Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kathy recommends "A Redbird Christmas" by Fannie Flagg

If you’re looking for a truly heartwarming tale this holiday season take some time out of your busy schedule to read Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas. It is the story of 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell, diagnosed with terminal emphysema, who decides to leave his solitary life behind in cold, damp Chicago to spend his last days in tiny Lost River, Alabama. He meets the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, a redbird named Jack, a Creole community and little crippled Patsy Casey. Like a good cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day, the story is both bitter and sweet with a charming ending – perfect for an afternoon’s escape from the craziness of the season.

Recommended for young adults and adults.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lisa recommends "Donkey Kong Country Returns" (Wii)

One of my favorite games of all time was Donkey Kong Country on the SNES back in the 90's. I was really excited to see it come out for Wii as Donkey Kong Country Returns. If you played the old game, then you will already be familiar with this one as it is pretty much the same game. The graphics and controls have been updated to look and work with the Wii for this generation of gamers. As an added bonus, you can play the levels with 2 players. Sometimes it is good for the classics to make a reappearance and this is one of those times.

Recommended for the whole family.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Matt recommends "Just Kids"

I'm a big fan of poet & rock musician Patti Smith, so I've had a copy of her recent memoir Just Kids sitting on my shelf since it came out earlier this year. I hadn't gotten around to reading it, though, until I heard a couple weeks ago that it won the National Book Award for nonfiction; reading about it in the news prompted me to pick it up, and I'm so glad I did.

Just Kids tells the story of Smith's relationship with the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe, mostly remembered these days for the often disturbing photographs he took in the '70s and '80s that caused scandal by blurring the line between art and pornography (but also remembered for his sensitive close-ups of flowers, two volumes of which you can find at CMPL). The two fledgling artists, both 21, find each other in New York City in the late '60s. They develop a profound bond that, as the book makes clear, has outlasted even Mapplethorpe's life: they become lovers (for a time), companions, advocates, and collaborators, encouraging and fueling each other's work in their attempts to find their own artistic voices. The book traces their lives from the end of the '60s through the '70s and '80s. Their relationship waxes and wanes in intensity as Mapplethorpe becomes more ambitious and Smith more famous, but it remains a constant in both of their lives until Mapplethorpe's tragic death from AIDS in 1989.

The book is great as a story of a unique partnership and as an account of two influential artists developing their talents in New York during what might have been the city’s most heady, crazy, dangerous, and magical days. (It takes place in a New York that really no longer exists; Smith has been famously encouraging young artists to move to Detroit instead these days.) It's marked by Smith's confident, steady, accessible voice; her singular poetic sensibility; and her deep well of affection for and complete acceptance of her best friend. Recommended for adults.

For more context to the story, click here to check out CMPL's selection of Patti Smith CDs (and compilation albums she appears on).

And click here to take a look at the books of Robert Mapplethorpe photography we have in the collection.

(Looking for even more? Talk to a librarian about requesting other books, CDs, and documentary films by & about the artists through MeL, the Michigan eLibrary.)