written over a period of four days. A couple of notable, visual collections are Eat, Drink, and Be Merry from the acclaimed Everyman's Library Series. This is a beautiful, hardbacked anthology featuring some of the best poems of all time celebrating gathering together to eat, drink, and be merry. Then, there is also Essential Pleasures: a New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud by Robert Pinsky. This is a vibrant anthology and accompanying CD that revive a great American tradition: the joy of reciting poetry aloud. Additionally, check out A Book of Love Poetry by John Stallworthy. From the civilization of the Lower Nile to that of the Lower Hudson, more poets have written more convincingly, more poignantly about love than about any other subject.

Perhaps, after perusing anthologies, you may discover an intriguing poet and find that a single volume written by just one author may be more welcoming. Consider and select any of the following: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes which showcases 860 poems from one of the most beloved American poets of the 20th century, The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath which is a Pulitzer Prize-winning collection gathered, annotated, and edited by Ted Hughes, Joseph Brodsky: Collected Poems in English by Joseph Brodsky which is the definitive collection of poetry in English by Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky, Opened Ground: Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize-winning poet, Poe: Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, one of America's most influential poets, known for his poetic tales of mystery and the macabre, and lastly Frost: Poems by Robert Frost which is a generous selection of poetic lyrics from one of the most brilliant and widely read of all American poets.

Poet Wallace Stevens said that poetry is "a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right." Make it one of your own daily necessities beginning this April during National Poetry Month 2010.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A New Chapter for Books

There has been much talk lately about the increasing popularity of eBooks and eBook devices. Did you know that you can use your Glenview Public Library card to download free ebooks to your computer? With an additional step, you can also transfer eBooks to compatible eBook devices, Windows Mobile®-based Smartphones and some PDAs. Close to 3000 eBook titles are currently available and the collection continues to grow as new titles are selected every month. Visit MyMediaMall to find out more. At this time, the eBook formats available at MyMediaMall are not compatible with the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPad.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blacklands: a novel by Belinda Bauer

Within the pages of this small, just over 200 pages, novel is the chilling story of 12-year old Steven Lamb, who is determined to unearth the grave of his Uncle Billy, missing for 18 years and presumed murdered by child serial killer Arnold Avery. Steven lives with his downtrodden mother Lettie, his 5-year old brother Davey and his grandmother Nan in Shipcolt, Somerset. Steven’s grandmother anxiously awaits the return of her missing 11 year-old son by keeping vigil by the window and has been unable to move forward with her life since that horrible day.

The police believe that convicted serial child killer Avery is responsible for Billy’s murder having found Billy’s Nike’s in the killer’s van, but not his body. Steven is convinced that if Uncle Billy’s remains can be found his family can move on with their lives, so Steven has been relentlessly digging holes in the English moor were Avery’s other victims have been found in hopes of finding his uncle’s remains and win the affection of his mother and grandmother. Nearly defeated in his lack of progress in the moor Steven writes a cryptic letter to Avery in hopes that he can trick the killer into revealing his uncle’s grave. Avery, who is in prison and serving a life sentence for his crimes, responds with his own cryptic message and a game of cat and mouse is started that will have dire consequences for one of the players.

With the naïveté of a lonely and desperate boy, Steven is convinced he can win this game; however, he is no match for the cunning villain. When Steven unknowingly sends a photograph of himself to Avery, revealing that he is of the age and type that the killer prefers, Avery’s only thought is of escape and making Steven his next victim. What follows is somewhat far fetched, but none the less exciting. Bauer is at her best with the superb characterization of the sociopathic child killer and the desperate young boy. Bauer writes a fast-paced and suspenseful drama that will keep the reader engaged from start to finish.

Belinda Bauer grew up in South Africa and England and now resides in Wales. Blacklands is the former journalist and screenwriter’s debut novel.