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Celebrating the Life

¡Caramba! A Tale Told in Turns of a Card

[Longhorn Review] ¡Caramba! A Tale Told in Turns of a Card

Material Type: All, books — Tags: fiction, hispanic-american fiction, latino fiction — Posted on June 25, 2008, 9:33 am

By: Nina Maria Martínez

Nina Maria Martínez’s meandering novel is a delight. It follows its two
twenty-something heroines and an assortment of wacky secondary characters through a
sleepy California town, Lava Landing, located at the base of an inactive volcano.
Natalie and Consuelo provide necessary relief for fans of women’s fiction who are
tired of chick lit. The girls sport Payless shoes instead of Manolo Blahniks, wear
K-mart not Versace and there’s not a glamorous media job to be found. The pace of
the novel, like that of its setting is slow. This is no page-turner, but a book to
spend time with. The hardcover version of the book is a work of art. It’s packed
with bonus features such as colored pages, Lava Landing themed Lotería cards and
artifacts such as menus, paper dolls and letters.

Reviewer: Pamela Mann

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Liars and Saints

[Longhorn Review] Liars and Saints

Material Type: All, books — Tags: Catholic, drama, family, fiction — Posted on July 15, 2008, 3:59 pm

By: Maile Meloy

In beautiful stark prose, Maile Meloy tells the story of the Santerre family,
following the complex relationships among four generations from World War II and the
family's arrival in California to the present. As the story shifts from one
generation to the next and one decade to the next, Meloy competently shifts the tone
of the novel to match the tone of each era and provides insight into the effects of
social change through time on the structure of the family. While it dabbles in the
realm of literary soap opera and has its moment of melodrama, the characters and the
family secrets they share provide an engaging and compelling story of heartbreak,
Catholic guilt, and sexual temptation.

Reviewer: Meghan Sitar

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Empire Falls

[Longhorn Review] Empire Falls

Material Type: All, books — Tags: divorce, family, fiction, New England, pulitzer prize — Posted on July 15, 2008, 4:07 pm

By: Richard Russo

I am really recommending any of Richard Russo’s works. All of them are great and
you can follow a rise in the quality of his writing as you read newer and newer
works. The basic premise seems to be the same in each of his novels (at least the 4
of his 5 which I have read): they’re all set in a small town in the American
Northeast and full of wacky characters -- some in dire situations, some suffering
for caring about those in dire situations, and some suffering at the hands of those
in dire situations. Either way, the characters are what are great about Russo’s
writing. He makes you believe that these unreal folk are real and he makes you
suffer along with them, while at the same time you often want to give them a
smack-in-the-head wake-up call. This title won Russo the Pulitzer Prize in fiction
for 2002. Basically, it is a chilling commentary on Columbine, but the plot, as in
his other works, is almost incidental to how the characters react to what is
occurring. Russo is always funny and often at the same time heart-wrenching. His
books are quick reads and all wonderfully realized.

Reviewer: Beth Kerr

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The Millstone

[Longhorn Review] The Millstone

Material Type: All, books — Tags: 1960s, british fiction, fiction, motherhood, women — Posted on July 15, 2008, 4:12 pm

By: Margaret Drabble

Written and set in Swinging London in the mid-1960s, The Millstone is a story of
a common predicament, told in an uncommon manner. Rosamund Stacey - attractive,
intellectual, conscientious, and self-sufficient - is intimidated by the idea of
sex, and has successfully managed to avoid it altogether until her late twenties.
When her first sexual encounter leaves her pregnant, her life contracts and expands
in unforeseeable ways, as her perceptions are heightened and her preconceptions
softened. Structured as a coming-of-age novel, but slightly inverted, The Millstone
presents the true awakening of a young woman who had already considered herself
enlightened. Drabble's sensitive, humane portrait of the 1960s sexual revolution in
Britain is as fresh and relevant as if it came off the presses today.

Reviewer: Missy Nelson

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Tooth and Claw

[Longhorn Review] Tooth and Claw

Material Type: All, books — Tags: fiction, humor, short stories — Posted on November 7, 2008, 6:00 pm

By: Boyle, T. Coraghessan

This is T.C. Boyle's seventh collection of short stories. Since 1979, Boyle has
published 19 works of fiction all of them fully engaging the human condition with
hilarity and compassion. I am continually drawn to his short stories because his
ruminations on and illuminations of our human plight are so intense. Boyle is what I
would call a lunatic-humanist-surrealist who can elicit laughter and tears
simultaneously. This collection assembles 14 of his darker stories, all gems and not
to be missed. From the story of an unlikely romance between a fetching American
ornithologist and a spinster Scot on the isle of Unst to the tale of a drive-time
radio host's attempt to break the world record for continuous hours without sleep,
Boyle fascinates while enlivening his characters with frailty, humor, compassion and
odd heroics.

Reviewer: Tim Strawn

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Chinaman’s Chance: A Novel

[Longhorn Review] Chinaman’s Chance: A Novel

Material Type: All, books — Tags: espionage, fiction, mystery, thriller — Posted on November 10, 2008, 2:00 pm

By: Thomas, Ross

Lines in the first paragraph pull you into a story that never follows a straight
line: “The pretender to the Emperor’s throne was a fat thirty-seven year old
Chinaman called Artie Wu who always jogged along Malibu beach right after dawn even
in the summer. It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove
Pier that Artie Wu tripped over a dead pelican, fell and met the man with six
greyhounds.” This book is about the ultimate con. You’re never sure until the very
end who is actually being conned and why. This is a character driven story and there
are is an amazing list of characters from Otherguy Overby, to the folk singing trio
of Ivory, Lace and Silk, though a former CIA agent who’s gone out on his own, to big
time record producer and the head of a criminal syndicate.

Reviewer: Susan Ardis

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Carousel of Progress: A Novel

[Longhorn Review] Carousel of Progress: A Novel

Material Type: All, books — Tags: coming of age, family, fiction, Los Angeles, Southern California — Posted on November 10, 2008, 2:51 pm

By: Tanney, Katherine

I love fiction especially coming of age stories. I was having lunch with Nancy
Schiesari, a Radio-Television-Film professor and lauded cinematographer earlier this
Spring and she recommended Carousel of Progress to me. The story is about a teenage
girl growing up in L.A. whose parents are getting divorced. There is so much truth
and honesty in this tale, the characters are so real, and the dynamics of the
relationships so complex. Tanney grew up in L.A. and now lives in Austin, just like
me. Schiesari knows Tanney personally because Tanney is also a cinematographer. The
story was so familiar, it was hard to put down.

Reviewer: Laura Schwartz

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Colors Insulting to Nature: A Novel

[Longhorn Review] Colors Insulting to Nature: A Novel

Material Type: All, books — Tags: coming of age, family, fiction — Posted on November 10, 2008, 2:54 pm

By: Wilson, Cintra

My friend Stephanie recommended this book to me. She picked it up in the Bay Area
where the author is a local celebrity. Turns out Wilson is also a performing artist
and arts critic, even more reason for me, as Fine Arts Librarian, to delve into this
novel. It is another coming of age story, this one of Liza Normal (who is anything
but normal). Her raison d’etre is to become a successful actress and/or singer. The
book is the trials and tribulations of this quest. The characters that surround Liza
include her loudmouth mother, reclusive brother, and a whole host of bizarre and
endearing characters. Wilson’s book is hilarious. From the first few pages, until
the very end, I was completely engaged and amused.

Reviewer: Laura Schwartz

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The Road

[Longhorn Review] The Road

Material Type: All, books — Tags: fathers and sons, fiction, post-apocalyptic, pulitzer prize — Posted on November 10, 2008, 2:58 pm

By: McCarthy, Cormac

There is nothing funny about Cormac McCarthy’s latest novel. It is a compelling,
provocative story about a man and his boy trying to survive in a post-apocalyptical
environment. It is so real and so frightening, it seems that McCarthy displays
prescient tendencies. Has he been there and back? Can he see the future? Is it this
bleak? Reading this novel is a spiritual experience. I am deeply indebted to Reggie
Akers, Fine Arts Library circulation supervisor, for recommending it to me. My
vision of the future has been transformed.

Reviewer: Laura Schwartz

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A Beautiful Blue Death

[Longhorn Review] A Beautiful Blue Death

Material Type: All, books — Tags: detective fiction, fiction, mystery, Victorian — Posted on November 17, 2008, 11:08 am

By: Finch, Charles

Set in London in 1865, it’s true to the language and milieu (as far as I can
tell) and has an amalgam of elements of the classic British detective story and 19th
century novel: an aristocratic amateur detective and his valet, gentlemen’s clubs,
old boys, country houses and town houses, balls and bridge and afternoon tea. The
London winter is palpable and the understated romance between sleuth and lady

Reviewer: Janice Duff

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Por favor, no empujen

[Longhorn Review] Por favor, no empujen

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: cuentos, fiction, novel, novela, peru, stories — Posted on March 11, 2009, 8:11 am

By: Gonzlez Nohra, Fernando

La primera publicación de Fernando González Nohra se compone de seis relatos. Lo
curioso es que puede funcionar como una novela elíptica, plagada de silencios en los
que el lector es envuelto y las respuestas le son concedidas en pequeñas referencias
que interconectan temporalmente los cuentos. Así, vemos una evolución temporal de la
obra como un sucedáneo de capítulos que no traicionan el sentido de ninguno de
ellos. Por ello, a diferencia de otros libros de estilo semejante, es preferible
leerlo en el orden trazado por el autor y no adelantarse «… para no perder el paso».

En Por favor, no empujen el humor ácido es el pretexto para mostrar la verdadera
soledad de Gonzalo, personaje principal y narrador de sus desencuentros, que vive en
una ciudad como Lima, donde es testigo a diario de «cómo la neblina que subía por el
acantilado se iba tragando de a pocos la ciudad». Un lugar en el cual todos parecen
caminar en su contra: «Los pocos que caminan en mi dirección lo hacen tan lento que
se convierten también en un estorbo, tengo que esquivarlos para no perder el paso».
Un reflejo vital de lo que significa vivir en un país divorciado de sí mismo. Donde
los conflictos no sólo habitan en lo hondo de la pobreza, sino que se presentan a
cada esquina como reiterando, una y otra vez, que permanecerás «vivo y vacío»
(paráfrasis usada por Gonzalo con respecto a Henry Miller).

El estilo narrativo del
autor es frugal; no ahonda en extravagancias. Su lenguaje transmite el habla limeña
sin ambages. Para el autor es vital que se deje hablar a los personajes, y esto se
logra en Por favor, no empujen. Gonzalo jamás deja de ser él, jamás permite que la
vida y los personajes estrafalarios —sátiras de una sociedad exagerada como la
limeña— mellen en él. Seguirá intentando escribir, que en este caso es lo mismo que
intentar sobrevivir.

Reviewer: Longhorn Reviewer

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El delicado umbral de la tempestad : cuestiones de un general inglés

[Longhorn Review] El delicado umbral de la tempestad : cuestiones de un general inglés

Material Type: All, books — Tags: fiction, historical, jorge castelli, prestigious La Nacion award in 2000, spanish — Posted on July 12, 2010, 10:36 am

By: Castelli, Jorge, 1956-

Outstanding book! Whoever reads this book will clearly understand why this author
has received several international awards for his talent. His novels, short story
anthologies and poetry works show a deep knowledge of the human soul and its
pathways. His literary wisdom surely knows how to introduce the readers inside the
characters's intense feelings and conflicts. I would recommend this book to everyone
who loves great literature.

Reviewer: Mariel Lazzari

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Dragon's fire

[Longhorn Review] Dragon's fire

Material Type: All, books — Tags: Dragonriders of Pern, Dragons, fiction, Pern — Posted on November 7, 2011, 9:44 pm

By: Anne McCaffrey

If you read the 3 books in this arc (Dragon's Kin, Dragon's Fire, & Dragon's Blood) you will
find a lot of repetition and there are parts that just plain bore you. But I could see the point of
doing it this way because of the different views on life on Pern these three books give. With each
you get to see a different side to Pern all taking place at during the same time span sometimes
touching the same events that is where it gets repetitive and that gets old. This book was definately
not your typical "Dragonriders of Pern" style book in that It does not look to dragonriders as the
main characters. Although they are important characters, McCaffrey sheds light on other aspects of
Pernese life such as how firestone was mined, how people were judged and how they became holdless or
Shunned, as well as the friction between holders, whers and crafts.

Reviewer: Minnie Rangel

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