Thursday, October 25, 2007


What literary character scared you the most? polled its customers to find out who they thought were the scariest characters in literature. Nineteen Eight-Four's Big Brother was voted the scariest while author Stephen King has the distinction of having two of his characters make the top ten. Check to see if your favorite monster is on the list.

BTW: As an adolescent, Dracula scared me the most. As an adult though, Big Brother is definitely my worst nightmare.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Anne Enright, Essayist

Today's New York Times book blog Papercuts mentions that Anne Enright, winner of the 2007 Booker Prize, is a frequent essayist for the London Review of Books.

Her current column (as of 10/18) is about her obsession with the McCann missing child case. The opening paragraph alone is very compelling and discusses in some detail the risks of sedating a child.
It is very difficult to kill a child by giving it sedatives, even if killing it is what you might want to do. I asked a doctor about this, one who is also a mother. It was a casual, not a professional conversation, but like every other parent in the Western world, she had thought the whole business through. (Link to full column.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Winner of Booker Prize 2007 Announced

Anne Enright wins Man Booker Prize for Fiction

LONDON (AP) -- Irish writer Anne Enright won the Man Booker fiction prize Tuesday for "The Gathering," an uncompromising portrait of a troubled family.

She is the second Irish writer to win the prize in the past three years, after John Banville's "The Sea" in 2005.

Enright had been considered a long-shot to take Britain's most prestigious, and contentious, literary trophy. The award, which carries a prize of $100,000, was bestowed during a ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall. Link to full article.

Link to Man Booker website.

Link to San Leandro Library catalog record of The Gathering in case you want to check out the book or put a hold on it.

Photo: Andy Rain/European Pressphoto Agency

Kite Runner Author Weighs In

Today's SFGate has an interview with author Khaled Hosseini about the delay of film version of his book The Kite Runner.
Kite Runner author supports late release to protect young actors

Jose resident Khaled Hosseini has led multiple professional lives: medical doctor, international bestselling novelist, envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and, now, Hollywood consultant and spokesperson.

On Monday at a press junket in San Francisco, the 43-year-old author said he commends Paramount Vantage for postponing the release of "The Kite Runner," the film adaptation of his bestselling novel, in order to protect three adolescent Afghan actors who appear in the movie. (Link to article.)

Thanks for the tip Linda.

The Machine is Us/ing

While this video, The Machine is Us/ing, isn't directly book related, I thought it worth posting. It's a clever, provocative summary of how digital technology is not only changing how we share information, but how we live our lives.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Shakespeare Tube Map

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has devised an ingenious map that shows the relationships between Shakespeare's characters. And to make it super easy to use, they based the design on London's iconic tube map.
The lines include lovers (red), mothers (pink), fathers and daughters (green), villains (light blue), heroes (dark blue), strong and difficult women (turquoise), warriors (black) and fools (orange). Interesting intersections include Henry V who meets on the warrior and hero line, and Lady Macbeth on the strong and difficult women and warrior line. (Quote from the British Theatre Guide.)

You can buy copies of the map at the Royal Shakespeare Company's online shop as well as totes, coffee mugs, tea towels, etc. with the map printed right on them. What a great Christmas gift for the Shakespearean scholar in your life!

Thanks to the BookDaddy blog for this item.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

National Book Award Finalists Annuonced

The finalists for the 2007 National Book Award were announced today. The only nominated title I've read is Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, which I loved for its cynical humor and slightly spooky, but spot on narrative voice. In fact, I was going to suggest it for our Summer or Fall 2008 reading list since it should be out in paperback by then.

Christopher Hitchen's book God is Not Great is one of the non-fiction nominees, which is sure to provoke controversy and garner some publicity for the awards.

Finally, according to a librarian at UCLA, "...there are some California writers on the list of 2007 National Book Award finalists and special medal recipients.
Robert Hass, ex-Poet Laureate of the United States, nominated for Time and Materials
Arnold Rampersad, Stanford professor, honored for his biography of Ralph Ellison
Kathleen Duey, YA author of Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
And of course we count Joan Didion as a Californian!"

Release of "The Kite Runner" Delayed

As discussed in last Saturday's Readers Roundtable, the release date of the movie The Kite Runner has been moved to December. Apparently, the family of the boy who stars in the film and lives in Kabul is afraid that fellow Afghans will be offended by a rape scene and retaliate against him. It's widely believed in Afghan culture that such things should not be shared in a public forum.

The New York Times ran an article on this situation, as did the San Jose Mercury News which included interviews with members of our local Afghan community.

Thanks Ron sharing this news with the Roundtable.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Movie Trailer: Atonement

The movie version of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement is scheduled to be in limited release December 7. Judging from the preview, the movie looks like a beautiful, but tragic romance. Here's a preview with fairly good picture resolution from YouTube. BTW: Early reviews are excellent.

Patrons' Picks & Pans

The library has launched a new online newsletter called Patrons' Picks & Pans. It's a random selection of book comments from patrons who participated in this past summer's adult reading program. It's a kick seeing what your fellow patrons are reading and what they think about what they're reading, so check it out.

Patrons' Picks & Pans:

BTW: there are hundreds of comments to share, so we'll be publishing the newsletter once or twice a month. Sign up for email delivery so you don't miss a single issue!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

NYTimes: Stephen King on the Short Story

These days my reading time is limited and frequently interrupted, so I have trouble remembering who's who and what's what when I'm reading a novel. As a result, I've come to prefer reading essays and short stories.

And every Fall I've reason to rejoice because Harper Perennial releases new editions of its "The Best of American" series. This is a terrific series and it has a number of different titles. My favorites are the The Best of American Crime Reporting and The Best of American Mystery Stories (while The Best of American Travel Writing and The Best American Science Writing jostle for third place). However, all the titles usually contain good to excellent pieces, and I try to get through most of them before the next set of comes out the following Fall.

This year Stephen King is the editor for The Best of American Short Stories 2007, and I'm eager to read the stories he's selected. While the Lit Police may sneer at a bestselling author of horror novels editing the 2007 collection, I'm betting that King can be trusted to pick stories that are literary page-turners: i.e. They're fun to read and good for you too.

Anyway, in The Sunday New York Times Book Review King talks about his year of reading American short stories.

Published: September 30, 2007
Why do so many short stories feel show-offy, written for editors and teachers rather than for readers?

The American short story is alive and well.

Do you like the sound of that? Me too. I only wish it were actually true. The art form is still alive — that I can testify to. As editor of “The Best American Short Stories 2007,” I read hundreds of them, and a great many were good stories. Some were very good. And some seemed to touch greatness. But “well”? That’s a different story. Link to article.


The paper that lines the front and back covers of a book are called endpapers. Today, they are mostly left blank, but they were once festooned with patterns or illustrated with pictures. There's now a website that has a gallery of charming endpapers from childrens books. Take a look.

The end paper above is from A House of Pomegranates,
Written by Oscar Wilde Illustrated by Ben Kutcher 1925

Thanks to for item.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Next Book Discussion: The Road

Just a reminder that we'll be meeting this Saturday, October 6 at 2 p.m. to talk about Cormac McCarthy's book The Road.

Below are some websites about the book in case you want to do any preliminary research.

Oprah's Book Club
Oprah chose The Road for her book club several months back (transforming the book into an instant bestseller). Besides analyses, background information, and discussion, Oprah's website also features her television interview with the publicity shy author, Cormac McCarthy.

New York Times
Janet Maslin's book review says, "The Road would be pure misery if not for its stunning, savage beauty."

Author William Kennedy wryly observes in his review that, "McCarthy has said that death is the major issue in the world and that writers who don’t address it are not serious. Death reaches very near totality in this novel."

Image: Viktor Koen, New York Times.

Washington Post
Ron Charles' review points out that, "The fear of dying, so prevalent in McCarthy's previous novels, is balanced here by the fear of surviving.


Malcom Jones book review says, "...
the question that the novel implicitly poses—how much can you subtract from human existence before it ceases to be human?—takes on heartbreaking force."

SF Chronicle
In his review, librarian David Hellman interprets McCarthy's message as " the end, we have only what we can hold onto right now, in this place and at this moment."

For more in depth literary analyses, search on these two databases: Novelist and Literature Resource Center. You can find them on library's Online Resources webpage. (You'll need you library's barcode number to access them.)