Posts Tagged ‘literary references’

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

Are You My Mother?

October 24, 2012

Cover of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Mostly Pennsylvania and Vermont

Time Period: Present day with flashbacks

Series: Follow-up to Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)

Plot Summary: Are You My Mother? is a densely-layered and thought-provoking exploration in graphic memoir form of author Bechdel’s complex, flawed relationship with her mother. Bechdel’s father, the subject of her earlier work, Fun Home, was a closeted bisexual who ultimately committed suicide, and her mother a frustrated poet and actress who sublimated her desires to those of her husband, submitting to the role of primary caregiver to their three children. Are You My Mother? depicts Bechdel, some five years after the publication of her critically-acclaimed book about her father, setting out to write a new book about her mother. Bechdel chronicles her process as an artist and writer, undergoing therapy and looking for analogies to her own life found in the works of favorite authors Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, as she attempts to shape a narrative that identifies the moments that wounded her mother and crippled the formation of a healthy mother-daughter bond. The artwork in Are You My Mother? is pen and brush with delicate grey and red washes, offering  a deceptively comic-strip-like simplicity that lightens the densely-written and sophisticated subject matter.

Subject Headings: Motherhood; Mothers and daughters; Teenage daughters—coming out; Parent and child; Suicide; Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941; Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971; Artists

Appeal: Detailed, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, introspective, well developed, character centered, complex, domestic, episodic, layered, literary references, sexually explicit, thought-provoking, contemporary, detailed setting, details of psychoanalytic theory, elaborate, metaphorical, sophisticated, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: introspective, layered, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling (2012) by Jared Gardner

Readers who admire the scope and depth of Bechdel’s graphic storytelling will find much to explore in Gardner’s recent lively, yet somewhat academic, tome. Gardner offers an interpretation of comics as an art form which encourages interactivity in deciphering its contents and a model for contemporary modes of communication. There are multiple passages on Bechdel’s work which contextualize her place in the comics field.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (2012) by Harvey Pekar

Bechdel works in the form known in graphic novel circles as autobiographical comics. Those who want to read more of this type of story may wish to acquaint themselves with Harvey Pekar, one of the seminal figures in this genre who helped define its contours. Where Are You My Mother? uses literary reference and psychoanalysis as a context for Bechdel’s self-exploration, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland in rich detail describes the deep impact that place and history have in shaping identity. Cartoonish but heavily-rendered pen and ink drawings highlight both the grit and charm of urban Cleveland.

Donald Winnicott Today (2012) edited by Jan Abram

The work and life of child psychoanalyst and theorist Winnicott are front and center in the narrative of Are You My Mother?  Bechdel comes to terms with life-long insecurities and decodes her troubled relationship with her mother, relying heavily on Winnicott’s models of mother-child dynamics. Readers who want to explore Winnicott’s work further will find this an accessible and thoughtfully assembled overview of his contributions to the field of Psychoanalysis.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

To the Lighthouse (1927; various editions) by Virginia Woolf

Bechdel’s work is heavily influenced by the English writer Virginia Woolf. Although many of her books are discussed in Are You My Mother?, Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse receives particular attention for its story of self-discovery and coming to terms with the past, which mirrors Bechdel’s emotional journey. Believed to be the most autobiographical of all Woolf’s psychological fiction, To the Lighthouse, with its lyrical style and reflective tone, will surely appeal to readers intrigued by the glimpses of the novel found in Are You My Mother?

Stuck Rubber Baby (New Edition; 2010) by Howard Cruse

Newcomers to comics featuring LGBT protagonists and themes who wish to explore further will find an incredibly rich and varied tradition awaiting them. One of the first widely critically-acclaimed graphic novels dealing with gay themes to receive national attention was Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, first published in 1995. Moving and reflective, and with a strong sense of place, the story follows the exploits of a young man named Toland Polk discovering his sexuality against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the South during the 1960s.

Wandering Son, Book 1 (2011) by Shimura Takako

Are You My Mother? explores the thematic territory of gender identity and coming of age as does the moving and character-driven manga Wandering Son.  Two fifth graders on the cusp of puberty share a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wishes he were a girl and Yoshino a girl who wishes she were a boy. Shimura’s spare and evocative art will likely appeal to fans of Bechdel’s stylized and emotionally expressive drawings.

Name: John Rimer

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

April 18, 2012

Author: Caroline Preston

Genre: Historical Fiction; Adult books for young adults; diary novels; romance

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 240

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire, New York, Paris

Time Period: 1920’s

Plot Summary: This is a character-driven, coming of age work of historical fiction told via the art of scrapbooking.  Through postcards, fabric swatches, tickets, magazine ads, and other scrapbook-worthy ephemera from the 1920’s, readers follow Frankie’s life from small town New Hampshire to Vassar College to New York City to Paris and back to New Hampshire again.  Preston uses very little text (which is all done on a vintage 1915 Corona portable typewriter) to get to the happy ending in this coming-of-age gentle historical romance.

Subject Headings: The Twenties (20th century), Scrapbooks, Women authors, Men/women relations, Growing up, Moving to a new city, Independence in women

Appeal: easy, leisurely paced, evocative, gently, lighthearted, nostalgic, optimistic, playful, romantic, upbeat, familiar, gentle, literary references, plot centered, resolved ending, details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, homespun, vivid, well-crafted, unusual, richly detailed, character-driven, strong sense of place,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: details of 1920’s pop culture, engaging, nostalgic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Scrapbooks: an American history by Jessica Helfand.   Written by a professor of graphic design at Yale, Scrapbooks provides readers with “an appreciative and analytical tour” of scrapbooks through the past century.  Readers who appreciated the scrapbook style of Frankie Pratt may enjoy this history of scrapbooking in America.

Some of my lives: a scrapbook memoir by Rosamund Bernier.  This memoir is not presented as a scrapbook in the same way as Frankie Pratt, but it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Frankie as an independent woman making her way in world (literally and figuratively).

America in the 1920s by Edmund Lindop. This title covers everything form politics to pop culture using text that is complemented by primary sources and period photos.  It will appeal to Frankie Pratt fans who enjoyed the authentic “scraps” used to create Frankie Pratt and want more information on the time period in a manner that is more fun to read than a dry history book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. This is another coming-of-age story about that also offers a strong sense of place and nostalgic feel that Frankie Pratt readers may have enjoyed.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  Though this coming-of-age story follows a boy and is set in present day, this richly-detailed novel has large margins that are full of handwritten notes, maps, and drawings that “give the book the feel of an authentic journal,” similar to the authentic feel of Frankie’s scrapbook.

Paper, scissors, death: a scrapbooking mystery by Joanna Campbell-Slan. Though this is the first book in the mystery series, Paper, Scissors, Death and Frankie Pratt are both gentle and cozy stories with engaging characters.

Name: Ally C.

Fun Home

April 11, 2012

Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period:  1960’s – early 1980’s

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father.  It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references.  This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.

Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers;  Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.

Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Epileptic by David B.  This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium.  Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler.  This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships.  Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.

Running with Scissors by August Burroughs.  It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun HomeRunning with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Family Matter by Will Eisner.  Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.

Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents.  The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.

Name: Ally C.

Fun Home: A Fmaily Tragicomic

August 10, 2011

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, GLBTQ

Publication Date: June 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period: 1960s and 70s

Plot Summary: Alison Bechdel has an interesting childhood to say the least.  Her father is restoring their Victorian style house where it seems as though they are living in a museum rather than family home.  The children also help in their family owned funeral home.  Alison grew up a tomboy, always fighting her father’s request that she wear a dress and barrette.  When she left for college she discovered her own sexuality and after coming out to her parents, she learned about her father’s as well.

Subject Headings: Death, GLBTQ, Father and Daughter, Funeral Home

Appeal: moving, character-driven, dark, well-drawn, complex, engaging, literary references, sexually explicit, inspirational

3 terms that best describe this book: compelling, witty, poignant

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Stitches by David Small

This graphic autobiography recounts Small’s troubled childhood with a tormented mother and a father who subjected him to repeated x-rays.  He escaped his problems through drawing.  Similar to Fun Home, Small also had a rough childhood with reluctant parenting. (graphic novel, bleak, moving)

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Burroughs is forced to live with his mother’s psychiatrist in his disturbing childhood, while his mother goes off and questions her sexuality.  His new family is curious at best as the children are left in charge of themselves for the most part.  Readers of Fun Home will see the similar troubling childhoods, but witty dialogue. (disturbing, funny, reflective)

Epileptic by David B.

B’s older brother was diagnosed with Epilepsy early on in his life and this graphic memoir details the story of how it affected his family, and the early roots of his cartoonist career.  Readers of Fun Home will enjoy this graphic novel about the family relationships in this coming of age autobiography. (graphic novel, moving, poignant)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking By Aoibheann Sweeney

Miranda’s mother has abandoned her and her father is an elusive scholar.  She is sent to live with her father’s friends and is marked by her loneliness and a vivid fantasy.  Similar to Fun Home, the main character struggles with a neglectful family. (moving, complex, lyrical)

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Enid and Rebecca are teenage friends dealing with the adverse prospect of adulthood and the future or their complicated relationship after graduating high school.  Readers of Fun Home will like the dark tone and focus on relationships in this novel. (graphic novel, darkly humorous, character-driven)

Martin Bauman: Or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt

Martin,an insecure, gay newly college student, meets many young literary types on his quest to become a published writer and open about his sexuality.  Readers of Fun Home will like the witty style and literary story of another character who is unsure of his sexuality. (witty, moody, character-driven)

Name: Christina Freitag

The Thirteenth Tale

July 25, 2011

Author:  Diane Setterfield

Title:  The Thirteenth Tale

Genre:  Adult books for young adults: Gothic fiction

Publication Date:  2006

Number of Pages:  406

Geographical Setting:  England, Yorkshire, Banbury

Time Period:  Timeless

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:

Vita Winter is a well-known author who has written over fifty novels, yet no one knows the truth about who she is.  She enlists the help of a biographer, Margaret Lea, and finally begins to tell the story of her life.  Vita relates the tale of the Angelfield family, which is tragic from the dysfunctional relationships of Isabelle and Charlie, the twins Adeline and Emmaline and the ghost and servants that inhabit and haunt the mansion.  While Vita is relating the ghosts of her past, Margaret has to come to terms with the secrets of her past.  It is dark, compelling, tragic story that hooks the reader from the very beginning, much like Vita’s books are described.  The story alternates between the flashbacks of Vita’s story and the life of Margaret Lea and what she uncovers through her research.  There are an abundance of literary references, which are woven seamlessly into the story.

Subject Headings:  Women authors, Storytellers, Family Secrets, Twins, Ghosts, Booksellers, Books and Reading


Atmospheric, creepy, compelling, intricately plotted, emotionally charged, suspenseful, well-developed, intriguing, tragic, well-crafted, literary references, timeless

3 terms that best describe this book:

Compelling, timeless, intricately plotted

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Twins David Fields(explores relationships of Twins)

The Glass Castle Jeanette Walls (Explores dysfunctional family, caring for

oneself as a child)

England’s Thousand Best Houses Simon Jenkins (Houses of England by county, house is an important piece of the book)

Reading matters: five centuries of discovering books Margaret Willies (Explores book selling, reading tastes, English literature, main components in book)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Ghostwalk Rebecca Stott ( Tale about secrets, biographers,supernatural)

The distant hours Kate Morton (gothic fiction, tale of twins and family secrets)

The Turn of the Screw Henry James (Character driven, creepy, atmospheric)

Name:  Sara Bartels

Poem Strip

April 13, 2011

Author: Dino Buzzati

Title: Poem Strip

Genre: Graphic Novel; Mythology

Publication Date: Italian-1969; English-2009

Number of Pages: 218

Geographical Setting: Milan, Italy

Time Period: 1969

Plot Summary: In Milan, on via Saterna, a strange street that doesn’t exist on any map, a young guitarist named Orfi performs at the Polypus Club.  After seeing his lover, Eura, disappear through a mysterious door.  Determined to find her, Orfi enters the world of the Afterlife with the permission of a Guardian Demon. Orfi must sing to the dead his songs of the beloved mysteries of the flesh: songs of death, lust, and love. He is given only a short period of time to find Eura and return her to the living world, but the temptations of the Afterlife may be too much to resist.  This is Buzzatti’s adaption of the Greek myth of Orpheus’ descent to the underworld to save his wife Eurydice.

Subject Headings: Afterlife; Orpheus; Eurydice; Italian Fiction; Graphic Novels-Italy; Psychedelic; Mythology-Greek

Appeal: Atmospheric, dark, haunting, psychological, romantic, sensual, introspective, cinematic, episodic, sexually explicit, mythic, literary references, tragic, urban, poetic, lyric, metaphoric

3 terms that best describe this Graphic Novel: Mythic, Sensual, Haunting

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James: The similar surrealistic illustrations that cover entire pages are reminiscent of Buzzati’s work.

The Grand Inquisitor Trickster written by John Zmirak and illustrated by Carla Millar: A strange, gothic adaptation of Dostoevsky’s fable of the same name written in blank verse.

It Rhymes with Lust by Arnold Drake, Leslie Walker, and Matt Baker: This proto-graphical novel, or picture novel, is another gothic noir romance.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Orpheus and Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence by Gregory Orr: An in-depth look at myth of Orpheus and Eurydice that Buzzati’s work is based on.

The New Avant-Garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Principles by John Picchione: A look into the literary movement that inspired the work of Buzzati.

Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke: Rilke’s collection of poems are all on the theme of Orpheus and his descent to the underworld, a common literary device that was Buzzati’s inspiration.

-Mike Monahan

The Eyre Affair

February 16, 2011
Book Jacket

Author: Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre Affair

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: Alternate England

Time Period: 1985

Series (If applicable): Thursday Next, #1

Plot Summary:
Fforde blends genres seamlessly in this literary Fantasy and Mystery, riddled with wordplay and humor. In an alternative version of Great Britain in the 1980s, where the Crimean War still rages on, time travel is a routine occurrence, and one can be literally lost in literature, Thursday Next works as a Special Operative in Literary Detection. When Dickens’ manuscript for Martin Chuzzlewit disappears, Thursday becomes embroiled in increasingly strange literary malfeasance, culminating in the kidnapping of characters from beloved works of fiction. Jane Eyre’s disappearance prompts Thursday to enter Charlotte Bronte’s master work, where she must confront the world’s Third Most Wanted villain and prevent a literary homicide.

Subject Headings:
Women detectives, Time travel, Characters in literature, Great Britain, Criminal investigation, Jane Eyre, Crimean War, Women in military service

Fast-paced, humorous, quirky characters, witty, literary references, alternative history, entertaining, episodic, descriptive, playful, dramatic, investigative, imaginative, conversational, contemporary, series

3 terms that best describe this book: Witty, literary, quirky

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker Series #1) by Douglas Adams
Fun and quirky science fiction series chronicles the intergalatic adventures of Earthling Arthur Dent and his extraterrestrial friend Ford Prefect, meeting an eccentric cast of characters along the way.
Similarities: witty and humorous prose, quirky characters, fast-pacing, series, British protagonists

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Epistolary novel depicting the struggles of a society whose communication is increasingly limited by a government’s ban on using letters from the alphabet.
Similarities: clever wordplay, alternate reality, witty prose

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
Chabon imagines that Alaska is declared the homeland for the Jews following World War II rather than Israel, and with good humor follows Detective Meyer Landman and his cousin Berko as they investigate a murder.
Similarities: alternative history, witty and descriptive prose, blend of Mystery and Literary Fiction

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan
NPR book critic Corrigan discusses the books that have had a significant impact on her life and ruminates over the power and magic of books in all of our lives.
Similarities: literary references, Jane Eyre references

A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
A history of female military service in America past and present supplemented by interviews and archival material from servicewomen.
Similarities: Fforde’s main character Thursday Next is an ex-servicewoman in the British Armed Forces.

Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856 by Trevor Royle
Accounts the causes, battles, and consequences of the Crimean War, fought by Britain, France and Turkey against Russia, responsible for introducing trench warfare and up-to-date press coverage among other innovations.
Similarities: true account of Crimean War, mentioned often in The Eyre Affair

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

The Namesake

June 21, 2010

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Title: The Namesake
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 2003
Number of Pages: 291
Geographical Setting: United States
Time Period: 20th Century
Series: No
Plot Summary: Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli arrive in Cambridge, Mass, from India, soon after their arranged marriage, and just as soon are expecting their first child. Upon his arrival, he is given the name Nikhil, but by family he is called Gogol, after the Russian writer whose stories Ashoke believes saved his life many years earlier. When Gogol starts school, his parents try to enforce that he be called Nikhil, but little Gogol refuses. This one early scene becomes emblematic of the struggle Gogol will face his whole life, as he tries to balance his Indian identity with an American boyhood and adolescence. Falling in love, attending school, managing adulthood and career and maintaining his relationship with his parents and sister are all dealt with in this vivid, intelligent book. Brilliant flashes into Indian culture are balanced with the introspection of Gogol’s very personal narrative. A brilliant read for anyone who appreciates stories focusing on details of other cultures, as well as anyone who appreciates the magical combination of vivid storytelling and moving, literary prose.
Subject Headings: India, Families, Parents, Immigrants, Coming of Age
Appeal: Densely written, bittersweet, realistic characters, strong secondary characters, character centered, details of Indian culture, literary, elegant, sophisticated, well-researched, literary references, introspective
Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Bittersweet, Literary, Details of Indian Culture
Similar Works:

Brick Lane, Monica Ali (Indian Culture, focuses on the effect of arranged marriage and the woman’s role in the Indian family)
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (prize winner, literary, Indian culture)
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (focuses on family relations in an immigrant family in America, reflective on other traditions)
The Girl from Foreign, Sadia Shepard (child searching for identity from how she was raised in America, dealing with Indian-American tensions)
Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama (dealing with a multicultural heritage, exploration of a family history)
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (pushing against parental expectation, coming of age)