Revisit Back to the Future
Posted October 28, 2010
Can it be that 25 years have passed since the world was first introduced to Marty McFly in Back to the Future? It's so. The cast recently reunited to celebrate this milestone along with the release of a 25th anniversary edition of the trilogy on DVD.
If you remember the franchise began with Marty, played by the very young Michael J. Fox, being sent back to 1955 in Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine. In the process he changes history by getting in the way of his mom and dad's first meeting. In order to put everything back to normal and insure his existence when he returns to 1985 he must make sure they meet and fall in love. In the sequel we once again see Marty and Doc trying to set things right after Biff Tannen, same bad guy from the first movie, steals the DeLorean in order to go back in time and change the course of his life. Finally, in the third installment we are taken to the Old West where Doc Brown has been living after being trapped there at the end of the second film. He's in danger and it's up to Marty to save him and once again correct the timeline. Confused? Intrigued? Nostalgic? Then perhaps it's time to revisit this sci-fi classic.
Posted October 26,2010
With Halloween upon us, it's an ideal time to pick up a chilling book and settle in for a haunting night of reading. Luckily, there are a variety of titles to choose from to suit your taste. John Ajvide Lindquvist, author of Let the Right One In, which was adapted into an excellent film, has traded vampires for zombies in his recently published Handling the Undead. Or try Pride, Prejudice and Zombies or Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter for a comic spin on the zombie theme. Vampire fans should check out the popular novel The Passage by Justin Cronin, which has drawn comparisons to The Stand by Stephen King (and being compared to the master is about as good as it gets for a horror writer).
Also noteworthy is the second volume of Guillermo del Toro and Ted Hogan's vampire trilogy, The Fall, which Booklist praises for its "taut pacing and macabre fight scenes." If you're in the mood for a classic, why not get acquainted with literature's best known vampire, Dracula. For genetics gone gory, we recommend Ancestor by Scott Sigler, called "tremendously entertaining" by Booklist. And fans of "darkly funny" genre-bending suspense fiction should pick up Johathan Cabal the Necromancer. Looking for more? Consult Thrillers: A Hundred Must Reads to whet your reading appetite and enjoy essays about more thrilling reads.
Posted October 21, 2010
Nothing like an upset to get your attention, and that's just what it was last week when Howard Jacobson took this year's Booker prize over such other favorites as Emma Donoghue's Room and Tom McCarthy's C. The choice was a surprise not just because it went to an older writer (The Finkler Question is the 68 year old author's 11th novel), and not just because the novel deals with the relatively underexamined British Jewish experience, but because the novelist is a comic writer. (Or at least that's been a point of discussion.) What kind of comedy? Jacobson has described himself as the "the Jewish Jane Austen," further elaborating, "I bring the ways of Jewish thinking into the English novel." Sounds wonderful. Interestingly, the winner wasn't even officially submitted by its publisher. Neither was Room.
At the moment, we're still waiting to receive the prize-winning book. The publisher has been rushing more copies to print. Meanwhile, you might also check out one of Jacobson's earlier acclaimed books. The Act of Love's erotic storyline drew comparisons to Philip Roth. His previous novel, Kalooki Nights, also received exceptional praise and was longlisted for the Booker. Booklist magazine gushed, "Jacobson's prose is pure pleasure - concise, markedly insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny - and his message, ultimately, is a heartbreaker. An exceptional novel." The author's Roots Schmoots, which the author wrote after visiting Jewish communities around the globe to explore what it means to be Jewish, also sounds enjoyable. Well done, Mr. Jacobson!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Posted October 19, 2010
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What better way is there to increase awareness than through books? Whether you're looking for answers to medical questions or personal accounts there is no shortage of information out there. You'll find a list of available titles below, but first we'd like to highlight a couple of relevant recent and upcoming books.
One organization that has become synonymous with breast cancer research is Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Now you can read about how this grassroots network started in Nancy Brinker's memoir, Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer. In it she shares the story of her life with her sister and how her sister's battle with breast cancer led her to found Susan G. Komen for the Cure. According to Kirkus Reviews it's a "touching, inspiring look behind the scenes at the founding of one of the most famous nonprofit organizations in the world."
A forthcoming title that may be of interest is The Emperor of All Maldies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Publishers Weekly has given it a starred review noting, "Mukherjee's debut book is a sweeping epic of obsession, brilliant researchers, dramatic new treatments, euphoric success and tragic failure, and the relentless battle by scientists and patients alike against an equally relentless, wily, and elusive enemy." Sounds like a fascinating read. It will be out next month.
100 Questions and Answers About Breast Cancer by Zora Brown and Karl Boatman
After the Cure: The Untold Stories of Breast Cancer Survivors by Emily K. Abel and Saskia Subramanian
Cancer Is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis by Gail Konop Baker
The Everything Health Guide to Living with Breast Cancer: An Accessible and Comprehensive Resource for Women by Lucia Giuggio Carvalho and James A. Stewart
Living Well Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivor's Guide for When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins by Marisa C. Weiss and Ellen Weiss
Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting by Meredith Norton
Positive Results: Making the Best Decisions When You're at High Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer by Joi L. Morris and Ora Karp Gordon
Pretty is What Changes: Impossible Choices, the Breast Cancer Gene and How I Defied My Destiny by Jessica Queller
Mario Vargas Llosa
Posted October 14, 2010
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Spanish-language writer to win since Octavio Paz received the prize in 1990. The New York Times noted that Vargas Llosa "is one of the most celebrated writers of the Spanish-speaking world, an anti-totalitarian intellectual whose work covers the range of human experience, whether it is ideology or eros." The Daily Beast has provided a handy cheat sheet with answers to your musings, such as why he won: although he was given slim odds, "he's been talked about as Nobel material for years" and it has been suggested that his conservative politics prevented the left-leaning committee from choosing him sooner.
If you are wondering where to start, the cheat sheet suggests both The War of the End of the World, noting it's a "masterful fable," and Feast of the Goat, a fictional account of the dictatorship of Trujillo and possibly his most popular work. Michiko Kakutani at The New York Times recommends both of those "harrowing narratives" as well, but she argues that the two "towering achievements of his career" are Feast of the Goat and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, which "focuses on the private world of romance and creativity" and which William Boyd adapted into a script for film. Boyd recalls meeting Vargas Llosa in 1989 and notes that Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is probably his favorite Vargas Llosa novel and perhaps the leitmotif of his fiction: "Vargas Llosa has continually celebrated the sexual and amatory electricity between men and women – that ticking clock that animates almost all of us, whether to delightful or disastrous effect, or both." Count also among his fans author Jane Smiley, who once cheekily remarked of The War of the End of the World that it was "the book War and Peace wanted to be."
Bravo, Mr. Vargas Llosa!
Ron Charles, Hip Book Reviewer
Posted October 12, 2010
The Booker Prize will be announced tonight. We already mentioned the finalists last month, but since then Washington Post reviewer (and National Book Critics Circle winner) Ron Charles covered the finalists in one of his surprisingly funny video reviews. Have you seen the "totally hip video book reviewer" in action? His videos have actually been something of a viral sensation, at least in book-loving circles. They're entertaining and topical while managing to review books in under a "minute" (well, according to Charles's special clock, at any rate). Following is a list of the Ron Charles video reviews we could find online so far.
On the 2010 Booker Prize finalists
Ape House by Sara Gruen - video review
Before you Suffocate your own Fool Self by Danielle Evans - video review
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham - video review
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - video review
My Hollywood by Mona Simpson - video review
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Posted October 7, 2010
Hispanic Heritage Month began in mid-September and continues through mid-October. There’s still plenty of opportunity to celebrate at various locations. We also think it is a perfect opportunity to promote some of the wonderful new literature emerging from the Spanish-speaking world and from Latino writers in the U.S. Interestingly enough, the literary magazine Granta will be coming out with its first Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue later this year. Visit their website for a sneak peek of the list of young writers, which was announced last week. Meanwhile, here are several great books to help celebrate this month.
The Armies by Evelio Rosero
Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos
The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
The Lady Matador’s Hotel by Cristina García
Monseiur Pain by Roberto Bolaño
Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo
Tony Curtis: 1925-2010
Posted October 5, 2010
Tony Curtis died this past Wednesday at the age of 85 in his Nevada home. Born in the Bronx to Hungarian Jewish parents, he changed his name from Bernard Schwartz after signing with Universal Studios in 1948. Possessing good looks and charm, Curtis quickly became a star. The late 1950’s will likely be remembered as his heyday, with unforgettable roles in Some Like It Hot and The Sweet Smell of Success, an Oscar nomination for Defiant Ones, and a memorable performance in Spartacus. He married fellow actress Janet Leigh (Psycho), and the handsome couple was Hollywood royalty; one of their children is actress Jaime Lee Curtis. The couple divorced in 1962, and he married five more times. Even after his career declined in the ’60s, he continued to work as an actor. Tony Curtis was cast in more than 100 films over his lifetime, but it’s those few iconic performances that he will always be remembered for. Check out Curtis’ memoir, American Prince, for the story in his own words.