Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Book Talk

So, I was at work, and I get off and walk in the door. Sitting on the counter is a box. I walk a bit closer, and low and behold, the box is for me! So, I decide that mother needed to share in the box opening extravagance, because while I know what I have ordered, they come as they are released, so the contents of the box were in truth a mystery. I slowly cut the tape, and inside the box I find:

My Life as a Furry Red Monster - Kevin Clash (yes, Elmo, no one say a word)

From Random House:

Meet Kevin Clash, the man behind the Muppet and the unassuming heart and soul of Elmo. At last, the puppeteer who has performed Elmo for nearly twenty years comes out from behind the stage to share his story. Weaving together his memories of growing up with the life lessons gained from his furry red alter ego, Kevin reveals himself to be as caring, and as eager to grow and learn and love, as the very special character he brings to life.

You will discover how young Kevin hon
ed his talent entertaining the kids in his mother’s home day care with puppets he made from slippers and coat liners; how, as a struggling young artist, he realized his dream to meet and then work for his idol, Muppet creator Jim Henson; and how each and every day of performing Elmo reinforces for him what is most important in life.

As Kevin has been inspired by Elmo, now we can all learn from his furry red ways. Kevin’s (and Elmo’s) thoughts on love, creativity, frie
ndship, and optimism remind us of life’s simple truths and ultimately encourage us all to be a little bit more like Elmo–to live with joy, to love more easily, and to laugh more often.

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

From Random House:

Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced–the 1918 flu epidemic
–Thomas Mullen’s powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval.

Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, th
e adopted son of the town’s founder, it is a haven in another sense–as the first place in his life he’s had a loving family to call his own.

And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loy
alty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities.

When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itse
lf against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired–and apparently ill–soldier presents himself at the town’s doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value–love, patriotism, community, family, friendship–not to mention the town’s very survival, is imperiled.

Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, The Last Town on Earth is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut.

The Keep - Jennifer Egan

From Random House:

From National Book Award finalist Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me (“Brilliantly unnerving . . . A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel” —The New York Times), a spellbinding work of literary suspense enacted in a chilling psychological landscape—a dazzling tour de force.

Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank whose devastating consequences changed both their lives, re
unite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe, a castle steeped in blood lore and family pride. Built over a secret system of caves and tunnels, the castle and its violent history invoke and subvert all the elements of a gothic past: twins, a pool, an old baroness, a fearsome tower. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story—a story about two cousins who unite to renovate a castle—that brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.

Egan’s relentlessly gripping page-turner plays with rich forms—ghost story, love story, gothic—and transfixing themes: the undertow of h
istory, the fate of imagination in the cacophony of modern life, the uncanny likeness between communications technology and the supernatural. In a narrative that shifts seamlessly from an ancient European castle to a maximum security prison, Egan conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep—the last stand, the final holdout, the place you run to when the walls are breached—is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive.

A novel of fierce intelligence and velocity; a brav
ura performance from a writer of consummate skill and style.

And a few books that will be released in the next couple months:

Everything you Know by Zoe Heller (published Sept 26)
Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi (published Oct 3)
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (published Oct 3)

And these are just some of the fall releases. A lot of big authors have books coming out, as well as new ones. Stay tuned for reviews!


  1. Are you lucky enough to be getting these pro bono? How fun to get a box of books - heaven!

  2. Yep. All I have to do is read and review.

  3. You lucky duck! I really want to read The Keep, Thirteen Moons, and Chicken With Plums. Can't wait to see the reviews!

  4. OMG Elmo!!! I want to know about that one. It sounds too cute!!!

    I wish I got free books. LOL.

  5. I finished the Elmo book tonight. Too cute! I will post about it soon. :)

  6. Those sound good. How lucky you are to get so many free books!
    I read Everything You Know a few years ago and thought it was ok, but not great. Have you read Notes on a Scandal?

  7. It was because someone blogged about Notes on a Scandal that I decided to read Everything you Know. I thought it was a new release, how did you get to read it a few years ago?

  8. Everything You Know was published in the UK in 2000. I actually got it as a free book attached to a magazine when we were living in London. Maybe because Notes on a Scandal was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, they're now releasing her earlier book in other countries??

  9. Oh, interesting. Only took 6 years, but now I know why it came out in a trade and not a hardcover. :)


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