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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: May Recommendations for Adults

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Recommendations for Adults


The Believers: A Novel by Zoe Heller - When radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his family uncovers a secret that forces them to reexamine everything they thought they believed in. Audrey, his wife, reexamines their forty years of marriage. Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, now finds solace in the world of Orthodox Judaism and is being pressed to make a commitment to that religion. Karla, a devoted social worker, longs to adopt a child with her husband, but finds herself falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office. Ne'er-do-well Lenny is living at home, approaching another relapse into heroin addiction. In the course of battling their own demons, and one another, the Litvinoff clan is called upon to examine long-held articles of faith that have formed the basis of their lives together and their identities as individuals. Hailed by the Sunday Times (London) as "one of the outstanding novels of the year," The Believers explores big ideas with a light touch, delivering a tragic, comic family story as unsparing as it is filled with compassion.

Going to See the Elephant by Rodes Fishburne - On a windy September day, twenty-five-year-old Slater Brown stands in the back of a bicycle taxi hurtling the wrong way down the busiest street in San Francisco. Slater has come to "see the elephant," to stake his claim to fame and become the greatest writer ever. But this city of gleaming water and infinite magic has other plans in this astounding first novel, at once a love story, a feast of literary imagination, and a dazzlingly original tale of passion, ambition, and genius in all their guises. "Going to See the Elephant will delight anybody who has ever written a first novel, wanted to write a first novel, and especially those who cherish reading unforgettable first novels. It is both funny and wise."–James Patterson

The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay - Mark Genevich is a South Boston P.I. with a little problem: he's narcoleptic, and he suffers from the most severe symptoms, including hypnogogic hallucinations. These waking dreams wreak havoc for a guy who depends on real-life clues to make his living. Clients haven't exactly been beating down the door when Mark meets Jennifer Times, daughter of the powerful local D.A. and a contestant on American Star, who walks into his office with an outlandish story about a man who stole her fingers. He awakes from his latest hallucination alone, but on his desk is a manila envelope containing risqué photos of Jennifer. Are the pictures real, and if so, is Mark hunting a blackmailer, or worse? Wildly imaginative and with a pitch-perfect voice, The Little Sleep is the first in a new series that casts a fresh eye on the rigors of detective work, and introduces a character who has a lot to prove—if only he can stay awake long enough to do it.

My Abandonment by Peter Rock - A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. There they inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, bathe in a nearby creek, store perishables at the water's edge, use a makeshift septic system, tend a garden, even keep a library of sorts. Once a week, they go to the city to buy groceries and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight. Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of a young narrator, Caroline, Peter Rock's My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins, and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope.

White Riot by Martyn Waites - The third novel in the acclaimed Joe Donovan series by one of the leading writers of the neo-noir. When the savagely beaten body of a Muslim student is discovered in a rundown area of Newcastle, blame falls on the far right National Unity Party but for once they appear to be innocent. In fact, with elections looming, they are poised to make significant gains. Not the best time for Trevor Whitman, ex-70s radical, to return to his native northeast. Haunted by his violent past, he's receiving death threats over the murder of a policeman years ago. Joe Donovan, the hero of Waites' acclaimed trilogy, is called in to investigate. After the death of a supposed suicide bomber, the investigation takes a more dangerous turn as Donovan and his team find themselves the targets of a ruthless killer unlike any they have faced before. A killer who will do anything to ensure an explosive thirty-year-old secret remains buried. Anything—even orchestrating a brutal race war that will tear the city apart, with Donovan caught in the middle.


West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State by Mark Arax - A third-generation Californian, Arax creates a social portrait, weaving personal memories with cultural myths on topics near and dear to the hearts of Californians: the last of the Okies, the latest migrants from Mexico, the tree-sitters in Berkeley, the Armenian chicken empire, and the robust marijuana economy of Humboldt County to name but a few of the fascinating essays in this collection by former Los Angeles Times writer. Mark Arax will appear at the Beale Memorial Library Auditorium Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Local History Authors Lecture Series.

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson - Going beyond the historic, traditional arguments against eating meat, Masson adds contemporary concerns about the amount of energy going into the meat and poultry production. Even the consumption of milk is objectionable on the basis of its nutritional shortcomings and its inefficient use of natural resources. He argues that fish are sentient, feeling creatures not deserving consumption. Confirmed Bambi, Bossy, and Charlie Tuna eaters probably will not be converted, but the examination is offered on how our food choices reflect our values.

Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet by Mark Adams - Another vegetarian voice that also railed against cigarettes, sugar, and white bread (and corsets!) was Bernarr Macfadden, famous publisher and bodybuilder a half-century before Jack LaLanne. Through brilliant self-promotion and Horatio Alger determination, this Ozarks orphan set the stage for health and self help as we know it today. His out-there views eventually became mainstream and this peculiar legend was lost to history, until now. John Hodgman writes, "Imagine if Rupert Murdoch, Jack LaLanne, and Dr Andrew Weil all got together and had a baby, then raised that child on wheat germ and one hundred push-ups a day." Mr. America made some wrong remedies (baldness, seizures, wives, lovers) and his increasing admiration for facism and Mussolini were hardly endearing, but the author attributes Macfadden's falling out of favor mostly attributable to America accepting his healthful views. Thomas Malon says, "In this age of flabby, overlong biography, [Adams's] delightful production has a leanness that Macfadden himself would approve of."

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo - The author was certain that it was Ronald Cotton who raped her while she was sleeping in her apartment; for years she prayed that he would die. After 11 years, Ronald Cotton finally was permitted a DNA test that proved him innocent and he was released from prison. Her anguish in putting an innocent man in prison would not let her forgive herself. They met and Ronald not only forgave her but the man he knew who had committed the crime. For those who don't understand how Jennifer and Ronald could be friends, Ronald explains: "we were the victims of the same injustice by the same man, and this gave us a common ground to stand on. Together we were able to help each other heal through a shared experience. I could choose to be bitter; I could hate the prison guards and the system. But I choose to forgive them all, so that I stay free and not be a prisoner for the rest of my life." An excerpt of their conversation is available on NPR's All Things Considered, March 5, 2009.

How the World Makes Love: And What It Taught a Jilted Groom by Franz Wisner - In this sequel to Honeymoon with My Brother, Franz Wisner got dumped at the altar, and with his brother, went on the honeymoon anyway (it was already paid for). A week after the altar debacle, he was demoted from his lobbyist position and decided to turn the rejection experience into a career. He and his travel-partner brother quit their jobs, sold their homes, gave away extra furniture and clothes, and traveled to far-flung places in 52 countries, mostly Third World, seeking the grail of the planet's most important love lessons. The book is a combination travelog, an international survey of people's ideas of love, and the evolution of recovery from humiliation and maybe finding love in one's own backyard, told in a sensitive but Dave Barry way.


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