Shelf life

Carol June Barton's ''Five Luminous Towers: A Book to Be Read in the Dark,'' a pop-up book replete with light bulb. Carol June Barton's ''Five Luminous Towers: A Book to Be Read in the Dark,'' a pop-up book replete with light bulb. (''The Book as Art'')
By Jan Gardner
March 8, 2009
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Honor roll
Michael Dahlie, author of "A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living" (Norton), has won the 2009 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction. Dahlie's novel, about the travails of Manhattanite Arthur Camden, a fly fisherman and loving husband and father, has been praised for its sense of humor and humanity.

Patrick Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway, will present the $8,000 award to Dahlie on March 29 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in Dorchester. The finalists were Sana Krasikov for "One More Year" and Ed Park for "Personal Days." Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes will be the keynote speaker.

The ceremony also will honor novelist Margot Livesey ("The House on Fortune Street), poet Nancy K. Pearson ("Two Minutes of Light"), and nonfiction writer Patrick Tracey ("Stalking Irish Madness") with the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Awards. The awards are given annually to New England authors or books with a New England setting.

Books uncovered
The Kindle isn't alone in expanding the concept of what a book is. The creators of handmade books have been doing that for a long time. Their ingenuity and charm are on display in the landmark exhibit "The Book as Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts."

Emily Martin made a pie out of paper. Imprinted on each slice is a pie recipe and a recounted memory. Linda Johnson and Kristy Lewis Andrew solicited rumors about well-known artists and silkscreened them on cotton muslin panels hung from a miniature clothesline. Allison Cooke Brown wrote journal entries on tea bags stored in a silk-covered box. Shirley Sharoff's book - an unfurled scroll standing on end - meanders like the Great Wall while telling stories about life in China. The architectural structures that rise up out of a pop-up book created by Carol June Barton are illuminated from within by a light bulb.

"The Book as Art" is at Boston College's McMullen Museum of Art, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, through May 31.

Notable women
The indomitable Mary Dyer, Annie Sullivan, and Nancy Drew will be celebrated Wednesday night, in honor of International Women's Day. Each of the three is the subject of a book of poetry by a local writer.

Helen Marie Casey's "Inconsiderate Madness" pays homage to Dyer, a Quaker who was hanged on Boston Common in 1660. Denise Bergman explores the life of Helen Keller's teacher in "Seeing Annie Sullivan." Kathleen Aguero contemplates fresh adventures for the fictional Drew in "Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth." The poets will read selections from their works beginning at 7 p.m. at Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Cambridge.

Coming out
  • "Unlocked: The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider," by Louis Ferrante (Harper)

  • "A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green," by Thomas Cahill (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

  • "Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer - and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets," by Jo Marchant (Da Capo)

    Pick of the week
    David Lampe-Wilson of Mystery on Main Street, in Brattleboro, Vt., recommends "The Tourist," by Olen Steinhauer (St. Martin's Minotaur): "Known for his literary, European-based novels driven by complex, intelligent characters, Steinhauer tells a contemporary espionage story with wit and sagacity. Although we are still in winter, count this as the year's first great beach read."

    Jan Gardner can be reached at

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