Feb 1, 2013

Billy Lynn's long half time walk - Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn's long half time walk - Fountain, Ben

Summary: A satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. Follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys, their fans, promoters, and cheerleaders.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Written in a voice that is at once hopeful, cautious, naive, profoundly wise, and completely lost yet utterly knowing, Fountain's most recent work of fiction delivers a brilliant, powerful examination of how modern warfare affects soldiers back at home. Billy Lynn is 19 and already a war hero after footage of a fierce battle between his squad and Iraqi insurgents went viral. Briefly back from Iraq on a "victory tour" through the states, the young Silver Star winner lives an entire lifetime over the course of one day, Thanksgiving, while he and his more worldly Bravo Squad members are feted by a deliriously grateful and mostly misunderstanding public. Attending a Dallas Cowboys game, Billy Lynn and Bravo Squad must juggle the possibility of endless love with cheerleaders, Hollywood producers seeking to make a movie about them, football players morbidly curious about what it's like to kill another human being, and all the conflicting emotions, thoughts, and actions each of them experiences while back in the land of sports mania, mass consumerism, and coveted yet fleeting fame before they return to the war itself. Billy's journey carries the reader along with its richly detailed, pitch-perfect language and characterizations, leaving an indelible impression. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Midnight's children - Salman Rushdie

Midnight's children - Rushdie, Salman

Summary: The story of Saleem Sinal, born precisely at midnight, August 15, 1947, the moment India became independent. Saleem's life parallels the history of his nation.

Kirkus Review
/* Starred Review */ When Indian novelist Rushdie arrived with Grimus in 1979 we called him "an imagination to watch." And he'll be watched indeed once this bravura fiction starts circulating--a picaresque entertainment that's clearly inspired by close readings of the modern South American fabulists and, above all, Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Rushdie's own Tristram is named Saleem Sinai--and he is born at the stroke of midnight, August 15, 1947, making him exactly contemporary with the life of India-as-a-nation. In fact, Saleem and 580 other "midnight children" born at that moment grow up to find themselves equipped with powers of telepathic communication, foresight, and heightened individual sensoria: Saleem's particular gift is a "cucumber" of a nose with which he goes through life literally smelling change. The Sinai family, originally Kashmiri Moslems, migrate to Bombay, living in ex-colonial digs. And a switch at birth with a neighbor's baby seeds narrative trouble that flowers at different times later on in the book: opera buffa complications all the way. Saleem seems to be in the middle of all cataclysmic Indian events, too. He's present during language riots and a dinner-party coup in Pakistan (where his mother fled after a marital spat involving the revealed baby-switch). Because of his olfactory talent, he becomes a "man-dog" tracker for a Pakistani military unit during the debacle in Bangladesh. And, back in Bombay, Saleem is clapped into jail with the other "midnight children" by "the Widow"--Indira Gandhi--during the dictatorial Emergency. Rushdie swoops, all colors unfurled, all stops out, through and around his synchronic fable with great gusto and sentimental fizz. And though such a rodomontade would be shameless if made out of more familiar material, the sub-continental excessiveness (and the fascinating history lesson which is incidentally built in) keeps us loading and firing right along. Tour de force, in other words--and so, of course, a little exhausting; but, unlike other fantastical picaresques, this one is truly worth the effort. A big striped balloon of a book, often dizzying with talent. (Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1981)

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Blackbird house - Alice Hoffman

Blackbird house - Hoffman, Alice

Summary: Presents a series of interlinking stories that capture the lives and fortunes of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over the course of two centuries.

Booklist Reviews
Perhaps Hoffman writes so confidently about magical occurrences because her fecund and radiant creativity is itself a form of magic. It certainly seems as though her entrancing and mythological tales flow like water from a spring, and her new book is no exception, although its form, linked short stories, is a new one for Hoffman. Blackbird House echoes her haunting novel The Probable Future (2003) in its lush and evocative Massachusetts setting, focus on indomitable and witchy women, and spanning of 200 years of life anchored to one place, in this case a humble abode on Cape Cod. Each beautifully arcing and surprising story is presided over by a white blackbird, an emblem of mourning and remembrance, and enacted by stoic yet passionate characters, among them passoinate mothers, a math prodigy, a wily gal with a conspicuous birthmark, a Holocaust survivor, and the angry daughter of self-absorbed hippies. As the stories leapfrog from colonial times toward the present, Hoffman, a subtle conjurer of telling details and ironic predicaments, orchestrates intense romances and profound sacrifices. Those who live in Blackbird House, by turns brilliant, crazy, and courageous, follow their dreams, endure nightmares, and find that their numinous home is as much a part of their being as their parents' DNA. ((Reviewed May 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Misery loves comedy - Ivan Brunetti

Misery loves comedy - Brunetti, Ivan

Summary: A compilation of the first three issues of the comic book series Schizo follows the adventures of a paranoid, deluded young man as he deals with self-loathing, depression, misanthropy, and the descent into insanity. - (Baker & Taylor)

Publishers Weekly Reviews
An introduction written by the author's therapist describes the process of creating these comics as "excruciatingly painful" and "painfully frightening." This puts Brunetti's minimal output—three issues of his cult favorite comic Schizo in 12 years—into psychological perspective. Brunetti's work does its malevolent work with an eye to the author's psychological underpinnings. Brunetti constantly offers up the worst possible image of himself alongside his portraits of a despised society. His festival of self-loathing, sexual depravity and brutal cynicism, is, however, amazingly clever and incisive. Whether from the point of view of a miserable comics artist and workaday hack, a nihilistic Jesus Christ or a raging "feminazi," these rants are fascinatingly convincing, readable and smart. Not all readers will be able to tolerate the scatologically violent sensibility that is so brilliantly manifested in these pages, but for those with a taste for the most jaded views of our society and its inhabitants, Brunetti has long been a hero. Sharply self-aware, Brunetti informs his readers, "I have a gift.... I can articulate what most people won't even face...." and it is this concise and energetic articulation that makes his work so great. (June)

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For all the tea in China - Sarah Rose

For all the tea in China: how England stole the world's favorite drink and changed history - Rose, Sarah

Summary: Rose's remarkable account follows the journey of Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, who was deployed by the British East India Company to steal China's tea secrets in 1848. This thrilling narrative combines history, geography, and old-fashioned adventure.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Through the adventures of Robert Fortune, a nineteenth-century plant hunter, the reader learns a delicious brew of information on the history of tea cultivation and consumption in the Western world. Rose's book is certain to draw the attention of history buffs, foodies, avid travel-literature fans, followers of popular science, and perhaps even business-interest book consumers as she reconstructs what she posits as the "greatest theft of trade secrets in the history of mankind." Tea was grown in China. Great Britain wanted tea. But trying to trade with the Celestial Empire was like pulling teeth. So the East India Company sent hunter Fortune, undercover (dressed in mandarin robes), to penetrate the depths of China and surreptitiously gather—steal, in other words—seeds and young plants and send them to India, where they would flourish in soil that was part of the British Empire. The author's bold conclusion to this remarkably riveting tale is that Fortune's "actions would today be described as industrial espionage," but nevertheless he "changeed the fate of nations." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Exit wounds - Rutu Modan

Exit wounds - Modan, Rutu

Summary: Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, a young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent phone call from a female soldier. Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins the soldier in searching for clues. His death would certainly explain his empty apartment and disconnected phone line. As Koby tries to unravel the mystery of his father's death, he finds himself piecing together not only the last few months of his father's life but his entire identity.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Tel Aviv--based Modan gives American comics readers a sharp sense of Israeli life in this brilliant and moving graphic novel. The story follows Koby Franco, a young taxi driver and lost soul, as he searches for his missing father, a man who long ago left the family and may or may not have been killed in a suicide bomb attack. Assisting and prodding him is Nuni, a young soldier who was romantically involved with the missing father. Modan takes her characters across Israel and through a variety of different Israeli social strata as the search progresses. Along the way it becomes clear that Koby's father's identity is in flux-he leaves all those that he loves, but touches on everything it means to be an Israeli: family man, soldier, religious practitioner and, perhaps, victim. Modan is a deft and subtle storyteller, and her meditation on Israeli identity and the possibilities of love and trust (between father and son, woman and man) are finely wrought. Her loose, expressive drawing is both tremendously evocative and precise-always enhancing the plot. The stellar combination makes this one of the major graphic novels of 2007. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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Tenth of December - George Saunders

Tenth of December - Saunders, George

Summary: A collection of stories includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory Lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Saunders, a self-identified disciple of Twain and Vonnegut, is hailed for the topsy-turvy, gouging satire in his three previous, keenly inventive short story collections. In the fourth, he dials the bizarreness down a notch to tune into the fantasies of his beleaguered characters, ambushing readers with waves of intense, unforeseen emotion. Saunders drills down to secret aquifers of anger beneath ordinary family life as he portrays parents anxious to defang their children but also to be better, more loving parents than their own. The title story is an absolute heart-wringer, as a pudgy, misfit boy on an imaginary mission meets up with a dying man on a frozen pond. In "Victory Lap," a young-teen ballerina is princess-happy until calamity strikes, an emergency that liberates her tyrannized neighbor, Kyle, "the palest kid in all the land." In "Home," family friction and financial crises combine with the trauma of a court-martialed Iraq War veteran, to whom foe and ally alike murmur inanely, "Thank you for your service." Saunders doesn't neglect his gift for surreal situations. There are the inmates subjected to sadistic neurological drug experiments in "Escape from Spiderhead" and the living lawn ornaments in "The Semplica Girl Diaries." These are unpredictable, stealthily funny, and complexly affecting stories of ludicrousness, fear, and rescue. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Pilates' return to life through contrology - Joseph Pilates

Pilates' return to life through contrology - Joseph Pilates

Summary: "Pilates' Return to Life Through Contrology contains the authorized, legal, edited, and original Library of Congress version of Joseph H. Pilates' and William J. Miller's first complete fitness writings. It details the exercises, poses, and instructions fundamental to the matwork developed by Joseph and Clara Pilates. Based on his concepts of a balanced body and mind, and drawn from the approach espoused by the early Greeks, these are the exercises that continue to sustain a worldwide revolution in fitness strategies and exercise techniques. Joseph Pilates has been nothing short of revolutionary in his impact on the world of fitness and exercise. Readers will learn and view the original 34 exercises that Pilates taught to his students, many of whom have become exercise gurus in their own right. These carefully designed exercises constitute the results of decades of scientific study and research into the variety of physical ills that upset the balance of body and mind."

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The pilates powerhouse - Mari Winsor

The pilates powerhouse - Winsor, Mari

Summary: A conditioning regimen used by professional dancers for years blends Yoga with Nautilus to build strength, flexibility, and coordination in just a few weeks. - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews
Winsor, a former professional dancer who has taught numerous movie stars and professional athletes the Pilates method of body conditioning, has written a manual that will appeal to a wide audience. It addresses the needs of beginning, intermediate, and advanced users in a concise format that includes step-by-step instructions and more than 100 black-and-white photos. The Pilates method is effective because of the use of resistance, which can be increased through the use of an array of specially designed exercise machines. Winsor confines herself to discussing the Pilates mat routine, in which exercises are performed on a mat or floor, using only controlled movement to create resistance. This approach allows her to provide an excellent overview of the Pilates philosophy and methods. Following the exercises, Winsor (herself an asthma sufferer) suggests Pilates breathing techniques for asthmatics and those with neck and back injuries but emphasizes the neccessity of consulting a physician first. Finally, she tells readers how to find a qualified instructor. Recommended for all basic fitness collections as a great introduction. Those who want a more comprehensive treatment would do better with Sean Gallagher's The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning (LJ 6/1/99).AXimena Chrisagis, Wright State Univ. Libs., Dayton, OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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The food matters cookbook - Mark Bittman

The food matters cookbook - Bittman, Mark

Summary: This follow up to Mark Bittman's "NY Times" bestseller, "Food Matters: The Cookbook" offers around 450 recipes that will save your health and the planet.

Booklist Reviews
Two years ago, prolific cookbook author and newspaper columnist Bittman published a cogent injunction urging Americans to redirect their eating habits toward more environmentally friendly and agriculturally sustainable diets and away from sugary, meat-centric meals. Since that first volume offered only a few recipes, Bittman has come to the aid of cooks who need much more specific kitchen support. So he has engaged his formidable creativity to generate a cornucopia of recipes to inspire people to rethink what they prepare for meals. Bittman's innovative approach starts at the market with teaching shoppers to spot and buy seasonal, fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The book's hundreds of recipes give menu planners maximum flexibility in just about every category of cookery. Many appetizer and main-dish recipes call for some meat or seafood, but in controlled quantities. Bittman's visionary imagination sparkles on every page, and even cooks who may not wholly resonate with his planetary concerns will find themselves intrigued and inspired on virtually every page. Promise of weight loss as a side benefit adds additional incentive. Bittman eschews rigorously exacting nutritional tables in favor of empowering cooks to find healthy balances based on broad principles of disciplined, intelligent, aware, yet joyful consumption. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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The sense of an ending - Julian Barnes

The sense of an ending - Barnes, Julian

Summary: Follows a middle-aged man as he reflects on a past he thought was behind him, until he is presented with a legacy that forces him to reconsider different decisions, and to revise his place in the world.

Booklist Reviews
At once commanding and subtle, Barnes has created a refined novel intensely suspenseful in its emotional complexities and exemplary in its arresting tropes, rhythms, revelations, and musings on the puzzle of time and the mysteries of memory and desire. And how masterfully Barnes induces us, page by page, to revise our perceptions of and feelings toward his ensnared narrator. Cordially divorced and smugly retired, Tony is yanked out of complacency by a perplexing letter. The recently deceased mother of his disastrous first love has inexplicably bequeathed him the diary of a school friend of his who committed suicide. As Tony seeks an explanation, Barnes turns evocative motifs––the way Tony and his friends wore their watches with the faces on the inside of their wrists; the night Tony witnessed the Severn Bore, a powerful tidal surge that reverses the river's flow––into metaphors for how we distort the past and how oblivious we are to the pain of others. Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Barnes' sublimely modulated and profoundly disquieting tale of delusion, loss, and remorse ends devastatingly with a crescendo twist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Barnes is a British author Americans follow with high attention, and this novel secured him the Man Booker Prize. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Cosmos (DVD) - Carl Sagan

Cosmos (DVD)- Sagan, Carl

Summary: The Cosmos: Carl Sagan DVD set remains as fresh as in 1980, when it first aired. The 13-hour series explores some of man's greatest questions, including how simple microbes evolve into the space travelers. The cosmos videos grab viewers with a riveting look at science and religion from the learned and unique perspective of Carl Sagan DVDs.

In the Cosmos: Carl Sagan DVD set, the late scientist goes beyond a guided tour through billions of stars and galaxies. After 20-plus years, Cosmos remains one of the most profound statements in exploration, crossing boundaries between science and religion.

In the cosmos videos, each fascinating segments attempts to deepen our understanding of how we got from there to here. Sagan guides us to the farthest reaches of space and takes us back into the history of scientific inquiry. The Carl Sagan DVDs shift from the ancient library of Alexandria to the NASA probes of our neighboring planets.

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Rookie yearbook one - Tavi Gevinson (Ed.)

Rookie yearbook one - Gevinson, Tavis (Ed.)

Summary: A collection of articles, interviews, photo editorials, and illustrations from the highly praised and hugely popular online magazine

Booklist Online Reviews
Editor Gevinson, known to fans, friends, her parents, and teachers simply as Tavi, is way, way cooler than the coolest kid you went to high school with. Last year, with a little help from her friends, she launched online magazine Rookie. This title compiles the site's "very best" offerings through May 2012. In the book's welcome note, she asks, "Isn't this weird, with no Cheeto-crumb-covered keyboard or Netflix streaming window between us? I'm really into it." Though Rookie chalked up one million page views in less than a week after its launch, this eye-catching large-format paperback will be an exciting first exposure to this new brand of young, girl-power feminist journalism. Contributions and interviews by Gevinson, staff writers, Rookie readers, and stars address topics both silly and serious. Rotating "Literally the Best Thing Ever" and "How To" columns showcase, for example, Joni Mitchell and "Approach the Person You Like without Throwing Up," respectively. The included pullout record, designer-made paper crown, and sheet of stickers will necessitate special care for circulation, but with wit and reason, Rookie combats the often ridiculous or destructive advice aimed at its audience, and it is a beacon for a smarter, more sensitive generation of young women. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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