Art and Power

Lenin pin

Samuel Goldwyn, the movie studio head, told his writers: "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." What he meant was that he was not interested in scripts that expressed social or political opinions. Lenin and the soviet leaders after him, on the other hand, felt that all art should have a message: theirs. With […]

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Love and War: Novels of World War II

WWII Women

Nothing in the 20th century seems to capture the imagination quite like the Second World War. Lots of books have been written by and about men, but there are also some very good books written by and featuring women. These are just a few of the most recent. Martha Hall Kelly has never written a […]

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Have Some Fun With Science Fiction Action!

Orion Space Flyer 1

Sometimes I get tired of reading serious books on serious themes and need to cleanse my reading palate. These science fictions novels are good for when you don't want to completely turn your brain off, but want some fun with your literature. Koko Takes A Holiday by Kieran Shea roars out of the gate and doesn't […]

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Books for Opera Buffs

Civic Opera 1

Chicago Lyric Opera recently announced its next season, and while only subscriptions are currently on sale (tickets for individual performances become available in July), this is a good time to look at recent novels that involve operas and those who sing them. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is as full of drama and incident […]

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Marshall Field and the Gilded Age

MF Dome

Renee Rosen has written an interesting biographical novel: What the Lady Wants. Through the eyes of socialite Delia Caton, Marshall Field and his social set come alive. Though twenty years separate their ages, Delia and Marshall turn to each other for relief from their unhappy marriages and scandalize Chicago society. But as much as this is […]

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Books About Elephants To Never Forget

Elephants 1

Elephants have held a special fascination for humans for millenia. Worshipped as gods, feted as performers, trained as workers, they have a special relationship with people. These three books deal with that relationship in its myriad forms. The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James is a luminescent book. The story shifts between three perspectives. Emma is a […]

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Sisters in STEAM

Nathalia Holt's newest book is out, and it's a real treat. Rise of the Rocket Girls chronicles the women "computers" of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the Cal Tech students who set it up to the launch of the space probe Juno, which is scheduled to start orbiting Jupiter in July. Under various managers, the computing department […]

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Women of Terrible Virtue

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger came by her beliefs honestly. After watching her mother suffer through nearly 20 pregnancies and listening to her ex-Catholic father's radical speeches (often at the neighborhood watering hole), she took up the cause of women controlling their own sexuality and fertility. Ellen Feldman's biographical novel, Terrible Virtue, captures her zeal. Told mostly in […]

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New Novels of the Indian Diaspora

runaways

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Sanjeev Sahota's The Year of the Runaways is a fierce, political novel. Three men from India and one Sikh woman from London arrive in Sheffield, England early in this century. The men are on fraudulent visas and the woman, Narinder, is helping out one of them by being a straw wife […]

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Tough Broads 3

Desert Hwy 1

Minerva Koenig's sequel to Nine Days, South of Nowhere, is out, to which I say, hooray! Julie Kalas is renovating a house while recovering from stab wounds inflicted by the woman she bought the house from when she discovers a mummified corpse in the heating chase. Must be time for a very long vacation in, say, […]

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