Award Winner

Dead End in Norvelt

Jack Gantos is one of my favorite authors, especially when I'm in the mood for a quirky, darkly funny read. Dead End in Norvelt is no exception - in fact, it had me laughing out loud in several places about the (fictional?) escapades of the protagonist, also named Jack Gantos! I wish I'd been witness to the real-life childhood of Gantos, to see exactly which of the characters and situations in this novel occurred exactly as he describes. So many favorite scenes - one where Jack is enlisted to dress as the Grim Reaper to determine whether an old person is dead or not, another when his nose bleeds AND he faints after seeing what he thinks is a woman stripping the skin off her arm with her teeth.

   

Award Winner    Fiction   
Kids   

Heavens to Betsy

Betsy Blessing is an interim reverend at Church of the Shepherd in Nashville, TN, but when the senior pastor retires without warning the church reluctantly turns the reigns over to her. The board, for the most part, is not fully supportive of Betsy because she's a female and Edna Thompkins, Betsy's nemesis,  knows just how to get under Betsy's skin. Little does the congregation or Betsy's best friends, LaRonda and David, know that Betsy is planning to go to law school in the fall. All she has to do is get through a few months and she's free...or so she thinks.
Award Winner    Romance   

"Why Do We Care About Literary Awards?"

Jamrach's MenagerieAsking that question is Mark O'Connell at The Millions. He makes a good point: it is kind of ridiculous how seriously people take these things, how offended people can get if their favorite isn't chosen. There's no way for one award to please everyone, to choose the one book that is truly, objectively the best--there is very little "objective" anything when it comes to art. However, for librarians these awards are pretty indispensable. You'll see plenty of posts on this blog, for example, about winners and shortlists. We use them when deciding what to buy, what to recommend to people, what to read ourselves. Maybe it would be better if everyone read all of the books and judged every one for themselves, but that's never going to happen.

   

Unpublished

Unpublished

Pulitzer Prizes 2011

ImageThe 2011 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week and include awards for letters.

Fiction
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

History
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

Biography or Autobiography
Washington : A Life by Ron Chernow

Poetry
The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan

General Nonfiction
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

   

Unpublished

Moon Over Manifest

It is 1936 in the depths of the Great Depression and Abilene Tucker has been sent by her wandering father to live in the dying town of Manifest, Kansas. She spends the summer making friends and trying to discover the truth about the town, its colorful inhabitants, and her father's past. The mystery revolves around the years 1917-18 when America was fighting in World War I and a deadly outbreak of influenza swept the world. Abilene and her buddies delve into old newspapers, find hidden clues, and uncover secrets through a diviner's stories to reveal the extraordinary friendship between two young men, Ned and Jinx. Abilene is disappointed when she believes there is no trace of her father in Manifest but for the first time in her life, she begins to think of a place as home.

   
Award Winner    Fiction   
Kids   

Just Kids

One of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs begins with the lines,"I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel/You were talking so brave and so free." Patti Smith's memoir of her coming-of-age with artist/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is partially set in this hotel with its unique history and cast of characters.

   
Just Kids   

From Book to Movie to Award Nomination

Where does Hollywood get many of their ideas? Comic books? Yes. TV shows from the 1970s? *Sigh* - yes. But also from books! Real books! This year's Academy Award nominations were announced this week, including 5 films for Best Adapted Screen Play - 4 of which are based on books. The fifth film, Toy Story 3 is based on a original treatment of the first movie (or something).

If you liked these movies - you might try the original too! I know I am adding several of these to my to-read list.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
This memoir is the basis for Danny Boyle's film 127 Hours and tells the amazing true story of a hiker who had to make a terrible decision after being trapped and injured alone in the desert for over five days. As a sometimes solo hiker, I am intrigued by this story. Both movie and book are on my list.

   

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