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A Magician, a Harlot, and a Jewish Interpreter Walk Into a Western

1867, Omaha. Julius Meyer was kidnapped by the Ponca Indians. Julius quickly picks up the Ponca’s customs and language and becomes their official interpreter. Combine Julius’ story with that of a scandalous soiled dove and Julius’ soon-to-be-famous magician cousin, Alexander Hermann, and you have Magic Words, by Gerald Kolpan.

Kolpan discusses the inspiration and writing process behind Magic Words: The Tale of a Jewish Boy-Interpreter, the World’s Most Estimable Magician, a Murderous Harlot, and America’s Greatest Indian Chief in the clip below.

By Readers' Advisor on July 21, 2012 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Web Video

A Rock and Roller and the Written Word

Patti Smith, the godmother of punk and author of Just Kids, owns a page of Jim Morrison’s last notebook. She also has a watercolor by Hermann Hesse, several of H.P. Lovecraft’s letters, and one of Arthur Rimbaud’s calling cards.

Below is a conversation between Smith and National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Jonathan Lethem at the Pen American Center about their love of books, collecting, and writing.

By Readers' Advisor on July 14, 2012 Categories: Books, Web Video

Trashy or Brilliant? You Decide.

The Modern Library listed Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, as the fourth best novel of the twentieth century. It explores a romance between Humbert, our middle-aged narrator, and a possibly sexually precocious pre-teen named Dolores.

Here’s Nabokov being interviewed on Close-Up, a Canadian Broadcasting Coroporation show, about his controversial novel.

By Readers' Advisor on July 7, 2012 Categories: Books, Literary, Web Video

The New Poet Laureate is Here

Natasha Trethewey is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, recently named the United States Poet Laureate for 2012. Trethewey writes about those people and events that have fallen off the pages of history. The Librarian of Congress, James Billington, said of Trethewey, “I have an affinity for American individuals who are absolutely unique, and I think that [she] is one.”

Here is Natasha Trethewey speaking at Emory University about why she writes poetry.

By Readers' Advisor on June 30, 2012 Categories: Books, Web Video

A Mostly True Memoir

Jenny Lawson grew up in rural Texas. She collects dead, stuffed animals. Once, a feud she started with William Shatner got covered by MSNBC. Her blog, The Bloggess, gets half a million page views a month. You’ve probably never heard of Jenny Lawson, but she’s awesome. To get to know Ms. Lawson, read her New York Times best-selling memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

By Readers' Advisor on June 23, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

An Almost-Widow Finds Hope

“I have been waiting for my husband to die for six years,” says Jarvis Miller in The Kept Man. Her husband, Martin, is in a coma. Jarvis barely goes out of the house except for her weekly visit to Martin, but then her washing machine breaks and Jarvis is forced to meet the outside world again…and possibly make friends while doing it.

By Readers' Advisor on June 16, 2012 Categories: Books, Web Video

Oprah’s Book Club 2.0

Cheryl Strayed was a wreck. In her mid-twenties she was dealing with a divorce, the loss of her mother to cancer, and drugs – hard times, to say the least. One hundred days before her 27th birthday, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Cost Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon, all the way to Washington. Wild is Strayed’s memoir of personal confrontation and rebirth during her journey.

Wild is also Oprah Winfrey’s first choice in her new book club, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

By Readers' Advisor on June 9, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

When Life Gets Hard

“Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.”

For more of Neil Gaiman’s advice to aspiring artists, watch his commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

By Readers' Advisor on June 2, 2012 Categories: Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Web Video

A Second Chance at Love

One day, years after the death of her perfect husband, Natalie is surprised to find that Markus, her clumsy coworker, may be her second chance at love. Delicacy by David Foenkinos is a charming, short novel that explores “…the idea that what is most important in a love story is good timing.”

If you read Delicacy (or saw the movie) and want to talk about it, check back with the Library in the fall for a featured Sister Cities book discussion.

By Readers' Advisor on May 26, 2012 Categories: Books, Romance, Web Video

The Downfall of Anne Boleyn

When Hilary Mantel was asked, “Are you happy?” she said, “From time to time, yes…it depends almost entirely on the last sentence I wrote. If it was a good one, I am happy.” Best known as the English novelist who won the Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel has written a plethora of excellent sentences.

Bring Up the Bodies is Mantel’s latest novel. If you are interested in Tudor history, and the trial of Anne Boleyn in particular, you are sure to enjoy it.

By Readers' Advisor on May 19, 2012 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Web Video