Authors We Love: Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica

Toni Morrison (February 18, 1931 — August 5, 2019) was an American writer and writer who was born in Lorain, Ohio. She graduated from Howard university. Coming to the literary scene in the late 1960s, her works were fiery, brief and poetic, and she was known for her acute observations of black life in America. Her major works include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1974), Song of Solomon (1977), and Tar Baby (1981). She became a professor at Princeton university in 1989 and won the Nobel Prize of literature in 1993. In all of Morrison’s works, one of the greatest costs of the black character’s rebellion against fate is family and kinship. For African American slaves, staying away from home and maintaining family ties was the result of their intelligence and tenacity. It also meant emotional and spiritual sustenance. Therefore, the loss of “family”, a precious treasure, as a result of the rebellion against the fate, has been a helpless sigh for the fate of black people in Morrison’s works.

How to heal the long-accumulated historical wounds in the hearts of black citizens and get rid of their misunderstanding of themselves— an urgent problem related to the destiny and future of the black nation, has led Toni Morrison to ponder. After careful consideration, Morrison realized that to completely change America’s perception of black people, we must find a real solution to make the nation be more receptive and welcoming, so that the whole nation clearly and consciously accepts African Americans as part of its whole. Therefore, on the question of exploring racial equality, Morrison put forward the idea of reclaiming the black cultural heritage. This in itself encourages the writer to heal the psychological trauma in many African Americans and help them to be hopeful and proud of their lineage again.

The works of Toni Morrison are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury - Wikipedia

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 — June 6, 2012) was born in Waukegan, Illinois, USA. He loved adventure stories and fantasy novels, especially the fantastic stories edited by Gernsback. When he was twelve, he was given a typewriter for his birthday. He began to practice his writing. As early as middle school, he took an elective course on how to write a novel. He began to contribute to several magazines in 1941, became a professional writer in 1943, and won the Best American Short Story Award three years later. He has written several novels, such as “Fahrenheit 451” is quite famous. But he is also known for his short stories, so far short stories published nearly 20 units, including the famous are: “The Martian Chronicles” (1950), “the Golden Apples of the Sun” (1953), “The Rocket” (1962), “Last Night of the World” (1966), etc. Bradbury is not only a world-famous science fiction writer, but also one of the leading grammarian in contemporary American literature. In addition to writing science fiction, he wrote screenplays and social fiction, and adapted the classic American literary work “Moby Dick” by Melville into a screenplay. He himself drew nourishment from the classics as well.

Bradbury is one of those rare writers whose work has changed the way people think. With over 500 books — including short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television plays, and poetry — he represented the pinnacle of American imagination. Once you read his work, his words will stick with you. His enduring appeal to both the old and the young proves once again that Bradbury was a true classic of the 20th century.

The works of Ray Bradbury are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Harper Lee

The Measure Of Harper Lee: A Life Shaped By A Towering Text : The ...

Harper Lee (Nelle Harper Lee, on April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016) was born in 1926 in the southern United States in a small town in Alabama. Published in 1960, the only novel in her life “To Kill a Mockingbird” made her won great reputation and the Pulitzer prize for fiction. The novel has been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Her father was a lawyer and a former state legislator. After graduating from local public schools, Harper Lee studied law at the University of Alabama and spent a year as an exchange student at Oxford University in England. Six months before graduating, she left school and moved to New York to pursue her writing dream. She writes while working as an airline reservation clerk in New York. Encouraged by friends and editors, she returned to her hometown in Alabama to write stories based on fragments of her childhood. Her masterpiece was “To Kill a Mockingbird”, released in 1960. The book is still one of the greatest American novels ever written. For 40 years, she has never given an interview, although paparazzi have tracked her down to where she lives with her sister Alice in Monroeville, Alabama. She was single and childless.

In 1961, Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

In 2007, Harper Lee received the Medal of Freedom from US President George W. bush for her literary achievements.

The works of Harper Lee are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (Author of The Old Man and the Sea)

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961) was born in Oak Park, Illinois.

Hemingway won many awards in his life. He was awarded the silver medal for bravery during the first world war; In 1953, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “the Old Man and the Sea.” This book won Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. In 2001, Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and “a Farewell to Arms” were listed by The American Modern Library as one of “The 100 Best English-Language Novels of The 20th Century.”

Hemingway committed suicide with a shotgun at his home in Idaho on July 2, 1961. He was 62 years old.

Hemingway, who had been married four times in his life, was a representative of the “Lost Generation” writers in the United States. He showed his confusion and hesitation about life, the world, and society in his works. He has always been known as a tough man in the literary world. He is a spiritual monument of the American nation.

Hemingway’s usage of language has the characteristics of no redundancy, easy style, simple sentences, and plain words. He often constructs single sentences with basic words as the center, and seldom relies on adjectives and adverbs to express thoughts. In chapter 26 of “A Farewell to Arms,” a conversation about the war between Henry and the vicar is concise and perspicuous. The absence of flashy modifiers gives the reader a strong sense of people’s aversion to war. In the novel “The Killer”, many succinct phrases are used, and the plot is developed in the form of colloquial dialogue. Hemingway avoids unnecessary explanations and complicated background twists which allow the readers to directly interact with the characters and be immersed in the plotline.

-Coreen C. 

The works of Ernest Hemingway are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Authors We Love: William Faulkner

William Faulkner - Wikipedia

(William Faulkner William Faulkner on September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962), one of the most influential writers in the history of American literature is the representative figure of a stream of consciousness literature in the United States, and the 1949 Nobel Prize winner, won the prize for “because he has made a strong and art to contemporary American novel unparalleled contribution”.

In his lifetime, he wrote 19 novels and more than 120 short stories, among which 15 novels and the vast majority of short stories took place in Yoknapatawpha County, known as “Yoknapatawpha lineage”. The main thread is the story of generations of several families of different social classes in the county town of Jefferson and its suburbs, from 1800 until after World War II. More than 600 characters with family names are interspersed in novels and short stories. The most representative work is “The Sound and the Fury.”

Faulkner reflected the reality of southern society facing the invasion of industrial civilization through subjective refraction. The Civil War ended with the defeat of the south. After the war, the traditional values of the south collapsed. Raised in the southern tradition, Faulkner grew up with tales of courage, honor, compassion, pride, justice, and freedom from his ancestors His pride in his family and love of his native land were sown in his heart. However, the rapid collapse of the south, the impact of the first world war, and the postwar American society led him to make a reflection on the traditions. He learned to face the reality to make new thinking, peel off the beauty of the southern spiritual heritage, and see the evil of the southern slavery and plantation owners of corruption, slavery, and inhumanity. This realization was painful for Faulkner, who was deeply attached to his home. He did not shy away from the pain, but with the artist’s keen eye to see the facts, willing to become a spiritual vagabond. And he could not find sustenance in the industrial civilization brought by the north. What he saw was the suffering of the people of the south in the development of capitalism. In the new south, simple human relations were replaced by money, and peaceful life was destroyed by a chaotic and noisy urban life. Everyone loses his or her individuality and becomes a machine that is manipulated or abused. So they involuntarily turn to the old ways of life, but immediately recall the guilt of history and fear. It was with such a complex feeling that Faulkner depicted the southern society and conceived his own art world.

-Coreen C. 

The works of William Faulkner are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow (Author of Herzog)

Saul Bellow (1915 — 2005) was an American writer, known as the spokesman of American contemporary literature. Born in 1915 in Racine, a suburb of Montreal, Canada, to Jewish immigrants from st. Petersburg, Russia. In 1924, the family moved to Chicago, USA. He attended the University of Chicago in 1933, and two years later transferred to Northwestern University, where he graduated in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology. In addition to the occupation as an editor, journalist, and merchant navy, Bellow spent most of his time as a college professor. He received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern universities. Bellow wrote and published 11 novels, 3 novellas, 4 short stories, and a play. In addition, he also published three non-fiction works, such as travel notes, essays, and speech collections.

The protagonists in Bellow’s works all desire to pursue a better life and the meaning of life. Even Maggie, who is in a wandering situation, dreams of starting an orphanage. The pursuit of the perfect self and social life translates into the ideal of Bellow’s heroes. However, life not only rewards them with incentives but more often stabs them in the back without them noticing. Hence, most of the characters exemplify escapism from the harsh reality that is imposed upon them. There is an inescapable paradox between their search for freedom and their flight. Just as they dream of playing the noble role of helping the world and saving the common, they are also victims of the cruel world.

-Coreen C. 

The works of Saul Bellow are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Authors We Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in st. Paul, Minnesota, to a family of small businessmen. His ancestors, who had once been rich and powerful, have faded down to his parents’ generation. In 1913, supported by relatives, he attended Princeton University, an aristocratic institution of higher learning in the eastern United States. But he had no interest in his studies, often missed classes and failed exams, and focused almost entirely on social activities. He managed to get into the school’s literary group, was invited to the most famous clubs, shook off his country accent, and developed a standard “advanced” English, trying to subtly erase differences of birth. In 1915, when Princeton’s theater troupe toured the United States with his comedy “The Evil Eye,” he was barred from performing with the group because of his grades.

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered World War I, and Fitzgerald joined the army. In late 1918, Fitzgerald left the army and headed to New York, where he found only a job writing the words for a little-known advertising agency. In June 1919, his lover Zelda lost patience and called off the engagement. Early experiences led to Fitzgerald’s lifelong sensitivity to money. In 1919, Fitzgerald returned home with nothing. Published in February 1920, the novel “This Side of Paradise” became an instant hit for its vivid sense of The Times, and the first edition sold out in a few days. Magazines began to scramble for him.

On December 21, 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack caused by alcoholism at the age of 44, leaving behind an unfinished work, “The Last Tycoon”.

He is a legendary author with a flourishing life, but his outstanding literary understanding and writing abilities did not leave him with a glorious ending.

-Coreen C. 

The works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 — May 6, 1862) was an American writer, philosopher, and representative of transcendentalism.

A graduate of Harvard University, he helped edit Emerson’s quarterly review of the Sundial. He was a lifelong supporter of the abolitionist movement. He preached abolitionism everywhere and attacked fugitive slave laws. Deeply influenced by Emerson, he advocated returning to the heart and getting close to nature. In 1845, he lived by Walden Pond, two miles away from Concord, as a recluse for two years, farming and eating by himself, experiencing a life of simplicity. Walden, a long essay on this subject, became a classic work of transcendentalism.

Thoreau was brilliant and wrote more than twenty first-class essays in his lifetime. Known as the founder of nature essays, Thoreau’s prose was concise and powerful, simple and natural, and full of thoughts, which was unique among the American prose in the 19th century. Walden is considered the most popular nonfiction in American literature. His other works include political treatise on Civil Disobedience, Life without Principle, Cape Cod, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack river, The Maine Woods, etc. Walden records his reclusive life in Walden, while Civil Disobedience discusses the injustices of government and power and justifies citizens’ voluntary refusal to obey certain laws.

Thoreau was not tall but very firm with pale skin and strong, serious blue eyes, and a solemn manner.Thoreau later in his life, had a beard that suited him. His features were sharp, his build strong, and his hands were strong and swift in the use of tools. He said that he used his feet better than his eyes to find his way through the woods at night, and that he could estimate the height of two trees with his eyes very accurately; he could estimate the weight of an ox or a pig as well as a cattle dealer. He was good at swimming, racing, skating and rowing, and could probably beat any countryman in the long walk from morning to night. The relationship between his body and his mind is even more subtle than we think. He said that every step of his leg was his. As usual, the longer he traveled, the longer he wrote. If you shut him in at home, he won’t write at all.

-Coreen C.

The works of Henry David Thoreau are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Ruta Sepetys

Ruts Sepetys is one of the most well known young adult historical fiction authors ever! With historical fiction being my favorite genre, I consider myself proud to say that Ruta Sepetys is my favorite author of all time. I have read all of the books she has written and I consider every single one of them to be some of my favorite books. 

Unlike many historical fiction authors, she doesn’t exclusively write about one event in history. With a setting like New Orleans, Barcelona, and Siberia, Sepetys takes us into a plethora of historical events, with different time periods, people, and settings. 

One specific thing I love about historical fiction is you learn something along the way, and all of Ruta Sepetys writes about overlooked events in history. These aren’t things you learn from your history textbook, they’re much more than that. Her books take you on a journey through events like the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that took 10 times the lives the Titanic did, and is the biggest maritime disaster of all time. But for some unknown reason, nobody talks about it, except for Sepetys.

Not only does she shed these huge historical events to light, but she does also these events justice. Although what she writes is fiction, the historical events they’re based on are all too real. Sepetys does an amazing job of research. In her most recent novel, The Fountains of Silence, the back of the book offered more details about her writing and research process, as well as pages of her notes. Sepetys do years and years of research for just one novel, and by reading the books you can tell how much effort was put into them. 

As for her World War Il novels, she has interviewed countless figures, both strangers and family, that were involved in those events, and based some of her books off of real events her family has gone through. 

Another part that I really love about her books is her writing style. With short and quick chapters, the writing allows you to be constantly engaged. The constant point of view switches keep you on your toes and makes every single one of her books a page-turner.

Between Shades of Gray (2011): Not your everyday World War 2 novel, Between Shades of Gray shows the dark side of Polish deportation and labor camps. With a knowledgeable protagonist and a family trying not to fall apart in the face of war, this brutal novel is a must-read. My Rating: 9/10

Out of the Easy (2013): Out of the Easy is a novel describing the life of the daughter of a prostitute longing to be free and live her own life outside of the bustling city of New Orleans. When a customer at her bookstore is found dead, she finally finds the escape she’s been looking for. My Rating: 7/10

Salt to the Sea (2016): The biggest maritime disaster, and the long path refugees are forced to take to flee Germany, this story tells the tale no one wishes to tell about World War 2.  In this novel, everyone has a secret to tell, and with them come guaranteed tears. My Rating: 10/10

The Fountains of Silence (2019): the Fountains of Silence tells the unknown story of how the Spanish people recovered after their own civil war. Told through the eyes of a photographer tourist from Texas, and a hotel employee who works hard for every penny she earns. This novel shows the trials and tribulations of most families during the reconstruction, but the star of this novel is truly the romance. Greatest of all, you get to learn about what’s really happening with the Spanish government behind closed doors. My Rating: 9/10

-Asli B. 

The works of Ruta Sepetys are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Authors We Love: Jack London

Jack London - Oakland - LocalWiki

In Jack London’s works, one can often feel the complex of heroism. There is the worship of life itself and the pursuit of primitive form and spiritual freedom for the meaning of life and existence. In Jack London’s work, the protagonist is merged with the harsh wasteland, where life tends to take on a primitive form, releasing a desire that is the opposite of what the vulgar world will never be familiar with, a kind of intense, leaping and even violent emotional anger. The combination of freedom and passion of Dionysus gives out the most primitive call of life — tenacious survival.

Jack London is a writer of very complex ideologies. For many ideas that influenced the social history at that time, London accepted them almost without any choice. Influenced by the social and historical environment at that time, and without any formal and systematic education, London’s ideological beliefs were complicated and contradictory. As a result, many London researchers believe that London’s thinking is chaotic and lawless. His philosophical views, though confounded and discouraged by their many contradictions, should be carefully combed and studied. Jack London, a writer with the ideas of reform and progress, keeps pace with the times and views women from a broader perspective.

Far from being an anticlimatic feminist, However, London advocated women’s independence while also extolling the traditional virtues of women as faithful male partners. London not only expressed her definition of the “perfect woman” but also greatly enriched the female characters in American literature by creating a group of “superwoman” characters who were gentle, submissive, strong, and capable. London and his work provide a case study of American society and culture at the time. The period of childhood and adolescence in London was very miserable. Although London’s works are vast, fragmented and difficult to categorize, it is possible to draw a simple line through the works of early, middle and late London. That is the transition from the male-dominated narrative to the female-dominated narrative, through which is London’s eternal love for life and endless exploration and pursuit of the meaning of life.

-Coreen C.