Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart: I'm not feeling the love.

Gave up on Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart about midway through. It's set in the not-too-distant future where the US economy and political sphere are in decline and chaos, people are obsessed with social media, and love is tricky. (So what's new, you might be asking . . . ) The novel is clever and at times funny, but it has a real 1984 vibe and I'm not digging a dose of George Orwell right now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Music We Like: "Chiaroscuro" by Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu.

Beautiful, elegant, jazzy music from acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner and trumpeter Paolo Fresu.  Absolutely lovely; Chiaroscuro should be on everyone's playlist.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Royal Wedding Hoop-la. Bishops and Princes and Corgis: Oh, My!

Although not nearly as exciting as a Packers v. Bears football game, the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is fast approaching and the media buzz is building.  You can keep up on the latest events by checking out this link at The Guardian.

As one would expect, authors and publishers are getting in on the royal wedding extravaganza and from some unexpected areas of publishing.  Today, this book caught my eye:  Knit Your Own Royal Wedding by Fiona Goble.  The book includes patterns for everything needed for a royal wedding, including instructions on how to knit the archbishop of Canterbury.

Stitch together a little dog and watch the events on YouTube; it will be almost like attending in person.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The WSJ's Terry Teachout Discusses Gilbert and Sullivan and One of My Favorite Movies: Topsy-Turvy.

A remastered version of the delightful movie Topsy-Turvy is now available.   In the Wall Street Journal, drama critic Terry Teachout uses the opportunity to discuss that movie, Gilbert and Sullivan, and a 1939 production of The Mikado which is available on DVD (and which I am going to snap-up!).  Check out Mr. Teachout's column here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Author Margaret George discusses the subject of her new book, Queen Elizabeth I, on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Yesterday, April 10, Wisconsin Public Radio broadcast an enjoyable hour-long interview with author Margaret George.  Ms. George has a new work of historical fiction available called Elizabeth I.  During the program, George discussed the three greatest crises faced by the Queen during her reign from 1533 to 1603.  Check out the podcast of the program here.  It's a very interesting discussion which has motivated me to add the book to my reading list.


"Moonlight Mile" by Dennis Lehane.

It is a sure sign that things are going poorly when, halfway through a book, you ask yourself, "why is this not good?"  And that's exactly what I thought midway through Dennis Lehane's mystery, Moonlight Mile.  The plot was a bit thin, which can be okay when the characters are interesting and witty.  They were not, in my opinion.    If I handed out stars, Moonlight Mile would get two out of a possible five.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Unique and Suspenseful Novel: "A Man in Uniform" by Kate Taylor.

A Man in Uniform is a terrific book.  It starts quietly and builds into an exciting story so filled with suspense that it is at times both unbearable to continue reading and unbearable to stop reading.

The novel is set in France during the 1890s, the period between France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War I.  Politics in France are tense and fractious when, in 1894, the French government is hit by a major scandal:  The Dreyfus Affair.  Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer, is convicted of treason - providing military documents to a German attache - and placed in solitary confinement on Devil's Island in French Guiana.

The protagonist in A Man in Uniform finds himself investigating Dreyfus' conviction.  Francois Dubon is a lawyer who, while politically active as a young man, is now middle-aged with a legal practice confined to estate matters, an aristocratic wife with family in the upper ranks of the military, and a full-time mistress.  Into Dubon's carefully orchestrated and segregated life (his in-laws would be appalled to learn about the politics of his youth) comes a mysterious client, a widow.    

The widow, an attractive woman, asks Dubon to assist her in proving the innocence of a friend's husband who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime.  The man she seeks to help is Alfred Dreyfus.

Charmed by the widow, Attorney Dubon takes the case.  His investigation leads him into the military's covert operations office, searching for the secrets that may help Alfred Dreyfus obtain a new trial.  And as the plot unfolds, Dubon's work intersects with his personal life, uncovering new facts about his family, friends, and French bourgeois society - and murder.

A Man in Uniform is a suspenseful story set during an interesting period of history.  It's a highly recommended read.