I do judge books by their covers and am an easy mark for lush artwork or eye-catching fonts. When it comes to titles, however, certain standards apply. Whimsy and creativity are admirable, but the title should pertain to the content and should not be arbitrarily taken out of context from the pages. Fair's fair.
My title-appropriateness radar recently went on full alert when, well into Amanda Eyre Ward's Love Stories in This Town, a bartender observes, "There are no love stories in this town."
How does this title not qualify as a bait-and-switch? You'll have to read Love Stories... for yourself, but I'll just say that the author's conscience may remain clear. Ward's story collection, potentially a fine choice for readers who normally prefer novels, does have much to say about love and what it asks of us. As for the "town" part--the locales are varied, from Butte, Montana, to Saudi Arabia, to Austin (where the author resides); each one contributes more than just local flavor to the proceedings. While Part One stories are standalone episodes without shared characters, the Part Two "Lola Stories" track significant life events for one memorable woman.
Book groups take note: following the stories you'll find an interview with the author, along with questions and topics for discussion. Ward's list of favorite short story collections suggests some wonderful future reads.
It's a momentous week to launch a new blog. Michael Jackson's death has inspired all sorts of musings regarding what his music meant to whom and when. His legions of fans include so many in our area, and yet I heard someone on KUT radio observe that "Austin isn't really Michael Jackson country". A city known for quirky tastes and musical diversity, Austin is not easily identified as anyone's turf, certainly not that of a pop icon.
Everyone knows that Austin is enviably weird and progressive. In Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown, and other such places, we're still discovering which choices demonstrate our character.
Reading preferences express so much about a community. Comments offered at the library here in Round Rock are intriguing, but we'd like to hear much more from readers, library users or not. What do you love to read? Avoid reading? (And are there stories explaining why?) What favorite author do you see languishing on the shelf and wish others would encounter?
Share your thoughts and critiques about books, authors, new formats such as Kindle and mp3, or any other reader-ly opinions with us here. What we read is who we are!