All Book Lists
Featured Book Lists
Library Journal McCullough (John Adams; 1776) effectively blends impeccable writing with historical rigor and strong character definition in his biography of Wright brothers Wilbur, the abstract thinker and introvert; and Orville, the extrovert and hands-on doer. They had limited formal education, with the author instead attributing his subjects' success to industry, imagination, and persistence, as seen in their early enterprises as newspaper publishers, printers, and bicycle salesmen in Dayton, OH. Credit is also accorded to their widowed father, Bishop Milton Wright, as well as their sister Katharine for their support of "Ullam" (Wilbur) and "Bubs" (Orville). Highlights of McCullough's narrative include his discussions of the Wrights' innovative conception of wing-warping as a means of flight control; the brothers' first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight at Kitty Hawk, NC, on December 17, 1903; the issuance of the Wright flying machine patent #821,393 on May 22, 1906; the Ohioans' ongoing search for markets abroad; and the elder Wright's perfect flying demonstrations at Le Mans, France, even as Orville was nearly killed in a similar performance before army brass at Fort Myer, VA. The author closes with the incorporation of the Wright Company, patent infringement suits filed against competitor Glenn Curtiss, and the deaths of Wilbur (1912), Milton (1917), Katharine (1929), and Orville (1948). VERDICT A signal contribution to Wright historiography. Highly recommended for academicians interested in the history of flight, transportation, or turn-of-the-century America; general readers; and all libraries.-John Carver Edwards, formerly with Univ. of Georgia Libs. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted....More
Publishers Weekly Prep school. Wrestling. Unconventional sexual practices. Viennese interlude. This bill of particulars could only fit one American author: John Irving. His 13th novel (after Last Night in Twisted River) tells the oftentimes outrageous story of bisexual novelist Billy Abbott, who comes of age in the uptight 1950s and explores his sexuality through two decadent decades into the plague-ridden 1980s and finally to a more positive present day. Sexual confusion sets in early for Billy, simultaneously attracted to both the local female librarian and golden boy wrestler Jacques Kittredge, who treats Billy with the same disdain he shows Billy's best friend (and occasional lover) Elaine. Faced with an unsympathetic mother and an absent father who might have been gay, Billy travels to Europe, where he has affairs with a transgendered female and an older male poet, an early AIDS activist. Irving's take on the AIDS epidemic in New York is not totally persuasive (not enough confusion, terror, or anger), and his fractured time and place doesn't allow him to generate the melodramatic string of incidents that his novels are famous for. In the end, sexual secrets abound in this novel, which intermittently touches the heart as it fitfully illuminates the mutability of human desire. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal What is "normal"? Does it really matter? In Irving's latest novel (after Last Night in Twisted River), nearly everyone has a secret, but the characters who embrace and accept their own differences and those of others are the most content. This makes the narrator, Bill, particularly appealing. Bill knows from an early age that he is bisexual, even if he doesn't label himself as such. He has "inappropriate crushes" but doesn't make himself miserable denying that part of himself; he simply acts, for better or for worse. The reader meets Bill at 15, living on the campus of an all-boys school in Vermont where his stepfather is on the faculty. Through the memories of a much older Bill, his life story is revealed, from his teenage years in Vermont to college and life as a writer in New York City. Bill is living in New York during the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the suffering described is truly heart-wrenching. Irving cares deeply, and the novel is not just Bill's story but a human tale. VERDICT This wonderful blend of thought-provoking, well-constructed, and meaningful writing is what one has come to expect of Irving, and it also makes for an enjoyable page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list *Starred Review* Much of Irving's thirteenth novel is piquantly charming, crisply funny, and let-your-guard-down madcap in the classic mode of a Frank Capra or Billy Wilder film. This shrewdly frolicsome ambience is tied to the amateur theatrical productions that provide the primary source of entertainment in mid-twentieth-century First Sister, Vermont, a no-place-to-hide yet nonetheless secretive small town sporting a private boy's prep school. Here lives young, fatherless Billy, whose lumberman-by-day, actor-by-night Grandpa Harry plays women's roles with baffling authenticity. By the time Billy turns 13, he realizes that something sets him apart beyond his speech impediment and determination to become a writer, namely his crushes on the wrong people, including his future stepfather, teacher and Shakespeare scholar Richard, and Miss Frost, the tall, strong librarian who eventually proves to be the key to the truth about Billy's bisexuality and his biological father. Storytelling wizard that he is, Irving revitalizes his signature motifs (New England life, wrestling, praising great writers, forbidden sex) while animating a glorious cast of misfit characters within a complicated plot. A mesmerizing, gracefully maturing narrator, Billy navigates fraught relationships with men and women and witnesses the horrors of the AIDS epidemic. Ever the fearless writer of conscience calling on readers to be open-minded, Irving performs a sweetly audacious, at times elegiac, celebration of human sexuality. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Irving is always a huge draw, and this sexually daring and compassionate tale, which harks back to the book that made him famous, The World according to Garp (1978), will garner intense media attention.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission....More
Library Journal It's been five years since Kingsolver's last novel (Pigs in Heaven, LJ 6/15/93), and she has used her time well. This intense family drama is set in an Africa on the verge of independence and upheaval. In 1959, evangelical preacher Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters from Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire. Their dysfunction and cultural arrogance proves disastrous as the family is nearly destroyed by war, Nathan's tyranny, and Africa itself. Told in the voices of the mother and daughters, the novel spans 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the continent that tore them apart. Kingsolver has a keen understanding of the inevitable, often violent clashes between white and indigenous cultures, yet she lets the women tell their own stories without being judgmental. An excellent novel that was worth the wait and will win the author new fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/98.]?Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Fiery evangelist Nathan Price takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959, where they find that they are more transformed than transforming. Kingsolver's first since Pigs in Heaven.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved....More
Publishers Weekly The trick to getting hooked on this highly satisfying first novel is to look past its disjointed opening. The initial chapters consist of flashbacks into which are woven a series of repetitive scenes wherein Janie Hannagan is unwillingly sucked into others' dreams and nightmares, and suffers debilitating side effects. But as soon as McMann establishes Janie's strange skill, she throws just the right teen-centric ingredients into the story to propel it forward and grab readers. Tough and strong Janie, now 17, seems totally independent, charting a future that will lead away from her welfare mother's alcoholism. Her turbulent relationship with Cabel, the unwashed stoner boy-turned-handsome, pulsates with sexual tension--problematized by Janie's knowledge of his insistent dreams about killing a man. But then Cabel learns to communicate his desires to Janie through lucid dreaming at just about the same time that Janie finds out that she can influence the dreams she enters. The plot twists keep coming, even if one or two are shopworn, and the writing has a Caroline Cooney--like snap that's hard to resist. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This clever novel opens with Janie Hannagan, 17, inside the star quarterback's dream-she knows it's his dream because he's the only one naked on the football field. Janie dreams along with her fellow students when they fall asleep near her-on the bus, in study hall, in boring classes, etc. She begins to dream with loner Cabel Sturmheller and discovers both his horrific childhood abuse and longstanding feelings for her. The third-person omniscient narration sets a perfect mood; readers are, like Janie, observers. Janie and Cabel's friendship is sweetly drawn, their conversations are smooth, and their romantic tension builds naturally. The language is realistically gritty. Unfortunately, McMann uses a plot twist right out of Law and Order to doom their relationship, and an even cheaper twist to reconcile them. Still, an economy of language, swift character development, and mysterious circumstances drive the narrative to a fast and mostly satisfying conclusion. McMann also gives useful attention to the science of dreaming. This book is ideal for reluctant readers, especially girls.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted....More