Sunday, April 25, 2010

Regional reading, post-ALLA

I sat in a on a few classes of something called Recommender Systems at Michigan's iSchool, before it became glaringly obvious, with all the talk of algorithms and databases, that predicting whether someone would like something based on the other things that they liked was a bit beyond me. And Recommender Systems cannot take into account the heady effect of being in the same room with the writer. It has almost been enough to convince me to read Lisa Scottoline, but not quite.

Right now, my place is cluttered up with books from writers I heard about at the Alabama Library Association a couple of weeks ago. I heard Susan Gregg Gilmore at the Southern Writer's Lunch. Of course her debut, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is brilliant and incredibly sweet, Gilmore had Lee Smith as her grade-school teacher. What an advantage! Extra points for Davidson's department store as mecca for rural Southerners.

It was looking at The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, Gilmore's forthcoming title which wil be featured in Southern Living in Amazonia, that I found Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch. In a story too familiar to be comfortable, Tiny moves North and is unhappy. Score one for Recommender Systems.

I heard former school teacher Ginger Rue at the Young Adult Services Roud Table/Children's and School Library Division's breakfast, where I won a signed copy of Brand-New Emily a PR-laden mean girls romp. I thought it was cute, but I'm not sure it strikes the right tone. "I would never sell a diamond bracelet," one of my teens said solemnly, when I book-talked it. Emily's issues may be more typical of middle school.

The Alabama Author Awards introduced me to Martin Wilson's What They Always Tell Us, better than but similar to one of my favorites from last year, Vast Fields of Ordinary. Anyone who has ever spent time in Tuscaloosa will appreciate the fidelity of the locale.

Still on order: Ace Atkins' Wicked City. Because I have grappled with cultural issues related to Phenix City myself.

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