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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 66.0° F  Fair
The Daily


A Book A Week: Lima Nights by Marie Arana

Years ago I read Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa. I don't remember much of the story but I do remember the setting: Lima, Peru, in the 1950s. I remember the atmosphere of elegance and faded glory in the grand European-style apartment buildings and along the boulevards, the mix of haves and have-nots, and also my total unfamiliarity with the topography. >More
 A Book A Week: Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

I love Ann Cleeves' mystery series set in the Shetland Isles. I love the cold wet climate, the isolation, the sheep. Weird, I know. But even if this setting sounds awful to you, if you are mystery fan, you will enjoy Red Bones. >More
 A Book A Week: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

I am conflicted about Lisa See. I think she excels in writing about places and time periods but isn't so good at creating original characters. The sisters in Shanghai Girls have a relationship that is clichéd and predictable. The dialogue is almost painfully banal. Yet the settings (1930s Shanghai, 1940s and '50s Los Angeles) are great, very evocative and filled with detail. >More
 A Book A Week: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Helen Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is as good as everyone says it is. Helen Simonson has written an old-fashioned story and interjected some surprisingly contemporary elements, with great success. >More
 Isthmus on the isthmus: Dinner and drinks with The Quickening author Michelle Hoover (video)

Join author Michelle Hoover, in Madison on a book tour last week, at The Icon on State Street for a discussion covering her work, growing up in the Midwest, ordering wine and empanadas. >More
 Characters in Susanna Daniel's Stiltsville merely float

Stiltsville is a real place, a tiny huddle of homes built on platforms and spindly legs sunk into the hurricane-threatened waters of Biscayne Bay, off the coast of Miami. Stiltsville the novel is equally precarious, an insubstantial structure of largely inconsequential events that creak and groan on a flimsy foundation. >More
 A Book A Week: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

I like to read books about colonialism, especially the British in India and in Ireland. I can't really explain why these books appeal to me, except as a part of my larger interest in books that deal with class issues. >More
 A Book A Week: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier writes excellent historical fiction. Best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier is also the author of several of my favorite historical novels, including Falling Angels, which includes several scenes set in Highgate Cemetary, in London. >More
 A Book A Week: A Proper Education for Girls by Elaine diRollo

What a discovery this was! Elaine diRollo's A Proper Education for Girls is very funny and very original. >More
 A Book A Week: Naming Nature by Carol Kaesuk Yoon

Carol Kaesuk Yoon's Naming Nature is a nonfiction book about the history of taxonomy. It falls into a category that I call "science lite," written for a nontechnical audience. I really like these kinds of books, but good ones are hard to find. >More
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