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Birchbark Blog

Fire in the Blood

Louise Erdrich - Thursday, September 27, 2007
Last night, I read Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky. Cole Becker, the sales representative from Random House, put this book in my hands. Cole is an exquisite human and a reader of great depth, but that's for another posting. This book is one of the other great finds of the last two years in addition to Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise. It is densely woven with a sure-handed and sly sense of character. Love triangles, terrible mistakes, unbearable consequences, the French countryside -- what more can you want from a novel except for the author to have lived to finish it?.

The Advanced Reader's Pile yields the book of poetry I have been waiting for. Behind My Eyes, by Li-Young Lee. There is a marvel included, a CD of poems read by the author. I can't wait to listen. The poems have a strange and lovely weight. I read one, and then it is awhile before I can absorb another. This is a trance of a book, filled with love and sorrow, but also a lightness of spirit, a dreamy sense of humor.

If you want funny, there is Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England. Really, I think that Brian gave it to me thinking ha, ha, writers' homes and so on -- I am surprised that I picked it up and then couldn't stop laughing.

And then there is strange, sort of gripping, book by Theo Padnos, Light of the Crescent Moon. He just up and decides to go to Yemen and see what happens if he makes (subtitle here) "An Undercover Journey to the Soul of Radical Islam." I am at the place, now, where he buys beer. I cannot say whether or not this is a "good" book but I'm fascinated by bootlegging in Yemen.

I did have an advanced reader's copy of Run, by Ann Patchett. I brought it to the doctor's office and had just opened it and was finding the book extremely good when another woman in the doctor's office approached me. "Is that the new Ann Patchett?" she asked. I said yes, and that it started out very well. She said that she would go right out and buy it at Barnes and Noble, but I told her it wasn't out yet. She looked so crestfallen that I gave her my copy. She looked at me as though I had handed her a diamond tiara.

Harry Potter Party!

Louise Erdrich - Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Many thanks to everyone who made our Harry Potter Party a success! Everyone received their books and went home happy, maybe a little sleepy. Police involvement was minimal.

The end of the Golden Snitch.

Brian was a wizard.

The Morris Dancers performed.

We were very busy that night.

An owl showed up.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Louise Erdrich - Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I plucked this book from the stack of Advanced Readers Copies that flood the store, read the first page, and then read the book straight through exclaiming to anyone who would tolerate me -- listen to this, and this, and this!!!!! This book is a thought experiment (what would the world be like if humans disappeared today, raptured up perhaps). A very simple premise that leads this marvelously straightforward, thoughtful, thorough author into parts of the world I hadn't known existed. As well, he deals with exactly what would go first and last in your house. How long it would take for Manhatten to collapse. On and on. It makes for obsessive reading. This is perhaps my favorite book this year. At once the most harrowing and, oddly, comforting book on the environment that I've read in many years. -- Louise

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