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Showing posts from July, 2018

The 2018 Man Booker Prize Longlist

One of the nice things about being someone who is interested in the British literary scene but who lives five hours behind and an ocean apart from the United Kingdom is that when something noteworthy happens in Britain in the middle of the night, you find out about it while you're eating dinner. And so it happened that when the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist was released at just after midnight UK time on Tuesday, July 24th, it was early evening on Monday, July 23rd in Wallingford CT, and I had several hours before bedtime to study the list with excitement and, as it turns out, a fair bit of surprise.

Unlike last year, when I had read seven of the 13 books on the list before the longlist was released (and had heard of all but two of the books), as of this writing, I have only read one book on the 2018 Man Booker longlist, and I have heard of a handful of the others. To make matters more complicated, only five of the books on the longlist have already been published in the United St…

Thursday Night Book Club -- July, 2018

The Thursday Night Book Club filled the library's Board Room to slightly over capacity on Thursday, July 19th to discuss A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Nicknamed "King Lear in a cornfield," A Thousand Acres takes place in 1979 in fictional Zebulon County, Iowa. The book is narrated by 36-year-old Ginny Cook Smith, the oldest of three daughters of prosperous widower farmer Larry Cook. Due primarily to his neighbors' failures, Larry has amassed a farm of a thousand acres, one of the largest in the county. The Cook farm stands as an emblem of Larry's single-minded shrewdness: "What is a farmer? A farmer is a man who feeds the world. What is a farmer's first duty? To grow more food. What is a farmer's second duty? To buy more land. What are the signs of a good farm? Clean fields, neatly painted buildings, breakfast at six, no debts, no standing water. How will you know a good farmer when you meet him? He will not ask you for any favors."

At a par…

The Golden Man Booker Prize

I am an unabashed sucker for book lists. I am particularly fond of the long and short lists which precede the announcement of the winners of the big literary prizes of the year, especially the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. The longlist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize will be released on July 24th, a date I've had circled in my desk calendar for a while now (I'm in full book nerd mode here). But while I wait for that great day to arrive, the good people involved with the Man Booker decided to give me a gift. They announced a special, one-off award, called the Golden Man Booker, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the existence of the Man Booker Prize. The Golden Man Booker is awarded to the book deemed to be the best work of fiction of all of the previous winners of the Man Booker Prize over the past five decades.

Be still my nerdy heart...

In order to determine the winner, a panel of five judges read all the former winners of the prize, with each assigned a dec…

Visualizing the Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas

I am just a bit too young to have followed the Beatles in the 1960s. I was five and only just starting to understand the allure of pop music and rock and roll when the group split up in 1970. But my parents owned the albums, of course, and I remember pulling them off the shelf and studying them (the sleek White Album, the surreal colors of Yellow Submarine and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the funky clothing they wore on Abbey Road). We listened to the music at home sometimes, and I liked it, a lot. I watched video footage of the group's first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1965, which gave me a small taste of some of the hysteria that followed them wherever they went. But all of it felt a bit after the fact, and I sometimes had the sense that I had missed something important and vital.

Many years later, when my own children were in elementary school, my husband and I bought the CD compilation of Beatles #1 hits, aptly titled 1, and we played it on car trips f…