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Wednesday, July 21,2010

A moo-ving tale

Former Lansing author works unusual twists into ’The Drifts’

by Bill Castanier
Some of the plotlines may be over the top, but Vernon uses them to convey the central themes of stereotyping, outsiders and survival. The book, set in rural Arkansas during a blizzard, finds the characters not only confronting their demons, but also committing acts of violence.
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Wednesday, July 14,2010

American history on the rocks

’Last Call’ reveals facts and myths about Prohibition

by Bill Castanier
It’s easy to picture author Daniel Okrent at a large oak table, huddled over diaries, letters and old books and taking notes with a No. 2 pencil. After all, he spent five years researching his most recent book, “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
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Wednesday, July 7,2010

Controversial or a classic?

’To Kill a Mockingbird’ still inspires debate

by Bill Castanier
Fifty years after its publication, "Mockingbird" is still the subject of intense debate. Lee, who never published another novel, has not said a word about the novel’s meaning or offered any insight into the ambiguities of race and equal justice laid out in the story.
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Wednesday, June 30,2010

Season’s readings

Spend the summer with Michigan authors

by Bill Castanier
And as you linger over a cold glass filled with amber liquid, read “Last Call,” the history of Prohibition in this country. The author, Dan Okrent, is a University of Michigan grad and has assembled an interesting history of one of America’s most famous failed attempts at controlling society’s evils.
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Wednesday, June 23,2010

’Twilight’s’ last gleaming?

Vampires still claim many young readers, but ’Games’ are gaining

by Bill Castanier
Is our lust for everything vampire sated, waiting for the spike, as popular media have suggested? Or is it just sleeping, ready to reawaken with a new passion when “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the latest film based on reigning queen of vampire fiction Stephenie Meyer’s novels, is released June 30?.
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Wednesday, June 16,2010

Educating Uganda

Author chronicles building schools in his homeland

by Bill Castanier
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri’s book was already brewing about the same time Craig Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” went to the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list; with a little luck, panache and old-fashioned pluck, the Okemos author may also climb to the top of that list.
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Wednesday, June 9,2010

Those who do not remember Santayana may still be condemned to repeat him

An almost-forgotten philosopher left behind many familiar sayings

by Bill Castanier
James Seaton, an East Lansing resident and Michigan State University professor of American criticism and culture, has edited a new book on Santayana and his work.
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Wednesday, June 2,2010

Out of Africa

Nnedi Okorafor weaves a scary tale of survival

by Bill Castanier
The death of her father pushed Nnedi Okorafor to write “Who Fears Death,” her latest novel.
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Wednesday, May 26,2010

Michigan State’s treasure trove

Special Collections has Batman, Pulitzer winners, antique wallpaper samples

by Bill Castanier
It’s not a plot for a comic book. They make space for each other in the University Library’s Special Collections unit, which has one of the world’s largest collections of comics and can also brag about holding the papers of such literary luminaries as Richard Ford, Robert Coles and Russell Nye.
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Wednesday, May 19,2010

Portrait of the artist as a young man

Photo-filled book details Hemingway's Michigan

by Bill Castanier
Federspiel’s new book “Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan” (Painted Turtle Book) uses more than 250 photographs to tell the story of Hemingway’s youth. Many of the photographs have never been seen before and Federspiel carefully mined the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Clarke Library in Mt.
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