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fiction

Apr 18 2014

…and the winner is

by Dea Anne M

The Pulitzer Prize winners for 2014 were announced on Monday, April 14, and among them was this year’s Fiction prize goldfinchwinner Donna Tartt for her novel The Goldfinch. The list of winners through the years since the inception of the Pulitzers in 1917 is an interesting one and seems to vary a great deal from many “great books” lists such as Modern Library’s 1oo Best Novels or TIME Magazine’s ALL-TIME 100 Novels. Many of the older Pulitzer winners are titles we recognize and still read today such as Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Other titles are less well known such as Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin, which won in 1929 and is set among the Gullah people of South Carolina, or Conrad Richter’s pioneer saga The Town.

The first Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded in 1918 and you’ll find a complete list of winners here. If you want to learn more I recommend The Pulitzer Prize Thumbnails Project site, which is full of interesting facts about the prize and has a neat link that will take you to the author Harry Kloman’s brief descriptions of each and every winning book.

Of course so much of this awarding of prizes has a large measure of subjectivity operating within the process and in the confederacyultimate decisions. I expect plenty of people over the years have disagreed with the Pulitzer panel’s choices. I know I have. I tried to reread John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, which won the prize in 1981, a few years ago and just could not get through it.

Do you pay attention to prize winners? Have you ever read a prize winner and been disappointed?

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Sep 27 2010

Please Be My *BFF — For Now

by Veronica W

HEAR YE, HEAR YE, all you Facebook, MySpace and Twitter members (which includes me). According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, if you are accumulating friends like acorns for the coming winter, you are wasting your time, spinning your wheels, running in place. He says “the brain can’t handle many more than 150 friends, so lining up thousands of them on social networks is a pretty meaningless exercise.” Actually I think 150 is rather ambitious. My list of friends is much, much smaller than that and I still feel guilty at the end of every month because I’ve forgotten someone’s birthday or anniversary.

This poses the questions, how many friendships do we actually want and how many can we keep healthy? In a recent article in MORE magazine, Sally Koslow quotes—and makes—some rather startling statements, with which you may or may not agree.

1. The average person now replaces half their friends every 7 years. (It seems seven years is significant in  other ways too. I’ve heard couples start to “itch” at this point also.)

2. Many close bonds are marriages of convenience based on mutual need rather than deep regard. (Hmmm. Not a nice thought)

3. People do not have friends at work…they have “work neighbors.” Once you move out of the “neighborhood” you’re no longer thought about or included. (Now that’s harsh. Is it true?)

I found these “facts” very distressing because, upon reflection, I realized I’ve lost touch with most of my childhood AND college buddies. There were no major blow ups, but the relationships simply died a natural death. My moving almost a thousand miles away was perhaps the final nail in the coffin. John Steinbeck says, in his book East of Eden , “There’s nothing sadder to me than associations held together by nothing but the glue of postage stamps. If you can’t see or hear or touch a man, it’s best to let him go.” It also didn’t help that one of the first books on the subject upon which I stumbled was The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned out or Faded Away. Wow. I read a few and got a bit down, so to cheer myself up I decided to list all the “buddy” books and movies I could think of. I’m glad to say that wasn’t very difficult because good and lasting friendships are a prevailing theme in literature and in Hollywood . Check these out:

Books: Of Mice and MenFried Green Tomatoes, Frog and Toad Together, The Red Hat Club, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Siserhood, Kite Runner, Bridge to Terabithia, The Wind in the Willows, The Joy Luck Club

Movies: Lord of the Rings, Shawshank Redemption, Monster’s Inc., Thelma and Louise, Toy Story, Stand By Me, The Bucket List, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Lethal Weapon

I’m sure there are many more. In the middle of the night, I will sit up suddenly and yell, because I thought of a good title I didn’t include.  However I started the list—maybe you can add some titles of your own.   If you do, I’ll be your friend.

*Best Friend Forever

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Jan 22 2010

Time Travel Fiction

by Jesse M

time-machine DCPLive imageIn this week’s post, I will discuss one of the most interesting and variable of genres, time travel fiction. For our purposes, time travel simply means either going forward or backward in time (for a more detailed explanation of time travel, go here). Time travel fiction can generally be divided into two distinct catagories, time travel fantasy vs. time travel science fiction. Generally, the categorization is made based upon the method of time travel; stories involving time travel devices and technologies are considered part of the science fiction genre, whereas stories that involve time travel through supernatural, magical, or unexplained means are considered part of the fantasy genre. Additionally, time travel science fiction is more likely to concern itself with the possible consequences of time travel, such as the Grandfather Paradox.

While time travel fiction has been around for centuries (many different cultures possess ancient myths and folktales in which the characters engage in something akin to forward time travel; examples include the Hindu account of King Kakudmi and the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro), it was in the 1800s that the genre came into its own. One of the earliest examples of time travel in fiction takes place in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (the ghosts of Christmas past and future serve as the medium by which the travel occurs, putting this into the time travel fantasy category). The latter part of the century saw the publication of the seminal time travel novel, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, in which the protagonist builds a device which carries him to the far future, and eventually back again. The book marked the first appearance of a “time machine”, a term coined by Wells, and as such can be considered the first time travel science fiction novel (this is not entirely accurate, actually The Time Machine was his second published work involving the concept of time travel, the first being a short story titled The Chronic Argonauts, however The Time Machine was more successful and is responsible for popularizing the genre). Other novels published in the 1800s involving time travel include A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (which is an excellent example of time travel fantasy, as no explanation for the time travel is ever provided, and despite the protagonist’s introduction of ideas and technology well in advance of the time period, there is no examination of the potential consequences of this) by Mark Twain, and Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the third largest best-seller of its time, which features a young American male who falls into a hypnotic sleep and wakes over 100 years in the future.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Dec 9 2009

Boarding School Fiction

by Nancy M

300px-Hog2wartsFor some people, high school is four years that are fondly remembered as the best years in life. I am not one of those people. I started 9th grade as a New England transplant placed in a southern suburban high school of over 2,000 students. I hated every minute of it. I begged and pleaded with my parents to send me to boarding school back up north and they in turn, laughed at me. And while I begrudgingly made it through 4 tough years and moved on, I still can’t help but romanticize boarding school and dream of the school days I never had- cavorting around foggy school grounds, lessons in Charms and Divination, cheering on me mates at the Quidditch pitch, er…ok, so Hogwarts doesn’t really exist, but like I said, it’s a dream. Fantasy or reality, boarding schools make great settings for books. Below are a few of my favorites.

brayA Great and Terrible Beauty by Linda Bray

greenLooking for Alaska by John Green

halePrincess Academy by Shannon Hale

lockhartThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

spudSpud by John Van de Ruit

Do you have any boarding school fiction recommendations?

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Jul 30 2008

Christian Fiction for Kids and Teens

by Ginny C

Christian fiction has changed in the last several years, especially titles written for children and teens. When I was growing up (which was not so very long ago), Christian fiction was, well, boring.  And a little too sweet for my tastes.  Now, there is so much more to choose from, in many different genres.  Realistic fiction has kids and teens facing real problems (broken families, romantic relationships, peer pressure) and hard solutions.  And then there’s fantasy and science-fiction and mysteries and even graphic novels.

The following is a list of a few of the authors and titles that you can find at the library.  On the fantasy front, Ted Dekker, who has written quite a few adult novels, and Wayne Thomas Batson both have series’ written for teens and tweens. 

Frank Peretti writes a mystery series, the first of which is Hangman’s Curse.

Stand alone titles include Perch, Mrs. Sacket’s and Crow’s Nest by Karen Pavlicin and A Friend at Midnight by Caroline B. Cooney.

There are plenty more that I didn’t mention, as well as some adult titles that might appeal to older teens.  Don’t forget to check out your branch’s paperback collection as lots of titles are not published in hardcover.  Some authors to look for are Melody Carlson, Stephanie Perry Moore (the Laurel Shadrach series and the Payton Skyy series), Wendy Lawton and Robin Jones Gunn.

I still haven’t found a really good site that lists authors and titles for this age group, but a quick Google search will find several and I know I can rely on TeensRead.com to highlight a few Christian fiction new releases.  Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite Christian author or title or know of a good website for updates on new titles.

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