Daily Archives: September 2, 2010
Audrey Niffenegger, the New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, reads from and signs her new book, The Night Bookmobile, her first graphic novel, at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago!
The Night Bookmobile tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels that contains every book she has ever read. Seeing her history and most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. The Night Bookmobile is a haunting tale of both transcendence and the passion for books, and features Niffenegger’s evocative full-color pen-and-ink work. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
Thu. September 16, 2010 @ 6:00 pm
Harold Washington Library Center
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
More info here.
(Originally published in my personal blog, The Kids Got Moxie, on November 16, 2009)
I carried “Atlas Shrugged” (all 1000+ pages of it) around in my purse for probably 2 months trying to wade through it, but finally (right about the point John Galt started his big ol’ preachy speech) gave up.
BUT – When I started reading that two new biographies of Ms. Rand had hit the market, and started hearing some of the stories contained within, I knew I was going to have to check one out.
I selected Jennifer Burns’ “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right,” and it was a really good choice.
Burns herself acknowledges that in writing about Ayn Rand, she was almost overloaded with information and sources, but she’s managed to lay everything out in a book that is completely engrossing and easy to read. Instead of exerpting long passages from Rands books, she uses her personal letters and speeches to both tell the story of this fascinating woman, as well as to explore why Rand’s theory of Objectivism appeals so much to conservatives, particularly young conservatives.
BUT – If political theory isn’t your bag, don’t count this book out.
Did you know Rand, though married, had a relationship with Nathan Brandon, a young follower of hers? It’s complicated, but let me say the story of their.. intermingling.. is worth the read alone. For someone people hold up as an example of high moral value, it’s salacious. Rand basically had a cult around her (it reminded me of the tales one hears of Scientology, with a compound and rules and leaders..) and her followers were rabid for everything she said and did.
Though the book certainly didn’t make me want to go out and read everything Rand ever wrote, it did shed light on a really interesting woman and the world she created.
I enjoyed it.
Writers are nuts.
(Originally published in my personal blog, The Kids Got Moxie, on 6/8/2010.)
- The New York Times.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been trying to read Tolstoy’s original Anna Karenina for probably about ten years now, and have failed miserably. Its sitting on my bookcase even now with a bookmark at about the halfway point, where I inevitably lose interest and set down the book.
And this comes from a huge book nerd, so take that as you will.
Now you understand why I was so excited when I first heard about Android Karenina, the newest literary mash-up from the people at Quirk Classics. (AKA, the people who brought the world Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.)
In it’s basest form, Anna Karenina is a soap opera played out by awkward wealthy Russian people. Roughly, Anna is married to Alexi but in love with Vronsky. Levin is in love with Kitty, who refuses his marriage proposal in the hopes that Vronsky will turn his attentions to her. There are opulent social events, stolen kisses, entrances into society, and a whole lot of internal struggle and angst.
Android Karenina doesn’t really change that plot. Despite what the book’s cover and title may suggest, rather than turning the main characters of this classic novel into robots themselves, Winters wisely surrounds our protagonists with robot sidekicks. In this steampunk version of Russia, the wealthy are given robotic sidekicks (called “beloved-companions”) who are at times both personal assistant and therapist to their human counterparts. These sidekicks can do anything from fighting off evil robots to re-playing the memories of their masters.
Behind the romantic entanglements of our five main characters is a cyber-war beginning, as the robots (clearly serving as a symbol of industrialization) get more and more powerful and begin to think for themselves. Technically, they’re bound by “Iron Laws,” but laws will only hold back enslaved beings for so long, as we know from history. There’s also another threat looming, which I won’t spoil by mentioning here, but it’s a sci-fi dream come true.
The book is a success largely due to it’s welcome injection of sci-fi, which enhances the original novel without taking all that much away from the source material. It reminds me a little of the Baz Lurhman/Leonardo DiCaprio Romeo & Juliet movie in how it grabs your attention from the very beginning to help the daunting text go down a little smoother. The robots and cyber-war begin slightly gimmicky, but eventually manage to become such a vivid and vital part of the novel that I honestly can’t imagine ever reading Anna Karenina the same way again.
(Originally posted at my personal blog, The Kids Got Moxie, on 7/21/2010.)
“What’s amazing is how much of Cullen’s book still comes as a surprise.”
- The New York Times.
I read Dave Cullen’s masterwork, Columbine, in much the same way that I read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood for the first time. Though I was fully aware that what I was reading was a true story, it was almost easier to believe it as a genuinely well-crafted piece of fiction. Stories like the Columbine murders and the Clutter family murders, though very much real, seem the creation of some writer’s imagination and pen.
However, these things happened.
Columbine happened in my lifetime. Heck, I was in high school when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on their classmates in April of 1999, in what was then largely reported to be a case of outcasts getting revenge on the jocks that tortured them. I’m familiar with the term “Trench Coat Mafia,” and familiar with the story of Cassie the martyr (the girl who reportedly got shot after confessing her belief in God.)
Having seen Cullen on Book TV talking about the book, it peaked my interest. Though, I admit, I approached it with serious dread and a lump in my throat, scared of what I might learn.
Yeah, this book astonished me.
I cried twice while reading it.
Cullen’s writing reminded me not only of Capote, but also of another of my non-fiction favorites: Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. Both books are written by gifted journalists who are armed with unbelievable true stories about remarkable and troubled young men. (When I say ‘remarkable,’ please understand that it’s not in praise of the killers. Reading Cullen’s book offers a ton of insight into the evolution of two seemingly normal young men into two mass murderers. Though Eric Harris was a textbook psychopath, the development of Dylan Klebold from suicidal and troubled teen boy into someone who joined forces with Harris is unsettling, while being riveting.)
The media, teachers, students, parents, SWAT team, local churches, sheriffs department, and the killers themselves all get dissected. Was there a police cover-up of potential errors in the investigation? Probably. Did the media take nuggets and half-truths and run with them? Definitely. Did the parents know their boys were on the road they were on? Probably not. Did the killers – particularly Harris – show warning signs along the way? Absolutely.
You feel for the students (and teacher) who were wounded or killed in the attack. Through Cullen’s writing, it feels like you get to meet them and put names to faces. For example, you may recall the images of the young man bloodied and falling from the window at Columbine. His name is Patrick, and his story (from the day of the attack through his recovery) is told here.
It’s a horrifying book.
It’s a fascinating book.
I recommend it, highly, but not for everyone. I like non-fiction. I like trying to understand why terrible things happen. I appreciate journalists who dedicate their lives to a story or event. (Cullen has spent the years since the attack covering Columbine for both Salon and Slate, and is considered the foremost authority on Columbine.) I mean, it’s not like anyone really wants to revisit Columbine. However, this book will challenge your presumptions, shatter your illusions, and make you look at this terrible tragedy from the point of view of a sociologist, psychiatrist, and journalist.
Hello Fellow Bibliophiles,
Welcome to suchabooknerd. Though we’re a new blog – launched 9/2/10 – we’re looking forward to getting started discussing books, book-related events, authors, and other things that pertain to our great love: reading.
Stay tuned – There’s a ton to come!