Is the movie better than the book? In the case of Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, that old argument seems a bit moot.
Neal Barrett Jr.'s restless imagination has settled most recently on ... lizards. In The Prophecy Machine (Bantam Spectra, 342 pp., $6.50 paper), Barrett has conjured a world where humans used to be animals, which may not seem all that different from the way things are except that in The Prophecy Machine, the humans seem to have a more distinct memory of when they were animals. And that, as you can imagine, can create some problems. Barrett has also written the novelization of the new Dungeons & Dragons film and he'll be signing both books at Adventures in Crime and Space (609-A W. Sixth) on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 4-6. Elizabeth Moon will also be signing her new book Against the Odds (Baen Books, 416 pp., $24)... The end of Tom Grimes' semester-long sabbatical from directing the creative writing program at SWT is staring him in the face, but before January arrives, he's going to San Francisco to see Sam Shepard's new play The Late Henry Moss partly because one of the actors, James Gammon, is going to play the lead in Grimes' play New World, which will open in Los Angeles in June. New World is about "a president with a deep dark secret," Grimes says, "who hides it by constantly going to war with little countries around the globe."... See the movie, then read the book; read the book, then see the movie: In the case of Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, that old argument seems a bit moot. Both the documentary, which opens in Austin next week, and the book have their virtues. The book (Bloomsbury USA, 320 pp., $24.95) expands, Studs Terkel-style, on the documentary's interviews with aging adults who were German Jewish children on the eve of World War II. 10,000 children survived the Holocaust by being shipped off to England to live with foster families, and in the book, they talk about the entire process. "At Liverpool Street Station," survivor Vera Gissing recalls, "we were ushered into a great big hall, full of benches, and there we sat with labels around our necks, waiting for our foster parents or, for the lucky ones, relatives to claim us. Name after name was called. Then my sister disappeared through the side door, but came back and pushed a piece of paper into my hand and said, 'Look, Vera, this is my address. Send me yours the minute you arrive at your destination.'" Like the fascinating Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs at the Turn of the Millennium that was released earlier this year, Into the Arms of Strangers is a book of interviews, so it's told almost entirely in the first person. The multitude of voices don't crowd the reader's mind, though; it's a lot of people telling a single history... Antiques Roadshow twins Leigh and Leslie Keno have a new book, Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture, and they'll be at BookPeople on Monday, December 11, at 7pm. Do not bring your furniture to be appraised! And the next night, Liz Carpenter will present her book Start With A Laugh: An Insider's Guide to Roasts, Toasts, Eulogies, and Other Speeches at BookPeople at 7pm.