British scholar, Hilary Mantel, has just published the second in her series of books told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII. Wolf Hall, the first, covers the rise of Anne Boleyn and Cromwell and the fall of many others. The next in the series, Bring Up the Bodies, begins where Wolf Hall leaves off and focuses on Anne Boleyn’s own downfall and her replacement on the throne with Jane Seymour. Mantel skillfully portrays the players in the intricate dance that was life in the court of Henry VIII. Cromwell is a fascinating character to be the pivot of this familiar story and Mantel has not ruled out continuing with a third novel, which we may imagine will detail Thomas Cromwell’s own spectacularly gruesome end.
Award winning Colorado author Nick Arvin will be visiting two Jefferson County Public Library book groups for the discussion of his newest book, The Reconstructionist. His previous novel, Articles of War, received the Colorado Book award and was selected for the One Book, One Denver program. Visitors are welcome to attend these discussions. Belmar Library Wednesday Night Book Group, August 1, 6:00 pm Standley Lake Library Thursday Night Book Group, September 13, 6:00 pm
We asked Nick a few questions about his writing.
JCPL: The main character in The Reconstructionist is Ellis Barstow, a man whose childhood was marred by a car accident. Ellis works as a forensic engineer analyzing car crashes in order to determine what caused them. How did you come to create a character with such an unusual occupation?
Nick: Because it was my occupation! I’m an engineer, and for a couple of years I worked in forensic engineering. I sort of stumbled into it, but I knew from the first day that I wanted to write a novel about the work. The work itself was basically a process of creating little mini-stories about the accidents we were working on, and these accidents were dramatic and tragic, and the process of creating these mini-stories was really interesting, but also discomforting in the way that that the it required applying cold, analytical techniques to examining terribly human situations. I had great material in hand, from the details and stories of working in accident reconstruction, but it took a lot of work to develop characters and a larger story that made the material meaningful. I also felt a real obligation to do my very best to honor and do justice to the stories I was working with.
JCPL: When did you start writing and what was your first publication?
Nick: I started writing short stories in high school, and never stopped. My first publication was about ten years later, a short story in a literary journal published by the University of Alabama, The Black Warrior Review. A couple of years after that, I sold my first book, a collection of stories titled In the Electric Eden.
JCPL: Which authors or books have most influenced you?
Nick: Influence is hard to parse. I read a lot, and all of it affects my own writing. Let me recommend a couple of engineers who turned to writing fiction: Stewart O’Nan, a former aerospace engineer who has written a stack of excellent novels on all sorts of themes; and George Saunders, who studied at the Colorado School of Mines and is now possibly the most interesting and funniest writer of short fiction in America.
JCPL: What are you working on now?
Nick: I'm well into a collection of stories about engineers and other technical types -- the kind of people who are creating the technologies and machines that are rapidly remaking our world, and yet don't get written about very much. It's tentatively titled "An Index of Human Properties."
Even though July hasn’t even come to a close yet, football (and the NFL in particular) is just around the corner. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is marking its 50th anniversary this year, and to celebrate a new title is being released. Aptly named, The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book: Where Greatness Lives, this bookis full of photographs, essays and football commentary covering the Hall’s history.
A great way for fans to get in the spirit of the season, this title is set for release on July 31.
Every once in a while, you pick up a book that redefines what it means to read. Michelle Naka Pierce’s Continuous Frieze Bordering Redis one such book. Written as a meditation on Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals, Pierce takes artist Mark Rothko’s notion of floating borders (in which colors within the painting are layered in such a way that it’s difficult to tell the exact point where one color begins and the other ends) and she applies this to the unstable cultural boundaries that accompany being a racially-mixed person in America (Pierce is a Japanese-American whose mother emigrated to the US after the Second World War). When reading this book, you instantly notice that the lines of text run into the gutter of the book, and up the next page. In other words, you read the first line on page 1, then the first line on page 2, and proceed all the way to the end of the book; then you return to the very first page and read the second line all the way to the end of the book, and then the third line, and so on. In this way, the text of the book functions like an architectural frieze, which appears at the very top of a building and extends all the way around it, until the building is encircled. A beautiful and salient book, Continuous Frieze Bordering Red does for poetry what James Joyce’s Ulysses did for fiction: it uses an unorthodox style of writing to lend nuance to complex societal issues that are all too often oversimplified and misunderstood.
A Book We Love: The School of Essential Ingredients
In Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients, we learn along with the characters how transforming food can be. The aromas, flavors, and textures stir memories and emotions which can be both healing and releasing.
As you meet each character – Lillian (the teacher), Claire, Carl, Tom, Chloe, Helen, Antonia, Isabelle, and Ian – you learn about their lives and how they came to be in this class. Their stories are expertly intertwined with the dishes being made.
And then there's the food. Bauermeister has a gift for writing about food in such sensual, evocative terms that it will make you want to recreate each dish yourself and share it with someone you love.
Advice from Lillian regarding Valentine’s Day: “If you live in your senses, slowly, with attention, if you use your eyes and your fingertips and your taste buds, then romance is something you’ll never need a greeting card to make you remember.”
Getting to Know the Authors: An interview with Eowyn Ivey
Eowyn Ivey is the New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child, a novel about the magic and mystery of a child made out of snow, and how she changes the lives of Jack and Mabel, homesteaders in the Alaskan wilderness.
We recently had the chance to ask Eowyn some questions about her novel:
JCPL: What can you tell us about your writing process? How did you go about writing The Snow Child? Would you do the same for your next project?
EI: We had a new baby in the house when I was writing The Snow Child, and my husband and I were both working, so I was left with a sliver of time after both our daughters went to bed. I would retreat to the walk-in closet that I had converted into an office and write for an hour or two each night. My mom is a poet and we arranged to share our work each week -- I would give her a new chapter, and she would give me a new poem. Because these were first drafts, we mostly gave positive feedback to each other keep the momentum going. As for my next novel, I am trying to spend time here and there working on it, but my schedule is very different now with book publicity and travel. The basic approach remains the same, however -- I have to carve out that time and just write.
JCPL: Do you think people have taken meanings from The Snow Child that you didn't put there?
EI: Definitely. But that's one of the wonderful aspects of novels. We all bring our own experience and knowledge to the page when we read. In some cases, readers have shed light on interpretations of the story that I was not consciously aware of as I wrote, but were perhaps part of my subconscious process. In other situations, readers take away meanings that I don't necessarily agree with, but that doesn't mean they are wrong. A writer is only half of the process. And I love to think that readers can discuss and find new meaning in my story.
JCPL: What is your favorite "guilty pleasure" book to read?
EI: Stephen King. And the only reason his books are a "guilty pleasure" is because I become so absorbed by his storytelling that I can do nothing but read. I started Under the Dome one evening, and then spent the entire next day reading it. When my husband came home, I said "Sorry, can't fix dinner or help with the kids" and pointed at the book. I finished it that night. Typically when I read my favorite authors, like Cormac McCarthy, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison or Annie Proulx, I savor their work over a week or so. But Stephen King is my excuse to devour 1,000 pages in a day.
JCPL: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
EI: Just to say thank you. I have been touched by the emails and letters I've received, and am so grateful to the book clubs, librarians, and booksellers who have helped spread word about the book.
How well do you know the world’s most populous country?
Did you know that China has more than 160 cities with populations over 1 million, is the world’s largest exporter, and is on the verge of its most significant leadership transition in decades? This rapidly evolving country is a fascinating study in contrasts: old vs. new, rural vs. urban, rich vs. poor. If you’re interested in the people and places that make China what it is today, we hope you’ll enjoy these titles:
How can a country lean towards capitalism while maintaining the structures of authoritarian communist rule? This title, based on years of the author’s journalistic experience talking with everyone from entrepreneurs to peasants to political officials, provides a good starting point for those seeking answers to this question and more.
Hessler’s writing combines the best of human interest with history, economics and politics to create engaging non-fiction. Oracle Bones, along with the author’s other titles on China (Country Drivingand River Town), provide insightful glances into the lives of everyday Chinese while educating the reader of the larger historical circumstances surrounding them.
Decades after betraying a friend during the Cultural Revolution, the author returns to China to find the former classmate and make amends. An interesting look at university life in Beijing at the time around the Cultural Revolution contrasted against modern-day life just before the 2008 Olympic Games.
China Roadis the tale of an NPR correspondent’s journey along China’s “Mother Road”, Route 312 from Shanghai to the Kazakhstan border. Following parts of the old Silk Road over 3,000 miles, Gifford brings the reader along on an armchair discovery of China complete with humor, sadness and adventure.
For anyone who needs a book related smile today, enjoy this delightful stop motion film created in a bookshop! We always thought that our books came alive when they were all alone, and now we know they do!
Colorado author, Kathy Lynn Harris just had her first novel, Blue Straggler, published in paperback. Blue Straggler's heroine is Bailey and she is about 30 years old and just doesn’t feel like she fits in around San Antonio, Texas anymore. So, when she is demoted at work, Bailey quits her job and drives to Colorado to search for information about a great-grandmother she knew nothing about. Will Bailey find her roots or herself in a small, Colorado mountain town?
Originally, Blue Straggler was an ebook she self-published on Amazon’s self-publishing section of their website. Kathy recently did a program at the Columbine Library in June to explain how she published her book on Amazon.
One of my favorite genres is books or novels that are written about writers, writing, and books in general. These tend to be stories about other bibliophiles, and I feel a connection with these fictitious book lovers as I read. Here are a few good ones to get you going:
Margaret Lea is asked to write the biography of Vida Winter, a famous author. An old tale of sisters, ghosts, and abandoned babies is revealed as Margaret undertakes the research, and teaches Margaret truths about her own past as she studies the story of Vida Winter.
As a boy, Daniel chooses a book from the cemetery of forgotten books, and dedicates his life to finding all of the rest of the author’s works. As he does so, he discovers that someone else has also been locating copies of the books and destroying them. When he attempts to discover why, he is caught in a web of murder and mystery as he tries to keep the books he loves safe.
If you love dogs, then this touching and funny book, A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron will warm your heart.It is a follow-up to Cameron’s wildly popular, A Dog’s Purpose. When that book ended, Buddy was our dog.As expected, he is re-incarnated again and again. This time, he feels his purpose is to protect Ethan’s ancestor, our hero from the first book.Dogs and humans alike encounter tragedy, death, as well as some fun times in A Dog’s Journey.
British author Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands mystery series is set in the heyday of the British Empire. The life and adventures of Commander Sandilands are loosely modeled on a Cleverly family ancestor, whose diaries and anecdotes about the Great War, India during the Raj, and 1920’s Europe form the background for the Sandilands’ mysteries.
The Last Kashmiri Rose, the first book in the series, gives the reader a taste of spicy food, ragtime music, and serial murder as Commander Joe Sandilands of the London Metropolitan Police tries to catch a cunning murderer in Roaring Twenties India. Sandilands, sent to India to solve a delicate case, is far from his home, but rarely at a loss.
Last Kashmiri Rose, published in 2002, received a New York Times “Notable Book” designation.
Mystery writer Cleverly has said of her books, “The clues are sown right at the start of the mystery for the careful reader to spot. I love fooling people and work very hard at it.”
Cleverly, who received the Crime Writers Association Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award in 2004, also writes the Laetitia Talbot archaeological mystery series.
Is the summer heat getting to you? Cool off with this debut mystery novel set in the icy Artic: White Heat by M.J. McGrath.
On the Canadian island of Ellesmere off the coast of Greenland, half Inuit and half qalunaat (Inuit for outsider) Edie Kiglatuk has lived the Inuit way, learning to hunt seal and bear at a young age. At 35, she’s a recovering alcoholic and working as a part-time teacher and hunting guide to white hunters. She hopes to help her stepson, Joe, fulfill his dream of becoming a nurse.
While Edie is guiding some alleged duck hunters, one of them is shot and killed. The village elders rule it as an accident, fearing outside interference from authorities. But Edie saw footprints in the snow and contacts police sergeant, Derek Palliser, and they both suspect murder.
Shortly after that, Edie is shocked by the death of her stepson. Although it seems unrelated, her intuition tells her there is a connection to the hunter’s death. With or without Palliser, Edie is determined to find out who killed Joe – a path leading her to an international energy conspiracy and putting her right in the killer’s sights.
Local author Janice McDermott will be at Standley Lake Library on Thursday, July 12 at 6:00 pm to discuss her book, What Would Your Father Say? My Journey to Hope and Light. Her memoir leads readers on a sometimes sad, often jubilant jaunt through her young years in a long-gone rural Iowa. Poverty, the death of her young father, and stints in an orphanage, a foster home and a convent all propel her to an adulthood where she finds peace -- with herself and with God. Janice's stories -- of smoking nuns, illicit fudge, wash day, sibling rivalry, learning to drive, secret viewing of White Christmas, working at Ray's Drive Inn, and searching for diamonds in the privy -- engage the adventuresome and the quirky sides of all of us. And they reveal why her mother so often declared her father would be "turning over in his grave" if he knew what they were doing! Readers will find hope, faith and trust in "a Power greater than we are" as they travel this journey with her.
We asked Janice to answer a few questions about her book and her life.
JCPL: Why did you decide to tell this story?
Janice: Even when I was a little girl and I was living this story I thought it would be a good story to write. I actually wrote most of the story twenty-four years ago when I first moved to Denver. I had a very interesting neighbor that told me many fascinating things about her life. I asked her how she knew all these things. She told me she went to a palm reader in Boulder so I quickly made an appointment with the same women. She said I had to write my story. Even though I argued with her I came home and sat down and started to write. It was easy and fun and cathartic.
JCPL: What can you tell us about your writing process?
Janice: I find great joy in writing. On my journal I have this quote from an anonymous person: " I only know what I know when I write it down." That describes the writing process for me. Whenever I am confused, upset, frustrated or want clarity I always grab my journal and start writing.
JCPL: What are some of the responses you’ve had from readers?
Janice: Almost everyone says they love reading my story. Some readers relate because they grew up poor like I did. Others grew up in the Midwest and others have been raised Catholic. A few readers have been in the convent and love comparing notes about that chapter.
JCPL: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Janice: I love riding my bike, crocheting, reading, meditating and doing yoga. I am a life long learner and LOVE reading any book that will help me in my life coaching work. I am committed to continue working on my own healing so that I can help others to heal.
On July 11, 1972, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer faced off in an arena in Reykjavik for the first game of the World Chess Championship. After 21 games and nearly two months of behind-the-scenes drama - including countless bizarre demands from Fischer - the eccentric 29-year-old American became the 11th World Chess Champion. The Cold War trappings of the match made it a media sensation. Fischer was lauded as a hero for bringing down the Soviets, who had long used chess as an example of their intellectual superiority over the West.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the “Match of the Century,” here are a few books and films about Bobby Fischer and the game that obsessed the country in the summer of ‘72.
Shenk chronicles chess from its beginnings in fifth-century Persia to the present, including historic matches and eminent players (the author’s own great-great-grandfather among them). Readers will come away with an understanding of the game’s perennial popularity.
Frank Brady met Bobby Fischer when the prodigy was 10 and shared some of his most dramatic triumphs - from becoming the youngest chess champ in U.S. history at age 13 to the 1972 world championship, which made Fischer the most famous man in the world. Brady charts his entire life - his unconventional Brooklyn childhood and his baffling poverty on L.A.’s Skid Row; his exile in Iceland and his pathological anti-Semitism (despite the fact that Fischer himself was Jewish) - in an attempt to answer the question: just who was Bobby Fischer?
This story of the notorious chess duel focuses less on the games themselves and more on the people, politics, and psychology of the championship. This entertaining account details the KGB presence at the games, the friction between the rebellious Spassky and Communist officials, and just how Fischer was able to bully officials into meeting his demands.
More in the mood for a documentary? This haunting, beautiful film details the politically-charged climate surrounding the World Championship and explores the nature of genius and chess itself, enhanced by footage of Fischer throughout his life.
Local Author Event: Jacqueline St. Joan at Lakewood Library
Jacqueline St. Joan is an award-winning author who will speak about her book, My Sisters Made of Light, Thursday, July 5th, 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the Lakewood Library.
Colorado author Ms. St. Joan has worn many hats: poet, travel writer, teacher, and lawyer. She has worked in Denver as a domestic violence advocate, county judge, and law professor.
Her novel, My Sisters Made of Light, follows three generations of a Pakistani family as they make their way through life in the political, social, and religious maze that is their motherland. The reader is pulled into the compelling, heartbreaking, and often terrifying world of honor crimes against women in Pakistan through the life andfamily history of Ujala. Ujala decides to follow the path for which her mother has prepared her and pushes aside fears for her own safety to help other women escape from the impossible situations in which they find themselves.
Dorothy Allison, author of the critically acclaimed Bastard Out of Carolina, says, "[Jacqueline St. Joan] brings to her story what she brought to the law, a conviction that life is full of both struggle and purpose and that grace comes to us when we have no reason to expect it."
Join us to hear from this informed and compassionate champion of women’s rights!