I love summer, and since Oklahoma can’t seem to decide what season we’re in, I’m declaring it summer. So I’ve put aside my chores, and my computer how-to manuals and I’m reading for fun. Started with David Handler’s The Boy Who Never Grew Up, which despite the fact the book was written in 1992, Hollywood looks much the same as it does now. Stewart Hoag, ghost writer extrodinaire, has been sent to help Matthew Wax, movie mogul, get over the imminent collapse of his marriage by writing his memoirs. His wife is writing her own, and we’ve got the “he said, she said” war emerging. Wax is quite literally pulling his hair out over his lady love, Pennyroyal. Hoag has plenty to deal with, adolescent grown-ups, crazy ambitious actresses, and toss in some arson and racy photos and you’ve got the idea. I almost forgot Lulu, a charmer for all dog lovers. The mystery parts are well developed, the ending is a suprise and you meet one Hollywood character after another.
Then of course, I found a Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden I hadn’t read. How is that even possible. Poppy Done to Death. Poppy, Aurora’s sister-in-law, is about to be accepted into the prestigious “Uppity Women Book Club.” Before she can accept this honor, she’s murdered in her own kitchen and Aurora discovers the body. There’s lots of infidelity going on, with desperate housewives and husbands on the prowl. It’s hard to find anyone still faithful to their partner. In little Lawrenceton, Georgia, the saying “no one really knows anyone”, couldn’t be truer.
Aurora has a new love interest since the death of her husband, Martin. And the relationship is moving along in surprising ways. Her half brother Phillip, provides an unexpected visit, and adds to her personal narrative. Charlaine Harris is always a good cozy read. Interesting characters, strong Southern charm, and a mystery to keep you reading until the end. Grab your sweet tea and put your feet up for this one.
Debuting at Number 9 on the Indie Bestseller List for the week of March 18th in Non-Fiction Hardcover is Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier. Surely everyone in the State knows about Ree Drummond and her fabulous blog. Now a new cookbook………
On her site, there are cookbook giveaway announcements from her online friends. She takes the best food pictures I’ve ever seen. Plus she has insights into producing great photography.
She has links to Pioneer Woman sites, her favorite sites and great food sites.
You can spend hours just admiring and looking at all the interesting and fun stuff. So check out a staple of Oklahoma, Ms. Ree Drummond.
When the culture wars returned a couple of weeks ago, I was in the middle of Sheri S. Tepper’s 1998 novel Six Moon Dance. My brain blew a fuse. It was one of those serendipitous moments when what you’re reading informs the news of the day—and vice versa.
Whether you believe the current culture war is about women’s health and access to contraception, or about religious freedom, or both, there’s no denying that reproductive and sexual politics have come into play. Just turn on any cable news station.
When it comes to literary commentary on gender issues, Tepper is a master in the science fiction/fantasy genre. Her novel The Gate to Women’s Country is a landmark in feminist sci-fi. (And a darn good read, too!)
In this Tepper novel, the author turns gender stereotypes on their head. On the human-colonized planet Newholme, a matriarchal society has evolved. A virus that attaches itself to the double-x chromosome means fewer births of live females. Women become treasured, and the families of young men pay dowries to the families of young women to forge families. As in pre-modern times, the marriage arrangements are not romantic but economic. Once a woman has given birth to children—done her “duty”—she can buy the services of a consort, a man who has been trained in the art of pleasuring women.
This is where protagonist Mouche comes in. He is the son of parents who have been unable to produce daughters. These families are unable to pay dowries for their sons because they have been unable to collect dowries for daughters. Their options are few. One option is for the family to sell a son to a Madame who grooms young men to become consorts. And so Mouche finds himself in the house of Madame Genevois, the most prestigious consort house on the planet.
In this house, Mouche will rediscover the “Timmys”—another life form on the planet to which human children are intimately connected. But as children grow older, they are told the Timmys are illusions and must be ignored. But Mouche can’t ignore them. And increasingly, it appears the other residents of Newholme can’t ignore them either. For the Timmys once held the key to protecting this volcanically-active planet, an activity that reaches dire proportions when Newholme’s six moons align.
The above description of Six Moon Dance doesn’t even begin to touch upon this almost-epic work. Suffice it to say there are many more characters, many secrets, and a million-year-old back story that only adds richness and intrigue to Tepper’s commentary on gender, sex and mysogyny. And once the big questions are answered, and you feel you have just finished a great book, there is the most delightful of payoffs.
There are a number of interviews with Tepper out on the web, but this is my favorite one!
Out of Nowhere: Images of Oklahoma
Opens 3:30 pm, Monday, February 20
Edmon Low Library, OSU-Stillwater
The State of the Novel: Constance Squires and Rilla Askew
7:00 pm, Tuesday, February 21
Joseph Gierek Fine Art, 1512 E. 15th Street, Tulsa
Yep! Two literary events comin’ up next week. The first is a gallery showing of the photography of Kelly Kerr, featuring images from his Centennial book Oklahoma Revisited. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the reception after the event.
Kerr is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker and visual communications faculty member at OSU Institute of Technology. Michael Wallis, best-selling author, speaker and storyteller will introduce Kerr.
Born and raised in Ada, Okla., Kerr discovered his passion as an OSU student shooting for the school newspaper, The Daily O’Collegian.
Kerr graduated from the business college in 1989 and was hired at the Tulsa World in 1994. He covered breaking news, features, entertainment and sports. He was named the Oklahoma Press Association’s Photographer of the Year and twice the Associated Press Sweepstakes Award winner.
In December 2007 Kerr became a faculty member at OSU-IT teaching photography and film in the visual communications program. Kerr has received two teaching awards: the 2011 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Award and the 2010 OSU-IT Outstanding Faculty Award.
The OSU Library houses two oral history interviews with Kerr. The first interview focuses on his experiences as an OSU student. The second highlights his photography and creativity. Both interviews are available online.
Event partners include Friends of the OSU Library, OSU Institute for Creativity and Innovation, OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications, Center for Oklahoma Studies, Oklahoma Oral History Research Program, the Tulsa World and OSU Research and Technology Transfer. This event is free and open to the public. For event questions, call 405-744-7331.
Squires’ debut novel, Along the Watchtower has been called “smart, funny, and beautifully written.” Askew is one of our greatest Oklahoma writers, having won the American Book Award (Fire in Beulah), three Oklahoma Book Awards (Strange Business, The Mercy Seat, and Harpsong), and nominated for the Pen/Faulkner Award (The Mercy Seat.)
Squires will read from her novel, while Askew will debut an exclusive preview from her forthcoming book, Kind of Kin. A dialogue will follow about the current state and future of the novel. Sponsor of the event is Book Smart Tulsa. Don’t miss it!
It’s Friday afternoon. You’re just watching the clock tick, waiting to go home for the weekend. Sounds like it’s time for another Library YouTube Break. And a funny one, too!
The Colbert Report on Comedy Central never pulls any punches in the search for laughs and satirical commentary. Stephen Colbert and his writers are masters of political and cultural lampoonery. Earlier this week, the host interviewed Maurice Sendak, world-famous author and illustrator of such children’s books as Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup With Rice.
It’s obvious Sendak’s in on the game, and he answers questions with a biting honesty that’s only accepted from people who have lived long enough on Planet Earth.
After you watch Part 1 below, be sure and check out part 2 on Hulu, where you’ll get Sendak’s unedited opinions on children’s book illustrators and e-books. Too, too hilarious.
Stumptown is like a really good television pilot for a private detective series. That’s not surprising, since author Greg Rucka is a fan of seventies-era detective shows like The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I. The crime in Stumptown would fit nicely in one of these shows or in any time–the investigation into the disappearance of a young woman–but the players have been appropriately updated.
The wisecracking protagonist PI, Dex (short for Dexadrine) Parios, is a mess. She’s addicted to gambling, takes care of her mentally-challenged younger brother, and is apparently responsible for the demise of the top dog police detective’s marriage. Her friend Grey, who takes care of her brother when she’s out solving crimes, is smitten with Dex, and Dex is oblivious to this. (See, it’s like a pilot. You need to tune in next week if you want your questions answered.)
The Portland crime family behind the woman’s disappearance suffers from its own dysfunction, with a daughter and son who both hate and love their crime boss daddy, and ultimately just want his approval.
Matthew Southworth‘s art captures the grey, lush atmosphere of the Northwest and the gritty side of Portland, and he simply slays the finale, with flashlights illuminating the action on a dark night.
For me, Stumptown simply isn’t as good as Rucka’s Queen and Country series, but it works for what it is. If this really does turn into a series, it may call for further investigation.
By the way, Stumptown is a nickname for Portland, Oregon. Here’s why.
A friend nominated this video for a Library YouTube Break, and I have to say it’s a darn good one!
The staff at Type bookstore in Toronto spent tons of time moving, stacking, and animating the books for this delightful video. It’s a great promo for the bookstore with more than 2 million visits to the video on YouTube. Still, with all of the work and coordination involved, it looks more like a labor of love to me.
So, a round of applause for these Canadian bookies. Enjoy your YouTube break!
It was only a matter of time before Literary Kitty found a way to make I Can Has Cheezburger the Literary Site of the Week. Funny thing is, my Facebook friend Jay also found the site’s hilarious post featuring “16 classic novels reimagined with cat-centric titles and covers.”
We are having a hard time deciding which book jacket and title are our favorite, but we nominate Catlas Shrugged, The Girl with the Kitten Tattoo, and A Tale of Two Kitties for the grand prize. And surely Litter Box Five would get an honorable mention!
It’s a new year with new dreams and we hope all of our Okie Reads visitors have a great 2012. Don’t forget to have fun. And, please, don’t forget to share loads of love with any furry creatures in your life.
P.S. We can’t guarantee it, but we suspect even a dog-lover like Carrie Coppernoll might appreciate this! LOL
GalleyCat is one of my favorite websites. They have all the best news from the Book Publishing Industry. Literary Kittie was so pleased to find their Annual Pet Parade. Send in your photos of your literary pets and next week they’ll start posting them.
Sticking with the GalleyCat theme. I just love a good reading list. The best of this, the best of that. But the notion of Favorite Overlooked Books of 2011 is a must have. Young Bill, please note Habibi is on their list. I would put Cheyenne Madonna by Eddie Chuculate on mine. New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth got this conversation started. The link should start with QuickTime, give it a minute. Remember libraries also buy all those unsung gems and support authors.
I also think we forget to recommend and talk about books that are not current but we uncover in book piles, sale bins and library shelves throughout the year. Oldies but goodies.
This is your chance to tell what book you think was overlooked by all those reviewers, publishers, booksellers, and award givers.