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Middleton Public Library
Address: 7425 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562
Phone: 608-831-5564     Email: info@midlibrary.org
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Thursday September 12
Join us at the Free House Pub (1902 Parmenter St, Middleton) to discuss "Eileen: A Novel" by Ottessa Moshfegh. A limited number of copies are available for checkout at the library's reference desk. Please RSVP if you plan to join the discussion. Eileen was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and chosen by David Sedaris as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour. The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings. Played out against the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas, young Eileen’s story is told from the gimlet-eyed perspective of the now much older narrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature. (Amazon.com)
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Thursday September 19
VIRGIL WANDER by LEIF ENGER. Virgil Wander , city clerk of Greenstone, a formerly industrious coastal Minnesota town that time forgot, has just survived a crash that sent his Pontiac screaming into snowy Lake Superior. After Virgil's accident, his apartment above the movie theater he owns and operates feels like someone else's home, and everyone he used to know—most of whom he remembers—wants to be sure he heard the rumor that he, in fact, died. In his convalescence, Virgil meets Rune, a Norwegian ostensibly arrived in Greenstone to teach its residents the joys of kite flying as he gathers information about his son, who just happens to be the town's most famously disappeared resident: a minor-league baseball phenom who took a solo flight in a Taylorcraft 10 years ago and never came back. Virgil's narration is a joy: he lost his adjectives in the crash, making for their gleeful insertion each time he remembers one. Enger (So Brave, Young, and Handsome, 2008) populates down-on-its-luck Greenstone with true characters—charming Virgil , his love interest, friends, and not-quite-friends, and even some wily wildlife—and gives them diverting plotlines aplenty, but the focus of his bright and breathing third novel feels mostly like life itself, in all its smallness and bigness, and what it means to live a good one (BOOKLIST).
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Thursday October 17
2019 GO BIG READ : THE POISON SQUAD by DEBORAH BLUM. America’s nauseating industrial food supply of yesteryear sparks political turmoil in this engrossing study of a pure-foods pioneer. Pulitzer-winning science journalist and Undark magazine publisher Blum (The Poisoner’s Handbook) looks back to the end of the 19th century, when unregulated manufacturers routinely added noxious substances to the nation’s foodstuffs: cakes were colored with lead and arsenic; milk was preserved with formaldehyde; brown sugar was padded out with ground-up insects; processed meats contained every variety of flesh and filth. Blum centers the book on Harvey Wiley, crusading head of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry, who fed a “poison squad” of human volunteers common food adulterants like borax to see if they got sick—and they usually did; his reports helped pass the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. Blum’s well-informed narrative—complete with intricate battles between industry lobbyists and a coalition of scientists, food activists, and women’s groups—illuminates the birth of the modern regulatory state and its tangle of reformist zeal, policy dog-fights, and occasional overreach (Wiley wanted to restrict the artificial sweetener saccharin, which nowadays is considered safe, and wasted much time trying to get corn syrup relabeled as glucose). The result is a stomach churner and a page-turner (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).
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Thursday November 21
Join us at the Free House Pub (1902 Parmenter St, Middleton) to discuss "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann. A limited number of copies are available for checkout at the library's reference desk. Please RSVP if you plan to join the discussion. From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. (Amazon.com)
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Thursday December 5
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by GAIL HONEYMAN. Eleanor Oliphant , the friendless 29-year-old finance clerk in a small Scottish graphics design firm, feels safest in the cocoon of strict routines both at work and at home. Unfazed by office gossip about her peculiarities (she acknowledges that her coworkers have a point), Eleanor's careful firewalls start to crack. She simultaneously develops a crush on a bar musician and is reluctantly drawn into a tentative friendship with Raymond, the new IT guy, and with Sammy, an older man whose life she and Raymond save. Without a shred of self-pity and lacking nearly all social skills (but willing to learn them) owing to her shocking, savage past, Eleanor is unaware of her ability to charm and inspire those who want to help her and those who grow to care for her. VERDICT Honeyman's exquisite, heartbreaking, funny, and irresistible novel brings to life a character so original and pitch-perfect that it is nearly impossible to believe this is a debut. Surprises abound as the author boldly turns literary expectations upside down and gives to her readers Eleanor Oliphant , who, yes, is completely , beautifully fine (LIBRARY JOURNAL).
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