Unconventional love is the focus of a new collection of wise and wonderful stories by Evanston author Christine Sneed. Not to be confused with romance, these tales paint perspectives on what draws people together and what roles we take. The characters are bold and interesting; the writing lovely and modern. You’ll find energy, wit, reflection, and originality in a work that was named one of 2010’s best surprises by TimeOut Chicago. Admire the sure-handed delicacy of Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry.
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Hazel Motes may look like a preacher, but he isn’t the normal kind. Hazel sermonizes for a new church, the Church of Truth, and in Hazel’s truth – there’s no crucified Christ. Wise Blood, starring Brad Dourif, is based on the 1952 novel by Flannery O’Connor. Both the novel and the film are a compelling slice of Southern life where you’re never quite sure if you’re in for redemption or rejection, if the characters are capable of love or only anger. There are no answers here and every bend is an awkward turn. If you’re in the mood to knit your brows and ask some deep questions, try Wise Blood.
Have you heard? The 2011 Pulitzer Prizes, which honor excellence in journalism and the arts, have been announced! Check out these winners:
Poetry – The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan
Nonfiction – The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Biography – Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
History – The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner
Fiction – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Burt Hecker is much more comfortable in a time other than his own. A sixty-three-year-old medieval re-enactor in upstate New York, he dresses in a tunic and sometimes enjoys a little too much homemade mead. Hecker joins a group traveling to Germany to celebrate the 900th birthday of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, but his true purpose is to rescue his estranged son Tristan from the Bohemian city of Prague. Sound odd? Exactly! All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well by Tod Wodicka has outrageousness aplenty to satisfy a casual reader, but just as in life, tragedy and humor are often intertwined.
Figuring out a purpose in life is a rite of passage. What if you knew clearly why you were here, but you wanted more? For Ruth, Tommy, and Kath, the future has been set since before they were given life. They grew up together at the reclusive Hailsham boarding school, one of many sites that prepares individuals for a very specific function. The question is whether anything can truly ready them for what they are meant to do. Recently adapted into a feature film, Never Let Me Go is an acclaimed novel from Kazuo Ishiguro. Reader Rosalyn Landor is deeply moving as an adult Kathy, who reveals her story with thoughtful reflection and powerful realization. This is one story that won’t let you go.
Want to read a winner? Try one of the newly announced 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award recipients. Taking top prize for fiction is Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, a bold novel with overlapping stories about youth and life and what might be lost along the way. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson won Best Nonfiction for chronicling one of the great untold stories of American history. Best Biography honors were bestowed on the intriguingly titled How to Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell. Last, but by no means least, is Darin Strauss’s heartbreaking autobiography Half a Life about coming to terms with an long-ago accident that cost a girl’s life.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader who adores the works of Jane Austen must be in want of more. How does a willing fan navigate the abundance of continuations and modernizations that crowd the shelves?
If you want to avoid the empty re-treads and find the Austen-inspired books that capture Jane’s spirit but also stand on their own, click here.
In every age, attempts have been made to create and destroy havens of religious and ethnic harmony. Geraldine Brooks’ exquisite novel, People of the Book, traces the mysterious and harrowing adventure of the Sarajevo Haggadah, as it weaves among such societies throughout history, bearing witness to brutal intolerance and laudable heroism.
Imagine a store that sells books, but only good books. Modern novels, classics, or something in between, any title you pull from the shelf is a guaranteed gem. This is the story of The Good Novel, the pet project of French booksellers Ivan and Francesca. Who decides whether a book will be sold? Eight authors, who serve on a top-secret committee, each submit a list of 600 titles which are automatically added to the shelves. Everything is done in the strictest confidence, and the members are unknown even to each other. When three are terrorized, Ivan and Francesca realize the authors must have been exposed. Read A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé not only to find out what happens but also to rekindle your love of worthy books.
“The enemy is poverty and the wall keeps out the enemy, that’s why we build the wall, we build the wall to keep us free.” The people of Hadestown have been convinced that their confinement is for their own good. Who wouldn’t be convinced with Hades, as sung by Greg Brown, lording over them? But Orpheus, otherwise known as Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, is on the outside looking in at his ladylove, Eurydice, and by charm or trickery Orpheus will have her back. Eurydice is sung by Anaïs Mitchell, the creator of Hadestown, a folk opera that wonders if love really can overcome all, including economic and societal depression.