Peter Pan's Dark Side
Posted October 29, 2009
A new book about the author of Peter Pan and a new novel that reworks the Peter Pan myth are as good a cause as any to ponder the perennial appeal of the story. J.M. Barrie’s most famous character debuted in a section of a novel for adults and then, as depicted in the Johnny Depp movie Finding Neverland, Barrie wrote a play that later became the novel. Barrie returned to the story for some of his later works, including When Wendy Grew Up, and the story was subsequently adapted into famous film and stage versions. A new book, Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon (currently on order), claims to find the stuff of scandal in Barrie’s life, and a new novel, Brom’s The Child Thief, reworks Peter Pan into a macabre fantasy for adults. Clearly, the dark side of Peter Pan has as much resonance for us these days as the more innocent side, and the new books got us thinking about other works that have been inspired by the timeless story.
More Books Inspired by Peter Pan:
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Tigerheart by Peter David
The Lost Girls by Laurie Fox
Kensington Gardens by Rodrigo Fresan
Second Star to the Right by Mary Alice Kruesi
Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon
D.I.Y. Fright Fest
Posted October 27, 2009
Halloween is right around the corner, and there is no better way to celebrate than by scaring yourself silly with a frightening film. There are many movies that will send chills up your spine, but we have selected just a few of our favorites. Included are two classics by Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense; a film featuring the most terrifying acting Jack Nicolson has ever done; and other movies starring pod people, serial killers, a Swedish vampire and demonic possessors. We are certain that these will keep you awake this Halloween night.
Blair Witch Project
The Silence of the Lambs
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
28 Days Later
Let The Right One In
Don’t Miss This: 1982
Posted October 22, 2009
For the next installment in our series of highlights of yesteryears, let’s jump in the time machine and go back to 1982. Sure, it was the year of E.T. and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but what else were people talking about?
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Alice Walker’s famous novel about the hardships of African American life in 1930s Georgia won multiple awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. It was later adapted into a celebrated film and, more recently, a successful Broadway musical. (Here are some other notable books of that year.)
Violent Femmes by The Violent Femmes
Lore has it that the band was busking on the street when a member of The Pretenders noticed them. Their self-titled album may not have dominated the charts when it was released, but it’s become a classic with hits that have been a staple of alternative radio ever since. (And here are some other notable albums of that year.)
Ridley Scott’s noir science fiction masterpiece was based on a short story by Philip K Dick and quickly amassed a devoted cult following. The film, starring a never cooler cast including Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah, has notoriously been recut several times, but the recent “Final Cut” is a great place to start. (Some other notable films of the year.)
Posted October 20, 2009
Some major literary awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker Prize, as well as nominees for the National Book Award, have all been announced over the past few weeks. Hilary Mantel was awarded the Man Booker for Wolf Hall, a novel about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful and close advisor of Henry VIII and a major player in the English Reformation. The story of Henry’s court has been told time and time again, but according to accolades Mantel is receiving, Wolf Hall is something you should not miss. “Hilary Mantel has created a novel both fresh and finely wrought: a brilliant portrait of a society in the throes of disorienting change, anchored by a penetrating character study of Henry’s formidable advisor, Thomas Cromwell,” noted the Washington Post, and Library Journal stated, “There will be few novels this year as good as this one.”
In other book news, Herta Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is an award given for an author’s life’s work. The Nobel committee stated that Ms. Müller, “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” A Romanian-born German, Müller grew up under the repressive dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, which is the focus of her work. Only a few of her 19 novels have been translated into English, but there is little doubt that it is only a matter of time before we see more.
Finally, an eclectic and surprising list of nominees for the National Book Award in Fiction has been announced. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the nomination of American Salvage, a collection of short stories set in rural Michigan. “These fine-tuned stories are shaped by stealthy wit, stunning turns of events and breathtaking insights” noted Library Journal in a starred review. The field includes another collection of stories by Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, which is set in Pakistan. Other nominees include the novel Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, which uses the backdrop of New York in 1974 when Phillip Petit walked between the Twin Towers on a wire; and Lark and Termite, called “poetic” by the New Yorker, the story of a family in small-town West Virgina in 1959 whose father is fighting in the Korean war; and Marcel Theroux’s Far North, which Publishers Weekly called a “postapocalyptic road novel.” You won’t find out the winner until mid-November, so you have the next month to check out the nominees!
Chicago Book Festival
Posted October 15, 2009
Michael Chabon reading from his new book Manhood for Amateurs on Wednesday, October 21, 6:00 p.m. [Event details]
Sherman Alexie discussing his new collection War Dances with Victoria Lautman on Thursday, October 22, 6:00 p.m. [Event details]
Kimberla Lawson Roby reading from her latest book A Deep Dark Secret on Thursday, October 22, 7:00 p.m. at Woodson Regional Library [Event details]
Meanwhile, we’re in full swing with our latest One Book One Chicago selection, Carl Smith’s The Plan of Chicago, chosen to celebrate the Burnham Plan Centennial. Check out the full listing of One Book programs and events. One particularly appealing event coming up is a presentation featuring Dominic Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography, the latest Chicago classic. (The book was profiled in the Chicago Sun Times this past weekend.) The event will be Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 p.m. [event details].
And there are plenty more events being hosted by partners of the Library. A few highlights (please consult the festival guide for directions or any special ticket instructions):
Luis Urrea, author of the new Into the Beautiful North, at Columbia College on Monday, October 19, 6:30 p.m.
Barbara Ehrenreich reading from her new book Bright-Sided Tuesday, October 20, 6:00 p.m. at International House, 1414 E. 59th St. (sponsored by Seminary Co-op Bookstores & International House)
Aleksandar Hemon, whose latest is Love and Obstacles, on Tuesday, October 27, 6:00 p.m. at Loyola University Chicago
Augusten Burroughs reading from You Better Not Cry at Music Box Theater (sponsored by Borders) Tuesday, October 27, 7:00 p.m.
Taylor Branch, author of the new The Clinton Tapes, at the University Club of Chicago on Thursday, October 29, noon
Fall into Baking
Posted October 12, 2009
The leaves are turning, and there is a chill in the air. When fall rolls around, there are few things as comforting as the aroma of something baking: apple pie, bread, cookies, really anything will do. Luckily, we have plenty of materials at the Chicago Public Library to provide inspiration and instruction to both the novice and expert baker. For the ambitious, we recommend Baking by James Peterson, the sequel to his James Beard award-winning Cooking. It includes over 300 recipes including chiffon cake, croissants, chocolate mousse, passion fruit tart and many other delectable treats. Or dig into the Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. “With Malgieri’s confidence-building tutelage and a little practice, readers will be frosting cakes and cranking out scones like pros, and the chef offers multiple variations to try once the basics have been mastered,” notes Publishers Weekly. There are other cookbooks that specialize in nearly everything from cookies to chocolate to specialty bread. We have listed some titles that may tempt you to pull out your apron!
A Passion For Baking by Marcy Goldman
Anyone Can Bake by Jan Miller and Tricia Laning
Baking For All Occasions by Flo Braker
Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
Martha Stewart’s Cookies by the editors of Martha Stewart Living
Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
Cake Love by Warren Brown
BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher
Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook by Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart
Local Breads by Daniel Leader with Laura Chattman
Born to Run
Posted October 8, 2009
With the annual Chicago Marathon happening this weekend, now’s the perfect time to highlight some hot titles that will be of interest to runners and readers alike. The Library owns several books about the marathon itself, including Chicago Marathon by Raymond Britt and The Chicago Marathon by Andrew Suozzo. There’s also a recent dvd entitled Spirit of the Marathon sure to be on interest. Further Chi-town persepctive is available in Chicago Running Guide by Brenda Barrera and Eliot Wineberg.
But we’d be remiss not to point out a recent surprise bestseller that has runners talking: Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Here’s a useful description from the publisher: “McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it.” Booklist praised it for bring a “slyly important, highly readable account” and Kirkus raved, calling it a “terrific ride, recommended for any athlete.” Sounds anything but…run of the mill. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With Books
Posted October 6, 2009
We’re right in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins in mid-September and ends in mid-October. The Chicago Public Library is celebrating, too, so please join us for these Hispanic Heritage Month events. In addition to our programming, we’d like to recommend some new fiction that would make for excellent reading this month.
Local author Achy Obejas’ newest novel Ruins is set in Havana in 1994 and features Usnavy, a 54-year-old man who still believes in communist Cuba. He lives a simple life, but a beautiful lamp, perhaps a Tiffany, provides a connection to Cuba’s past. Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao said, “Daring, tough and deeply compassionate, Achy Obejas’s Ruins is a breathtaker.” Another Chicagoan, Luis Albero Urrea, is the author of the recently published Into the Beautiful North, a humorous tale of a young woman on a quest to smuggle Mexican men back into Mexico. Oscar Casares’s new novel Amigoland revolves around estranged elderly brothers Fidencio and Celestino, living in the border town of Brownsville. They are brought together by Celestino’s housekeeper, Socorro, and the three take off on a trip to find out the truth about an old family legend. Publishers Weekly called the book “a winning novel.”
We would also like to recommend the debut novel The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico by Sarah McCoy, a coming of age tale that, as Booklist noted, “captures the essence of life in Puerto Rico.” Finally, we’d like to suggest a nonfiction title, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life by Gerald Martin, a biography of the renowned author of A Hundred Years of Solitude and master of magical realism. This book has received favorable reviews, and Marquez is one author we’d love to know more about.
Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing
Posted October 1, 2009
Join us this Tuesday for a One Book, One Chicago event: D. Bradford Hunt will discuss his new book Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing, a historical examination of public housing in Chicago, at 6:00 p.m. at the Harold Washington Library Center. Bradford is certainly qualified to write the book – a professor at Roosevelt University, his dissertation was on public housing, and he collaborated with J.F. Fuerst on the book When Public Housing Was Paradise, a compilation of residents’ oral histories dating back to the beginnings of public housing in Chicago, a relatively golden age in its history. In Blueprint For Disaster, he lays out how it went wrong. In a review in the Chicago Tribune, Elizabeth Taylor noted that the book “adds a new dimension to the debate by pointing to missed opportunities for the CHA to heed warning signs and change course and that policy choices at the local and federal level led to the demise of public housing.”
Public housing is certainly a hot-button topic, and there have been many worthy studies of the subject, including a few excellent books focusing on Chicago. Sudhir Vankstesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day, is also the author of American Project, a history of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes. Library Journal notes that Vankstesh’s research approach “provides a fascinating and rigorous explanation of how a model of urban subsidized housing, which succeeded for 20 years, declined into disastrous conditions for its inhabitants.” There is also Waiting for Gautreaux. The title refers to the landmark case Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, the 1966 case regarding discriminatory polices in public housing, and the author, Alexander Poilkoff, was the attorney who argued the case. The impact of the Gautreaux decision, the relocation of many low-income residents into the suburbs, is examined in Crossing Class and Color Lines by Leonard Rubinowitz and James Rosenbaum. A more intimate and affecting look at public housing in Chicago is Alex Kotlowitz’s There Are No Children Here. This 1991 book, for which Kotlowitz won the Carl Sandburg award, tells the story of two brothers growing up in the Henry Horner housing project.
We also recommend you check out the current One Book selection, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City by Carl Smith.