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Tramping through a forest of angst

I thought we were both dead! -- Sylvia Glenn

Being a devotee of the Titanic saga, I recognized a lot of similarities between the 1912 sea disaster and the maiden voyage in 1986 of James Kirkwood's comedy, Legends!

The play, like the ship, had a lot of things to recommend it. Indeed, with a crew that included Carol Channing and Mary Martin on board, it must have  seemed unsinkable. But sink it did and the soap operaesque machinations that led up to Legends! ingloriously closing out-of-town (meaning it never made it to New York) is painstakingly chronicled in a fascinating bow-by-blow account of his show's implosion that Kirkwood aptly titled Diary of a Mad Playwright. (READ MORE)

Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing Cover Image
By James Kirkwood, Terrence McNally (Foreword by)
Call or email to see if a used copy is available.
ISBN: 9781557835673
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers - March 1st, 2002

When the Book finds you

I always find it funny when the book you need finds you. Recently I get an email from my sister telling me that my nephew has to do a report on a famous person. Who did he pick? John Lennon. Her words to him? “You have to talk to your Aunt!” Now, that might not seem strange to you, but this is from the young man who loves video games and the Red Sox. While a biography of the Beatles did find its way to his book shelves, I never imagined he would read it, let alone would want to write a report on Mr. Lennon.

And now comes the best part. I find the best book that represents John Lennon a few weeks later. Not actively looking, I find Real Love: The Drawings for Sean by John Lennon. With a fantastic introduction by Yoko Ono setting up how these pictures came to be, Real Love is not a book by John Lennon of the Beatles or by John Lennon Political Activist. But by John Lennon Dad. (READ MORE)

Real Love: The Drawings for Sean Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608870424
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Insight Kids - November 1st, 2011

(Big) Easy Homework

As the next sleet storm slips through southern Vermont, I'll be slipping off to New Orleans for a book industry event sponsored by the American Booksellers Association called Winter Institute. I can think of worse places to be during the third week of January than the Crescent City. I feel only the slightest pang of guilt. Mostly I feel like letting the good times roll--in between panel discussions and breakout sessions, of course.

Although the focus of Winter Institute is on education, a good number of authors will be there who have books coming out this spring. Anticipating the opportunity to chat with a few of them, I have tried to read ahead.

First time novelist Wiley Cash will be there. His book, A Land More Kind Than Home, is due in April. A sinister minister, a sheriff carrying the burden of grief, and an autistic boy and his devoted younger brother are only a few of the fantastic characters in Cash's compelling novel set in a small Appalachian town. Sure to draw comparisons to Tom Franklin's fiction, Cash's novel delves as deeply into the inner lives and rich past histories of its vibrant characters as it does in the dark and tragic story that brings them all together. Put it on your list for mud season. (READ MORE)

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A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062088239
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - January 22nd, 2013

Chocolate, books and huggin'

Here we are a little over a week into the New Year and how many times have you written December? Or just the number 12? Or 2011? Or just 11? If you are like me, a few times. And how many of you have broken at least part of one (or all) of your resolutions? If you are me, none. This year, I made resolutions I knew I could keep: eat lots and lots and lots and lots (did I mention lots?) of chocolate and read at least one book this year.

If one of your resolutions was to read a book this year, might I suggest The Three Little Pigs by Bernadette Watts. While the story is the same (three pigs; one Mama; some straw, sticks, and bricks; one persistent wolf) the illustrations are soft, beautiful and funny. There are squirrels in the sticks, hedgehogs pushing baby carriages, hobo raccoons, lounging bunnies, and pigs with guitars, shovels and excellent home design techniques. The magic of the story is can you tell the story by the illustrations. (READ MORE)

Staff Pick Logo
The Three Little Pigs Cover Image
By Bernadette Watts (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780735840584
Availability: Backordered
Published: NorthSouth Books - February 1st, 2012

This same rose that blooms today

I can't think of any writer who is able to dissect contemporary American life with more skill and precision than Anne Tyler. Part of Ms. Tyler's effectiveness, I think, stems from the fact that she always makes a minimal incision and then uses a gentle probe to get to the real heart of the problem. Sometimes, you don't even realize that an operation is under way.

Ms. Tyler is the literary equivalent of Woody Allen. Even when she isn't in top form, her wise words are worth absorbing, storing away, and treasuring. What she has said to her readers may be very subtle, but the wisdom of the message lingers like the comfortably warm scent from a candle.

Tyler's body of work, like Mr. Allen's, is daunting. The Beginner's Goodbye is her 19th novel. It seems, at least superficially, to be a rather slight tale of loss and regret, but the story is reflected in the mirror through which the author views her characters and that mirror has always had a slight waver in it. (READ MORE)

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The Beginner's Goodbye: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345533357
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 29th, 2013

Year of the Dragon....and fun books

My favorite holidays are Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year. If you know your birth year, you can be a Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog or Pig. Some of us have over-lap years (I’m a Tiger and Rabbit) due to the fact that the Chinese New Year does not start on January 1st like our new year. It starts sometime late January or early February. This year starts on January 23, 2012. It is the Year of the Dragon. There are certain things that you do to prepare yourself for the new year. A few of them are: you get a hair cut, new outfit, clean house to “sweep out” the old and make room for the new. You give money in lucky red envelopes. One of things I do is find fun new books to read during this time.

This year I have found two that will be favorites for a long time. The first is New Year’s Reunion: A Chinse Story by Li Qiong Yu (illustrated wonderfully by Zhu Cheng Liang). The second is Year of the Dragon by Oliver Chin (illustrated whimsically by Jennifer Wood). (READ MORE)

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The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Cover Image
By Oliver Chin, Jennifer Wood (Artist)
ISBN: 9781597020282
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Immedium - January 3rd, 2012


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