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Kelli Tatum

Happy National Poetry Month!

Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be appropriate to try my hand at a book of poems.  I took one poetry class in college and never felt like I quite “got it”, so I thought maybe I should try giving it another chance.  I picked up a book from the New Non-fiction section and started glancing through the pages.  One of the first things I read from Leigh Stein’s Dispatch From The Future was “Warning: there are better ways to break a heart than Facebook, such as abandoning your pregnant girlfriend at Walmart like that guy did to Natalie Portman.  If you read this book sequentially, bad things may happen to you, but only as bad as the things that would have happened to you anyway”.  I was definitely intrigued. Read More..

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One Good Kid Deserves Another

I picked up Good Kids by Benjamin Nugent while I was browsing the New Fiction shelves.  As soon as I read “Fans of Jonathan Franzen, you just may have found your new favorite writer” on the back, I had to check it out.  This was the reason I picked it up, but Nugent’s writing style is what kept me reading. Read More..

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Roth Retirement

My attention was recently drawn towards an article focusing on the career of author Philip Roth.  The article was written in response to Roth announcing his retirement from writing after his most recent novel.  As I read, I found myself intrigued by Roth’s career as a writer.  I had never read anything by Roth, but in researching his works decided to pick up one of his better known novels, Portnoy’s Complaint. Read More..

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Skagboys

I was recently walking by our New Fiction section and noticed author Irvine Welsh had a new book out. Welsh has been described by The New York Times as the “British equivalent of Chuck Palahniuk”. While I was looking it over, I discovered it was the prequel to two of my favorite books by Welsh, Trainspotting which is followed by Porno. Written twenty years after its sequels, Skagboys follows the younger years of Mark Renton as he is trying to come of age in 1980s Edinburgh, a place suffering from political struggles, violence, drugs and AIDS. Read More..

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Another Gritty Rustic Read!

As I finished Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell this month, I found myself wanting more.  I wanted more stories drenched in the language and feel of the backwoods country that Woodrell paints such a clear portrait of.  In my search, I stumbled upon Burning Bright by Ron Rash.  This collection of short stories features a cast of trailer-dwellers, struggling farmers, and sunken eyed townspeople who are haunted by poverty and addiction to crystal meth.  Rash writes, “When Parson drove to his shop that morning, the sky was the color of lead.  Flurries settled on the pickup’s windshield, lingered a moment before expiring.  A heavy snow tonight, the weatherman warned, and it looked to be certain, everything getting quiet and still, waiting…It would be a profitable day, because Parson knew they’d come to his pawnshop to barter before emptying every cold-remedy shelf in town.”  While these are not particularly happy stories, Rash still provides notes of hope and persistence throughout the underlying despair.  These tales could become overwhelming and almost unreadable at times, but Rash presents them in such a delicate balance and language that it sucks the reader into this deep, painful and oddly redemptive land.  Winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story award in 2010,   Burning Bright provides a set of tales that range from depression-era Appalachia to modern day. While the stories occur over a different period of time and include independent characters, they are united by a feeling of unity in the face of desperate times.  With his writing, Rash illuminates a larger truth about society, and our place within it.  – Kelli Tatum, Reference

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Touring the Civil War

Ever since I was young, I’ve had an extreme interest in the Civil War.  Recently, it seems to have caught up with me.  As a resident of Lawrence, August is always a special month for me as it marks the anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid.  Occurring in 1863, the attack on Lawrence is one of many connections Kansas has to the Civil War.  This time of year, I like to read a book about the Civil War, but I didn’t want something that simply spouted historic facts with no real filler.  Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz was recommended to me, and within the first few paragraphs I was hooked.  Read More..

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Franzen Variety Pack

As a fan of Jonathan Franzen novels such as The Corrections and Freedom, in addition to being a total literature nerd, I was excited to see his new collection of essays collectively named Farther Away on the shelf.  Consisting of a collection of essays, speeches, lectures and other bits of memoir, Farther Away is an absorbing and engaging must read for Franzen fans. Read More..

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