Archive for March, 2011

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

March 30, 2011

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Author:  Kelly Corrigan

Title:  The Middle Place

Genre:  Memoir

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  269

Geographical Setting:  Philadelphia and the Bay Area

Time Period:  1970s through 2007

Plot Summary:  Kelly Corrigan is the youngest child and only daughter in a raucous Irish-American family.  We are introduced to her in her mid-thirties when, while bathing with her two young daughters, she feels a lump in her breast that turns out to be cancerous.  The book spends time in the present as she undergoes cancer treatment but also flashes back to her experiences growing up and getting married.  Her loud and endearing father George, who she adores, is also diagnosed with cancer a few months after Kelly and she is forced to change her way of thinking about herself and grow up.

Subject Headings:  cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, grieving, growing up, aging, parenting, father daughter relationship, memoir, Irish American culture

Appeal:  easy, engrossing, humorous, evocative, realistic, vivid, heartwarming, nostalgic, bittersweet, frank, conversational, family centered

3 terms that best describe this book:

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee:  This book is the first ever biography of cancer, from what we know of its origins through today’s modern treatments.
  2. Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters and the BRCA Gene by Sarah Gabriel: A young mother herself, Gabriel’s memoir details her coming to terms with the existence of breast cancer and the breast cancer gene in all of the women in her family.
  3. The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler: A young father to two daughters who learns he has cancer, Feiler decides to gather a council of men who were influential in his life to act as fathers should he pass away.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. So Much for That by Lionel Shriver:  A look at human relationships and the cost of health care in the U.S.
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith:  This beloved classic also describes a young Irish American girl’s love for her charismatic father.
  3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult:  Faced with a moral dilemma, the young narrator tries to keep her family together in the face of her sister’s pessimistic cancer prognosis.

Name:  Laura Melton

Neuromancer by William Gibson

March 16, 2011

Author: https://ra763.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/neuromancer-br.jpg?w=200William Gibson

Title: Neuromancer

Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 271 pages

Geographical Setting: Japan, Eastern           U.S., Istanbul, and the Freeside Space Station

Time Period: The near future

Series: First book of The Sprawl Trilogy;   also known as The Neuromancer Trilogy

Plot Summary:

Henry Dorsett Case is a drug-addicted, computer-hacking hustler who had his central nervous system injected with a mycotoxin as punishment for stealing from his partners.  While searching for a cure, he is propositioned by Armitage, an ex-military officer with a suspicious past, to undergo one more hack in exchange for a cure.  Armtiage then implants poisonous sacs in Case’s blood vessels, forcing him to obery his command in exchange for his life.  Case and his new “Razorgirl” partner, Molly Millions, who’s cybernetic enhancements include retractable claws and improved optical ability, must deal with Armitage’s vague ambitions, a powerful Artifical Intelligence, and slew of drug addicts, sadists, and hackers.    

Subject Headings: Science Fiction; Futurism; Dystopian Future; Computer Hackers; Cyberpunk—Fiction; Conspiracies—Fiction

Appeal: Series-characters, builds in intensity, densely written, gritty, cinematic, complex, imaginative, multiple plot lines, urban, detailed setting, computer jargon, dangerous, bleak, uneasy

3 terms that best describe this book: Cyberpunk, bleak, detailed

3 relevant Nonfiction works and authors:
No Maps for These Territories – A documentary film by Mark Neale that features William Gibson discussing post-human society, nanotechnology, drug-culture, and his career.

The Ultimate Cyberpunk by Pat Cadigan – An anthology of the predecessors, brightest stars, and future genre evolution compiled by a major name in cyberpunk fiction.

Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century by Mark Dery – An introduction not the technological underground including techno-hippies, cyberpunks, and influential theorists such as Foucault, McLuhan and Baudrillard

3 relevant Fiction works and authors:

The Nova Trilogy by William S. Burroughs – An earlier science fiction series involving drug addiction, body manipulation, and speculative science.  The books can be read as stand-alones.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – This precursor to Gibson’s cyberpunk tale follows a bounty hunter as he tracks down androids that are under the guise of humans in a post-apocalyptic world. It was the book that became the film, Blade Runner.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – After Hiro Protaganist uses the synthetic drug “Snow Crash”, which has effects on both the physical world and the metaverse, he begins to uncover a mystery that can unravel the nature of his meta-universe.

Name: Mike Monahan

Water For Elephants

March 16, 2011

Author: Sara Gruen

Title: Water for Elephants

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 289

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: 1930, present

Plot Summary: Jacob Jankowski is ninety or ninety-three—he can’t remember which—and living in a what is supposed to be assisted living.  He investigates a commotion down the hall to discover that the circus has come to town and is right across the street.  This brings flooding back the memories of his three and a half months months traveling with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth—a train traveling circus—as the vet.  In these few months, Jacob see things that he never expected, and it wasn’t just the freaks.  He falls in love with a married woman, trains an elephant, befriends an alcoholic, a little person, and a chimp, and witnesses a murder which he never speaks of until he is in the nursing home.  The novel starts with the murder scene, then jumps back and forth from present to past, Jacob reliving the events that led to the murder.

Subject Headings: Circus, Elephants, Great Depression, Horses, Trains, Veterinary Work, Social Stratification, Ringling Brothers, Divorce, Affair, Prohibition, Side Show, Abuse, Paranoid Schizophrenia

Appeal: Character-centered, Multifaceted, Leisurely, Bittersweet, Dramatic, Nostalgic, Romantic, Evocative, Fascinating, Compelling, Lavish, Richly-detailed, Suspenseful

3 terms that best describe this book: Romance, Circus, Murder

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Circus Age: Culture and Society Under the Big Top by Janet M. Davis (history of circuses)

Ringling USA: The Stupendous Story of Seven Siblings and Their Stunning Circus Success by Jerry Apps (Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth longs to be Ringling and considers them to be their main competition).

Step Right Up: Stories of Carnivals, Sideshows, and the Circus by Nathaniel Knaebel (In the author interview after the novel, Sara Gruen said that she used stories from real circus folk as inspiration, even using some of their anecdotes in the novel.  These are stories similar to what she was told.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Historical, social inequalities, similar in tone)

A Son of the Circus by John Irving (Mystery centered around a circus)

There was a Little Girl by Ed McBain (Murder Mystery of a circus performer)

Name: Angela Bennett

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

March 16, 2011

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: Song of Solomon

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1910’s to 1960’s

Plot Summary: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, is the story of the Dead family led by local Detroit businessman, Macon Dead together with his wife Ruth Foster Dead and their three children, First Corinthians, Magdalena (Lena), and Macon, Jr.  Told in third person from the perspective of Macon Dead and Macon, Jr. we are pulled into the current life of Macon, Jr. as a child and as he grows up through the 1950’s and 60’s.  Macon Dead, the father, serves as the history teller bringing us back to the past through his stories as he remembers his life and what brought him to present day.  Morrison uses eccentric secondary characters such as Empire State, to tell us even more about the secrets of Macon family, their complicated lives and societal roles both within the family and as African-Americans, throughout the novel.  Song of Solomon is thought-provoking, introspective, and imaginative in its storytelling both for the characters and the reader.

Subject Headings: Fiction & Biography; African Americans; Fathers and sons; Family relationships; Family histories; Heritage; Racial identity; Self-discovery; Social classes; Michigan Midwest (U.S.); 20th century; Literary; Domestic; Generational; Sociological; Married Father; Businessman

Appeal: engrossing, thought-provoking, imaginative, introspective, historical, African-American, eccentric, urban, rural, race relations, civil rights movement, morality, familial roles and life, ancestral, changes, award-winning, National Book Critics Circle Award, lyrical writing, melancholy

3 terms that best describe this book: engrossing, African-American literature, thought-provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White by Henry Weincek tells the historical story of the Hairston family and their inspiring rise from lives of repressive slavery to middle-class America in WWII.

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South is a compiliation of real-life interviews and stories of segregation in the south in the 1950’s and 1960’s and how families and people overcame their struggles to create a sense of normalcy in their lives.  The book was compiled by the Behind the Veil Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past by Henry Louis Gates is companion volume to the landmark PBS documentary African American Lives.  The book follows these 19 families as they trace their roots and learn about not only their ancestry and culture, but also themselves through introspective realizations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston; the poignant and moving story of an African-American woman in the 1930’s searching for her ancestry while learning about herself throughout the journey.  Hurston tells the story with rhythmic language through a series of formats in one volume.

Beloved by Toni Morrison tells the rich story of Sethe, a former slave, now freed, who is haunted by the ghosts of her past of not only her troubled life but also the mysterious nature of her baby’s death.  This is written in Morrison’s unique style of lyrical complexity

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the classic African American story of two sisters from the poor, rural south and their journey through 30 years of life starting in the 1900’s and taking us through the 1940’s.  Walker delivers the story as a novel told through the letters these sisters write to each other.

-Jennifer Peterson

Freedom

March 16, 2011

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Author: Jonathan Franzen

Title: Freedom

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: August 2010

Number of Pages: 562

Geographical Setting: Minnesota, NY, Washington DC, West Virginia, South America

Time Period: Present-day 21st century

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

The Berglunds are your typical contemporary, environmental family.  This is the story of two highly educated parents who are devoted to raising socially aware kids.  Walter and Patty Berglund are insistent on providing for their kids unconditional love, something both parents lacked in their own childhood.  Both Walter and Patty are highly successful in their own accomplishments.  Walter is a successful, green lawyer who rides his bike to work everyday, and Patty is a former basketball all-star, turned devoted mother and homemaker.  They have two children, Joey and Jessica, both of whom are stellar students on the path to their own successes.  While the family seems perfect, they are far from it.  There is much conflict between Joey and his father, which drives Joey to move in with his girlfriend’s family next door.  Not only is he under eighteen, but the neighbors are staunch Republicans, which infuriates Walter.  This act of defiance by Joey sends Patty into a deep depression and she becomes disillusioned with her choices in life.  Being a good wife and mother was all she wanted, but why is she so unhappy and why does she pine for Walter’s best friend and rocker, Richard Katz?  With all that is going on, Jessica gets lost in the mix.

The story then takes you back to explain Patty and Walter’s childhood and college times.  It gives you an opportunity to really understand their family dynamics.  As their lives fall apart, they make lots of mistakes, but eventually they find ways to work through their issues and feelings.  It is a bittersweet story that keeps you wondering throughout the book if they can make it through some of life’s most difficult tribulations.  It is truly a compelling read.

Subject Headings: Middle class families, dysfunctional families, city and town life — Minnesota, suburban life, husband and wife, Saint Paul (Minn.), triangles (interpersonal relationships), neighbors, self-discovery, self-fulfillment, sexuality, political commentary

Appeal: relaxed pace, densely written, bleak, bittersweet, darkly humorous, character-driven, domestic, intricately plotted, flawed characters, multiple points of view, complex, flashbacks, contemporary, political, smart, sophisticated, literary, evolving characters

3 Terms that best describe this book: intricate, flawed, evolving characters

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

John Lennon:  The Life by Philip Norman – biography, recounts the other side of John Lennon’s life, family and traumatic childhood.  He was hugely successful in his career yet struggled in his family and emotional life.  One of the main characters in Freedom is a rocker celebrity who struggles to lead a successful personal life.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – Memoir, family and relationships, character-driven, relaxed pace, moving, reflective, candid, compelling, lyrical, witty, learning to cope with death and responsibility, brothers.

Man Killed By Pheasant:  and Other Kinships:  a Memoir by John Price – Memoir, autobiography, family and relationships, deeply rooted in American Midwest, lyrical, evocative, coming-of-age memoir, personal narratives, 21st century, reflective.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Little Children by Tom Perotta – This book also has very flawed characters that are dealing with martial problems, affairs, and dysfunctional families.  The family is also living in middle-class America.  Domestic fiction, husband and wife, suburban life, extramarital relations, parent and child relationships

White Noise by Don DeLillo – Literary fiction, stylistically complex, bleak, darkly humorous, satirical, middle-class American life

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates – Literary fiction, character-driven, relaxed pace, melancholy, reflective, stylistically complex, dramatic

Name: Jeannine Kropski

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

March 16, 2011

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Author: Jonathan Franzen

Title: Freedom

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 562

Geographical Setting: U.S.A.

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: From an outsider’s point of view, the Berglunds were the perfect family with a strong love for the environment and each other.  However, for Patti and Walter Berglund, their past has a way of catching up to them.  The return of an old family friend, rock star Richard Katz, was the catalysis that turns their lives upside down as old skeletons are dug up and secrets are revealed.  Both Patti and Walter are left wondering about the choices that they’ve made and if they can move on from their past mistakes.  At the same time, their son Joey is growing up and getting into various shenanigans of his own, while their daughter Jessica feels left out of the family’s increasing drama.   Franzen, a master of words, turns this seemingly simple plotline into a rich and intricately woven novel with various plot twist and deep physiological studies of what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Dysfunction families, Affairs, Capitalism, Environmental Issues, Alcoholism, Family Secrets, Favoritism

Appeal terms: Character-driven, relaxed paced, layered, stylistically complex, multiple storylines, bleak, darkly humorous, compelling, descriptive, richly-detailed, thought-provoking, socio-political, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: complex, thought-provoking, intricately-weaved

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein

Arguments and research into the reasons behind why and how Americans have accepted blatant corrupted behaviors in society to thrive.

Dry – Augusten Burroughs

A memoir involving Burrough’s journey towards becoming sober written from a realistic and yet darkly humorous point of view.

Life – Keith Richards

Richards chronicles his life as a rock-and-roll artist in a detailed and well-paced memoir detailing his issues with drugs and the relationships that he had with his other band members.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

White Noise – Don Delillo

A professor and pioneer of “Hilter Studies” and his wife are struggling with their own mortality when a toxic chemical spill takes over their town.

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

An intense novel focusing on a filmmaker and his dysfunctional family and their involvement in a missing film called Infinite Jest.  The film’s entertainment value is so high that its viewers becoming addicted, linking various characters together in an intricate plot.

American Pastoral – Philip Roth

This novel is focused on the life of Seymour “Swede” Levor and the deconstruction of his seemingly perfect American life in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and ever increasing racial tension.

Name: Lian Sze

In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan

March 16, 2011

Find at Local Library

Author: Goonan, Kathleen Ann

Title: In War Times

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 348 p.

Geographical Setting: United States and various European countries

Time Period: 1941-1980

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Soldier Sam Dance, who enlists during WWII, receives mysterious plans from his professor one night. The captivating nature of her disappearance and the plans she provides result in Sam’s attempt to build her secret device, right under the nose of the military. The effects of this produce intriguing and surprising results in this alternate-reality novel. The plot-centered story creates a sophisticated, richly-detailed setting combined with both historical references and a healthy dose of physics.

Subject Headings: Science fiction; Alternative histories (Fiction); Time travel, Fiction; World War II; The Forties (20th century); Saxophonists; Time travel (Future); Technology; Jazz music; Jazz musicians; Soldiers; Brothers — death; Technology and civilization; Futurism; Women physicists; Men/women relations.

Appeal: Bleak, chilling, complex, contemplative, deliberate, densely written, detailed, detailed setting, elaborate, engaging, historic details, intriguing, investigative, issue-oriented, layered, measured, political, resolved ending, sophisticated, thought-provoking, unhurried, well-developed.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Plot-centered, complex, unusual.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

John Birmingham, After America, follows Iraq after an energy wave disrupts North America. Dystopian with military aspects as well, but more contemporary.

Dexter Palmer, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, provides a steampunk, alternate reality novel involving aircrafts and physics.

Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver, is set in the time of Isaac Newton and promises as much adventure as science and math.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon, provides a collection of tales revolving around the periodic table and scientific discoveries. The humorous tone of the book entices non-scientists as well.

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, follows the engrossing history of the HeLa gene, DNA that was stolen from her at death for the benefits of science.

Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten, examines the youth of Oliver Sacks and provides an unusual perspective of his “chemical” upbringing.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Carlen

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

March 16, 2011

Author: Alan Bradley

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 370

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: 1950

Series (If applicable): Flavia de Luce Mysteries #1

Plot Summary:
The quaint life of eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, a budding chemist with a special interest in poisons, is disturbed by the discovery of a dead bird left on the doorstep of her family’s English manor, a postage stamp impaled in its beak. This symbolic message visibly disturbs her reclusive, stamp collecting father, and when she finds a dying man in the cucumber patch only hours later, Flavia is mostly thrilled by the opportunity to investigate the relationship between the two events. Her investigation reveals links between her father, the recently deceased, and the suspicious death of a schoolteacher, and when her father is arrested, the precocious preteen is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Narrator Flavia is as charming as she is intelligent, and Bradley’s fictional Bishop’s Lacey, a small town in the English countryside, comes alive with his evocative descriptions and its colorful inhabitants.

Subject Headings:
Child detectives, England, Murder investigations, Chemistry, Poisons, Sisters, Father and daughter, Stamp collecting, Child prodigies

Appeal:
Witty, compelling, quirky, descriptive, extravagant, upbeat, playful, polished, well-drawn characters, evocative, folksy, investigative, series, lush, details of poisons, detailed setting

3 terms that best describe this book:
Upbeat, playful, compelling

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Told from the perspective of 15 year-old Christopher, an autistic math prodigy, this touching and unique tale follows him as he tries to solve the mystery behind his neighbor’s dead dog and stumbles upon some revelations about his absent mother.
Similarities: Young prodigy solving a mystery, quirky characters, family relationships

Death at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries #1) by Carola Dunn
After her husband is killed during World War I, Daisy Dalrymple decides to make an independent living as a journalist. When a murder occurs while Daisy is researching her first assignment at Wentwater Court, she aids Scotland Yard in finding the killer.
Similarities: Amateur investigator, Historical English setting

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
This quirky novel is accented by illustrations and footnotes from 12-year-old narrator and prodigy, T.S. Spivet. When he travels to Washington, D. C. to accept an award, he meets a colorful cast of characters.
Similarities: Young prodigy as narrator, richly detailed, family relationships

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar by Peter Macinnis
Details the many uses of popular toxins, how they are detected and created, and how poisons have been used throughout history and popular literature.
Similarities: Poisons are narrator Flavia’s passion

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
In this memoir, acclaimed science writer and distinguished neurologist Oliver Sacks recalls his childhood love affair with chemistry and the pains of growing up in wartime England.
Similarities: Child chemists, England in the 1950s, quirky family

Blue Mauritius by Helen Morgan
Provides a history of the most valuable stamp of all time, the passionate collectors in pursuit of it, and how stamp hunting became a popular hobby.
Similarities: Investigative, Stamp collecting is Colonel de Luce’s hobby of choice

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

The Long Fall by Walter Mosley

March 16, 2011

The Long Fall by Walter Mosley

Author: Walter Mosley

Title: The Long Fall

Genre: Mystery, Private Investigator

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 306

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 21st Century

Series: A Leonid McGill Mystery (Book One)

Plot Summary: Leonid Trotter “LT” McGill is a 53 year old private investigator past his prime. Trying to be more selective in his work due to too many shady dealings in the past, imagine LT’s surprise when three men he finds for a client turn up dead. Discovering the man who hired him used an alias, LT calls on various connections to track the man down, but what he finds only leads to more questions. To add to his troubles, LT is in a loveless marriage, and goes to great lengths to monitor a charming teenage son too smart for his own good. With the tenacity of the ex-boxer he is, LT bounces back from each physical and mental blow to discover who is behind the murders and why, and even finds time to save his son.

Subject Headings: Private investigators, Gangs, Fathers and sons

Appeal: fast-paced, dark, gritty, series, action-oriented, contemporary, urban, conversational, resolved ending, brooding, street-smart, compelling, character-driven

3 terms that best describe this book: moral ambiguity, colorful New York environments, flawed character

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City’s Lower East Side (2010) by Michael Codella describes the author’s experience as a plain-clothes narcotics officer working to take down a drug lord.
A Cop’s Tale—NYPD: The Violent Years: A Detectives Firsthand Account of Murder and Mayhem (2009) by Jim O’Neil is a riveting account of police work in New York City in the ’70s and ’80s.
Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers, and Chaos in New York City, 1920-40 (2008) by Patrick Downey offers a historical view of crime in the Big Apple.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
New York Dead (1991) by Stuart Woods, the first novel in the Stone Barrington series, a PI working in Manhattan.
The Last Gig (2009) by Norman Green, the first novel in the Alessandra Martillo series, features a Puerto Rican female PI working in the Bronx.
Voyeur (2010) by Daniel Judson, a standalone novel featuring a former Manhattan PI working on one last case.

Name: Sasha Neri

Curious Notions by Harry Turtledove

March 16, 2011

0765346109.01._SX220_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg (220×355) Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: Curious Notions

Genre: Science Fiction, alternate history

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 272 pages

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, CA

Time Period: About 100 years in the future

Series: Crosstime Traffic (second in the series; also works as a stand-alone title)

Plot Summary:
Teenager Paul Gomes and his father travel to the San Francisco of an alternate timeline, one where Germany won World War I and America is dominated by the Kaiser’s Germany.  Their mission is to bring home produce for their own resource-depleted timeline.  To locals like Lucy Woo, a 16-year old who works full time to support her family, Paul and his father are known as the keepers of an electronics shop called Curious Notions.  When both the German police and the Chinese triads get suspicious about the technologically advanced goods at Curious Notions, Lucy and Paul are caught up in an adventure that threatens their families and the secret that Paul and his father are guarding.

Subject Headings: Alternate History; Chinese Americans; Father – Son Relationships; Germans in the US; San Francisco; Time Travel; Undercover Operations.

Appeal: accessible, action-oriented, compelling, dangerous, descriptive, detailed setting, linear, plot-centered, resolved ending, suspenseful, urban setting, well-drawn characters

3 terms that best describe this book: alternate timeline, well-drawn characters, compelling plot

3 relevant NF works and authors:

The Lucky Ones : One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America, by Mae M. Ngai – a memoir of Chinese Americans and cultural assimilation in San Francisco.

Hitler’s Uncercover War: The Nazi Espionage Invasion of the U.S.A., by William Breuer – a tale of Germans in the United States, but in this book it’s they who are undercover.

Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics and Science Fiction, by Paul J. Nahin – explores the theory of time travel and draws on examples from science fiction.

3 relevant fiction works and authors:
The Privateer, by James Doohan and S.M. Stirling – a plot-driven science fiction novel with well-drawn characters and uncercover operations.

Hominids, by Robert J. Sawyer – a compelling science fiction novel of an alternate timeline; involves well-drawn characters and inter-dimensional travel.

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow – a science fiction novel with a dark tone, about a young male protagonist engaged in covert activity in San Francisco.

-Noelle Nightingale