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Ex Libris welcomes back returning readers with recommendations from library and campus readers. Our goal is to showcase the Raynor Memorial Libraries’ Browsing Collection and to identify a range of contemporary fiction and nonfiction for the general reader. In addition to staff choices, we offer a special summer reading selection for armchair travelers, plus new books by faculty, staff, and alumni. All readers in the Marquette community are invited to suggest books, or better, to write a brief review for Ex Libris. If you missed an alert, earlier issues of Ex Libris are available online.

Clicking on the title or cover image will take you to the book's MARQCAT record; please note locations carefully as items may be in the Browsing Collection or in the Memorial stacks. Books that are checked out may be reserved by clicking on the MARQCAT record's "Request" button.

Still looking for something to read? Check out a list of recent additions to the Browsing Collection.

Fiction

The Art of FieldingThe Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach (NY: Little, Brown & Co., 2011)

Don't be put off by this novel's title—fears that it is just another baseball story would be unfounded. While the young men at the story's center play on the baseball team (Harpooners) of a small Wisconsin college, Westish, this story is more about young people coming of age, campus life, and family and human relationships. The story takes its title from a fictive book by a fictive baseball great, Aparicio Rodriguez, that is the bedside inspirational reading of Westish shortstop recruit Henry Skrimshander. The characters are drawn in fine detail, including teammates, roommate Owen Dunne, college president Guert Affenlight, and the latter's prodigal daughter, Pella. Affenlight, a Melville scholar, is at the center of an extended set of literary allusions to Moby-Dick, Emerson, Lowell, Whitman, and others. This is an amazing first novel by Racine native Harbach, a 35-year-old Harvard grad who has said he worked on it for 10 years.
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian

 

The DetachmentThe Detachment
Barry Eisler (Las Vegas, NV: Thomas & Mercer, 2011)

Fans of Eisler’s series novels about Japanese-American assassin-for-hire John Rain (Hard Rain, Rain Fall, Requiem for an Assassin) will likely be happy to know he’s back in this new thriller, which mixes in characters from the author’s Ben Treven novels (Fault Line and Inside Out). In this outing, Rain and his occasional ally, Dox the sniper, are recruited to join the burned-out, rogue agent Larison and eager-beaver covert operative Treven for a mission intended to halt a coup against the U.S. government with a few sanctioned assassinations. As always, things are not what they seem and Rain and his “detachment” are soon on the run, now themselves pursued as terrorists. Were they betrayed? Is there a plot within the plot? Lacking cohesion due to dueling motivations and loyalties, they must nevertheless set aside their differences to detangle themselves from the spiraling deadly conspiracy. Suddenly subjects of a nationwide manhunt and terror alert, the four operatives are faced with choices that contradict each other’s motives and goals. Tension ratchets as factions form and objectives change. Less philosophical than the John Rain novels, this outing reads more like one of the Treven books with a cameo by Rain— albeit an essential one, for he is the force that must shape the four lone wolves into a cohesive unit after apparent betrayal by their commander. Barry Eisler is a former covert CIA employee and provides his usual high-level insider knowledge, an extensive reference list, plus a fair amount of plausible, fact-based conspiracy theory, though occasionally his narrative tends toward the didactic. Still, fans of thrillers such as those by Lee Child and David Morrell will find much to chew upon, and savor, in The Detachment.
Recommended by Bill Gagliani, Stacks Supervisor

 

Fuzzy NationFuzzy Nation
John Scalzi (NY: Tor, 2011)

Let’s set the stage on the planet Zara XXIII: Jack Holloway, once a lawyer, is now an independent contractor, explorer, and surveyor for a large mining company, ZaraCorp. One day, he finds a major vein of valuable jewel stones. This is in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, and in the midst of a major argument with his supervisor. Since Jack has a history of being obstreperous, this turns into a farce about who can legally claim what, and do what to whom. Then a previously unknown sentient species on the planet somehow chooses Jack as a test subject from which to learn about humans. Since ZaraCorp’s license to mine on the planet depends on there being no sentient species whatsoever, there is plenty of room for action, conflicts of interest, and more. The story includes legal drama, some elements of police procedural, and lots of good, comedic dialogue. It is a quick and easy read, but still it touches on larger themes of justice and morality. Though not as satisfying as Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, if you like science fiction, it is well worth your time. The book is, as Scalzi calls it, a "reboot" of a 1962 science fiction novel by H. Beam Piper.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services Librarian

 

Lord of MisruleLord of Misrule: a Novel
Jaimy Gordon (Kingston, NY: McPherson & Co., 2010)

Set sometime in the 1970s at a run-down racetrack in West Virginia, this is a story about down-and-out horse racing. In her mid-twenties, Maggie Koderer quit her job as a newspaper food columnist to become a groom and gofer for the charmer Tommy Hansel, a small-time horse trainer with a get-rich scheme. Of course Tommy’s scheme goes awry, and he loses Pelter, the horse that Maggie has truly fallen in love with. She does get her horse back, though more through luck and farce than anything, and that story is what ties the book together. Maggie is desired by local Mafioso Joe Dale Bigg, protected and watched over from afar by her distant relative Two-Tie, and works with Deucey and Medicine Ed, two other grooms at the track. Before Maggie gets Pelter back, there is murder, abduction, magic—oh and horses and horse racing! The book is told from several different viewpoints and in very different voices, which is both a strength and weakness. The voices of Medicine Ed, Maggie herself, and especially Two-Tie, give real texture and flavor to the book, but the alternating voices also sometimes make keeping track of the plot difficult. And in fact, plot really is secondary here: it’s the characters that will keep you reading. This novel was a National Book Award winner in 2010.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services Librarian

 

On Canaan's SideOn Canaan’s Side
Sebastian Barry (NY: Viking, 2011)

We write to understand a thing. To force ourselves to move from point A to point B in our apprehension of something rather than to just turn that thing over and over again in our mind and to worry it endlessly and pointlessly. And so Lilly Bere takes pen in hand the day after the burial of her grandson and over seventeen days sets down her memories of her life in an attempt to understand the love and hatred, gain and loss, life and death of her years. Now 89, Lilly recounts her life from childhood and early adulthood in Ireland to her years in America, a place, the Canaan, she has come to love. Years ago Lilly and her fiancé, Tadg, a member of the Black and Tans, left Ireland suddenly. Left home and family and future shortly after the First World War under a death warrant issued by the IRA. Now she struggles to understand the death of her grandson Bill who has returned from the Gulf War just to die once safely home. On Canaan’s Side deals with the intimacies of an individual life and that life’s place in the ebb and flow of history. Barry, through Lilly’s musings, examines questions of love, loss, identity, family and memory and does it with language that is a delight to read. An example of Barry’s delectable prose is where Lilly, in describing a change in her sister Annie, said of her, “... she had in other times a tongue that would shave your beard for you.” While On Canaan’s Side is a story that comes out of an old woman’s sorrow and grief, it also portrays a depth of human warmth and caring that will stay with you.
Recommended by Nick Schroeder, Senior Graphic Designer, Office of Marketing & Communication

 

The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife
Paula McLain (NY: Ballantine Books, 2011)

Young woman meets young aspiring journalist. Love at first sight. Couple quickly marry and move to Paris. Romantic dreams (his) of becoming a great writer. Baby. Crumbling marriage. This sounds like the stuff of fiction, but McLain makes a novel of the true story of 28-year old Hadley Richardson, told from her point of view. The marriage to 20-year old Ernest Hemingway is written as a slow-motion train wreck, but the well-researched story of life in 1920s Paris is colorful, authentic, and painfully dissolute. McLain carefully weaves in the ex-pat crowd of writers that Hemingway hoped to learn from: Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. The reader holds out little hope for Hadley and her son's future in view of the emerging portrait of Hemingway as a skirt-chaser. At the end, the reader sees Hadley happily settled in her second marriage, in contrast to the later parade of women in Hemingway's life. The reader is left with an unflattering picture of Hemingway that made me want to re-visit A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's posthumously published (1964) account of his Paris years.
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian

REVISITING A CLASSIC

 

Tom JonesThe History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
Henry Fielding (first published in London, 1749)

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but what about judging a book by its size? Certainly the heavy tome of Tom Jones I’ve been toting around for a class on literature during the Age of Johnson has put off a fair share of readers. But don’t let the daunting title—The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, a dry title if I’ve ever heard one—or its size—more brick than book—scare you away. Henry Fielding’s magnum opus really is a treat to read. Fielding, through one of the most famous examples of the omniscient narrator in literary history, traces the life of Tom Jones, a young and loveable 18th-century rapscallion, through his mysterious birth, his childhood antics and his youthful dalliances. Mistaken identities, secrets, and adventure all abound as Tom Jones is released from his foster father’s care out into the wide world, a young man with neither name nor fortune and a growing reputation for disruption. His quest, for all young heroes must have a quest, is to achieve a measure of prudence, a quality necessary to govern himself and his life wisely and reasonably. And this is where the persistent appeal of Fielding’s novel is located, besides being able to say that you’ve managed to finish it, that is. The journey of Tom Jones is one we all take as we pass from youth into adulthood, and even beyond. Tom Jones endures in our hearts and minds and reading lists for those moments when we feel a little lost and need a helping hand to figure out where we’re going.
Recommended by Liz Wawrzyniak, Evening Reserves Supervisor

Nonfiction

14931493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
Charles C. Mann (New York: Knopf, 2011)

In his 2005 book, 1491, science journalist Mann looked at what the Americas were like before the arrival of Columbus. In 1493,he details what has happened and continues to happen as a result of the transatlantic trade that Columbus initiated—globalization, or the Columbian Exchange, which refers to the movement of goods and people between continents. This includes familiar stories (the introduction of the potato into Europe), as well as unfamiliar stories (how the potato blight followed, and why planting pieces of potato with eyes is nowhere near as good as planting the potato plant seeds). Mann explores the stories that followed the introduction of the potato and other food crops from the Americas (sweet potatoes and corn); the mining of silver in Potosí and its export to Spain and especially to China; the development of rubber; and of course the slave trade, whereby humanity too became part of the Columbian Exchange. The chapter on the Maroon communities in Amazonia is utterly fascinating. This is one book I want to re-read. Mann is a very good writer, and manages to present the complexity of the issues that a single word, globalization, has come to represent, both for good and ill. And somehow he even put this into the context of the contents of his own garden: bell peppers (origin: Mesoamerica), eggplant (origin: South Asia), and carrot (origin: Europe), and some thoughts on what the garden means to him. If you like natural history, with more than a smattering of world history and public policy, this popular science book is for you.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services Librarian

 

BossypantsBossypants
Tina Fey (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2011)

Tina Fey’s book is much like the author herself—extremely smart and hilariously funny. With great wit, Fey relates anecdotes of her growing up as an awkward child, teenager and college student. After college, Fey took improvisation classes and performed in Chicago’s improvisation comedy group, Second City. Her success led her to Saturday Night Live where she was hired as a writer and later became head writer, as well as an on-stage performer. Since 2006 Fey has her own successful comedy television program, the Emmy-winning 30 Rock. The presidential election in 2008 gave Fey a SNL guest star role as Sarah Falin. Fey writes about these experiences in entertainment and provides insights as to what it was like as a woman breaking into comedy. In addition, she details how she tries to juggle her busy work schedule with family commitments. Fey blends a good dose of humor in all her observations and provides advice to aspiring comedians and managers. Here is hoping that Fey will provide future sequels to her memoirs as she is truly one of the funniest and most talented comedians in entertainment today.
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research & Instructional Services Librarian

 

Greetings from E-StreetGreetings from E Street: the Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Robert Santelli (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006)

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are legendary for their sold-out, incomparable, hard-rocking concerts. Springsteen is known all around the world for his heartland rock and folk songs about the middle class and the common man. Through the decades, Springsteen has received numerous awards (22 Grammys, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Oscar for Best Picture Song, etc.) and has sold more than 120 million records worldwide. This book begins with the early 1970’s when singer, songwriter, musician Springsteen was barely known outside his native New Jersey community. Springsteen led a number of bands (Earth, Child, Steel Mill) and in 1972, the E Street Band was formed to back up Springsteen. Columbia Records, label of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and other famous artists, recognized Springsteen’s immense talent and readily signed him. Fame steadily grew and in 1975 Springsteen was the first rock star to simultaneously grace the covers of Time and Newsweek. Music critic Jon Laudau was then quoted as saying “I have seen the future of rock and roll and it is Bruce Springsteen." With blockbuster hits such as “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Glory Days,” and “Born in the USA.” Springsteen and the band became international stars playing to sold-out stadiums and arenas around the world. Author Santelli also covers Springsteen’s solo career and provides background on the individual members of the E Street Band. With copious photos this book is a great way to learn about the beginnings and immense career of the American singer and songwriter known to many as “The Boss.”
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research & Instructional Services Librarian

 

TomatolandTomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Barry Estabrook (Kansas City, MO.: Andrews McMeel, 2011)

In Tomatoland, award-winning food writer Estabrook exposes readers to the toxic cocktail of pesticides, human trafficking, greed, and corruption that are all too common in the Florida tomato business. This whirlwind of a story starts off on an exploration of the modern tomato’s ancient roots in South America and its eventual and miraculous migration to home gardens, supermarkets, and restaurants worldwide. Along the way, readers accompany the author as he encounters a diverse set of characters: a meticulous botanist, a family of migrant farm workers, a lawyer and coalition committed to social justice, and a former urbanite-turned-organic farmer who brings flavor back to the fruit. Although the work is non-fiction, Tomatoland reads more like a contemporary crime novel—sure to keep you at the edge of your seat. People who enjoyed Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or the documentary film Food, Inc. will devour Tomatoland.
Recommended by Megan Reilly, Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries

Spotlight on New books by Faculty

American BoyAmerican Boy
Larry Watson (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2011)

Thanksgiving Day, 1962, in the small town of Willow Falls, Minnesota, finds Matthew Garth eating dinner with the Dunbar family at their home, a house that he has come to know and love. From this point begins a series of events that will have unforeseeable consequences for everyone present in the Dunbar house that day. Matt, the narrator of the story, and his best friend, Johnny Dunbar, are drawn into these events when Johnny’s father, Dr. Rex Dunbar, asks if they want to see the bullet wound on an anesthetized young woman. Louisa Lindahl, who has been shot by her boyfriend, is being treated by Dr. Dunbar in his home office. Dr. Dunbar is mentoring the two boys toward medical school, attempting to give them lessons in life as well as medicine. When Matt accidentally catches a glimpse of Louisa’s bare breast while viewing the superficial bullet wound he gets caught up both in his own imagination and in circumstances beyond his understanding. American Boy is a coming of age story but it also deals the hubris of both a teenage boy and of a middle-aged doctor. Matt, at 17, sees life in a Matthew-centric fashion. He thinks because of his constant presence in the Dunbar household that he has a greater understanding of it than he does in reality. Because of this he thinks he can affect the outcomes he desires. The doctor’s defiance of the gods comes in his belief that his good looks, knowledge, charm, and social position will get him what he wants. When the two protagonists collide, outcomes are not what either foresaw. As in his other books, Watson’s excellent characterization of Willow Falls is as crucial to the telling of this story as his depiction of any of the people living there. Watson joined Marquette's English Department in 2003 and teaches creative writing and contemporary fiction and poetry. He is the author of seven widely-acclaimed novels, including the best-selling Montana 1948.
Recommended by Nick Schroeder, Senior Graphic Designer, Office of Marketing & Communication

new alumni books

Swimming in the DaylightSwimming in the Daylight: An American Student, a Soviet-Jewish Dissident, and the Gift of Hope
Lisa C. Paul (New York, Skyhorse Pub., 2011)

An MU Law School ('93) alumna and practicing Milwaukee lawyer, Lisa Paul tells the true story of her friendship with her Russian language teacher. The story takes place before the collapse of the Soviet Union and relates the struggle of Inna Meiman's fight for a visa to travel for life-saving medical treatment in the West. Paul launched a campaign for Inna's freedom that included a hunger strike that received key media attention. Read more about the author, reviews, and listen to an interview at the author's website.

 

 

gettlemanMirage
Nancy Moore Gettelman (Cookeville, Tenn., Nightengale Press, 2011)

The life story of this MU grad (B.A., Political Science, and M.A., Education) is interesting in itself. After her studies at Marquette, she went on to earn an M.A. in Indian Studies from the University of Wisconsin, to travel in India and the Himalayan countries, and to write her first book, The Himalayan Journey of Buddhism (1989). Mirage, the most recent of three novels, is a murder mystery set in Milwaukee. Her second book is of interest to historians of brewing and Milwaukee: The A. Gettelman Brewing Company: One Hundred and Seven Years of a Family Brewery in Milwaukee (1995).

 

Spotlight on poets and poetry

Philip LevinePhilip Levine has been appointed Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, succeeding W. S. Merwin. Levine, who grew up in Detroit, is the author of more than 20 collections of poems. He won a Pulitzer in 1995 for The Simple Truth, but is probably best known for "Whitmanesque" poems of the American heartland, such as the title poem from his award winning book, What Work Is. Read a biography and listen to selected poems at the Poetry Foundation.

 

Tomas TranstromerTomas Tranströmer was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature in October. The Swedish poet, born in 1931, studied psychology and poetry at the University of Stockholm, and has published more than 15 collections of poetry. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. The Nobel committee's citation said they were motivated "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." See MARQCAT's selection of his collections.

Literary Prizewinners

The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes has been named winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize. First awarded in 1969, the prize promotes the finest in fiction—best of the year. Culled from 138 titles of the "longlist," Barnes has been shortlisted three times in the past. The book is described on the author's website as "The story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past." One of the judges called it "exquisitely written, subtly plotted, and reveals new depths with each reading." Read more about the author, the prize-winning book, and listen to author interviews at Barnes' website.

 

 

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