Local Author Brings ‘Madison’s Avenue’ to B’ham Borders

Wow! It might be hard to get anyone in the Detroit metro area inside on a day like today. However, if you wish to duck out of the sun for a bit of lit, author Mike Brogan will be appearing at Borders in Birmingham today, Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 2:00 PM. Mr. Brogan will be offering a discussion and signing of his latest book Madison’s Avenue.

According to Mike Brogan’s site, the former Creative Director of General Motors and talented ad man now resides in southeast Michigan where he devotes himself to his one true love:  fiction. Please call and confirm all appearance information before heading out the door.

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

Nesbo’s ‘Devil’s Star’ Lights Up Oslo’s Dark Side

Cover ImageNorwegian writer Jo Nesbo is a pretty cool character in his own right. Formerly known as a stockbroker and rock musician, the ever-morphing Nesbo now finds himself tagged as Europe’s new star of crime fiction. With his internationally acclaimed Harry Hole series Nesbo is fast becoming Oslo’s literary darling, and after flying through his newly released The Devil’s Star I can see why.

I first heard about writer Jo Nesbo on NPR’s All Things Considered. The title segment Nordic Noir: Catching Olso’s Killer in ‘Devil’s Star’ highlights the author, his beloved Scandinavian people, and his contemporary thriller, The Devil’s Star. Though Star is the fifth of Nesbo’s eight thrillers that feature the haggard, hard-drinking Detective Harry Hole, this fifth translation was only recently released in the U.S. a couple of months ago.

The Devil’s Star is an entertainment boon; not only does it read like an edge-of-your-seat flick, but Nesbo backs it up with smooth, nuanced detail of Oslo’s dark side. Keep an eye out for NLR’s upcoming quickie review of Nesbo’s latest, or link here to sample an excerpt.

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

Fresh Catch

Cover ImageHere are just a few quick links from this morning’s early surf…sorry about the re-directs but as they say, any port in a storm.

For those of you who love your sisters, try NPR’s piece on Laura and Lisa Ling’s book ‘Somewhere Inside’ on Fresh Air’s Ling Sisters Recount Laura’s Capture in North Korea.

For those of you who love Ireland try Roddy Doyle’s Man of Ireland at the End of the Road which discusses Doyle’s new book, The Dead Republic. Doyle can also be found in this week’s The New Yorker with his fiction feature, Ash.

For those of you who love Isabel Allende.

For those who love pacifists, try this brief pice on HuffPost:  ‘Weapons of Mass Instruction’.

For those of you who love free books and own an e-reader, try this piece in today’s New York Times:  Summer Reading, Electronic and Free.

For those of you who love Sesame Street, link to Sesame Street eBooks. Say what!?!

For those purists who love tradition, try this piece:  Last Typist Refuses to Switch to Laptop… Poor Skye. I love the idea, but even the big cover charge can’t cover all that clacking…

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

Brad Meltzer Brings ‘Heroes’ to Birmingham Borders

Cover ImageBrad Meltzer is a busy man, just hit his author page and you’ll see what I mean. Though  Meltzer’s best known for his prolific novel writing, this time around the University of Michigan alumnus is switching gears with his first non-fiction work, Heroes for My Son.

Upon the birth of his son Jonas, Meltzer began compiling a list of heroes he could share with his son. Eight years in the making, Meltzer’s list topped off with fifty-two people who  live or lived the extraordinary and serve as examples of inspiration. ‘Heroes for My Son’ is the result of this lovely labor of love.

Mr. Brad Meltzer will offer a reading and signing of his latest book ‘Heroes for My Son’ at Borders in Birmingham tonight, Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 7:00 PM. As always, it’s wise to double check all event information before heading out the door.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Armchair Travel – Destination Paris

Again, work calls so here’s another brief post for your perusal…

Looking for a little Paris without the hassle and expense? Try Gail Vida Hamburg’s HuffPost article Paris on the Brain for a bit of armchair travel. Coincidentally, it was just yesterday that I started Americans in Paris by Charles Glass. This also got me thinking about books I’ve loved that were written on Parisian tableau.

Topping my list, though on a much less serious note than that of Mr. Glass, has to be the work of expat Peter Mayle. While I haven’t read all of his titles, I can confidently steer you toward ‘A Year in Provence’ for a light and charming read. Also, you might recall The New Yorker contributer Adam Gopnik for his witty commentary on French life in the book Paris to the Moon. Either way, you’ll get  good flavor and feel from those who have made Paris their home and written to tell the tale. There’s always great humor in the cultural snafu.

Feel free to weigh in on French titles and perhaps we can compile our own list of les livres superbe, non?

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Troy Patrons All Checked-Out with Nowhere To Go

I’m a touch riled by Gina Damron’s Detroit Free Press piece, No Library in Troy? Don’t Count on Books Elsewhere. Though I haven’t followed the spending trends of Troy over the last decade, one must question what budgetary spending habits were in place to cause the demise of such a treasured institution. To close the doors on such an important community base not only undermines its culture, but also strips the schools of extra resources and necessary backbone.

Troy will now be left with nothing but a vast empty building leaving residents without an alternative. To blame this debacle on the voters is incredibly irresponsible. Clearly residents felt the need to financially protect themselves, even at risk of the most drastic cost – their own library.

Now that doors are slated to seal in Troy, other communities who wish to step up must regretfully turn Troy patrons away to protect their own communities. Understood, no? Sadly, the image that remains is a long line of saddened Troy citizens with an empty check-out bag in one hand and a useless library card falling from the other. Nice work leaders.

*Support your local bookstores, LIBRARIES, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Namaste in the USA

Cover ImageAs I poured my coffee this morning I was wondering what literary blurb of interest I could quickly post before heading out to work. Coffee in hand, I sat before my loyal laptop and hit the stamp icon to see what detritus had been deposited under cover of night.

Amidst the exhausting coupons was an email detailing info about a rather exotic trip to India from a local Yoga studio. I linked over and absorbed the fantastic pictures with a bit of unease as I thought about the privilege that shoulders such a jaunt (no, I won’t be going). Though I’m no yogi, I do like the occasional stretch and existential trip it provides. Yet reading is more my bag, so while I might be a rookie in the pose-holding department, I’ve read enough yoga theory to at least hold my own in the esoteric conversation.

At it’s very base yoga is a state of mind, right? Can’t we shake the yoke and shed our skins right here at home instead of tromping off to Timbuktu-whoknowswhere? This was my increasingly caffeinated thought process as I saw a far less provoking email from NPR’s Book Notes. I happily clicked it open and guess what? The feature piece was titled ’The Great Oom’: Yoga’s Wild Ride to Respectability.

Author and journalist Robert Love is featured on NPR’s All Things Considered for his latest book titled, The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. Years of research in the making, The Great Oom chronicles the life of Pierre Bernard (nee Perry Baker) and the unlikely journey of yoga originating right here in our own backyard. That’s right people, N-e-b-r-a-s-k-a. I highly suggest giving this a listen whether you are into the craze or not because it’s nothing short of fascinating. Namaste.

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-Check out what I believe to be Love’s site: Omnipotent Oom

-NYT Book of the Times piece: Iowa Swami Who Beguiled the Jazz Age

Luxenberg Back With ‘Annie’s Ghosts’

Cover ImageSteve Luxenberg, author of ‘Annie’s Ghosts’, will be discussing his Michigan Notable book on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm at the West Bloomfield Public Library. Mr. Luxenberg’s book has become a book club darling and was released in paperback just yesterday. I went to see Mr. Luxenberg in person a few months back and assure you that his discussion is well worth your time. I have re-posted my review of ‘Annie’s Ghosts’ below in case you missed it the first time around.

I first heard about “Annie’s Ghosts” on NPR.  A Journalist Uncovers His Family’s ‘Ghosts’ was both an interview and a book promo with author and Washington Post editor Steve Luxenberg. Half-listening while  driving, it was interesting enough for me to scribble down the title and subsequently reserve it at the library… and I’m so glad I did.

Annie’s Ghosts – A Journey Into a Family Secret must have been an extremely difficult book for Steve Luxenberg to write. It is honest in the face of dishonesty and loyal where he could have turned away. Digging into the dark corners of his family’s past, Mr. Luxenburg exhumes the complicated history of his ancestors in hopes of revealing a family secret once mentioned by his now deceased mother.

I don’t know how I was born in the Detroit area and never heard of “Eloise”. The psychiatric hospital which closed its doors in 1979 would have at best been historical information, and at worst a schoolyard jeer. One would think that an institution that once housed “nine thousand mentally ill, infirm, and homeless people” from the state of Michigan would have caught my attention at some point. However, it wasn’t until I read about Annie that I learned of its existence.

Having always eagerly described herself as an only child, Beth Luxenberg (the author’s mother) did her best to conceal a sister long hidden away at Eloise. However, after her doctor mentioned a mysterious comment to Mr. Luxenberg, the author felt compelled to prove the existence of an aunt he’d never met. With the deftness of his trade, Luxenberg tempers his unyielding journalistic skills with empathy and sensitivity as he coaxes his older relations into pasts best left forgotten.

Pursuing the secret would ultimately lead me back to the beginning of the twentieth century, through Ellis Island to the crowded streets of Detroit’s Jewish immigrant communities, through the spectacular boom of the auto industry’s early years and the crushing bust of the Depression, through the wartime revival that transformed the city into the nation’s Arsenal of Democracy, through the Holocaust that brought a relative to Detroit and into my mother’s secret, through the postwar exodus that robbed the city’s old neighborhoods of both population and prosperity.

And  this is exactly what Steve Luxenberg does.  As we move back in time, the anticipation builds as more pieces fall into place ultimately bringing us closer to solving this mystery. At times horrific, Luxenberg holds your hand as unbelievable truths come to light. Poignant yet informative, this is the gift that keeps on giving. Full of Detroit’s colorful history, this true mystery is without a doubt destined to be a Michigan Notable Book.

A NOTE: When I began asking people if they had heard of Eloise, they usually talked about it as a sight for paranormal activity. When I tried to look at footage of Eloise, YouTube seemed to back that up. However, there are legitimate sites and some pretty cool information on Eloise and its remaining structures. My condolences to those of you whose relations remain nameless and faceless in the mist of Eloise.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer