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Eli Hoelscher

Local Author Reimagines a Classic with New Novel

While taking literature classes through high school, many of us had to read canon staples from the likes of Dickens and Steinbeck, despite how jarring it can seem to approach something like Great Expectations when you’re fourteen years old. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights— a title which my friends keep telling me to pronounce differently, for some reason— is one such classic. Read More..

Branding is Everything, Even in the Westerns

No, we’re not actually talking about cattle today, unfortunately—or marketing, for that matter. In the library context, a brand is a personal mark a reader puts on the inside cover of a book. Normally I wouldn’t advocate defacing the collection in this way, but there’s a pretty good reason for the practice. Read More..

Don’t Drive Your Jet Ski in the Dark: The Wisdom of DJ Khaled

If you listen to much Top 40 radio, you’re already familiar with DJ Khaled; even if you can’t quite connect his name to a particular song or face, there’s likely some liminal awareness. Just close your eyes and think of the times a moment of transition static has been torn through with the bombastic roar of “DEE JAY KHA-LED” just as a beat starts playing. Read More..

The Means of Escape: Two Books in Conversation

People react in a variety of ways when faced with hardship. Some people eat an entire box of ice cream by themselves or blow off steam at the rec center, and these are perfectly reasonable choices. These people, however, do not get books written about them.

Two recently-released titlesGoatmanand Welcome to Marwencolpresent two incredible stories about the boundaries of creativity and escapism. Each book offers a look into a world where the desire to get away from it all is extrapolated with macro-sized reactions. Read More..

Books on our Radar for 2017

A new year means new books! Last year, we compiled a list of highly-anticipated titles in both fiction and non-fiction for adults. These were the hyped super-faves for the 2016 publishing world, and they were a lot of fun to write about. This year, however, we’ve decided to switch gears and focus on some upcoming titles that may be lesser-known, or by debut authors.

Put these books on your radar, and check back in with us as you read! Read More..

The Best Books from the Worst Year

Let’s be honest, 2016 has been kind of a hot mess. Between so many celebrity deaths (David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel… holy cow, SO MANY) and some, uh, general upheaval, most people are ready to write this one off as a loss.

But! As much as we’d like to say goodbye and good riddance to the year as a whole, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the very good things that came from 2016; this year has offered readers a wealth of fabulous new books. Debut authors and big-hitters alike have released incredible works in 2016, and the staff of LPL would like to share a few of our favorites. If you’re looking for great gifts for bibliophiles in your life, try one of these librarian-approved reads: Read More..

Local Author Karen Vaughn Talks T-Rex with Short Story Debut

It’s been a good month for Lawrence writers. Author Karen Vaughn brings us the most recent piece of local literature with her debut, A Kiss for a Dead Film Star, a genre-blending collection of short stories. Read More..

Lawrence Author Bryn Greenwood Debuts with Novel All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Lawrence’s own Bryn Greenwood comes from a long line of Kansans, a heritage that suffuses her Midwest-set debut, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. The novel follows the young life of Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn, daughter of an Oklahoma meth baron and an unstable, germophobe mother. Read More..

Reading Under the Influence with James Patterson’s Bookshots

If Nike gave out shoe deals for authors, James Patterson would be the first to have a line of $120 premium sneakers. Literary tastes aside, there’s no denying that he’s running the popular fiction game right now, with scores of best-selling titles coming out every month.

How does he do it? I think it’s time to ask a daunting question, one that might have revelatory, world-changing consequences—is James Patterson actually a human being? Read More..

The Bite-Sized Sci-Fi Vignettes of From Now On

We’ve all heard the cautionary advice “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And sure, there’s a lot of truth to that. On the other hand—being judged is totally what book covers are for. My resistance to this old adage has been validated time and again by impulse check-outs that turn out to be awesome, the most recent example being Malachi Ward’s graphic novel From Now On.

When I dove in, I had no idea what to expect; I just knew things were going to get weird. From Now On does not disappoint, with stories dealing with bizarre alien worlds and the peculiarities of time travel. The thirteen vignettes stand alone as brief glimpses into future worlds, replete with imaginative technology and creatures  like lime green aliens that appear to be half-mole, half-elephant

Despite the strangeness, though, Ward manages to evoke a deeply-human and reflective mood. Flipping through the stories of lonely, hopeful space colonists made me feel like I was reading the sparse, blue-collar oriented short stories of Raymond Carver, or the succinct and wistful comics of Adrian Tomine. The science fiction elements are posed skillfully against the emotions of the characters—Ward offers only minimal world-building to let the heart of each story shine.

“Top Five” follows the daily work of a lone explorer. While carrying out his labor—menial tasks that are never explained to the reader—he thinks about the five best Star Trek episodes that feature time travel. That’s it. Though it  may seem insignificant or uneventful, “Top Five” is actually a well-crafted portrait of regret, desire, and small victories—in other words, life itself. The unearthly backdrop makes it all the more compelling, too, adding a layer of the weird that demonstrates how universal these feelings can be. It’s subtly funny, too.

topfive

Ward’s art style is similarly restrained. Simple  illustration shows the wonder of alien landscapes, being suggestive rather than comprehensive. The result is a collection that showcases incredibly efficient and meaty story telling. Just because you don’t have time to read a doorstopper like Dune doesn’t mean you can’t go on an adventure to the stars. As much as I love the cover of From Now On, I have to admit the immersive and poignant stories within are even better.

-Eli Hoelscher is a Reader’s Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library

Image scan of “Top Five” via studygroupcomics.com, author Malachi Ward.