Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wine Tasting this Friday, 6-9pm

Join us for Wine and munchies 6-9pm. Live music will be provided by the old-time/bluegrass/folk duo Strings on Wings. Coffee and Tea will also be available. We will also open a new art exhibit by local Sean Saez. Sean's specialty is nature, especially astronomical images. Right up our orbit!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

Land of Marvels is the backstory to today's Iraq. I always find Barry Unsworth instructive because his work is so well researched. In this book he has drawn for us a microcosm of the never ending dynamic in the Middle East. Here is the push by outside powers to penetrate the soverignty of a country for their own gain - economic or strategic - take your pick.

In this book we are witnesses to the surge of interest in oil during the early 1900's. Unsworth has set the story just before the outbreak of WW1, when the Ottoman Empire is teetering.
The main character is an amateur archaeologist driven by his belief in his dig's importance to Assyrian history. It is being threatened by the new German railroad being built to Baghdad.
At his table are eventually gathered a mini League of nations, all with definite interests in Iraq. We have the British archaeological team, an American geologist9 assuming the obscuring cloak of archaeology), an English major(also Secret Service), a Swiss/German journalist and a Swedish religious couple convinced they have found the Garden of Eden. So here are the West's interests encapsulated - history, oil, security and religion, with the local Arab population mere adjuncts to the major players. The author sets the story in motion and delivers everyone up in a neatly wrapped conclusion.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti!

On March 24th, 2009, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder and co-owner of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers in San Francisco, and one of this country's most beloved poets, will celebrate his 90th birthday.

For those of you wondering, "Where have I heard his name before?" Ferlinghetti's
City Lights Publishers published Allen Ginsberg's Howl in 1956, giving rise to the Beat movement. At least the public part of the Beat movement.

Happy Belated Birthday!!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Want to write Speculative Fiction and be paid?

The Speculative Literature Foundation has this grant for authors aged 50 or over, designed to encourage those just getting started.

Grant information here.

Thanks to the popular and talented John Scalzi for the Word.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finalists named for the Lambdas and the

The Lambda Literary Foundation announced the 105 finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards representing 72 publishers in 22 categories. Results are here.

The Man Booker International Prize Longlist is also announced.
I'm rooting for Peter Carey, myself.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reading more science - a challenge

The folks at Scienticity have issued a challenge. To quote them, 'Read at least three nonfiction books in 2009 related somehow to the theme "Nature's Wonders". Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books. We take a very broad view of what makes for interesting and informative science reading.

After you've read a book, write a short note about it, giving your opinion of the book. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince your friend to read it--or avoid it.'

Then post the note at

Thanks to HeatherJ for the heads-up.

Easy, huh? Spread the word!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pluto, a Planet again according to Illinois

Bless their hearts:

RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois’ night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status, and that March 13, 2009 be declared “Pluto Day” in the State of Illinois in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930.

There's more details here.

Lauretta, who needs to get one of these t-shirts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

I was so excited to see a Helen Garner book actually published here in the US. She is my favorite Australian author. The Spare Room is searing. Our character prepares the spare room for a friend's visit. A friend who is dying of cancer, refuses to admit it and has become prey to medical charlatans. How far can a friendship be pulled? Affirmation and hope are the initial responses but as the care exhausts the carer the truth can rise brutally to the surface. We are pulled along and into that vortex by the author's clear unadorned prose.

Somehow Garner can conjure the particular and the universal in one story. How much can a friend ask and how much can the other give? Nicola is a frustrating mix of open hearted love, vulnerability and stubborn frightened denial. An ancient hippie. Helen, her friend of 15 years, is a good friend, someone who cherishes friendship but is driven to the edge. Their way through, not around, this problem is beautifully explored.

I would recommend any of Helen Garner's writing as a rare experience.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jade Lady Burning & Slicky Boys by Martin Limon

Jade Lady Burning & Slicky Boys by Martin Limon

I've discovered another Soho Press author - Martin Limon. He set his series in post war South Korea, on US army bases with their accompanying pleasure quarters. A harsh environment but it's growing on me. The interactions with Koreans from bar owners to bar girls are definitely unvarnished. Limon also gives us glimpses of civilian Korean life with some very nice sensitive cultural pieces.

Our hero is a part Mexican kid in his 20s who was foster home reared. Sueno reenlists after one stint in Korea and is now working as a Sargent in Criminal Investigation Division. He prefers the truth to comfort in his job. What would the genre do if our guys and gals were not driven and unable to settle for less?

Sueno's sidekick is Ernie Bascom - the brawn with a short fuse when it comes to officers. He is usually quiet preferring to view the female landscape through those bottle cap lenses. Together they investigate military murders, managing to create havoc and step on a few toes as they go.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain

The Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain

What adventures Rose has had in this book. Life adventures, professional adventures. I enjoyed the setting in a university music department in Minnesota. Rose is a composer working her way to tenure, while at the same time experiencing a variety of relationships. It felt close, emotionally, to real life, and was fascinating to re-experience that time of one's life.

The narrative moved along with less wallowing in the emotions than I expected. There was always another experience around the corner.

The biggest questions in the book are will our heroine earn tenure and will she find love, despite a dysfunctional upbringing. I found myself hope she would find both and I will let you,dear reader, be the judge of that.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Reisterstown Readers has a new blog!

Our local library has a Book Club that's been running a number of years - and they just started a blog! Welcome, Reisterstown Readers to the blogosphere! They meet the 2nd Thursdays of the month at the Reisterstown Library - and their next book is Manhunt.