Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Monday, May 19, 2008

Still funny in Farsi

Firoozeh Dumas has returned with a new memoir Laughing without an Accent. As with her first set of recollections, she moves back and forth in time between her youth in Iran and southern California and her life as a parent and author.

I really liked this new set of memories. Perhaps as a fellow parent, I enjoyed it even more as I agree with her about raising kids in our society. Still funny and still insightful, check out Dumas' new collection.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The importance of friendship

Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers were unlikely to be friends, but once they became friends the friendship changed both of their lives.

The Soloist is based on columns that Lopez, a reporter for the LA Times, wrote. Lopez ran across a street person playing a violin. The performance seemed more extraordinary when he realized the artist had only two strings on his violin.

Lopez learned that Ayers was a gifted Julliard student, whose career had been ended because of his schizophrenia. What starts as a column grows into a friendship as Lopez tries to help Ayers get off the street and more opportunities with his musical gift.

I liked the honesty of this book. Lopez speaks of his frustration that there isn't a magic bullet to help the street people or to help his friend's mental health problems. He points out that he isn't a saint for being Ayer's friend. He doesn't paint Ayers as saint either. Ayers gifts and flaws are portrayed truthfully.

The book really spoke to me. In my profession, I see people in Ayers' situation often. Falling through the cracks in someways and unwilling to accept help in others. Lopez does a remarkable job of sharing his experiences. It is inspiring without being maudlin. Highly recommended

Friday, May 02, 2008

Lili St. Cyr

I was drawn to Gilded Lili, a biography of striptease artist Lili St. Cyr, because of Rocky Horror. One of the songs mentions her name and the title caught my eye.

Lili St. Cyr was a striptease artist of the 50s, who was born into poverty and took stripping as a way out. She found the fame and fortune that she was looking for. Unlike todays strippers, she was an artist with storylines and as much class as you can have taking your clothes off.

Her life was not a terribly happy one as she was married many times and had many affairs without ever finding love. DiNardo does a good job of telling her story without being tittilating or scandalmongering. In the end however it was a sad story.

Back to Blossom Street

Debbie Macomber visits Blossom Street again in her new book Twenty Wishes. This time the focus is off of the yarn store owned by Lydia. The focus this time is on Anne Marie, owner of the bookstore and three other widows. The group meets on Valentine's Day. As part of their conversation the idea of making a list of twenty wishes comes up. Each woman has different goals.

As with most of the Blossom Street series, there are not a lot of suprises. When Anne Marie meets Ellen, you know where things are headed and the same with the new relationships for two of the other widows. However the characters are very nice and you want things to turn out well for them. And they do. It is a quick read and a pleasant escape.