Month: June 2012

Check It Out Blog

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.

LISTS: Gen X Movies

Pulp Fiction DVD coverWhat would the 1990s have been without Winona Ryder, Quentin Tarantino, and Kevin Smith? A snooze fest, that’s what. From Reality Bites to Pulp Fiction to Clerks, the ‘90s had something for everyone – freaks, jocks, preps, and loners alike.

Click here for crazy-awesome Gen X movies.

George Sand Was a Woman

Impromptu DVD coverAmandine Aurore Lucie Dupin was a highly irregular nineteenth century woman who wore pants, smoked cigars in public, wrote sensational novels, and was most commonly known by her pseudonym, George Sand. Impromptu, starring Judy Davis, Emma Thompson, and Hugh Grant, is the story of Sand wooing Frédéric Chopin at an aspiring socialite’s salon in the French countryside. Sand invited herself to the salon and, to her chagrin, finds that her lovemaking is interrupted by several of her own ex-beaus and a mysterious secret admirer that grabs Chopin’s attention. The salon spirals out of control as artists vie for status and one another’s hearts in this unconventional, literary romance.

What a Waste

Garbology book coverOur trashy secrets have been exposed. As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes reveals, “The average American community spends more on waste management than fire protection, libraries, textbooks, and parks and recreation.” We pay to have our wastefulness carted away, but what happens next? Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash tracks the consequences of our disposable culture. Can we change? Ask Bea Johnson, for whom a year’s worth of trash fits in a mason jar. “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,” is an admirable mantra, but don’t stop there. Repurpose, compost, and give away, too! Garbology doesn’t just confront us with the problem. Humes inspires action by offering alternatives and real-life examples to move us nearer to solutions.

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.

LISTS: Cancer Memoirs

Our Cancer Year book cover“This is a story about a year when someone was sick, about a time when it seemed that the rest of the world was sick too. It’s a story about feeling powerless and trying to do too much…,” said Harvey Pekar in his autobiographical comic, Our Cancer Year. Sometimes the best healing a person can do is to write out or read about whatever ails them.

Click here for a list of cancer memoirs.

The Who’s Who in Gay Literary History

Eminent Outlaws book cover“Before World War II, homosexuality was a dirty secret that was almost never written about and rarely discussed,” says Christopher Bram in his literary history, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America. 1948 was the game-changer year. In 1948, The City and the Pillar, by Gore Vidal, and Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote, were released. Bram gives a solid history including mini-biographies and infamous anecdotes on a timeline that covers the coded gay storyline in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie to Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the response to AIDS in the 1980s. Bram succeeds in writing a breezy, selective history about how America’s coming-out seems to have started in literature.

Locus Awards Honor Readers’ Favorites

A Dance with Dragons book cover

The people have spoken! The 2012 Locus Awards, honoring winners of Locus: The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field’s annual readers’ poll, have been announced. Why not choose your summer reading from books selected by fans themselves? Click to see a complete list of winners and other finalists.

Fantasy Novel: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Science Fiction Novel: Embassytown by China Miéville

First Novel: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Young Adult BookThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Novella: “Silently and Very Fast” by Catherynne M. Valente 

Novelette: “White Lines on a Green Field” by Catherynne M. Valente

Short Story: “The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman

Anthology: The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

Colleen’s Pick: Heathers

Colleen staff picks photo“Greetings and salutations, are you a Heather?” asks Christian Slater’s J.D. of Winona Ryder’s Veronica. Cloaked in teen angst and a dark comedic tone that could only be perfected by late eighties, valley girl style, Heathers is the perfect movie for anyone who was an outcast in high school.