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Showing posts from September, 2011

Banned Books Week - an honorary posting

So, Banned Books Week is a week dedicated specifically to books that have been banned.  It's a week set aside each year by the ALA. Banned books are books that have actually been removed from libraries and school curriculums; they aren't books that have simply been challenged.  Banned books won't be found in the particular library that you are in, if they have, in fact, been banned. Books are challenged and/or banned for three main reasons: containing sexually explicit material, containing offensive language or being unsuited for any age group.

Examples of books that have been challenged are: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Ulysses by James Joyce, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 1984 by George Orwell, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Native Son by Richard Wright, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie, Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara…

"There Are Things I Want You To Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson

This is a memoir written by Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson's life partner, in which she details her life with Mr. Larsson and the complications regarding his legacy and his estate which his untimely death caused. Stieg Larsson is the author of the insanely popular "Millennium Trilogy," which includes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The book was initially written in Swedish and translated into English in 2011, and begins with diary entries that Ms. Gabrielsson wrote in order to help her cope with the grief of losing a man that she had been in an extensive relationship with. Gabrielsson apparently took the title for the memoir from a letter that Mr. Larsson had written to her before a trip to Africa that he thought that he might not survive. The memoir details how the couple met and how Stieg tireless fought the right wing fascist movement.  He was also a tireless crusader for the rights of women, having become a feminist after witnessing the brutal rape of a girl during …

The Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan

No, this isn't the CBS series (which is also wonderful and a must see!), but a novel by Stewart O'Nan.

This novel follows the life of a seemingly ordinary woman over a tremendously long period of time: we meet her when she is pregnant with her first and only child and we leave her after her son has graduated from college and taken his first job. When we meet Patty Dickerson, her husband, Tommy, has committed a crime at the beginning of the novel while he is drunk and ends up serving a sentence of 28 years for first degree murder.  Patty gives birth to their son while Tommy is incarcerated.

I loved this short novel for quite a few reasons.  The novel is told from Patty's perspective, so you really get a good feel for what it's like to be in her shoes.  You get the sense of the time from the snippets of the outside world that seep into the small portion of Patty's conscience being that isn't preoccupied with Tommy, his case and surviving. For instance, at the be…

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Wow.  That's all I can say about this powerful, gritty novel. NPR really picked a winner for this one.

Margaret "Margo" Crane is the protagonist of this novel - she lives in rural Michigan in the 1970's. When we first meet Margo, she is 15 but is no way your ordinary 15 year old teenage girl. Margo lives with her father on the river, after her mother abandoned them, and can shoot, skin and hunt like no one else.  In some ways, she's like her idol: Annie Hall in that she is a trailblazer - no other girls in the area are like her. Margo is often in extremely heartbreaking situations. Her uncle rapes her quite early on in the novel and she is such a good shooter that she manages to shoot off the tip of his penis. She also watches her father die in front of her and that is just the beginning of the heartbreak.

This book doesn't have a strict plot per se. It's more about how Margo learns about herself, learns to become self-sufficient and learns to accept hers…

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

Reading seems to be the only way for me to escape these days.  I picked up this book because the premise was interesting but to be quite frank, it ended up falling flat for me.

In this novel by Gabrielle Donelly, the Little Women that we all know and love aren't the main characters per se: they are the foremothers to the main characters in the novel. Emma, Lulu and Sophie are sisters and their great-great- grandmother is Jo March. Of course, her sisters are Amy, Meg and Beth. Emma, the oldest, is smart (but not brilliant), has a settled career and is soon to be married.  Lulu is brilliant but less settled - she doesn't have a job even though she graduated at the top of her class with a science degree (chemistry I think) and on the romance front she doesn't appear to have many prospects either.  Sophie is the youngest and a flighty actress.  They live in London - their American mother and English father also live in London in a house where Lulu finds old letters to and from…