Shelf Life Blog
Since moving to Fredericksburg, I’ve discovered the joys of NPR, and, in particular, Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. The combination of driving the area’s picturesque roads and listening to a variety of scintillating interviews never fails to brighten my day. Whether it’s mushroom hunters searching for the holy grail of fungi, a discussion about the after-death experience, or a conversation with today’s in-vogue actor, singer or writer, I’m hooked.
Recently on my way to work at the Headquarters branch, I tuned in to hear Terry interviewing Vendela Vida about her latest fiction work, The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. The book’s unusual premise immediately grabbed me. And I was equally intrigued to learn that Vida is married to Dave Eggers, a prolific author of many titles, including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.
Matt Miller’s mother is dead. Every day, he wakes up and puts on the same suit that he wore to her funeral. At work, at school…everywhere he goes, Matt is The Boy in the Black Suit.
"Being a dinosaur is hard," insists a green Tyrannosaurus Rex in Rawr! He is bigger than all the other kids in class, as well as his teachers, and even the school bus! This carnivorous kid literally has a lot of trouble fitting in at school.
Christine has amnesia. Every day she wakes up not knowing where she is or who’s sleeping next to her. As the day unfolds, she learns that she was involved in a horrific car accident. And, although she has no recollection of him, the man in her bed turns out to be her husband Ben, who has patiently stuck with her throughout her lengthy ordeal. Thus begins Before I Go to Sleep, the debut novel by S. J. Watson.
Sherlock Holmes is looking for a swarm of wild bees and perhaps something more personally sinister at the start of Beekeeping for Beginners. What, or rather whom, he finds instead is a young person, dressed in good if tattered clothes, whose wits and keen observation are a surprising match for his own.
When a little bear cub stumbles upon a plate of cookies and a teddy bear sitting in the middle of the woods, he thinks the stuffed animal is the owner of the sweet treats. "I'll eat the cookies for you," he promises. Little does he know that someone else is calling the shots. In order to get at those cookies, Cub will have to follow some Tea Party Rules.
A girl shows up and quickly notices a difference about her bear companion. "You're grubby. Tea Party Rule: you must be clean." Hopefully Cub likes baths as much as he likes cookies, but I doubt it.
When Farmer Joe goes to sleep, the animals on his farm are still wide awake. They are preparing for their debut show as the rock band Punk Farm!
Each animal has his own instrument, and the barn works well as a practice space. Thankfully, punk rock focuses on sheer animalistic energy over talent, so these hooved and feathered bandmates have little to worry about skill-wise. But wait....did the farmer's bedroom light just turn back on?
You know it’s a Southern slow cooker book when recipes may call for the ingredients to be first kissed by a cast-iron skillet. Heirloom and well-loved vegetables, such as pole beans and sweet potatoes and kale, are a part of the package, along with Smokey Navy Bean Soup (with cornbread), Creamy Cheese Grits, Shrimp Creole, and Carolina-style BBQ—its sauce from scratch, not a bottle.