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Literary Giants: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Date: 
Monday, August 30, 2004 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
Mary Roach
Title: 
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. In her droll, intimate voice, Roach conducts an oddly compelling, often hilarious forensic exploration of the strange lives of bodies postmortem. Read more about Literary Giants: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

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Literary Giants: Age of Innocence

Date: 
Monday, September 27, 2004 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
Edith Wharton
Title: 
Age of Innocence

Old New York was a society of ironclad traditions, but for Newland Archer, they were too restricting to simply accept. Here is Wharton's story of human passion and satiric observation, as compelling today as when it was first published This 1921 Pulitzer Prize winner is a comic, profoundly moving story of thwarted love in Old New York. As Newland Archer prepares to marry docile May Welland, the mysterious Countess Olenska enters the picture and Archer's world is never again the same. (W.W. Norton & Co.) Read more about Literary Giants: Age of Innocence

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Literary Giants: A Prayer for Owen Meany

Date: 
Monday, October 25, 2004 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
John Irving
Title: 
A Prayer for Owen Meany

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary and terrifying. Read more about Literary Giants: A Prayer for Owen Meany

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Literary Giants: Crossing to Safety

Date: 
Monday, November 22, 2004 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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Author: 
Wallace Stegner
Title: 
Crossing to Safety

Beginning in the 1930s and finishing in the 1980s, this is a tale of a friendship of enormous beauty and power between two couples of widely different backgrounds. Called a "magnificently crafted story...brimming with wisdom" (Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World), Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage. Read more about Literary Giants: Crossing to Safety

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Literary Giants: The Handmaid's Tale

Date: 
Monday, January 31, 2005 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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Author: 
Margaret Atwood
Title: 
The Handmaid's Tale

Highly respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the "morally fit" Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: "of Fred"), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. Read more about Literary Giants: The Handmaid's Tale

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Literary Giants: Invisible Man

Date: 
Monday, February 28, 2005 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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Author: 
Ralph Ellison
Title: 
Invisible Man

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. Read more about Literary Giants: Invisible Man

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Literary Giants: The Devil in the White City

Date: 
Monday, March 28, 2005 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
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Author: 
Erik Larson
Title: 
The Devil in the White City

Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted theill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. Bestselling author Larson (Isaac's Storm) strikes a fine balance between the planning and execution of the vast fair and Holmes's relentless, ghastly activities. This book is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich, pre-automobile America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of "articulated" corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed. Read more about Literary Giants: The Devil in the White City

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Literary Giants: Excellent Women

Date: 
Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
Barbara Pym
Title: 
Excellent Women

An unqualifiedly great novel from the writer most likely to be compared to Jane Austen, this is a very funny, perfectly written book that can rival any other in its ability to capture the essence of its characters on the page. Mildred Lathbury, the narrator of Pym's excellent book is a never-married woman in her 30s--which in 1950s England makes her a nearly-confirmed spinster. Hers is a pretty unexciting life, centered around her small church, and part-time job. But Mildred is far more perceptive and witty than even she seems to think, and when Helena and Rockingham Napier move into the flat below her, there seems to be a chance for her life to take a new direction. This early comic novel, which was hailed by Lord David Cecil as one of "the finest examples of high comedy to have appeared in England during the past seventy-five years," helped launch the rediscovery of the author's entire work. This is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest. (Amazon) Read more about Literary Giants: Excellent Women

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Literary Giants: My Brilliant Career

Date: 
Monday, May 23, 2005 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
Miles Franklin
Title: 
My Brilliant Career

In this ironically titled and riotous first novel by Miles Franklin, originally published in 1901, Sybylla tells the story of growing up passionate and rebellious in rural NSW. where the most that girls could hope for was to marry or to teach. Sybylla will do neither, but that doesn't stop her from falling in love, and it doesn't make the choices any easier. Read more about Literary Giants: My Brilliant Career

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Literary Giants: My Sister's Keeper

Date: 
Monday, July 25, 2005 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Author: 
Jodi Picoult
Title: 
My Sister's Keeper

Imagine that you were conceived to be the donor of bone marrow and platelets for your older sister, who has a rare form of cancer. Imagine what it would be like to grow up in a family where everyone is constantly aware of one child's deadly illness, so that all decisions must be filtered through what will work for her treatment or her most recent medical emergency. How can a 12-year-old decide against donating a kidney to her older sister? Read more about Literary Giants: My Sister's Keeper

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