Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I read it at the movies

Have you noticed how many movies recently had their beginnings in books? Of course it's a grand tradition going back to Gone with the Wind and possibly before, but it seems that this movie season, Twilight started it, and!

Doubt. I haven't seen this yet but it looks impressive. Doubt is a play, not a very long one, and it'll be interesting for me to see how this short play morphs into a full-length movie.

The Tale of Despereaux. Let's clear one thing up right away: I'm not a fan of mice. Ick. Creepy little nasty things. But there's something really appealing about the mouse in this story, and both the book and the movie have quickly become well-liked, even by mouse-haters like me.

Marley and Me. This book was a huge hit, and so's the movie. But I think Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson would make any movie a hit, don't you?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This one I really want to see. Ever since I read The Great Gatsby in high school, I've been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I'm curious to see how Brad Pitt interprets the role of the man who lives his life backwards.

The Secret Life of Bees.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Even The Day the Earth Stood Still started off as a short story!

So what movie have you read?

*who needs to choose a movie!*

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: The Hour I First Believed

As mentioned previously, I visited with author Wally Lamb while on his book tour promoting The Hour I First Believed. I just finished reading the signed copy donated by Harper Collins Publishers to the Popular Reading Collection and I encourage you to check it out.

Even though the large size of the book looks intimidating, I read through it quite quickly because I was immediately drawn into the characters and the story. The main fictional characters experience the real life tragedy of the April 20th 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. Lamb recreated that day and its aftermath through extensive research and his experience as a high school English teacher. He drew from his knowledge of teens, classical mythology, and female prison inmates to draw realistic characters who are stumbling through mazes and slaying monsters--sometimes victorious and sometimes not. In an author essay Wally writes, "A fiction writer weaves a fabric of lies in hopes of revealing deeper human truths." He weaves "lies" and facts to create an engaging story that does reveal many truths about the human condition.

In the book's afterward, Wally said he "had a terrible time starting this story." It took him nine years to get past everyone's expectations of him and "discover a story" to tell. Last time I checked, it was number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list. It also had a high rank on the bestseller for college campus list I saw at the bookstore. I will share more insights from Wally throughout the month but the Harper Collins website is great--full of information including a Q & A about this book.
Also, you can visit the reference area at the library to see a display on researching an author, the inspirations for this book, and the influence of popular fiction/nonfiction in general.


Friday, January 9, 2009

The Kingdom of Ordinary Time

UND alum Nancy Devine is a high school creative writing teacher and published author. (She's also an incredibly caring and fun person to know). She wanted to share her review of a collection of poetry by Marie Howe, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time via her blog. We don't maintain a blog list (even though some people are nice enough to add us to their lists) because this isn't our personal blog -- it's of and for the students of UND.

However, I encourage you to check out Nancy's blog to read the review AND check out her writings while you're there. I love Nancy's poetry, and the way she describes Marie's poetry is applicable to hers as well -- small scenes about everyday life that trigger a powerful sense of recognition.

Don't be put off by poetry -- we encounter it every day in song lyrics, in prayer, in a quiet moment of gratitude, in art. Take some time to read it and you'll be amazed how it will touch you.