1940s -- fiction

Tinisima

By Elena Poniatowska

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"A vibrant portrait of the controversial photographer and radical Tina Modotti discusses her love affair with Edward Weston, her trial for the murder of another lover, her militant communism, and her work for the international revolutionary organization Red Aid."
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A Simple Habana Melody (From When the World Was Good)

By Oscar Hijuelos

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"It is 1947 and Israel Levis, a Cuban composer whose life had once been a dream of music, love and sadness, is returning to Habana, Cuba, from Spain, where he has just recovered from the physical and spiritual malaise resulting from his experiences in Paris, then Buchenwald, during the Nazi occupation of France. (A devout Catholic, Levis had been mistakenly identified as a Jew because of his name.)

"When Levis arrives back in Habana, after an absence of many years, his mind is reeling with beautiful memories of his life in Cuba and in Paris before the war, a life of pleasure and excitement that he owes, in part, to an unrequited, nearly 'chivalrous' romance with a certain Rita Valladares, a singer for whom Levis had written his most famous song, 'Rosas Puras,' or 'Pretty Roses.' This 1928 composition becomes the most famous rumba in the world and changes both American and European tastes in music and dance -- forever; and it is the song, symbolic of the composer's love for Rita Valladares, that sets Levis's life in Europe in motion. This is at once a love story -- for art, family and country -- as well as a portrait of Habana at the turn of the last century, when 'the world was good.'"

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The End of Baseball

By Peter Schilling, Jr.

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Hungry for a pennant, young Veeck jettisons the team's white players and secretly recruits the legendary stars of the Negro Leagues, fielding a club that will go down in baseball annals as one of the greatest ever to play the game. Here are the behind-the-scenes adventures that bring this dream to reality, and a cast of characters only history's pen could create: the players themselves-the tragic Josh Gibson, the remarkable but self-centered Satchel Paige, the Cuban wonder Martin Dihigo, the veteran stalwarts Cool Papa Bell, Willie Wells, and Buck Leonard, and the rising stars Roy Campanella, Artie Wilson, and Dave Barnhill--plus Walter Winchell, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and J. Edgar Hoover!

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Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries

By Maj Lindman

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Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka are going wild-strawberry picking. Mother is going to pay them for every basket they gather. They walk and pick until their baskets are overflowing, but soon they are lost, tired, and thirsty.
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Devil in a Blue Dress

By Walter Mosley

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"Devil in a Blue Dress honors the tradition of the classic American detective novel by bestowing on it a vivid social canvas and the freshest new voice in crime writing in years, mixing the hard-boiled poetry of Raymond Chandler with the racial realism of Richard Wright to explosive effect."
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Playland

By John Gregory Dunne

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From Hollywood in the 1940s to America in the 1990s, this novel details fame and its excesses, honor and personal betrayal, and a search for what may or may not be the truth. A screenwriter, Jack Broderick, stumbles upon Blue Tyler, the legendary former child star, and searches for answers to questions unasked for decades.
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A Way of Life Like Any Other

By Darcy O'Brien

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"The hero of Darcy O'Brien's A Way of Life, Like Any Other is a child of Hollywood, and once his life was a glittery dream. His father starred in Westerns. His mother was a goddess of the silver screen. The family enjoyed the high life on their estate, Casa Fiesta. But his parents' careers have crashed since then, and their marriage has broken up, too.

"Lovesick and sex-crazed, the mother sets out on an intercontinental quest for the right—or wrong—man, while her mild-mannered but manipulative former husband clings to his memories in California. And their teenage son? How he struggles both to keep faith with his family and to get by himself, and what in the end he must do to break free, makes for a classic coming-of-age story—a novel that combines keen insight and devastating wit to hilarious and heartbreaking effect."

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Peyton Place

By Grace Metalious

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Peyton Place, published in 1956, has sold over 10,000,000 copies world-wide and remains one of the biggest selling novels of all time. Its sequel, Return to Peyton Place, published in 1959, was a national best-seller for many, many months. It was considered absolutely scandalous when it was published. Peyton Place stirred controversy with its explicit—for the time—depictions of sex and sins in a small New England town. Today, the once shocking novel and its sequel seem tame, and are taught in college English courses as classics of their time, well-written and honest in the evocation of the passions, jealousies, and secrets of small-town America. In 1957, it was made into an award-winning movie starring Lana Turner.

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Standing in the Rainbow

By Fannie Flagg

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"Good news! Fannie’s back in town--and the town is among the leading characters in her new novel.

"Along with Neighbor Dorothy, the lady with the smile in her voice, whose daily radio broadcasts keep us delightfully informed on all the local news, we also meet Bobby, her ten-year-old son, destined to live a thousand lives, most of them in his imagination; Norma and Macky Warren and their ninety-eight-year-old Aunt Elner; the oddly sexy and charismatic Hamm Sparks, who starts off in life as a tractor salesman and ends up selling himself to the whole state and almost the entire country; and the two women who love him as differently as night and day. Then there is Tot Whooten, the beautician whose luck is as bad as her hairdressing skills; Beatrice Woods, the Little Blind Songbird; Cecil Figgs, the Funeral King; and the fabulous Minnie Oatman, lead vocalist of the Oatman Family Gospel Singers.

"The time is 1946 until the present. The town is Elmwood Springs, Missouri, right in the middle of the country, in the midst of the mostly joyous transition from war to peace, aiming toward a dizzyingly bright future."

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Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters

By Jean Shepherd

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The creator of A Christmas Story shares more of growing up in the Midwest--this time during his teenaged years:
"...a universal (and achingly funny) orchestration of Midwestern puberty rites, from the gut-wrenching playground antics of one Delbert Bumpus, to the supernal glow surrounding unapproachable high school beauty Daphne Bigelow, to the memorable disaster that was Shepherd's (and everyone else's) junior prom."
Stories include:
The grandstand passion play of Delbert and the Bumpus hounds --County fair! -- Scut Farkas and the murderous Mariah -- Ollie Hopnoodle's haven of bliss -- The star-crossed romance of Josephine Cosnowski --Daphne Bigelow and the spine-chilling saga of the snail-encrusted tinfoil noose - - The return of the smiling Wimpy doll -- Wanda Hickey's night of golden memories.

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