Sunday, September 27, 2009

Literary Fiction Readers: Check out A Gate at the Stairs

It seems like I am in a phase of reading disturbing books--and Lorrie Moore's newest novel, A Gate at the Stairs, is a continuation of that trend. The book jacket's claim that "Moore's deft, lyrical writing brings us up against the heart of racisim, the shock of war, and the carelessness perpretrated by others in the name of love" is right on the mark! Just as I thought she was taking me in one direction, she veers into another difficult topic and the stories continue to haunt me. It's a very thoughtful book and Moore has a beautiful command of the language, using words to bring life in the Midwest into sharp focus. A very good read in spite of the disturbing subjects--my kind of book--the kind that makes you just sit and think upon finishing the last chapter. I am inspired to read more of her work, especially the book with the delightful title, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

October Treats Des Moines with Great Author Visits!

The month promises to be hectic and filled with plenty of opportunities to meet authors at the Central Library! Millie Kalish kicks it off on Thursday, October 1 at noon with a return visit prior to her appearance at the Iowa Author Dinner hosted by the Des Moines Public Library Foundation. Millie's book, Little Heathens, is a must read for anyone who grew up in Iowa. She captures both the joys and challenges of farm life and is an inspiration for anyone that is even remotely considering writing a book. She was in her eighties when she wrote it and it went on to become a best-seller, honored as one of The New York Times Top Ten Book in 2007!

We had a great event with Larry Tye, author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, last week at the East Side Library as a kickoff to the wonderful baseball exhibit currently on display called: Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience. Next up, the opportunity to hear first hand stories from two actual players: Art "Superman" Pennington and Ernest "Schoolboy" Johnson. That's on October 5, at 6:30 PM, at the East Side Library.

Then we will gear up for a visit by Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, on October 13 at the Central Library. More about that book in my next blog.

And mark your calendars now for the Iowa Author Fair on Wednesday, October 21 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM featuring forty-eight Iowa authors, all at the Central Library.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Difficult Subject Makes for A Depressing Yet Worthwhile Read

I had read about the book Methland and decided that since it is set in Oelwein, a small town in Iowa, I should probably read it. But it is not a book that you can just sit down and read all at once. Having grown up in a small town and still residing in the same place, I fully appreciate the story of how a town can be significantly affected by the influx of meth.

During the '80's, as my kids were born and started school, I became acquainted with more than a few families where the parents had become addicted and I saw first-hand the devastating results of such addictions. Reading Methland, it is almost like the author, Nick Reding, could be talking about my own town as the characters are familiar and the results similar. It is a very difficult story to read, simply because it hits so close to home. I was particularly surprised by the big businesses that were involved in creating and perpetuating the problems. Reding deserves a lot of credit for tackling the subject--often putting himself in harm's way, in the pursuit of the story!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience

We have a wonderful exhibit coming to the East Side Library this month called, Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience. You can find more info at:

We kick it off with an opening night reception on Monday, September 21. The reception begins at 5:30 followed by an author event at 6:30 featuring Larry Tye, who will be discussing his book, Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fall Is a Great Time to READ!

Of course is there ever a bad time? I don't think so.

I can't believe it's been a year since I last added to this blog. I had such good intentions but the past year has been blur of author visits, programs, meetings, etc.

But enough about me--let's talk books.......

I just finished two great reads that I would highly recommend to anyone that likes good fiction. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is a fascinating story set in the early 60's, about a white socialite in Jackson, MS who decides to capture the stories of various maids. Once she finally persuades more than one woman to tell her story, she meets in secret to interview them and then publishes it anonymously. I heard Stockett speak at Book EXPO this summer and she is a delightful woman. Would love to have her come to DM for a visit!

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by James Ford is another great read. Ford will be coming to the Central Library on October 13 so mark your calendar. This book is set in the 40's and is a beautifully written, innocent love-story between a young Chinese boy and a Japenese girl. Their friendship causes the boy to be disowned by his stalwart father and gives insight to the country's atmosphere as the Japanese were herded into internment camps.