Reader's Link - August 2013 Staff Picks Archive


Want to Be Great: Boss

Bruce

Title: Bruce
By: Peter Arnes Carlin

Bruce is a new biography of singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen by Peter Ames Carlin, author of Paul McCartney:a life.

The book concentrates on the difference between Springsteen and many other musicians: from Steel Mill to E Street Band, he has been a true cultural and working-class icon, deep-rooted in his native New Jersey. His early musical career was driven by determination to avoid his father's fate, but his aim eventually became to be “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy, I want to be great.” Needless to say, it has not been an easy path. But Rolling Stone ranks him No. 1 of 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now for his superhuman levels of energy and ability to touch, move, and inspire audiences. Albums such as Born in the USA (1984) and Born to Run (1975) reflect his times and feature working-class characters. His River (1980) touches upon teenage pregnancy issues with a dissection of his sister's life; Streets of Philadelphia (2002) deals with HIV/AIDS.

As SCPL has purchased Bruce in both book and audio/digital formats, interested readers are able to gain another dimension: the vivid dual performance by the author and narrator Bobby Cannavale.

View similarly tagged posts: biography
Posted by Hui-Lan on Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:17 a.m.
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Only in America

Follow the money: a month in the life of a ten-dollar bill

Title: Follow the money: a month in the life of a ten-dollar bill
By: Steve Boggan

I laughed out loud. I don't do that often reading a book unless it's Bill Bryson. A crazy Brit freelance journalist decides to hop the pond and follow a marked $10 bill for one month. Where to start? Obviously, the geographic center of the U.S.--Lebanon, Kansas, pop 300. He meets "salt of the earth" farmers, an Arkansas rock star, a drunk who wants to sell him a franchise for midnight beer delivery, and many more. He loses sleep, his clothes get filthy, he doesn't eat enough because obviously he has to glom on to the next person in possession of the $10 and tell his story in a way that will open their minds to his wild caper. It's a rollicking journey, laced with intriguing folks and local landmarks (note the Gangster Museum of America). Only in America; or maybe Sicily.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted by libwolf on Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:09 a.m.
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Neither farce nor tragedy

A Star Called Henry

Title: A Star Called Henry
By: Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry is the story of the Irish War for Independence and Civil War, told through the cocky first-person narrative of a rebellious former Dublin street urchin. Henry's father was a one-legged brothel bouncer and underworld enforcer who specialized in caving in skulls with his wooden leg. When five-year-old Henry and his little brother start a brawl on the street by telling visiting English King Edward VII to “uck off,” their father is permanently disappeared by the police. Henry grows up on the streets, and ends up one of the lumpen members of James Connolly's socialist Irish Citizen Army, “a member of the union, although I'd never had a job.” The tensions between the class-conscious socialists (and especially Henry, who acts out of his own personal motivations more than out of any idealism) and the more conservative Volunteers during the Easter Rising are highlighted brilliantly.

Later, Henry follows in his father's foot-and-peg-steps and becomes an elite gunman for the IRA, literally carrying his father's wooden leg all the while. He marries his former schoolteacher-for-a-day, Miss O'Shea, who scandalizes the conservative elements in the IRA by becoming a guerrilla fighter and gaining notoriety as “Our Lady of the Machine Gun.” When asked, “Have you any control over your wife at all?” Henry's response is a proud “No.”

Like The Wind That Shakes the Barley, but with more urban swagger and gangsterism, A Star Called Henry examines how revolutions consolidate power for new ruling classes. If only each of those revolutions had as incorrigible a protagonist as Henry, and as witty a storyteller as Roddy Doyle...the world might not be any different, but we'd be a lot better at understanding what was going on and finding the entertainment value in it. Marx wrote that history repeats itself “first as tragedy, then as farce.” A Star Called Henry occupies the perfect middle ground between the two, without falling into the trap of either.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by Xenon on Aug. 8, 2013 at 10 a.m.
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Slavery and survival

A Million Nightingales

Title: A Million Nightingales
By: Susan Straight

From within the unusually perceptive and original mind of Moinette, we live through her experience as a slave in Louisiana, which had only recently been purchased by the United States. Beautiful, evocative language; thoroughly researched way of life and social customs; a gripping story that poses strong questions. This is not a book of happy endings; it is a realistic portrayal of slavery and survival. I will want to read it again.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by April on Aug. 7, 2013 at 9 a.m.
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Family is all

The Lost Crown

Title: The Lost Crown
By: Sarah Miller

The Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov are the daughters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. The girl’s lives are immersed in privilege until the onset of World War I, when the war effort quickly turns to revolution across Russia. The Bolshevik party has risen quickly, and most of the Russian people support the Bolsheviks’ belief that the Tsarist government needs to be done away with. Soon, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, their parents, brother, and most loyal servants are prisoners in their own palace. Every move they make is now watched. It seems that everyone has turned against Tsar Nicholas II, blaming him for all of their troubles. Eventually, the family is moved to a small house in Ekaterinburg, a village in Siberia. The girls soon begin to wonder what will happen to them, wondering if they’ll be freed, or if there’s a worse fate waiting for them than they ever imagined.

The Lost Crown is a story about how in the most terrible of situations, all you can count on is your family being there for you; even being royalty isn’t all it seems to be at first glance.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,teen fiction
Posted by pughc on Aug. 6, 2013 at 10 a.m.
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