Robert Altman’s pastel-noir subversion of the hard-boiled detective genre, The Long Goodbye, replaces Bogart’s iconic version of Philip Marlowe with a mumbling, likably disheveled portrayal by Elliott Gould. The film’s labyrinthine plot duels a loose, improvisational tone against a backdrop of playful details – until things suddenly get less playful…
Check It Out Category: Staff Picks
Frank from Administration suggests Algren: A Life by Mary Wisniewski.
Nelson Algren was one of the most important yet underappreciated American authors of the Twentieth Century. He wrote about what he knew and what he knew was life on the fringes of society. And more than any other writer, Algren knew Chicago. “Like loving a woman with a broken nose,” he wrote, “you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real.”
In her fascinating biography, Algren: A Life, Mary Wisniewski illuminates this brilliant, enigmatic Chicagoan whose own turbulent “life on the fringes”—drinking, gambling, womanizing—led to some of the most memorable and powerful works in American literature.
Algren maintained through the years a torrid, on-again/off-again love affair with French feminist writer and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir, herself in a relationship with existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. “On the outs” with Algren when he died in 1981, de Beauvoir refused thereafter to visit his grave on Long Island. She was buried in Paris alongside Sartre five year later, wearing Algren’s ring. Algren: A Life by Mary Wisniewski is a fascinating book.
Haven’t read anything by Nelson Algren? Start here!
Widely regarded as Algren’s most powerful and enduring work, this novel chronicles war veteran and hustler “Frankie Machine’s” downward spiral into an ever-deepening morphine addiction.
A collection of short stories giving voice to the insulted and injured, to those at the rough edges of society struggling to make ends meet while playing a losing—often fixed—hand.
A social document and a love poem, Chicago: City on the Make is a bold, hard-hitting ode to this “most real of all” cities. Studs Terkel said it’s “the best book about Chicago.”
With its depictions of the downtrodden prostitutes, bootleggers, and hustlers of Perdido Street in the old French Quarter of 1930s New Orleans, this novel packs a wallop. As Algren admitted, the book “… wasn’t written until long after it had been walked.”
Editor Daniel Simon assembles into this brief but compelling work Algren’s previously unpublished credo of his craft. Algren identifies the essential nature of the writer’s relation to society and shares his deepest beliefs about the state of literature and its role in society.
A mosaic of stray thoughts, stories and poems, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie is a powerful meditation on Alexie’s complicated relationship with his mother in the aftermath of her passing. This book left me in awe of Alexie’s ability to wring your heart as he reaches into his history one moment and have you bursting out in laughter the next.
We’ve sourced some staff favorites to get you in the mood for Halloween.
If it’s a ghostly, ghoulish or spine-tingling read you’re after, look no further than these creepy gems…if you dare!
Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint
In the Old Country, they called them the Gentry: ancient spirits of the land, magical, amoral, and dangerous. When the Irish emigrated to North America, some of the Gentry followed… only to find that the New World already had spirits of its own, called manitou and other such names by the Native tribes. Now generations have passed, and the Irish have made homes in the new land, but the Gentry still wander homeless on the city streets. Gathering in the city shadows, they bide their time and dream of power. As their dreams grow harder, darker, fiercer, so do the Gentry themselves.
Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
And for those of you who want to sink your fangs into yet more great choices, here are more wicked good books…
Edgar Allan Poe
It’s Leonard Peacock’s birthday today, and instead of receiving gifts, he’s giving them. He’s giving a gift and saying goodbye to each of the people he cares most about. After that, he’s going to do something horrible. It’s Leonard Peacock’s birthday, and he’s going to school with a gun in his backpack.
The heartbreaking, luminous, and ultimately hopeful Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is a challenging read that will touch readers deeply.
In a hilariously meta production, Something Rotten! imagines the birth of musical theater as the only recourse left to brother playwrights trying to compete with bad-boy superstar Will Shakespeare. The Broadway cast recording shows off the talent, the fun, the puns, and Easter eggs aplenty to tickle the fancy of any drama geek.
Do you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? Let Anuschka Rees come to your rescue! In her book, The Curated Closet, she will help you determine your personal style, streamline your options, identify the colors you love, and build a wardrobe of items that work together and that truly work for you.
Dale from Research Services suggests Greeting from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman
Greetings from Utopia Park chronicles author Claire Hoffman’s personal experiences living and participating in the Transcendental Meditation movement. At age 5, Claire moves with her mother and brother to Fairfield, Iowa to join the followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This book is both the story of Claire’s childhood spent living in this community and a history of what Maharishi called the Global Headquarters of World Peace. Claire eventually rebels, moving away from the teachings of Transcendental Meditation, only to return later in life to examine and attempt to reconnect with her spiritual upbringing. If you have ever been curious about Transcendental Meditation and wanted to learn more about both the positive and negative aspects of this practice, you will find this book fascinating and enlightening.
Looking for something similar? Try one of these books!
Free Spirit: Growing Up on the Road and Off the Grid
by Joshua Safran
A mother and son head for the road to find a utopia they could call home
A memoir detailing the unusual childhood of a boy sent to live with his mother’s eccentric psychiatrist.
by Amos Oz
Chronicles the author’s childhood in 40’s and 50’s Jerusalem.
by Norman E. Rosenthal
This book discusses the benefits of Transcendental Meditation through stories of both ordinary people and well-known artists.
by Haven Kimmel
A memoir about growing up in small town Indiana.
As the leaves change their hue and a chill in the air signals the return of autumn, indulge your senses and fears in Ray Bradbury’s evocative and sublime tribute to fall, Something Wicked This Way Comes. The haunting tale of innocence lost perfectly accompanies an early evening porch, knit sweater and pumpkin-spice latte.
Marko and Alana were soldiers on opposing sides of an ages-long intergalactic war, but Brian K. Vaughan’s epic sci-fi comic Saga opens with the birth of their daughter. With incredible artwork and hilarious wit, this tale of building a family unfolds in a harsh and multilayered universe with a cast of colorful, endearing characters (including the large green Lying Cat, snarling “Lying” at any untruth). A counsel for readers: it is a graphic story, both that it is in comic form as well as its depictions of violence and sexuality.