The Troubles of Johnny Cannon
By Isaiah Campbell (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Super-heroes and schools without homework are among the phenomena unlikely to appear in real life. Johnny Cannon, of small-town Cullen, Alabama, knows this in his wishful heart, while still keeping such hopes alive. But it’s also 1961 in the Deep South, during the administration of President John F. Kennedy. And Johnny’s home life is deteriorating. His father, ex-military, is struggling with alcohol and bankruptcy. His older brother, Tommy, is a tall, tough, heroic soldier—and “dadgum,” as Johnny would say, if he doesn’t up and leave home again on a suspect secret mission. Just when Johnny’s life seems to be settling back into the everyday dreariness that his determined good humor, naivety and imaginatively folksy turns of phrase (“I left a cloud of dust in the shape of Johnny Cannon”) do their best to overcome, author Isaiah Campbell unlooses a macabre set of twists and turns that simultaneously serve as an action-packed history of race relations, the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion, and the conduct of Fidel Castro and the figures around him (such as a distinctly unpleasant Che Guevara) from a kid’s-eye view....
A Novel Approach
More Magazine writes, "In quaint headquarters, tucked among the blank towers of midtown Manhattan, the Center for Fiction feels like somewhere you'd be more likely to run ito Bartleby the Scrivener than your therapist—unless she's a "bibliotherapist" like Noreen Tomassi, the center's executive director, who manages a service called A Novel Approach. For $125, Tomassi will handpick 12 books, basing her choices on a 45-minute phone call, an e-mail exchange or, preferably, a face-to-face session with you..." For more on bibliotherapy or to schedule a session, please click here.
Talks to Noreen Tomassi
The winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize talks about her social responsibility as a writer from the Virgin Islands, our current dystopia, her greatest influences, and more:
"Although I say it took me 11 years to write the novel, maybe it took longer. I've been hearing these stories my whole life, you know, the stories of my great grandfather who went down with his ship, and the story of my grandmother, whose siblings were left to figure out what it might mean to be a part of this family on their own. My grandmother was raised by her eldest sister, just like Annette was raised by Eeona.
Hearing those stories again and again, and hearing them in different ways and from different angles over time allowed me to experience them not just as history, but also as storytelling and as fiction...." READ MORE
Remembering Robert Stone
by Roxana Robinson
When I first read Robert Stone’s work I was struck by the beauty of the sentences. That’s the way a writer reads, listening to cadence and rhythm and beauty, and that’s what first draws your respect and attention. Also the perfect economy of his prose: “Father Egan left off writing, rose from his chair and made his way – a little unsteadily – to the bottle of Flor de Cana which he had placed across the room from his desk.”
The very first word here reveals the dark and monumental presence of the Catholic Church. With the next phrase we see that Egan cannot complete his task, struggles with alcoholism and makes a pathetic attempt to combat it. We know everything we need to know in the first sentence about the core of this man... READ MORE
By Sara Batkie, CFF Awards and Programs Manager
I am a very light sleeper, which is an unfortunate thing when living in the city, with its constant cacophony of ambulance sirens, honking cars, and noise from close-quartered neighbors. But in many ways it was even worse when I was growing up in Iowa. There’s an eeriness to the sounds that reach you in the middle of nowhere. You can never be quite sure where they’re coming from or what they might be. It’s this late night foreboding that Evie Wyld captures exceedingly well in her second novel All the Birds, Singing, which recently won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s highest literary honor....READ MORE
It's that time of year again. 2014 has come and gone, and the inevitable tax filing awaits. Whether you're struggling with debt or basking in the luxuries of financial success, we are sure these books will resonate with you (and offer an excuse to put off doing your taxes). READ MORE
Founded in 1997 by then Center director Harold Augenbraum, the Proust Society's mission is to encourage the reading, study and enjoyment of the work of Marcel Proust. The Society presents lectures for the public and members take part in groups that read and discuss Proust's masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu.