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Friday, October 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 49.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily


A Book A Week: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Alice Munro's stories conjure up feelings that I don't normally experience from reading fiction. I abandon my concern with plot or character arcs (though these are certainly present) and instead allow myself to be transported by the beauty of each story as a whole. >More
 A Book A Week: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary was clever and original when it came out in 1996, and I loved it. I also liked the 2001 movie version starring Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth. Somewhat less interesting was the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. That book broke no new ground and as far as I could tell only served to wrap up the romance. >More
 A Book A Week: In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

In Zanesville, a fictional town in Illinois, we find Jo, a most appealing heroine, who manages to navigate the tricky emotional swells of adolescence with detached self-possession, humor, and a lot of courage. In her novel In Zanesville, Jo Ann Beard takes the traditional role of the outsider/observer and fills it with this everygirl who faces the challenges posed by boys, cheerleaders and her own mother with equanimity and good sense. >More
 Jay Antani attracts international fans with The Leaving of Things, a novel about a local Indian American teen

Born in India and raised in Madison, Jay Antani knows a few things about coming of age cross-culturally. Using his own experiences as a guide, he wrote a novel about a local teen named Vikram, who gets sent to India after a weekend of drunken rebellion. Titled The Leaving of Things, the book has numerous references to Madison, from Monroe Street to Vitense Golfland. >More
 A Book A Week: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

I love the way Kathryn Harrison writes, but her subject matter is often so troubling that I don't usually read her books. I read Exposure back in the 1990s and have read nothing since, as her subsequent offerings have featured incest, torture, Chinese foot binding and murder, to name just a few subjects. Perhaps this is a backhanded compliment, but I know that Harrison's particularly vivid, engrossing prose will render these scenes too disturbing for me. >More
 A Book A Week: The White Queen and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen is a 10-part BBC production about the War of the Roses that was recently broadcast in the U.S. on the Starz network. I watched it and loved it, historical inaccuracies and all. But the show made me curious about the books upon which it was based, four novels by Philippa Gregory. >More
 The story behind Wisconsin Book Festival 2013: Madison historian Jody LePage explores racial injustice

Madison historian Jody LePage met Sylvia Bell White in 1973, when they were both selling vegetables at the farmers' market on the Capitol Square. She was one of the most fun people I had ever met," says LePage, who did not learn for 10 years that White's brother, Daniel Bell, had been gunned down by a Milwaukee police officer in 1958. >More
 The story behind Wisconsin Book Festival 2013: An interview with Dan Chaon

I discovered Dan Chaon through his short stories, which a UW professor recommended in 2001. It was the time of year the ground froze and the sky grew dark before dinnertime, the perfect moment to find a book worth staying inside for. >More
 A Book A Week: Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

Have you noticed that all the World War II espionage books by Alan Furst have similar titles? Dark Something, Night Something, Mission to Somewhere, Spies of This or That. >More
 A Book A Week: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I'm getting a little bored with books where nothing happens. It's not like I need explosions or car chases, but really, something has to happen or else I just... drift off. And so I drifted off a lot while reading Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, a story about three sisters in their 20s and 30s who return to their Ohio town to care for their sick mother. >More
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