June 2005 Archives

Primer

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Click for availability and more information Primer

I am not sure what really happens in this inscrutable debut feature from director Shane Carruth but it was a lot of fun trying to piece it all together. Something about time travel I'm sure but the rest is up in the air. So, how about this? You watch it and let me know what you think is going on: sschmidt@greenwichlibrary.org
-Stephen

Dick

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Click for availability and more information Dick

With all of the recent excitement about the real identity of Deep Throat, why not try a different take on Watergate. The movie Dick is a funny film starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as two teenagers who inadvertently get caught up in the Watergate scandal while mailing a fan letter to Bobby Sherman. An excellent cast includes veterans of "The Kids in the Hall", as well as a hilarious performance by Dan Hedaya of Richard Nixon. A surprisingly witty film, especially considering the title.
-Stephen

Untold Things

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Click for availability and more information Untold Things, by Jocelyn Pook

Pook has written music for films, TV, dance, and theatre in an eclectic and evocative style of which this CD gives a good sampling. She draws from many cultures and periods to produce music which is sometimes like Enya, but often with a darker tone; the mix of classical instruments and modes, and multi-cultural effects, is fascinating. Try the piece "The Last Day", and you'll be hooked. The bad news: she doesn't seem to have done any other CDs like this, although some of her film music is available.
-Richard

Waiting for the Siren's Call

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Click for availability and more information Waiting for the Siren's Call, by New Order

I have been disappointed in New Order's more recent releases, so when I placed this in the CD player, I was not expecting much. However, instead of being disappointed, I was very pleasantly surprised. This is probably one of the best albums I've heard so far this year. The sound is full, lush beautiful - and danceable. There is even some references to their earlier work as part of Joy Division in the more out and out "rock" tracks. I'll even go out on a limb and say that overall, this is up there with Low Life, perhaps even better.
-Annie

Early Piano Works

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Click for availability and more information Early Piano Works, by Gabriel Fauré

These typically elegant pieces, many of them achingly beautiful, are interpreted in a thoughtful manner by Ms. Röling, which emphasizes their inherently graceful structure. In these recordings, she does not display the technical polish Jean-Philippe Collard brings to bear on his complete traversal of the Faure barcarolles (also part of the Library's collection). But to my mind, the music does not suffer as a result of her more deliberate approach. Given a chance to really breathe, these pieces simply display different facets of their characters. An especially intriguing inclusion is Impromptu no. 1 in E flat major, op. 25, which hints at the more adventurous harmonic palette Faure would explore in later years.
-David

I Heart Huckabees Soundtrack

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Click for availability and more information I ♥ Huckabees Soundtrack, by Jon Brion

Film soundtracks can be pretty dicey as a rule. More often than not they are just a series of songs that have little in common with each other and even less in common with the film they are supposedly enhancing. If you've seen this movie, you probably couldn't help not to notice the music, which matches the film's mood perfectly. A good portion of the music on Brion's soundtrack is incidental music, used solely as a background for the scene. These pieces have more charm than most and stand out on their own but, the real attraction here are the four or five breathtaking pop songs Brion includes. Imaginatively produced and almost perfectly rendered, they make one wish that Brion would take some time off from his soundtrack work (he's also responsible for the soundtracks to Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to release a proper album of his songs.
-Stephen

Them: A Memoir of Parents

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Click for availability and more information Them: A Memoir of Parents, by Francine du Plessix Gray

Having enjoyed du Plessix Gray's biography of the real Madame Bovary, Louise Colet, I was really looking forward to reading the story of her parents. This book certainly does not disappoint. Her mother and stepfather were Russian emigrés whose friends and colleagues were some of the biggest names of the 20th century: Vladimir Mayakovsky, Conde Nast, and Jackson Pollack to name a few. Their life stories also run through some of the biggest events of the twentieth century including revolution and two world wars. While their lives were indeed interesting, and very glamorous, they were also quite shallow and sad. In the end I felt more sympathy for Francine than either of her parents, who treated her with appalling disregard.
-Annie

Sermons in Stone

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Click for availability and more information Sermons in Stone, by Susan Allport

New England and New York have well over 200,000 miles of historic stone walls, and this volume describes their history, technique, and historic significance. The drawings alone are a pleasure to browse. Reading this book will greatly enhance anyone's enjoyment of one of our region's great treasures, by showing them what to look for in the walls themselves, and in their surroundings. At the same time, many readers will gain new insights into our local history.
-Richard

Click for availability and more information Seamanship: A Voyage along the Wild Coasts of the British Isles, by Adam Nicolson

Another exciting adventure story in a nautical setting can be found in Adam Nicolson's Seamanship. An admitted sailing novice, Nicolson teams up with George Fairhurst, an experienced sailor who helps him select a 42-foot sailboat and then offers to pilot the boat along the notoriously wild west coast of Great Britain. Nicolson does a great job of describing the natural beauty of the islands, and narrating the excitement and danger of North Atlantic storms. He provides some comic relief through Herve Mahe, an eccentric Breton sailor who dislikes the French, but loves to cook! It's also a character study as Adam and George learn more about each other as difficult situations arise.
-Carl

Click for availability and more information Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era, by Carl Sferrazza Anthony

Nellie Taft was an early champion of women's rights and a precursor of such policy-driven first ladies as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton. She was strong, shrewd, drank, smoked and gambled and displayed an astonishing venom for her husband's opponents (especially Teddy Roosevelt) despite her otherwise Victorian sensibilities. Anthony has written other first lady biographies in the same vivid and absorbing style.
-Jane

Everything Bad is Good for You

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Click for availability and more information Everything Bad is Good for You, by Steven Johnson

Learn how successful popular culture isn't about dumb and dumber and instant gratification, but all about making you smarter or at least raising your IQ. I believe this is the first full length explication of "The Sleeper Curve". If you are remembering the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, you aren't far off the mark. Anyway, this is the perfect book, because after all, it is a book, and secondly, it makes watching Seinfeld for the nth time seem perfectly reasonable. Go for it... check it out.
-Marcia

Assassination Vacation

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Click for availability and more information Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell

In this irreverent look at "historical tourism," our macabre itinerary includes the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where fragments of Lincoln's skull are on display and we learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln who was present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. The book jacket says it best: "A road trip like no other -- a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage."
-Jane

All the Men in the Sea

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Click for availability and more information All the Men in the Sea, by Michael Krieger

All the Men in the Seaby Michael Krieger is the exciting true-life story of the 1995 rescue of more than 200 men from a work barge sinking in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Roxanne. Although it is technical in spots, it provides interesting accounts of the experiences of many of the survivors. Since the crew is behind schedule in completing the installation of an oil pipeline, company officials decide to have the barge "ride out" the storm instead of seeking safe harbor. The barge survives the first passing of Roxanne, but the hurricane does a u-turn, and the barge is pounded again by 40-foot waves. Massive leaks develop, the barge begins to list and the crew is ordered to abandon ship. Only the heroic efforts of the crews on 3 small tugboats (who risk their own lives) can save the men forced to jump into the angry seas.
-Carl

Click for availability and more information Tea Shop Mysteries (series), by Laura Childs

The American version of the cozy English mystery has to be Laura Childs' charming Tea Shop Mysteries which take place in Charleston, SC. Theodosia Browning has left the high-powered world of advertising to open a tea shop in the historic district of Charleston, in the heart of the South Carolina Low Country where she was raised. Her charming shop, the Indigo Tea Shop, is run by a creative and spirited staff and populated by quirky tea lovers and neighborhood shop owners. In Chamomile Mourning, the latest installment of the series,(Jasmine Moon Murder, Shades of Earl Grey, Gunpowder Green, English Breakfast Murder), Theodosia is catering the Poet's Tea during the Spoleto Festival and an auction house owner falls dead from the balcony and lands on her cake stand. A recipe of art forgery, fraud and deception blend to make this a satisfying mystery. Theodosia, and her dog Earl Grey (who has his own occupation as a therapy dog in the nursing homes) have developed a devoted following. You don't have to a tea drinker to enjoy these books. (Author Laura Childs is also the author of the popular Scrap booking mystery series which take place in New Orleans).
-Kathy C.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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Click for availability and more information A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka

This book really doesn't have a whole lot to do with tractors - though you do learn some things - and it's not in Ukrainian either. Lewycka's debut novel tells the story of an elderly Ukrainian immigrant in England, Nikolai, who marries a much younger woman of questionable motives newly arrived from Ukraine named Valentina. His daughters Nadezhda and Vera, try desperately to rid themselves and especially their father of his new wife. The story is by turns hilarious and sad. Interspersed throughout the book is the story of how Nadezhda and Vera's parents met, married and survived the Second World War. In recalling her parent's past, Nadezhda discovers that as bad as she is, Valentina is deserving of sympathy.
-Annie

Saturday

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Click for availability and more information Saturday, by Ian McEwen

I don't know about you but, whenever I begin a book by Ian McEwen I get the immediate feeling that I am in good hands. He is as close as we can get to a master literary craftsman these days. His quiet confidence is once again on display in Saturday, which is just the latest in his long line of fine suspenseful novels.

The novel takes place in the course of a day. London neurosurgeon awakes early and spots in the morning sky a plane on fire, heading towards Heathrow. This may or may not symbolize that direction that this particular day will head for him. I won't go into the plot too much, just to say that I found it refreshing to read about a fictional character who is actually happy with his life. He's a successful surgeon. He appears to still be very much in love with his wife and has two well-adjusted and talented children, both of whom figure prominently in the book. This happiness is suddenly shattered in a matter of moments and the readers envy of Perowne quickly turns to revulsion at the circumstances he find he and his family themselves immersed in.
-Stephen

The Quincunx

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Click for availability and more information The Quincunx, by Charles Palliser

This sprawling, richly ornamented novel of Regency England will appeal to anyone who enjoys tales of mystery and conspiracy; if you liked Name of the Rose, for instance, you are likely to enjoy this book. Its protagonist tries to unravel his family history through layer after layer of gothic complications and plots, while negotiating an English landscape and society reminiscent of Wilkie Collins. Despite its length, almost 800 pages, I never wished it were shorter.
-Richard

The Mermaid Chair

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Click for availability and more information The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd's newest book The Mermaid Chair is a great summer read. Set on Egret Island off the coast of South Carolina, you can almost feel the wildlife, tidal creeks and marshlands. Jessie Sullivan, age 43, has gone to the island where she grew up to help her mother who is having a mental breakdown. While discovering what is causing her mother's problems and how her mother's demons have affected Jessie's life, Jessie falls in love with Brother Thomas. Brother Thomas is about to take his final vows at the island's Benedictine monastery but is torn between the woman he has fallen in love with and his devotion to the church. I'm sure the many fans of Ms. Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees will enjoy this book as well.
-Marilyn

The Innocent

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Click for availability and more information The Innocent, by Harlan Coben

If you haven't already gotten hooked on the thrillers of Harlan Coben, (Tell No One, Gone for Good, Just One Look, No Second Chance) then don't read his latest book, The Innocent unless you're ready to run back to the library to check out his previous books. Coben's books are the equivalent of a roller coaster ride, you know the dips and turns are coming but you're never prepared for them. Matt Hunter is attempting to live a quiet life in New Jersey as a paralegal and put his past behind him. When he was a college student he was convicted of manslaughter when he accidentally killed another student while attempting to break up a fight. After being released from prison he began working for his attorney brother, got married and is now in the process of closing on his first house. His pregnant wife Olivia is supposed to be away on a business trip, but Matt receives a digital video of her in a hotel room with a strange man on his camera phone. As if that isn't stressful enough, he is being investigated in the murder of a nun who was a former exotic dancer. As evidence mounts again him he has to be several steps in front of the police to keep from returning to prison.
-Kathy C.

A Door Into Ocean

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Click for availability and more information A Door Into Ocean, by Joan Slonczewski

This 1986 novel has become known as a minor classic of speculative fiction; it is SF at its most socially provocative. What happens when an all-female, pacifist society with highly advanced biotechnology is invaded by a militaristic neighbor which decides to colonize and exploit their peaceful ocean world? Slonczewski doesn't opt for easy answers, as good people on both sides try to find the best solutions to the conflict. This is something we can identify with strongly, despite the strange setting of the story.
-Richard

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth

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Click for availability and more information Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, by Chelsea Cain

Nancy Drew-Nickerson (yes, she married Ned!) was a real person - "titian tresses" and all. Carolyn Keene, her jealous college roommate, wrote those books based on stories Nancy told her and shamelessly marketed them as fiction. As the real Nancy ages in her "memoirs" she solves timely mysteries - thwarting evil Nazis and Nixon, too! A great parody of and affectionate tribute to America's most beloved teen detective.
-Jane

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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