Blog Posts by Ultra Violet

blogger photoUltra Violet is an artist, but not the one who hung out with Warhol at the Factory. She is also the only library staff member who was a Shakespearean research scholar and a member of the Meat Cutters' Union in the same year.





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Plato and a platypus walk into a bar-- : understanding philosophy through jokes
by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

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06/08/11
This little gem of a book could be read cover to cover or you could just open to any random page during a free minute. Brief history of modern thought interspersed with jokes, anecdotes and cartoons. This would make a great conversation starter at one of your more intellectual cocktail parties.

The year we left home
by Jean Thompson

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06/07/11
Audrey and Randy come from hearty Iowa farm stock, and they are living out the American dream in their suburban house with four children. They find strength in their stoic Norwegian, Lutheran traditions. But it's the late 1970s and the lives of their children will take some very unexpected turns. Their eldest daughter, Anita, is the consummate girly cheerleader who wants nothing more than to get married and stay home with her children. Her husband is on the fast track to success as a banker and her future seems all planned out. It doesn't take long for Anita to find the joys of motherhood leave her cold, and her husband's drinking habit becomes problematic. After a DUI, Anita takes more control of her life and finds a new side of herself as a realtor. Second oldest, Ryan, has continual trouble with the women in his life, and is unfulfilled in his job as a computer programmer. Ryan finds an uneasy friendship with his burnout, Vietnam vet cousin, Chip. Even though Chip tends to cause Ryan trouble, he is also a voice of reason that grounds Ryan in reality. Blake is the next child in line. Blake finds a career in construction and a good life with a wife and kids. The youngest child, Torrie, had been the one with the most promise. She was a beautiful and impetuous young woman who excelled in school. On the way back from a funeral, Torrie is involved in an accident that shatters her dreams, but opens the door to a new world.
 
Jean Thompson creates characters that are breathtakingly real. There isn't a page of this book that doesn't ring true. It covers issues as diverse, controversial and relevant as alcoholism, Vietnam veterans, Native Americans, farm subsidies, motherhood, and women's roles. It is political and intimate at the same time. Every family in America has dealt with some of these issues in one way or another. This is definitely not a light summer read, but a perfect choice for a book club or for someone who is looking for a contemporary family saga that is painful at times, but hopeful in a way that never gets sentimental.

The book of Harold : the illegitimate son of God
by Owen Egerton

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06/06/11
Any book with a possum on the cover is alright by me. A suburban computer technician has a vision and claims to be the second coming of Christ. A dark comedy by an intelligent author of insight and wit.

The fates will find their way
by Hannah Pittard

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06/02/11
When 16-year old, Nora, goes missing on Halloween it permanently changes the lives of her sister and the boys of the neighborhood. As these teens grow into adulthood and have families of their own, they are still haunted by the disappearance of the girl. Unanswered questions, emptiness and a feeling of what might have been pervades this bittersweet novel. Hannah Pittard currently teaches fiction writing at DePaul University, Chicago.

The summer son
by Craig Lancaster

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05/31/11
Intense story of an adult son confronting his long-estranged father to unearth the secrets of his family's dysfunction. Craig Lancaster won the 2010 High Plains Book Award for his first book and 2009 Honor Book for 600 Hours of Edward. He writes with a strong, realistic flavor of the West.

Player one : what is to become of us : a novel in five hours
by Douglas Coupland

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05/29/11
A real-time five hour story of the intersecting lives of diverse people who all happen to be in the same airport during a worldwide disaster. The characters start out as archetypes but as they face the tragedy, their true selves are brought to the surface. A startling and complex novel on a par with Albert Camus.

The hottest dishes of the Tartar cuisine
by Alina Bronsky

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05/25/11
Family saga set in Soviet Russia, filled with eccentric characters. Humorous and biting at the same time, this is a book that will delight clever cynics. It was nominated for the 2010 German Book Prize.

The last brother
by Nathacha Appanah

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05/24/11
What is the connection between Mauritius and the Holocaust? Read The Last Brother to find out. Set on Mauritius in 1944, a native boy and a young Jewish boy form an unusual bond.
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The portrait of Mrs. Charbuque
by Jeffrey Ford

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05/23/11
Piambo is a renowned portrait painter who has lost his inspiration. When he is offered a commission for a ridiculous amount of money to paint a woman he must never see, he gets caught up in a magical, disturbing story that has him questioning reality. Nineteenth Century New York is the backdrop for this surreal thriller.

Ape House
by Sara Gruen

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05/18/11
Journalist, John Thigpen, is sent to cover a story about bonobos, a primate species that can communicate through sign language. What seems like a routine story gets more complicated when the scientist, Isabel Duncan, is critically injured in a bombing shortly after the interview. Thigpen has become infatuated with the lovely young scientist, and is devastated to learn of her injuries. Worse yet, his story is stolen out from under him by his co-worker and he quits his job in a fit of anger. Seeking consolation from his wife doesn't work out very well since she is suffering from depression because of her failed writing career. Amanda Thigpen wants to have a baby and John has just quit his job. The tension rises between them when Amanda takes a job in LA writing for television. John is reduced to writing for a tabloid just so he can be assured of being assigned to follow the ape story. The apes were taken and sold when the bombers broke into the lab. John and Isabel have to get very creative if they are going to get the bonobos back.
 
Bonobos are a rare species of great ape that has more in common with humans than any other animal. They are very affectionate, matriarchal, peaceful creatures. They have their own form of communication which scientists have been unable to decipher and yet they can learn to understand and use American Sign Language in addition to being able to understand spoken English and respond in ASL. Ape House is a novel with great deal of research behind it. The human story is completely fiction, but the interactions with the bonobos were taken directly from the author's conversations with the bonobos at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa.