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Candice's Picks

Book Cover for The Hummingbird's Daughter Urrea, Luis Alberto
The Hummingbird's Daughter

A beautifully rich tapestry woven from historical research, magical realism, and the astonishing life of Teresita, this novel about the life of Urrea's great-aunt, born in Mexico in 1873, is epic in scope, magical to its core, and as real as the sky. Teresita, born to a 14-year-old Indian girl and the Mexican land owner for whom she labors, becomes both a Western-educated young lady invited by her father into his household and a curandera taught by one of the most powerful curanderas in Mexico. As such, she goes on to defy a near-deadly rape, raising from her coffin, to become one of Mexico's unique legends. Her miraculous recovery brings thousands of pilgrims to the Urrea ranch, where Teresita inspires Indian uprisings and revolution.
Recommended by Candice, June 2007

Book Cover for Subway Chronicles Cangro, Jacquelin ed.
The Subway Chronicles: Scenes from Life in New York

Short Stories
These essays and stories about New York's subway system and those that people its cars, are in its employ, and live in its tunnels are a tremendous elegy to the city as a whole. Often considered the city's circulatory system, the subway systems of Manhattan and the boroughs that joined to create the system's current incarnation offer a never-ending pageant of the city's inhabitants. As such, it is a tremendous well from which these writers, from Jonathan Lethem and Colson Whitehead to Francine Prose, Calvin Trillin, and Lawrence Block, draw inspiration, characters, and stories such as these, which throb with the energy of New York City's underground world.
Recommended by Candice, May 2007

Book Cover for Ports of Call Maalouf, Amin
Ports of Call

In describing the life of Ossyane Ketabdar, an Arab/Armenian hero of the French resistance, Maalouf delicately and intimately describes the genocide and war that engulfed Europe and the Middle East throughout the twentieth century through the lens of a beautiful and poignant love story. Over four days, Ketabdar pours out his story to our unnamed narrator, a man he meets on the Paris Metro, a fellow countryman who recognizes him from a photo in his school history book. In Ports of Call, Maalouf weaves a tale of relationships between countries told through the relationships between very specific and moving individuals. Alberto Manguel's translation allows the passion and hopefulness of Maalouf's writing to shine.
Recommended by Candice, April 2007

Book Cover Vowell, Sarah
The Partly Cloudy Patriot

Vowell is slightly concerned with her obsession with those sites throughout the United States associated with some of our history's greatest tragedies, such as Salem and Gettysburg. Her obsession with historical attractions provides us with a tremendous read. Vowell's descriptions of the development of the United States are peppered with glimpses into her own intriguing intellect, "Fact is, I think about the Civil War all the time, every day. I can't even use a cotton ball to remove my eye makeup without spacing out about slavery's favorite cash crop and that line from Lincoln's second inaugural address." (p. 2) These essays offer a profound statement about patriotism in a country where patriotism is often confused with blind belief in a single administration's ideals.
Recommended by Candice, August 2005

Book Cover Kimmel, Haven
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana

Kimmel's memoir of childhood during the late 1960's through the 1970's is a terrifically funny examination of family. Her descriptions of the relationships inevitable in a small town are by turns poignant and deadpan. She opens by describing Mooreland, a town that has numbered 300 since 1940, as east of Epileptic, Indiana, and continues from there. Her witty and engaging prose leaves one hoping for a second installment covering the teen years and her experiences in college.

Recommended by Candice, July 2005