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Short Stories


Out of the Dust

Karen Hesse

Scholastic Paperbacks, $5.99/paperback

If you want to join All Pikes Peak Reads, but aren't up to all 464 pages of The Grapes of Wrath, take home a copy of Out of the Dust. Though the protagonist may be a 13-year-old girl, this Newbery Medal-winning book for teens powerfully captures the desperate years of the Dust Bowl in a manner sure to move adults as well. The story, told through a series of free-verse poems, is narrated by Billie Jo Kelby, who lives with her parents in Oklahoma's panhandle and enjoys one escape from her difficulties: playing the piano. The bleakness of the landscape is reflected in hard economic times and in a horrifying tragedy that befalls the family, but Billie Jo's spirit, spilled out in her simple but beautiful poems, fills the book with strength, tenacity and hope. Long after you finish reading, the emotional ground this book covers will continue to settle like dust into every cranny of your heart. Jill Thomas


E Pluribus Venom

Shepard Fairey

Gingko Press, $29.95/hardcover / Release date: Sept. 30

Those still unfamiliar with Shepard Fairey, renegade street artist turned fine art "maverick," have surely been exposed to his images: the infamous "Andre the Giant has a Posse" sticker campaign; its subsequent "OBEY" merchandising blitz; or more recently, the instantaneously iconic Obama "Hope/Progress" posters. His latest works, shown in a massive exhibition in New York City's Jonathan LeVine Gallery in summer 2007, have been assembled into E Pluribus Venom. Roughly translated as "Out of Many, Poison," it's derived from the U.S. government's treasured slogan, "E Pluribus Unum" ("Out of Many, One"). Using high-impact techniques of revolutionary propaganda posters, '60s-era rock 'n roll imagery, currency motifs and the intricately adorned patterns of the art nouveau movement, the artist takes a hard-line approach to themes of peace, war, nationalism and, of course, the evils of unchecked capitalism. Adam Leech


Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir

Lisa Dale Norton

St. Martin's Griffin, $13.95/paperback

At 144 pages, this thin volume can be read in an evening, but that doesn't make its material lightweight. Though it's directed at memoir writers building stories from their own experiences, much of the material can help writers creating fictional lives as well. Lisa Dale Norton, a successful writer and teacher, hits upon how to identify memories and material that will create the best story, how to draw out a story's universal themes, and how to tie the content to issues that are bigger than a single life. The book offers words of encouragement, but more importantly it offers a handful of highly usable exercises that make the intimidating job of capturing the "truth" of a life on paper less daunting. I've read dozens of writing books, but keep only a handful nearby; this will be one of those few. (Note: Norton will discuss the book at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 22 at Borders, 2120 Southgate Road.) Jill Thomas

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