Sunday, November 29, 2009

December Author Birthdays - part 1

I'm still working with library school student Lara on several projects around the library. She was kind enough to contribute another guest post...

It's time for December author birthdays! With any luck we all have a bit of holiday time approaching that will allow for some extra reading time, so why not consider something by one of the following authors?

Ann Patchett, born on December 2, won the PEN/Faulkner Award as well as the Orange Prize in 2002 for her novel Bel Canto. Her most recent novel, Run (2007), is a story about family, the class divide, and ambition. A Publisher's Weekly review noted that Patchett's tightly-constructed, fast-paced story reads like popular dramatic TV shows The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

December 4 is the birthday of one of my favorite poets, Rainier Maria Rilke. I credit the German poet's short work, "The Panther" with opening my eyes to the depths of emotion that can be conveyed in just a few lines.

Joan Didion published her highly acclaimed memoir of grief, The Year of Magical Thinking, in 2005. Her birthday falls on December 5, and the event that later prompted the writing of her memoir also occurred in December: the sudden, unexpected death of her husband, author John Gregory Dunne, on the 30th. The Year of Magical Thinking won the US National Book Award for Nonfiction, a gut wrenching journey into the grief and frustration with time that Didion experienced after Dunne's passing.

On an escapist note, if the gray skies and chilly temps of December in Atlantic Canada are getting you down, consider some humorous travel writing by Bill Bryson, born December 8. Author of In a Sunburned Country (2000), Bill Bryson's African Diary (2002), and Notes from a Small Island (1995), Bryson writes hilarious descriptions of his experiences traveling the world. More recently, Bryson has turned to larger nonfiction subjects like Shakespeare: The World as Stage (2007), and in A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) he tackles, well, practically everything. With every topic Bryson turns his attention to, he makes keen observations about details both mundane and fascinating, and draws out the common humanity of people and places most of us will never meet or see.

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