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An Author House Party with Kevin Powers, author of THE YELLOW BIRDS!
Sep15

An Author House Party with Kevin Powers, author of THE YELLOW BIRDS!

Open Book is pleased to announce an exciting last minute to our event calendar: Kevin Powers, author of  The Yellow Birds will join us for a Literally Speaking Author House Party. The Yellow Birds is the winner of the Guardian First Book Award, a New York Times’s 100 Most Notable Books of 2012 and a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. It tells the story of two soldier in the Iraq war, their friendship and the trials of war, in powerful and poetic language. DATE:    Tuesday, October 7th TIME:     5:30 to 7:30pm Wine & cheese reception COST: $25 (Includes $5 credit toward any book purchase at Open Book bookstore. Good till December 31, 2014.) Location: Elkins Park, PA To sign up: EMAIL: lynn@openbookphilly.com or CALL:...

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A taste of Ruth Reichl’s new novel Delicious!
Aug23

A taste of Ruth Reichl’s new novel Delicious!

I’m a big fan of Ruth Reichl; I really enjoyed her memoir, Tender at the Bone. I was pleased when I heard she was turning her hand to fiction, and I was very interested to read her new novel, especially once I started hearing the good reviews. Can you tell that opening was a set up for disappointment? Indeed, the novel was a let-down for this reader. It is the sort of book that, when I started it, I knew right away that it wasn’t really going to engage me, and I kept telling myself to put it down when there were so many other books beckoning for my time. Yet I persisted. I think I did so in large part on the strength of her name, her reputation, and my previous pleasant experience with her memoirs, and to a lesser degree because I did find her main character, Billie Breslin, to be charming, and I was interested to see how she made her way to finding herself in this coming-of-age novel. Not only do we have a charming Billie, but Reichl has created a quirky and appealing set of secondary characters to keep Billie company, particularly Sal, the owner of the cheese shop where Billie works. Reichl also, unsurprisingly, writes really well about food. Much is made in the beginning of the book of Billie’s special talent. She has a perfect palate, and can taste anything and discern what the ingredients are, even if it’s something rare and obscure like, apparently, curry leaf. However, later in the book this is only glancingly referred to, and I was sorry to see this amusing parlor game drop. When a character takes a bite of food, Reichl’s prose lights up with colorful adjectives. Unfortunately, when she’s merely writing about plot, her prose is duller. As for plot twists and turns and the big reveal… well, I figured out the secrets about Billie’s sister long before they were revealed (if you’ve read Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, you will, too), and the love interest has a flashing red arrow pointing at him, so that one is a given. As for the main plot point of the book, Billie’s discovery of a secret stash of letters between famous chef James Beard and an unknown young girl written during WWII, it is (here comes that word again) a charming conceit, but not, for me, enough to hang a novel on. My verdict? A good beach read, but your brain won’t get too tangled up in...

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Lynn has indeed been reading books!
Jun09

Lynn has indeed been reading books!

Lynn’s been reading lots of books these days. In fact, she’s been gobbling them down so fast she almost can’t remember them! But here’s a quick summary of recent reads. As a member of the implementation committee of the “One Book, One Jewish Community,” in Philadelphia, I’ve been reading many books with Jewish themes. I enjoyed a thriller by Charles Belfoure called The Paris Architect. Set in Paris during Nazi occupation, it follows a Christian architect who, against his will, becomes involved in creating hiding places for Jews. It’s very suspenseful in a way that at times reminded me of the anxiety I felt watching the brilliant film “Inglourious Basterds.” Also for the “OBOJC” committee, I’m reading a new novel by Nomi Eve. Henna House, set in Yemen in the 1920s, tells the story of a character named Adela and the passions and trials of her Jewish community. I’m also reading All I Love and Know by Judith Frank about a gay couple in Northampton, MA, whose life is thrown into upheaval when one of the men’s brother and his Israeli wife are killed in a suicide bombing, leaving them to raise their children. For my “Hot Off the Press” class, in which we read brand new literary fiction, I just read Mona Simpson’s new Casebook. It tells the story of a family’s divorce from the point of view of the fourteen-year-old son. He begins spying on his mom to find out if she’s talking to her best friend about them letting their young sons watch “Survivor,” and winds up learning much more than he bargained for. I loved how the authorlooks at love, family and divorce from this point of view. You may know Simpson for her best-known novel, Anywhere But Here, about a mother/daughter road trip. There’s ever so much more on my summer reading list, including a few classics, some Young Adult books (have not yet read The Book Thief!), a new novel called Perfect by Rachel Joyce, who first novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I really enjoyed, and some non-fiction about authors: The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia...

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The Newspaper is in the News
May28

The Newspaper is in the News

The big news in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer is about its own ownership. Like so many others, the paper (the one I still get delivered daily to my front door) has been experiencing much uncertainty of late, with changes in ownership and losses of employee jobs and benefits, not to mention the ongoing struggles of newspapers everywhere to maintain readership and monetize digital. According to the paper itself, this is its sixth ownership change in eight years. In a private auction held yesterday, the winners are local businessmen and philanthropists Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.  (If you live in Philadelphia, you have already become accustomed to seeing the Lenfest name on many notable local institutions). Katz and Lenfest were previously owners of 42.55% of the paper, and they notably feuded with co-owners the Norcross Group. Bill Marimow, who was ousted by Norcross but later reinstated by the court, is to be editor. As quoted in the paper, Lenfest says: “We want to return the Inquirer to the great newspaper it has been for many years.” We the readers, and certainly the paper’s 1800+ employees, hope this will be the case. The paper has had several recent notable achievements, including a Pulitzer Prize won this year by architecture critic Inga Saffron for distinguished criticism, and breaking important local stories such as a recent to-do in a case involving the Pennsylvania Attorney General. Philadelphia is the country’s fifth largest city; we deserve to have a newspaper of which we can be...

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Quelque Chose D’amusant
Feb26

Quelque Chose D’amusant

Thanks to Chris Kenneally of Copyright Clearance Center for pointing me to the Facebook page for Improbables Librairies, Improbables Bibliothèques, where I found this entertaining...

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