Authors We Love: Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was born on June 10, 1915, and passed away on April 5, 2005. He was born in Lachine, a small village located in Quebec, Canada and immigrated with his parents to Chicago, United States with he was eight. Due to this reason, Hyde Park, Chicago was the backdrop of a lot of his famous works because he was the most familiar with it.

Both of his parents were from Russia and were very strict Jews. They wished Saul Bellow could be a rabbi or a violinist playing in church when he grows up. However, he couldn’t overcome his passion for writing and therefore did not relinquish to these two occupations even when his mother passed away. He went to Chicago University and later switched to Northwestern University because he felt the former disliked Jews and therefore mistreated them. Bellow did his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.

As a Novel Prize Literature winner, Pulitzer Prize fiction winner, and the only writer to win the National Medal of arts three times, Bellow in his entire life has composed a lot of works. These include Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures of Augie March, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Herzog, Mr.Sammler’s Planet, Humboldt’s Gift, The Dean’s December, More Die of Heartbreak, A Theft, The Bellarose Collection, The Actual, and Ravelstein. He also wrote a lot of plays and some nonfiction as well.

One thing which marks his unique style is his philosophical views embedded amongst the paragraphs and in characters’ dialogues. It provides on his insight of life, death, marriage and other themes which he values as important. Although some critics argue that this style of approach can be very elusive and a form of digression, I thought if sociology and anthropology are vital in Bellow’s life, he should put it down to let people who he really is.

-Coreen C. 

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

Authors We Love: S.E. Hinton

Ideally, in every form, artists try to mold creations from what they see in their everyday lives and the world they have inherited. S.E. Hinton, boldly nicknamed called “the voice of the youth,” has demonstrated this artistry in each piece she has written, displaying the realities and complexities presented throughout her life growing up in the race and class divided 60s and 70s.

Two of her most famous books, The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now, are written from the perspectives of young boys experiencing the ups and downs of adolescence alongside their close friends and siblings. Though written over 50 years ago, the themes presented in her novels still ring true to this day, to children, teenagers, and adults alike. The slang used in her novels reflect the time periods in which they take place, making for nostalgia and remembrance of decades past.

Hinton’s writing style is simple yet sincere and is relatable to the wide variety of people contained in her audience. Her ability to describe her personal experiences through different lenses ultimately allows her to assimilate herself with the audience, strengthening the relationship between the reader and the author, bringing us closer together.

The events depicted in Hinton’s novels are strikingly mundane when presented alone, but with the accompaniment of her likable and authentic characters, they hit close to home. The ever-present themes of loyalty and friendship are heartfelt, and only make the stories all the more pleasant to read.

In addition to her publications, multiple films have been made as counterparts to her novels, including The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. Similar to her writing, the films have an uncanny ability to universalize emotions and situations to strike the hearts and minds of the audiences.

Whether you are young or old, male or female — S.E. Hinton has something to offer. With her profound and humble stories, every aspect of the story comes full circle. Savvy?

—Keira D.

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

Authors We Love: James Agee

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Born on November 27th, 1909 and died on May 16, 1955 was this brilliant American poet, novelist, and writer for and about motion pictures. Written about in Encyclopedia Britannica, Agee grew up in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountain area, went to Harvard University, and wrote for Fortune and Time after he graduated in 1932. Although his movie criticisms weren’t widely known, his humorous comments on movies still gained a lot of support from the audience instead of merely evaluating musicals and movies like an insider.

If you don’t know yet, his book A Death in the Family actually won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Now, I think this has a lot to do with his experience as a child, as this is an autobiographical novel. Not only the name “Rufus”, who was the main character in that particular novel but moreover it was James Agee’s middle name. His father, Hugh James Agee, like Jay Follet was killed in an auto accident when he was merely seven.

In addition, just when he was ten years old, his mother enrolled him in Saint Andrew’s boarding school. Remember something now? Yes, this is exactly the same setting as his other book The Morning Watch.

Although I haven’t read or watched all his other plays and featured stories, there is one thing I can tell: James Agee is a legendary author who utilizes his own family background and experience to produce outstanding stories and mold characters into the best shapes he can.

-Coreen C. 

The works of James Agee are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Authors We Love: Tahereh Mafi

taherehmafiThe abstract noun “freedom” incites hope for oppressed prisoners; the matrimonial vow “I do” begets tears in the eyes of lovers; and a pastor’s statement “Amen” generates evangelical zeal in a Christian crowd. Above all other human capabilities, the power of the written word reigns as the most impactful. As an author who acknowledges the power of the written word, Tahereh Mafi ranks as one of the best authors in both children and young adult literature.

With her eloquent writing style, Tahereh Mafi crafts her words as masterfully as a blacksmith forges metal. It’s no surprise that her Shatter Me and Furthermore series rank as high as the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series (after all, Ransom Riggs, the author of the latter series, is her husband!).

In each of her novels, Mafi pours every ounce of her heart and soul. She even states that most of the characters in her novels reflect certain aspects of her life, generating more meaning into them. Tahereh Mafi’s plotlines simply just don’t tell stories; they reflect on modern-day society, they empower people of different backgrounds, and they become personal stories for younger generations to relate to.

The following excerpt from Shatter Me serves as one of Mafi’s most popular quotes:

“I only know now that the scientists are wrong.

The world is flat.

I know because I was tossed right off the edge and I’ve been trying to hold on for 17 years. I’ve been trying to climb back up for 17 years but it’s nearly impossible to beat gravity when no one is willing to give you a hand.”

The previous quote resonates well with many of her readers, and it has been circulated so many times that there are now altered forms of the quote. Despite these changes, many young readers empathize with the speaker of the quote, for the metaphor of hardship as a heavy force is quite accurate. Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality.

Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality. In fact, her dystopian novel Shatter Me resonated so well with many readers that it is now moving on to the big screen. However, the whole novel simply cannot be portrayed in the 2-hour time frame of a movie, so it will be ad0pted as a TV show. Mafi’s eloquence in writing and her brilliant storyline can soon be seen on one’s TV screen, for she will also be one of the show’s producers. Fans all around the world cannot contain the excitement as they blog about their dream cast.

Whether it is through the medium of print or through the medium of film, Tahereh Mafi never fails to impress readers with her skills. Regardless of the time periods, situations, and characters in her novels, Mafi crafts fictional worlds with her outstanding language, leaving any onlooker in complete awe.

-Elaha N.

Books written by Tahereh Mafi are available to checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Authors We Love: George Orwell

george_orwellBest known for his haunting dystopian classics, George Orwell was an extremely influential British author, capable of expressing his powerful political views through his writing. Living in England from 1903 to 1950, during an era where the rise of totalitarianism was prominent, Orwell’s numerous works brought awareness to social injustice and offered a unique political perspective during a disturbed, chaotic time. Through literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and journalism, he conveyed his opposition to Nazism in Germany, fascism in Italy, and Stalinism in Russia, as well as expressed his outspoken support for democratic socialism.

1984_georgeorwellOne of his best known works is the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is set in the future world of Oceania that is occupied by perpetual war. Extreme public manipulation and omnipresent government supervision is utilized to prevent individualism and any form of independent thinking. Society is separated into the privileged and controlling Inner Party elite, the Outer Party, and the “proles,” the lowest class. The novel follows Winston Smith, whose job focuses on propaganda and rewriting history so that everything meets the Party’s needs. Although compliant and skillful in his work, Winston secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebelling against Big Brother, the supposed Party leader and epitome of tyranny.

Orwell’s second well-known work is the allegorical novella Animal Farm, which parallels the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the beginning of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union. The novella tells the story of the mistreated animals of Manor Farm, who overthrow their master Mr. Jones and take over the farm. Initially, the animals imagine a life of freedom and equality, but eventually, the cunning and ruthless rebels, led by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, start to take control. Suddenly, the animals discover that their world of equality is virtually impossible, as they find themselves trapped as one form of tyranny is replaced by another.

animalfarm_georgeorwellIn both of these works, Orwell compares his characters to real political figures in history. For example, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Big Brother represents Stalin. In Animal Farm, Mr. Jones represents Tsar Nicholas in Russia before he is overthrown and the pigs Napoleon and Snowball symbolize Stalin and Trotsky. I especially love Orwell’s writing, as it is chilling and insightful, yet simple and easy to understand. Incredibly influential, Orwell’s works continues to shape popular and political culture, and the term “Orwellian” is still used to describe totalitarian practices, with terms such as Big Brother, thoughtcrime, and Though Police. Even if you are not a big fan of politics, like me, I encourage you to read at least one of Orwell’s works during your lifetime, as it will make you question the world we live in and imagine what we could be living like today, if the forces of democracy had not triumphed over authoritarianism.

The works of George Orwell, and those mentioned in this article, are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360

Authors We Love: Tahereh Mafi (And Her Series)

Hi!

All right, so I am new to this- so of course I’m going to start with a little bit about me. If you don’t want to bother to read the intro- go ahead and skip ahead to the actual post. Really, it’s ok, I won’t hate you- I might even like you more. (haha) I am a teenage book nerd, happily living in CA and reading waaay too much. I also have an account on EpicReads.com as bookluver (creative, I know). Now onto the good stuff…

shatter_me_coverSo- the nature of this post is to talk about Tahereh Mafi- and yes, I know she is popular, but I didn’t see many posts related to her on this blog. After this post I will be bringing attention to authors that people sometimes don’t know about- authors that should be getting more attention.

Tahereh Mafi is the author of Shatter Me, Unravel Me, and Destroy Me (this one is an e-novella only). Shatter Me is first in the series and I can personally promise that you will love it! (if you haven’t read it already, that is.)

For those of you checking out the series, the Shatter Me world revolves around Juliette, a girl whose touch has the power to end a life. Juliette has been locked up for 264 days in an asylum, due to her strange fatal power. Juliette lives out her life-until one day Adam Kent, a soldier sent to make sure that she was still sane, shatters her world, and possibly everyone else’s.

I dare you to find out what happens next.

The finale to the series, Ignite Me, comes out in February 2014. The cover was revealed recently and it is AWESOME:

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So- stay tuned for my next review/summary/list (it will be awesome. you know it will.) and find out more about Tahereh Mafi at http://www.taherehbooks.com/

-Sarah G., 9th grade

Authors We Love: Cinda Williams Chima

Cinda Williams Chima has written three amazing books that I have read and reread more times than I can count. These books are The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, and The Dragon Heir.

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Her first book, The Warrior Heir, tells about a teenage boy who learns about an underground society of magical guilds. There are wizards, warriors, soothsayers, sorcerers, and enchanters. This boy is a warrior who is put on a journey to the Game where warriors fight to the death for wizard’s enjoyment. The boy wants to put an end to it.

In her next book, The Wizard Heir, the story is of another boy, however this boy is a wizard. This story tells how he finds out he is very powerful, but is cursed with misfortune in his early life: he burns a barn down and his friends are killed by a psycho principal.

In the third book, The Dragon Heir, a boy named Jason finds magical objects in a cave in England, and brings them back to the sanctuary of Trinity, Ohio. Meanwhile, Madison Moss has some house problems and tries to solve the mystery on who is behind trying to get their house. Also, the guilds are trying to protect the sanctuary against a whole army of bad wizards.

Her books are very entertaining and I really wish that she would write more! Click in the box below if you want to post a comment about these books, similar books, or other books by Cinda Williams Chima.

-Kyle H., 7th grade