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review 2018-06-12 03:06
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! It's Sho... Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! It's Shoe Time! - Mo Willems,Bryan Collier,Mo Willems,Bryan Collier

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Like many of the books in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series, this one is fun but weird. The story follows a girl picking out shoes to wear for the day. The shoes try to convince her to choose them, then try to talk her out of her decision when they do not agree with her. Weird, but fun. There are tons of puns (most of which will probably go right over kids heads) and silly illustrations. 

I don't like these books quite as much as the Elephant and Piggie books, but they are still fun books to read aloud.

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text 2016-10-10 17:53
Come on BL You Can Do It





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text 2015-12-09 20:35
Land of 10,000 Pages: Rain Taxi and George Saunders
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline - George Saunders
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip - George Saunders,Lane Smith
Tenth of December - George Saunders
In Persuasion Nation - George Saunders


[This a crosspost with MSP Reading Time, the book segment of my Twin Cities blog, Minneapolis-St. Paul Adventure Time.]


On Monday, I was excited to see a writer who has been described as “the best on the planet,” George Saunders, presenting in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the awesome literary magazine, the Rain Taxi Review of Books. Publishing four times a year and offering reviews of independent and obscure works of literature in diverse genres, from poetry to graphic novels, memoir to science fiction, if you see it in the racks at local coffee shops or bookstores around town, don’t forget to grab a copy. They’re free! Always plenty of fodder to pile up on that ever growing reading list!


When Rain Taxi began back in 1995, one of their first issues reviewed a book of short stories by a new writer, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders. To help celebrate this, and the new edition of Saunders' charming and eccentric children’s/adult’s picture book, the Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, Saunders visited the Twin Cities to read a few of his works and talk about his writing style. I don't think you could choose a better introduction to the wit and style of George Saunders than the Gappers of Frip.  Read to a rapt audience by George Saunders himself, it was great way discover Saunders’ humorous and surreal, yet true to life writing. I can thank my English major sister for introducing me to his work, though I am still trying to complete my reading of his opus. I would also recommend listening to Saunder's audiobooks, as he has a great, expressive reading voice, which made his live reading even better! 


There is nothing cynical in Saunders’ work, but it also does not shy away from depicting the dark injustices faced by every citizen in our imperfect world, poverty, prejudice, greed, apathy, fear. Yet these elements are accompanied by a gentle, bright humanism that really shines through as well, making it a great exploration of the world as it is.


I’ve read that one, along with his latest collection Tenth of December, which I listed as one of my top ten for 2013, and have always been in absolute awe at his writing prowess. More than any other author, I feel, he is able to capture the idiosyncrasies and feelings of everyday life infused with a total oddness that is itself true to life. In both Tenth of December and CivilWarLand, normal, flawed humans deal with absurd and bizarre situations they way we do with all of those inconvenient but normal problems of everyday life. Each story, also, takes a totally different and unique situation and takes it totally unexpected directions. In his discussion of his writing, Saunders mentioned a really interesting thought, that the writer's job is really to bring their subconscious to the table, to make the richest and most resonant writing. Of course, I had to get the next Saunders book I'm going to read, In Persuasion Nation, signed before I left for the night. I'm looking forward to it!

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text 2015-11-16 00:40
Land of 10,000 Pages: Downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s and my favorite 1970s books
Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s by Mike Evangelist (2015-11-01) - Mike Evangelist;
1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America - Andreas Killen
Strange Days Indeed: The 1970s: The Golden Days of Paranoia - Francis Wheen

[This a crosspost with MSP Reading Time, the book segment of my Twin Cities blog, Minneapolis-St. Paul Adventure Time.]


Over on my Twin Cities blog, I wrote about attending the recent launch of the Minnesota Historical Society's new publication, Downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s, at the Mill City Museum. Photographer Mike Evangelist, who worked downtown in the '70s and took many pictures on his breaks, and writer Andy Sturdevant put together this awesome book and discussed the background of the photos and the world they came out of. Read more over here!



In spite of never having lived in the decade, I have always found it fascinating, so seeing so clearly what the area I now live in looked like forty years ago, as the old city of Minneapolis was in the transitional stage to the corporate, modern city we know today was really cool. There seems to be some similarities between this uncertain decade and the transitions going on in it, with today.


This was the intriguing argument of historian Andreas Killen's 1973: Nervous Breakdown, which posited that the year 1973 marked the transition between the modern and the postmodern worlds.


As one of the biographies of a certain specific year in the western calendar, it was pretty convincing, connecting threads regarding fears of terrorism, renewable energy in a time of shortage, and political gridlock and distrust after Watergate. 


The chapter on fears of cults was particularly interesting, and I also enjoyed Killen's ability to draw in pop culture items of the day to explore the evolution of the American psysche during the time; the first reality TV, the first punk bands, and even the nostalgia for the late fifties current at the time that would presage the later nostalgia for the '70s themselves.

Francis Wheen makes a similar argument in his account of paranoia throughout the world during the 1970s, drawing upon popular culture, cinema, and literature to explore how the 1970s made the world we live in today. 


Wheen’s book, which examines this ten year period through the lens of one its, arguably, most defining features; paranoia, paints a vivid and disturbing picture, yet one compelling in the similarities that can be found to the world today. Paranoia, according to Wheen, truly erupted onto the world scene at the time and his anecdotes involving Nixon, Mao, Harold Wilson, and Idi Amin illustrate how a deep fear of the future had haunted the halls of power throughout the world.


In addition, he describes the emergence of fears of a doomed economy, terrorism, growth in occult and conspiratorial beliefs, and other interesting themes. I particularly enjoyed Wheen’s citing of various period literature and cinema to illustrate his points, which really help to evoke the thoughts and feelings of the time. On the other hand, the variety of these diverse themes brought together in “Strange Days Indeed” under the overarching theme of paranoia can bury his arguments in these many interesting stories.


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text 2015-10-28 20:16
Land of 10,000 Pages Halloween Special: Talking Volumes talks Welcome to Night Vale:
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

[Cross post with the book segment of my local blog MSP-Adventure Time, MSP Reading Time]

Minnesota Public Radio’s nearly twenty season old program, Talking Volumes, always has some fascinating, inspiring conversations with some of the best authors working today. As the autumn begins, new shows begin to appear, marking the perfect time to grab some new books and listen to the authors expand upon their writing. Hosted by Kerri Miller with the help of the Loft Literary Center, I always like to attend at least one of them a year.


Back in 2013, I attended the thought-provoking conversation with everyone’s favorite Canadian speculative fiction rock star Margaret Atwood, getting a couple of my books signed. It was very interesting to listen to her thoughts on the use of science in literature, and writing about the apocalypse, which seems to have become a bit of a theme for me.


On Sunday, I attended the equally thought-provoking show with Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, creators of the super popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale and the new tie in novel, at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Perfect for the coming Halloween festivities, I’ve been listening to Cranor and Fink’s creepy, witty, inexplicable stories, utterly mystified by its popularity. The two writers’ voices mesh so seamlessly into one stylish, eerie whole, aided by the pitch perfect announcing of voice actor Cecil and the atmospheric music of Disparition.  How did something so weird, so admittedly inaccessible, become such a big thing? It was very informative to listen to Kerri Miller chat with the two writers about their philosophies and craft, especially in the portions where she disagreed with them. These were some of the questions I had with the show too, and I am very curious to see how it all translates into a novel.


It was an intriguingly appropriate venue to discuss the meanings of Night Vale and how the authors create such a memorable, intricate, and bizarre, every myth is true setting. After all, Night Vale is a radio drama in the form of a podcast, detailing the community news, eccentric personalities, tongue in cheek commercials, and musical interludes. Seems familiar, eh?  I have a deep interest in fictional towns, so this parallel made for some cool discussions.


In fact, the podcast has often been described to me as Garrison Keillor meets H.P. Lovecraft, or the Prairie Home Companion crossed with the X-files. This is, as Kerri Miller pointed out, we were sitting in “the house that Lake Wobegon built.” The show started off with a trivia contest, asking audience members questions of whether something happened in Night Vale or Lake Wobegon, which again hinted at the parallels between these two imaginary communities and the weird relationships they have with the “real world.”


I am captivated, obsessed with this theme that both radio dramas share, the fictional town or community set in our world, but just a little bit outside of our normal, everyday experiences. In some ways, they are able to express the feelings of place, and of region even better than an actual location. Fink, for instance, spoke about how he sees “the places often pretty clearly, the place is important, I feel, the setting” and mentions using the hometown library he remembered growing up, a weird, inexplicable place” as the real world inspiration for Night Vale’s own “unknowable” library and its dangers.


Throughout my attempts to dabble in fiction, I have always found myself captivated, obsessed with some of the ideas explored in Welcome to Night Vale and found myself drawn into these elements specifically. One thing that Night Vale seems to specialize in is a juxtaposition between the mundane world that we all live in, and the weirder, stranger world that exists just outside our understandings. Things are weird in Night Vale, and the people accept this.


Meanwhile, the music highlighting the show, original songs by Aby Wolf, were a great compliment to the eerie, beautiful atmosphere of Night Vale and is definitely worth checking out by itself. After all, one of my favorite aspects of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast is being exposed to new, local music scenes.


I’m looking forward to reading the book!


You can listen to Sunday's show here right now, and keep an eye on the future scheduled shows as well!

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