Pick of the Month, June 2011


Fiction

Family by Pa Chin, translated by Sidney Shapiro, Waveland Press, $10.50


Written in 1931, Family focuses on the Kao family compound and how their lives are affected as Old China is challenged by emerging political activism, the struggle for women’s liberation, and conflict between generations. Pa Chin’s engrossing story provides a picture into a turbulent period in China’s fascinating history.


Pa Chin died from cancer in 2005 at age 100. Family remains his most popular work.


Nonfiction

Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells, Crown, $25.00


Dean Faulkner Wells, the niece of William Faulkner, writes about the Nobel Prize winning novelist and his eccentric family that includes murderers, an FBI agent, and the founder of a bank. She contributes insights into the character of her  interesting and brilliant uncle who became a caring surrogate father for her. A riveting read.


Children’s/YA

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, Roaring Brook Press, ages 4-8


In this 2011 Caldecott Medal winner, Amos befriends the animals under his care at the zoo and gives them special attention. He plays chess with the elephant and reads stories to the owl. When he gets too sick to come to work, the animals decide to take care of him.


The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938 by the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC, a part of ALA) for the best American picture book for children published during the previous year.


Scholarly/Small Press

Yoknapatawpha Press, founded in 1975, is owned and operated by co-publishers and editors Dean Faulkner Wells and Lawrence Wells. It is named for Faulkner’s fictional county, a Chickasaw word meaning “gentle water.” The backlist includes Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood by Willie Morris and Night of the Old South Ball by Edwin Yoder, Jr. Last fall it published the second edition of Dinner at the Mansion by Elise Winter, wife of former Mississippi governor William Winter. Upcoming is a school edition of The Ghosts of Rowan Oak, which contains an illustrated biography of William Faulkner and a study guide.The publishers plan to bring back the Faux Faulkner and Imitation Hemingway contests.


Author submission guidelines: At the moment, Yoknapatawpha Press generates in-house publications and is not accepting submissions.


“Brothers in Misfortune,” 1922, is the most widely used photo about the catastrophic Russian famine.

photographer unknown

Commentary

A slew of devastating natural disasters followed on the heels of the April 27, 2011 tornados. The Mississippi River flooded. Communities, such as Cutoff, Mississippi, were destroyed and the residents left homeless. Then, more tornadoes struck. Although Danville and parts of southern Virginia were hard hit, FEMA refused assistance, a decision the governor appealed. On May 22, a tornado leveled parts of Joplin, Missouri and caused at least 141 casualties. More than 800 homes and 500 businesses were damaged.


CMT and entertains (Hank Williams Jr., Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, and Tim McGraw to name a few) have taken part in fund raisers for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The Red Cross and other agencies involved with relief efforts remain in need of volunteers and donations for the tornado and flood victims who have lost their homes and livelihood.

Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army’s First Blind Active-Duty Officer by Captain Scotty Smiley with Doug Crandall (Howard Books) tells the story of a hero.

Old Alleghany: The Life and Wars of General Ed Johnson by Gregg S. Clemmer (Heartside Publishing Company) won the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award in 2005.

Winners and Losers

Winners

  1. Navy SEAL Team 6. This elite special forces team successfully completed the mission to take down Osama bin Laden. The members rejected the chance for fame and money and preferred to remain anonymous.

  2. U.S. Army Captain Scotty Smiley, Georgia. After he was blinded by a suicide car bomber in Iraq in 2005, he fought to remain in the Army and became the first blind active-duty officer. His many accomplishments since then include surfing, skydiving, mountain climbing, a MBA from Duke University, and teaching at West Point. His book Hope Unseen reveals his inspiring outlook on life.

  3. Tornado survivors Reginald Epps Jr., 8, Coaling, Alabama & Austin Miller, 11, Lenox, Iowa. On April 27, a twister struck Reginald’s home and sucked him out. By miracle, he survived with only minor scratches. On May 11, a twister tore apart Austin’s home. Having a few seconds of advanced warning, he hid in the electric dryer. His quick thinking likely saved his life.

  4. The first Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, May 6-7, Florida. The event raised hundreds of thousands dollars for underprivileged children in the U.S. and overseas.

  5. Historian Gregg S. Clemmer, Maryland. He has fought urban sprawl and helped preserve little know aspects of our heritage. His research uncovered obscure documents and letters that led to the publication of Old Alleghany, the never before told story of the forgotten Maj. Gen. Ed Johnson who fought in the Mexican War and the Civil War.

  6. Bowler Mika Koivuniemi, 43, of Finland, presently residing in Hartland, Michigan. Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) named him for the second time Player of the Year.


Losers

  1. Actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger & his cleaning lady/baby mama Mildred “Patty” Baena, California. Their betrayal of their spouses led to contempt and ridicule. It cost “Arnold the Pig,” as some started to call him, his family and placed his career plans on hold. Although the adultery came as no surprise considering his reputation, his choice of mistress and alleged love child shocked many.

  2. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, 65, Utah. The muddle-headed judge ruled that it is unconstitutional for police to check the immigration status of those arrested for major crimes. Is his mind slipping or had he been smoking something?

  3. The Ohio State University’s former football coach Jim Tressel, 58. Revelations of cover-up of players’ NCAA violations forced Tressel to resign. He lost a multi-million dollar career, and his reputation was tarnished. The memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal is yet another example of the cover-up being worse than the crime; the importance of the character in recruiting athletes and coaches; and a public figure being far different than the image he projects.

  4. FOX TV. The network cancelled America’s Most Wanted even though the show enjoys high ratings and performs an important public service. One can only speculate about the real reason for dropping a popular show that catches dangerous criminals.

  5. Lawyer Mark S. Gold, 56, Florida. In a desperate attempt to recover the $18,930 he spent one evening in a Miami strip club, he filed a lawsuit against the establishment, claiming they deliberately got him drunk and he became temporarily unconscious during the spending spree. At his age, he should have known that nothing good comes from hanging out with strippers. More troubles loomed for Gold as Kiss Leads, Inc. sued him, claiming the lawyer bilked the company out of over $2 million.

  6. Pippa Middleton, 27, England. Sleazy photos of the sister of Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, surfaced soon after the wedding and caused a scandal.

Family by Pa Chin (pseudonym for Li Fei-Kan) was first published in English in 1958 and has been assigned in “Sociology Through Literature” courses.

Ten Best TV Crime Shows Ever

(fiction, main character & year of debut, chronological order):


  1. Perry Mason (Raymond Burr,1957)

  2. Naked City (Paul Burke,1958)

The Untouchables (Robert Stack,1959)

  1. The FBI (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.,1965)

  2. Colombo (Peter Falk,1971)

  3. Kojak (Telly Savalas,1973)

  4. Dukes of Hazzard (Tom Wopat & John Schneider,1979)

  5. Law & Order (until the end of the Jerry Orbach & Chris Noth episodes, 1990)

  6. 24 (Kiefer Sutherland, 2001)

  7. Monk (Tony Shalhoub, 2002)

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