Category: Author Spotlights
Maeve Binchy passed away yesterday at the age of 72. She was one of Ireland's most popular writers, best known for her depictions of small-town Irish life. source: CBC News Arts & Entertainment
Read the obituary in The Guardian.
Light a Penny Candle (1982)
The Lilac Bus (1984)
Firefly Summer (1987)
The Silver Wedding (1988)
Circle of Friends (1990)
The Copper Beech (1992)
The Glass Lake (1994)
Evening Class (1996)
Tara Road (1998)
Scarlet Feather (2000)
Nights of Rain and Stars (2004)
Whitethorn Woods (2006)
Heart and Soul (2008)
Minding Frankie (2010)
Coming in the autumn of 2012
A Week in Winter (2012)
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Go to her Fantastic Fiction page for the complete list of her work, including collections of short stories.
Here's the link to the Associated Press story carried by the Globe & Mail:
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, dead at 91
Here are links to a couple of his most famous books:
A totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners suddenly realizes their merit.
The Martian Chronicles
The tranquility of Mars is disrupted by the earthmen who have come to conquer space, colonize the planet, and escape a doomed Earth.
and my favourite:
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Story of two young boys who begin to encounter evil secrets when a lightning rod salesman gives them one of his contraptions covered with mystical symbols.
Check out the library catalogue (SILS) listings for Ray Bradbury. This list includes just the books. For ebooks, audio books and movies, use key words "Ray Bradbury" and then use the "Modify Search" button to select DVD or ebooks, etc.
posted by Sharon
Readers of Canadian literature will be saddened to hear of novelist and poet Robert Kroetsch's death at the age of 83.
Click here for the CBC news story, including a synopsis of his work.
His fiction includes:
The Words of My Roaring
The Words of My Roaring, the colourful first novel in Robert Kroetsch's Out West trilogy, is set in the same Alberta farm country as the better-known The Studhorse Man and Gone Indian. More conventional and accessible than the others, The Words of My Roaring moves kinetically through a 1930s provincial election campaign as experienced by the irrepressible Johnnie Backstrom. An undertaker, a drunk, a self-proclaimed "heller with women," and a neophyte political candidate, Johnnie begins his campaign by recklessly promising rain to the drought-stricken prairie. His bemused opponent, the popular Doc Murdoch, delivered Johnnie as a baby 33 years before and still thinks of him as his "first-born." Johnnie's party leader is the Bible-thumping, Ontario-bashing John George Applecart, loosely based on the historical "Bible Bill" Aberhart. As Johnnie struggles to define himself against these father figures, Kroetsch offers a lively portrait of small-town Depression-era politics and the roots of present-day western alienation.
description from Michigan State University Press
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The Studhorse Man (won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1969)
Hazard Lepage, the last of the studhorse men, sets out to breed his rare blue stallion, Poseidon. A trickster, a lusty peddler, and a wayward knight, the antics of this hero are only outmatched by those of the narrator, a maniacal, naked writer who works in his bathtub. Told with the ribald zeal of a Prairie beer parlour tall tale and the mythic magnitude of a Greek odyssey, The Studhorse Man is Robert Kroetsch's re-characterization of the Canadian West upon his mythological return home to Alberta.
description from Chapters Indigo
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Overcome by his curious academic and sexual inadequacies, professional graduate student Jeremy Sadness lights out from his cramped office at a New York State University for the wilds of the Canadian northwest. He inadvertently exchanges suitcases — and identities — with Roger Dorck, the comatose victim of a snowmobiling accident, and becomes hopelessly embroiled in the comic Bacchanalia of the Notikeewin winter festival, during which he is arrested and compelled to judge a beauty contest in which all the contestants look exactly alike. This satire of the "quest novel" is one of the most hilarious works in Canadian literature.
description from publisher comments at Powells.com
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In 1916, scientist William Dawe leads a palaeontological expedition into the badlands of Alberta, obsessed with achieving world renown by discovering dinosaur fossils. Fifty years later, his daughter, Anna, enters these same badlands. In her visit to the expedition site, she exposes not only the absurdity of her father's work, but also the folly of his male ambition.
description from McNallyRobinson.com
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Typing in Robert Kroetsch as an author search brings up all SILS holdings by him, including his many books of poetry.
Celebrating Year of India
Quirky title from award-winning British author
Jeff in Venice, death in Varanasi
Jeff is in Venice, attending the Biennale as a writer for the magazine Kulcher. He meets up with colleagues from London, attending the endless round of parties put on by the elite of the art world. At one of these gatherings he meets Laura, a beautiful and rather enigmatic woman with whom he immediately falls in love. They quickly become lovers, exploring the city together, stimulated by sex, alcohol and cocaine. But soon it is time for Laura to leave, and Jeff is left behind.
In Varanasi, three hotel guests become friends, and spend their days exploring the ghats along the river. The narrator, a writer on assignment for the Observer (could it be Jeff from Venice?), observes the splendors and squalor of the city, the ritual bathing in the Ganges, and the endless parade of death and cremation. While his two friends become lovers, our narrator becomes more intensely connected with the inhabitants and tourists of the city, including a holy man and a young dreadlocked woman who makes an appearance now and then.
It is not clear whether or not Jeff and the narrator are the same man, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Both are drifting and unfulfilled, searching for meaning. Dyer’s wit, humour, intelligence and compassion for these characters elevates their lives, which seem desultory at one level, towards insight and redemption and an opening to experience.
Dyer, who lives in London, is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction.
But beautiful: a book about jazz earned him the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of sheer rage: wrestling with D. H. Lawrence was a finalist for the American National Book Critics Circle Award. His book on photography, The ongong moment, won the International Center of Photography's 2006 Infinity Award.
Dyer is the author of three previous novels, including Paris trance.
Trilogy from acclaimed Somali novelist
The Blood In The Sun trilogy, by Nuruddin Farah
Regarded as one of the finest African novelists, Nuruddin Farah has lived in exile from his native Somalia for over twenty-five years. He is considered a feminist writer, and his early work, including the novel From a crooked rib, was critical of Islamic law as it related to women, and censored by the government of the military dictator Siad Barre when it came to power in 1969. Farah was educated in India and England, and has lived and worked in the United States, Germany and several African nations.
The trilogy Blood In The Sun consists of the novels Maps, Gifts and Secrets. Maps follows the life of Askar, whose mother died giving birth to him, and who is taken in by the kindly Misra. Eventually he goes off to Mogadishu to study, and becomes caught up in the war between Somalia and Ethiopia. In Gifts, single mother Duniya is raising her twins and working in a local hospital. Her fragile existence is shattered when her daughter brings home a foundling infant, and the hospital is assailed by people desperate from years of war, disease and drought.
In the final volume of the trilogy Secrets, Kalaman, a computer operator in Mogadishu, begins to search out his family origins as ethnic conflicts continue to shatter the country's social and political systems. Common themes in all three novels are identity, loss of innocence, and the place of history, cultural heritage and myth in modern life.
Farah has received many international awards for his writing, including the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature (University of Oklahoma), considered the second most prestigious literary prize after the Nobel Prize.
Classic of Transgender Fiction
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
This internationally acclaimed, award winning novel by historian and activist Feinberg follows the journey of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up during the McCarthy era. Confused initially about the strict lines between male and female, Jess begins to push the boundaries, visiting gay bars, trying on her father's suits and using men's rooms. This was the time when police squads raided gay bars, and she is jailed on more than one occasion. She also begins to take hormone treatments, but when the emotional implications of changing sex become overwhelming, she stops. Some physiological changes, such as the deepening of her voice, are irreversible, and she finds herself stranded somewhere between genders, and feeling even more undefined in an "either/or" world. Goldberg's journey evokes the confusion and struggle of transgendered people, and her story is a landmark in the literature.
In 1994 Stone Butch Blues won the Stonewall Book Award, the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Feinberg continues to be an activist, speaker and author/blogger
(http://www.transgenderwarrior.org/) She is the author of Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, and another novel, Drag King Dreams.
New Biography and Novel by William J. Mann
Mann, gay novelist, biographer and chronicler of gay Hollywood, had a busy year in 2009, publishing both a novel and a biography of Elizabeth Taylor. Read on...
Object of desire
Danny Fortunato has it all - looks, smarts, and a long-term, loving relationship of twenty years. But as he turns 41, his career as a go-go boy finished, he senses that something isn't right. Is he really the "golden boy" that everyone thinks he is? His sister went missing when he was 14, changing his world completely, and as a result he has carried a secret for all these years. Then a young bartender named Kelly appears, providing further compications, and making him examine the patterns that define his life. Will his quest to find the things and people he has lost and loved succeed? Other fiction titles by Mann include Men who love men, All American boy, Where the boys are and Masters of midnight: erotic tales of the vampire.
How to be a movie star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
Mann has tapped into new sources - interviews and previously untapped material - to bring us a picture of the actress, from her childhood in England, to early films such as National Velvet and Giant, to her romances and machinations in the Hollywood circle. He presents her as a savvy "player of the game", showing us how she shrewdly surrounded herself with people who could help her achieve the status of icon. Mann is the author of Kate: the woman who was Hepburn; Behind the screen: how gays and lesbians shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969; and Wisecracker: the life and times of William Haines (out of print, but available through Interlibrary Loan).
Next release in a great mytery series
The girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson
Larsson's first book, The girl with the dragon tattoo, received a stellar review in one of our previous blogs. Now, the second novel in the series, set in Sweden and featuring journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander is available, and Larsson's fans won't be disappointed.
Blomkvist is preparing to release an expose of the sex trafficking business in his magazine Millennium. Shortly before the release, the young couple who did the research on the piece are found murdered. Salander, who has been off Blomkvist's radar for over a year, is implicated in the murder. But what possible connection could there be between Salander and the players in this expose, and how can Blomkvist prove his suspicions that the motivation for the slayings goes beyond the optics?
Salander was of course a pivotal character in Tattoo, but she takes a more central role in Fire. The murder investigations focus on her, and we follow her closely as she hacks her way into the murky underpinnings of the case while dodging the persistence of both Blomkvist and the police. There are few characters in mystery fiction as infuriating and engaging as this whispy but dangerous young woman, and we can't help but cheer as each of her enemies receive their comeuppance.
Stieg is a skilful writer, building the elements of the plot slowly and with increasing intensity. While there are points at which the narrative gets somewhat bogged down in the technicalities of the murder investigations, the character and action developments keep us wanting more. The ending is sensational and surprising, and worth the wait.
Stieg died in 2004, but left three manuscripts. The girl who kicked the hornet's nest, the last of the three, will be released in the spring of 2010.
Three books by Frederick Buechner
Frederick Buechner (b. 1926) is an American novelist, author of more than 30 published works, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is considered a Christian writer, though not in a dogmatic sense. Rather, he explores the convergence of faith and doubt in a literary style that is accessible, entertaining and highly literary.
The three novels reviewed below span a ten year period, and are representative of the author's imaginative handling of both ancient stories rooted in history, and more contemporary themes.
Common to all these works is a compassion for human weakness, an acknowledgement of the role of doubt and uncertainty in our lives, and a belief in the redemptive power of faith.
Saint Brendan is one of the most well-known Irish saints. This fictionalized account of his life is narrated by his life-long friend Finn. The story follows Brendan’s life, from his birth around 484, to his death 91 years later. Central to the story are two sea voyages Brendan undertook. The author weaves what little is known about the historical Brendan with the mythology which emerged in the years after his death, to create a convincing first person narrative. The story is told with wit and great sensitivity, yet does not shy away from Brendan’s vulnerabilities and doubts. The man who emerges from these pages is fully human, yet repeatedly demonstrates a sustaining faith.
On the road with the archangel, 1997.
Buechner builds on the events of the apocryphal Book of Tobit to give us a humorous tale of family, journey, and love. Tobit is blind, and his wife Anna supports the family by taking in mending from wealthy ladies of the court. They have one son, Tobias, a dreamy lad who is sent by his aging father on a journey to the city of Rages to recover a large sum of silver which will support Anna and Tobias when Tobit is gone. The archangel Raphael appears in human form to Tobias, and Tobit offers to pay him to accompany Tobias on the journey. Meanwhile another family in a distant city has its own challenges. Raguel and his wife Edna are trying to find a suitable husband for their daughter Sarah. But each time a husband is found and the marriage completed, the bridegroom is found dead before the marriage can be consummated, done in by the demon Asmodeus. The story of the journey and the union of these two families is told by Raphael, a character whose warmth, humour and generosity endear him to us immediately. But it is also the humanity of the other main characters – their vulnerability, their weaknesses, their struggles with their faith, their good intentions – that give this book a depth of meaning that resonates with us.
The storm, 1998.
On a wealthy island off the coast of Florida, family and friends are coming together to celebrate the 70th birthday of Kenzie Maxwell. Maxwell, a wirter and rascal, has married into money, but he has a bit of a history which includes an illegitimate daughter. Bree is the result of a brief fling with a seventeen year old girl who came to a runaway shelter in which Kenzie volunteered. The young woman died, but the affair resulted in an estrangement from his only brother, Dalton, and some very bad press. Dalton happens to be the lawyer for a rich, elderly woman who owns most of the island, and he is coming to help her finalize her will at the same time as Bree and his stepson are arriving for the birthday party. There are many storms brewing, not least of which is a climatological one, and they all come together on the day of the party. Buechner is a generous writer, allowing his characters to reveal their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, while providing them the means to insight and wisdom.
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