Friday, February 10, 2012

All the News That's Fit to Print

It was on a February 10th more than 100 years ago that the New York Times declared its motto - All the news that's fit to print. Newspapers large and small keep their readers informed and record the events that will be history. These fictional accounts of newspapers are populated by quirky casts of characters whose lives are as compelling as the stories they write.

Imperfectionists (M)
by Tom Rachman

"Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff's personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family's quirky newspaper." publisher

Some Great Thing (M)
by Lawrence Hill

"Mahatma Grafton is a disillusioned university graduate burdened with a famous name, and suffering from the curse of his generation -- a total lack of interest in the state of the world. The son of a retired railway porter from Winnipeg, he returns home for a job as a reporter with The Winnipeg Herald. Soon Mahatma is scoping local stories of murder and mayhem, breaking a promise to himself to avoid writing victim stories. As Mahatma is unexpectedly drawn into the inflammatory issue of French-language rights in Manitoba, with all its racial side-channels, he is surprised to find that he has a social conscience. Combating his boss's flair for weaving hysteria into his stories, Mahatma learns that to stay afloat he must remain true to himself. Populated with colourful characters -- including an unlikely welfare crusader, a burned-out fellow reporter, a French-language-rights activist, and a visiting journalist from Cameroon -- Some Great Thing is a fascinating portrait of a major urban newspaper and a deeply perceptive story of one man's coming of age."

Escape Artist (M)
by Ed Ifkovic

"In 1904 Edna Ferber is a nineteen-year-old girl reporter for the Appleton, Wisconsin Crescent, an occupation that many townspeople, including her own family, consider scandalous for a proper young girl. By chance, she interviews Harry Houdini, in town visiting old friends. Houdini, as Ehrich Weiss, spent his boyhood years in the small town. When Frana Lempke, a beautiful young German high-school girl, disappears and is soon discovered murdered, Edna asks Houdini for help in solving the murder....Piecing together the clues, she comes to see that her own life in the small town is unraveling. As the future best-selling writer starts to solve the crime, she understands that her involvement will impact her life forever." publisher

The Golden Age (M)
by Gore Vidal

"The Golden Age is Vidal's crowning achievement, a vibrant tapestry of American political and cultural life from 1939 to 1954, when the epochal events of World War II and the Cold War transformed America, once and for all, for good or ill, from a republic into an empire. The sharp-eyed and sympathetic witnesses to these events are Caroline Sanford, Hollywood actress turned Washington D.C., newspaper publisher, and Peter Sanford, her nephew and publisher of the independent intellectual journal The American Idea. They experience at first hand the masterful maneuvers of Franklin Roosevelt to bring a reluctant nation into the Second World War, and, later, the actions of Harry Truman that commit the nation to a decade-long twilight struggle against Communism—developments they regard with a decided skepticism even though it ends in an American global empire." publisher

The Shipping News (M)
by Annie Proulx

"Big, big-hearted Quoyle, with his "great damp loaf of a body," is the unlikely protagonist who has never done anything right and who doesn't recognize love unless it brings pain and misery. Raging strumpet Petal Bear, Quoyle's beloved and oft-forgiven wife, is the fulcrum of his misery. When Petal's flame burns out (shortly after selling their kids, Sunshine and Bunny, to a child pornographer), Quoyle is set in motion, if not exactly free just yet. Along with his elderly aunt, her toothless dog Warren, and his rescued offspring, he heads north for his godforsaken ancestral home to take a job on a nasty little newspaper that features car wrecks, sexual-abuse stories, and giant fake ads. Proulx creates an amazing world in Killick-Claw, Newfoundland--a cold, rocky place that nevertheless is populated by a fascinating variety of big-hearted, unlikely heroes who are revealed to have all manner of special talents." Booklist

Diligent River Daughter (M)
by Bruce Graham

"In 1914 when Canada is swept into the Great War, Charlene Durant is already a veteran of loneliness and heartbreak, yet her indomitable spirit and belief in her own intelligence keep her from sinking into despair. ...Charlene takes her unstable Aunt Matilda and leaves for Boston, where she lies about her age to get a job at a newspaper. She falls in love with a youthful crime reporter and befriends an old Irish sea dog who takes her into the midst of a kidnapping and murder. Charlene brushes against the great events of her time, the Titanic sinking, the Halifax Explosion, the suffragette movement, and the struggle of a young woman to be accepted into the man’s world of newspaper work. Overshadowing all is the war that changes the world and everyone in it. Diligent River Daughter is the story of how a brave and strong-willed young woman from the Parrsboro Shore fights for her independence and identity in a most troubled time." publisher

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