Monthly Archives: February 2011

Paula McLain Brings ‘The Paris Wife’ to Ann Arbor

DetailsIf you haven’t yet heard of Paula McLain’s new novel The Paris Wife then it’s time to tune in. The Paris Wife “brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman – wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother – and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the twenties.”*

And I can vouch. McLain does indeed capture the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s wife, or most certainly a voice of the times. McLain’s language and tone easily transport to a bohemian Paris swirling with artists and poets both over and on the cusp of discovery.

Paula McLain received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has published two collections of poetry, a memoir and an earlier novel titled  A Ticket to Ride. The Paris Wife was released just last week.

The Paris Wife site is a beauty, so even if you don’t care to read the book you should at least check out the photos of both the Hemingways and the landmarks of their life together. Also, I hate to veer away from solid sources but I did get snagged by Paula McLain’s bio spot on amazon and her personal history is worth the link over. Very intriguing.

Paula McLain has a few upcoming Michigan appearances on her calendar and she will be appearing at Borders in Ann Arbor for a reading and signing of The Paris Wife on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm. In addition, she will be at McLean & Eakin booksellers in Petosky for a talk and signing on Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm as part of their popular “Cabin Fever Series”.

Also, if you are interested in the National Writers Series of Traverse City, Paula McLain will be appearing for a talk and signing at the City Opera House on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm. More on this later…

Check back in with Night Light Revue for information on McLain’s other  Michigan events and as always, call ahead to confirm dates and times.

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

*Information taken from the official site of “The Paris Wife”

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

Life With Death – One Good Thing Leads to Another

Cover ImageIf you missed the NYT Book Review this past Sunday, then you missed William Giraldi’s lovely feature highlighting Michigan author Thomas Lynch. Life With Death is certainly a review worth linking to, as William Giraldi’s elegant prose rests in kind compliment to that of the mastery of Mr. Lynch himself.

I recently finished Lynch’s book The Undertaking, and each and every page brought me to my knees. Breathless, I devoured Lynch’s words and marveled at his magical ability to turn the deep, raw sentiments of death into palatable wisps of humor; that he could so artfully craft a work on the death of Death itself. Though I finished The Undertaking weeks ago, I’m still bereft of deserving words for an author I have come to so admire.

It was with great fortune, then, that I fell upon William Giraldi’s review of Apparition & Late Fictions, which not only highlights Lynch’s first work of fiction but also his unique style and life perspective. “Lynch does not recoil from the gruesome facts of his trade or the insights they have allowed him,” notes Giraldi, “but he commands the light as well as the darkness. Nihilism is nowhere in these stories, and love is everywhere embraced.”

As Giraldi praises Lynch for adding “another chapter to one of the most memorable records in American letters,” I found myself thinking much the same of Giraldi. While it’s plain, midwestern truth that I’m far from the caliber of a New York Times reviewer, I can say that crafting even a simple review is not a breezy affair. So, as I endlessly groped in the dark for the ripple of words that might convey Lynch’s spirit, I swooned at Giraldi’s easy capture and fluidity;  “…the stories and novella here are gifts of precision, narratives with the poise to depict entire lives unstrung by the end of things.”

If you fear the talk of endangered book reviews, Giraldi’s review won’t soothe your soul. For those of us who are purists to the book and its circling words, we ultimately rely on the grace of one good work leading to another. Therefore, not only in Thomas Lynch have I found a new literary hero, but I can now pursue the pleasure of seeking out the works of William Giraldi as well.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

RELATED LINKS

Busy Monsters: A Novel by William Giraldi

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, The Undertaking, Thomas Lynch

Heather Sellers Delights at Writers Live! Event

Consider yourself one of the lucky ones if you were fortunate enough to attend Baldwin Public Library’s recent Writers Live! event. Hope College professor Heather Sellers wooed the audience with her intelligence, wit, and sincere charm while promoting her latest book You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness, and Forgiveness.

Sellers suffers from a neurological disorder termed prosopagnosia, or face blindness. The bizarre disorder causes impairment in the recognition of faces, and at its most severe can cause the lack of recognition of close friends, family, spouses or even one’s own children. Such is the case with Sellers.

Face blindness isn’t a vision problem, Sellers explained, but rather one of memory. She likens the disorder to a file cabinet where the brain stores images. When you see someone, your brain snaps a picture and slips it into your files to be called up later. However in Seller’s case, after the image gets snapped, it’s immediately and irretrievably “thrown out the window.”

So what does this really mean? Well, if you meet Sellers face to face, she won’t recognize you – even one second later. If you had a dinner date with her last night? She’ll pass you by the next morning. If you grew up next door to her or happen to be her best friend? Doesn’t matter, she’ll have no idea who you are. Brad Pitt, Barack Obama, the Mona Lisa? All the same to Sellers – the facial images just don’t process.

It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s arms around, but try to imagine the professional and social implications of such a disorder for a woman who works with hundreds of students and ever-changing colleagues year after year. Sounds crazy, right?

Crazy is pretty much how Sellers felt until her disorder was diagnosed just five years ago. As a child Sellers’ parents told her she was emotionally unstable, yet Sellers miraculously compensated by relying on context clues such as a person’s hair, voice, clothing, or particular gait. She trained herself “not to freak out” as she attempted to piece together the facial puzzles that  have dogged her since childhood.

Freaking out is apparently something that Sellers doesn’t do. Composed and collected, Sellers laughingly shared her observation that “professors are given a wide range of normal” – a fact that certainly influenced her decision to enter the academic world. She found she could hide amidst the acceptable eccentricities so inherent to campus life. Currently Sellers is part of the English department at Hope College where she teaches creative writing.

Cover ImageSince her diagnosis, Sellers has “come out” with her face blindness and You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know has been a huge part of that process. Garnering both high praise and national attention, Sellers’ memoir seems to be striking a chord in the hearts of her readers. Where so many years of angst and frustration might lead anyone else to bitterness, Sellers has found a certain peace and renewed faith in humanity, and it was precisely this compassionate, feel-good vibe that permeated the air and made for such an exceptional evening.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

Related Links and Information

-Link here for the live video of Heather Sellers at the Baldwin Public Library’s Writers Live! program.

Oprah’s November Pick

NPR’s Living With Face Blindness: Who Are You, Again?

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Authors, Heather Sellers

Writers Live! Features author Heather Sellers

Cover ImageChances are, if you meet author Heather Sellers she won’t recognize you later – even five minutes later. This is not an act of snobbishness on behalf of the Hope College professor however, but rather the bizarre consequence of a disorder called “face blindness.”

Medically termed prosopagnosia, face blindness is a disorder that causes impairment in the recognition of faces. Prosopagnosia isn’t a vision problem, but one of memory that widely ranges in degree. Face blindness at its most severe can cause the lack of recognition of close friends, family, spouses or even one’s own children.

Until Sellers was in her 30’s, she had no idea what was wrong with her. While reading one day Sellers stumbled upon the term “face recognition.” The phrase immediately resonated with the author, and upon further research Sellers was finally able to tag a diagnosis to the blindness that had dogged her for so many years.

Sellers book, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness, and Forgiveness, is a memoir of her experience with face blindness. While so many years of frustration might lead one to bitterness and anger, Sellers has found a certain peace and claims the disorder “has renewed my faith in humankind on a daily basis”.

If you live in or around Birmingham, Michigan, you’ll have a chance to hear Heather Sellers tell her story in person. The author and Hope College professor will be appearing at the Baldwin Public Library as part of their Writers Live! program.

According to the program site, Sellers will read excerpts from “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” and “talk about the process of writing a memoir and how telling our own story can help us to see others more clearly.” The Writers Live! appearance will take place at the BPL on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm. As always, please call first to confirm date and time.

Related Links

Oprah’s November Pick

NPR’s Living With Face Blindness: Who Are You, Again?

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone!

Friends Don't Let Friends Read Alone

Friends don’t let friends read alone, at least that’s what Baldwin Public Library’s Kathryn Bergeron believes. Bergeron is Baldwin’s systems librarian and also acts as the main facilitator of the BPL’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone” book club.

The club launched late last spring as the “Young Professionals Book Club” and was originally designed to draw in the college crowd. Though the library has several programs designed to engage the community’s older and younger populations, Bergeron felt the college-aged demographic needed to be addressed.

“College students come in to study and to get books and DVD’s and we wanted a chance to reach out to them,” noted Bergeron of the original idea behind the club. “There had been a lot of talk about an evening book club… so we kind of started there but we wanted to let it evolve a little bit and see what it wanted to become. Book clubs are kind of their own entity… they have their own personality.”

By fall that personality was taking shape, and the evolving book club changed its name to “Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone.” “Most of the people who are in it are still young professionals, but it’s not limited to anyone,” shares Bergeron. “Anyone who wants to show up is more than welcome to. I think that the venue and the time lends itself more to young people, but we have other people… and I’m more than happy to see them.”

That venue is the Zuma Coffee House in Birmingham where the book club meets one Tuesday evening each month. The coffee house is a natural draw for the trendy set, but Bergeron also chose it as a show of community support. “We’ve worked with Zuma in the past and they’ve been very supportive of us… and we wanted to do something to give back to them… . We’re really grateful to Zuma for hosting us every month.”

So how does Bergeron make her title selections? “We have a collection of book club books, first of all, at the library and we pull from that… . We try to change up the books so that, yes, you might have one that is incredibly depressing but then the next one is going to be something probably more fun or more happy, so you can kind of juxtapose the books against one another.” The group just finished The Undertaking by poet Thomas Lynch  and will discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for their February title.

Overall, Katherine Bergeron is pleased with the success and growth of the book club. “… I’m really glad that it is something that we were able to try and I think that it’s worked out very well so far and I hope that it continues to blossom.”

The “Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone” book club is open to all and will meet at Zuma Coffee House at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 to discuss The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Books are available upon request at the Baldwin Public Library.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Alexander McCall Smith, Authors

‘You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know’

Cover ImageChances are, if you meet author Heather Sellers she won’t recognize you later – even five minutes later. This is not an act of snobbishness on behalf of the Hope College professor however, but rather the bizarre consequence of a disorder called “face blindness.”

Medically termed prosopagnosia, face blindness is a disorder that causes impairment in the recognition of faces. Prosopagnosia isn’t a vision problem, but one of memory that widely ranges in degree. Face blindness at its most severe can cause the lack of recognition of close friends, family, spouses or even one’s own children.

Until Sellers was in her 30’s, she had no idea what was wrong with her. While reading one day Sellers stumbled upon the term “face recognition.” The phrase immediately resonated with the author, and upon further research Sellers was finally able to tag a diagnosis to the blindness that had dogged her for so many years.

Sellers book, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face-Blindness, and Forgiveness, is a memoir of her experience with face blindness. While so many years of frustration might lead one to bitterness and anger, Sellers has found a certain peace and claims the disorder “has renewed my faith in humankind on a daily basis”.

If you live in or around Birmingham, Michigan, you’ll have a chance to hear Heather Sellers tell her story in person. The author and Hope College professor will be appearing at the Baldwin Public Library as part of their Writers Live! program.

According to the program site, Sellers will read excerpts from “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” and “talk about the process of writing a memoir and how telling our own story can help us to see others more clearly.” The Writers Live! appearance will take place at the BPL on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm. As always, please call first to confirm date and time.

Related Links

Oprah’s November Pick

NPR’s Living With Face Blindness: Who Are You, Again?

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Uncategorized

Aunt Agatha’s Hosts a few ‘Tough Chicks in Crime’

Cover ImageThere’s been a whole lot of chatting going on about literature’s gender gap. The debate over the low representation of women in the land of literary publishing has been a constant source of tweets, posts, and shouts as of late. Regardless of the VIDA stats, however, three women will be representing loud and proud in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Cover ImageOn Saturday Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop will host a few “Tough Chicks in Crime Fiction.” The panel will include Barbara D’Amato and her book “Other Eyes,” Sharon Fiffer and her book “Backstage Stuff – A Jane Wheel Mystery,” and Vicki Delany with her latest, “Negative Image.”

Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop is located at 213 S. Fourth Street in Ann Arbor. The panel is scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 12, 2011. As always, give a call first to confirm date and times before heading out the door.

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*Support your local bookstores, universities, and libraries. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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