Displaying articles for: July 2011

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: "Race to Death Valley"

Just as Carl Barks was known as "the good duck artist" in his anonymous heyday, so too was Floyd Gottfredson regarded as the exemplary purveyor of Mickey Mouse's adventures, endowing the beloved rodent with more panache and pep than his Disney peers could see in the character. This first offering from Gottfredson's long tenure -- he chronicled Mickey's exploits for 45 years -- bundles a complete adventure with over 50 pages of supplemental material.

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Lola, California

Edie Meidav's poignant novel is rooted in the story of Lana and Rose, whose sibling-like friendship in 1980s Berkeley is sundered by time -- and by a terrible tragedy. Now, Lana's charismatic father is on death row, and Rose hopes to bring father and estranged daughter together again before it's too late. Brilliantly evoking the millennial shadows that haunt its California setting and rich with humor and heartache, it's one of the most arresting and thought-provoking books of the season.

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Fire Monks

If a flaming tree falls in the forest, does anybody panic? Not if the onlookers are Zen Buddhist monks. When wildfires threatened their mountain home in 2008, five California monks saved the oldest Zen monastery in the U.S. by guiding the flames as one would an old but unruly friend. Colleen Morton Busch's riveting account is an astonishing portrait of courage under fire, and the power of mindfulness in the face of crisis.

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The Man of Numbers

Best known for his integer sequence (in which each term is the sum of the two previous terms -- 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on), Fibonacci's most important contribution to mathematics was, in fact, the replacement of Roman numerals with the Hindu-Arabic notation we use today. Keith Devlin here unpacks the history behind this breakthrough, which revolutionized European trade as the Renaissance dawned, in a fascinating book reminescent of Dava Sobel's Longitude.

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How to Avoid Being Killed in a War Zone

"What's the worst that could happen?" Famous last words, spoken by the perpetually unprepared. Don't let yourself get caught flat-footed when hostilities boil over into armed conflict. Read these tips from experienced war correspondent Rosie Garthwaite, which tell you how to keep your head when others are losing theirs (whether to panic or decapitation).

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Words to Eat By

Mindful eating through linguistics. That's Ina Lipkowitz's goal, as she traces the history of five common English words--apples, leeks, milk, meat, and bread--to illustrate both the eternal and temporal nature of ordinary foods.  If "eating the way your ancestors did" sounds appealing to you, then you'll embrace this fascinating survey of ancient habits from an era when a simpler diet reigned.



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The Last Werewolf

"Reader, I ate him." If you think that, in the age of True Blood and Twilight, there are no compelling new stories to tell about the inner lives of monsters, Glen Duncan's arresting new novel is welcome evidence to the contrary. Two hundred years old, his werewolf protagonist is brash, funny, eloquent, sexy, and very, very hungry. For those who like their beach reading with brains, literary panache--and a little bit of blood.

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The Girl in the Blue Beret

The trauma of the Vietnam War haunted Bobbie Ann Mason's celebrated novel In Country. Now, the author turns to a previous generation's battles. Shot down over Nazi-occupied France, Marshall Stone was helped to safety by members of the Resistance, and he has never forgotten one brave teenage guide. Decades later he strives to find out what happened to her. But time proves a tricky custodian of fact in this search for enduring truth.

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Precious Objects

Alicia Oltuski's first-hand account of New York City's diamond district is engrossing, even if you've never stopped to wonder how those precious stones travel from South African mines to the ring fingers of brides-to-be.  Documenting the centuries-old link between Jewish families and the diamond trade, her book blends ancient, near-ritualistic practices with the twenty-first-century practicalities of commerce.

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The Ripple Effect

Can't imagine living without enough petroleum? What about water? A lack thereof is the reality today for millions, and a likelihood for millions more in the future. Paul Prud'homme intelligently and dispassionately surveys the landscape of our shrinking fresh water supplies, and finds the irrefutable parched results hard to swallow.

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Paris to the Past

The romance of rail travel is immune to declining patronage and decaying infrastructure. Of course, riding French trains immediately ups the excitement. Ina Caro transports us accross topography and history with twenty-five daytrips that embark from Paris and venture into France's glorious past. Arranged in chronological order, Caro conducts readers to Orléans, Versailles, the Place de la Concorde, and beyond. 

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To Be Sung Underwater

When Judith Whitman fell in love with the roughhewn Willy Blunt, she thought it was forever. But then she married someone else, and now she wonders, two decades later, if she made the right choice. Tom McNeal's novel jumps between the past and present in a heartbreaking story that captures the power of devotion and asks the question: is it ever too late to reclaim romance?

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The Natural Mystics

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer: Colin Grant follows the founding fathers of reggae on a musical and historical journey deep into Jamaican culture, emerging with revealing insights into the spiritual and material paths these three visionaries charted. Getting the reclusive Bunny Wailer to talk on record about the seminal band formed by the trio is a coup that makes this an especially important read for music lovers.

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Shock Value

How did we get from Vincent Price and Boris Karloff to Saw VI? Film critic Jason Zinoman charts the evolution of old-school fright cinema into postmodern horror by focusing on the new wave of filmmakers who arrived in the 1970s, including Wes Craven and John Carpenter. As Hitchcockian subtlety gave way to splatterpunk gore, box office receipts bolstered the trend. But where this gruesome aesthetic ultimately leads, not even Zinoman can say. 

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Shadows Bright as Glass

What a mystery is the human mind!  Nudge a few neurons, and one person can transform radically. Such is the case with Jon Sarkin, mundane chiropractor turned obsessive artist by stroke and surgery.  Pulitzer nominee Amy Ellis Nutt tells his tragic but miraculous story with insight and grace.

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Fallingwater

In this iconic Pennsylvania house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, modernity and sylvan nature are combined in a building that still embodies, for many, the pinnacle of a uniquely American architectural vision. In honor of the house's seventy-fifth birthday and its life-saving restoration, this volume, edited by Lynda Waggoner and with gorgeous photographs by Christopher Little, takes readers on a breathtaking tour of Wright's creation, now gloriously renewed.

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The Gap Year

Single mom, rebellious teen daughter, absent dad. From such simple yet compelling ingredients, Sarah Bird assembles a spicy stew of familial discord, hormonal longings, and troubling maternal regrets. Can mother Cam save daughter Aubrey from making a series of foolish decisions in her senior year of high school, with or without the influence of Aubrey's father? The surprising yet satisfying resolution to this emotional storm defies prediction.

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Milk: A Local and Global History

Think about it:  is there anything stranger than the fact that humans drink the milk of other mammals? This is the kind of question Deborah Valenze's wide-ranging and comprehensive history of the dairy industry evokes. Regarding our consumption of milk as a cultural artifact rather than any evolved biological necessity, Valenze brings to the table a detailed account of milk's conquests as rich and tasty as a chocolate shake.

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Adventures in the Orgasmatron

Poor Wilhelm Reich, whose books were burned for their much-maligned promotion of orgone energy, those cosmic sex rays once endorsed by C-list celebrities. Freud's rogue disciple gets an overdue rehabilitation in Turner's respectful yet rollicking study. The lasting effects of Reich's assault on consensus science and sexology are still being felt, as Turner makes clear in his survey of Reich's erotic legacy.

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The Big Fight

Once upon a time, boxing champs stood for a certain standard of tough-knuckled, streetwise nobility. With his admitted past addictions to cocaine and alcohol, Sugar Ray Leonard may not truly qualify as the last outlier of that vintage era. But this authentic and honest autobiography proves that Leonard, who rose from ghetto kid to Olympian and battled depression, still embodies a host of admirable virtues, such as vision, tenacity and grit.

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I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl

Poet Kelle Groom unflinchingly tells the story of her illegitimate child, tendered for adoption and dead before age two. As a teenaged mother in thrall to alcohol, Groom almost spiraled out of control were it not for unexpected reserves of strength, bolstered by a passion for poetry. Infant Tommy, reborn through his mother's empathy, is the pearl sprung from the bitterness of Groom's early life, elegized in a memoir reminescent of Mary Karr's Lit.


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April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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