The much-anticipated opening of Changing Hands Bookstore’s new Phoenix location this evening — along with First Draft, a coffee, wine and beer bar — provides a perfect opportunity to kick off your summer reading, regardless of whether you prefer ink-and-paper, audio, or e-books. Dive into our series of suggestions with these books exploring the fascinating and frustrating push-and-pull energy of siblings.
“There may be no relationship…that’s closer, finer, harder, sweeter, happier, sadder, more filled with joy or fraught with woe, than the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters,” says Jeffrey Kluger, who wrote The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us.
This nonfiction work examines the genetic drive for competition between siblings, myths and truths about birth order, the dynamics of blended families, and “favorite child” guilt. “The longer life expectancies get,” says Kluger, “the more of us will arrive in an old age in which we’ve outlive a spouse and other loved ones, and our kids have scattered.” He continues, “Sibs are often the only ones left — and often the people who know you and love you the best.”
Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev use 16 pages of photos and plenty of personal narrative for In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe — A Dwarf Family’s Survival of the Holocaust.
In the perilous years of World War II, an extended family of seven Jewish dwarf adults and many of their normal-sized siblings, spouses, cousins, and friends managed to survive Auschwitz thanks to the fascination they held for Dr. Josef Mengele, who conducted endless painful research.
Another true tale of determination comes from Kabul, Afghanistan, where Kamila Sidiqi protected and provided for her siblings by establishing a dressmaking business under the repressive Taliban regime. The Dressmaker of Khair Kahan by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon describes Sidiqi’s courage and ingenuity as she faced gender oppression along with practical challenges including a lack of electricity and possible punishment for her efforts.
True Sisters is based on the very real 1856 disaster of the doomed Martin Handcart Company, which sent Mormon converts on a journey of 1,300 miles by foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City. Sandra Dallas used journals and historical accounts to describe strong women in catastrophic adversity — more than a quarter of the 575 members of the expedition froze or starved to death, but Dallas’s characters, including several families, tackle trials of faith and great hardship bolstered by friendship.
See the American West from a completely different — and violently skewed — angle in Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, a gritty novel about professional killers Eli and Charlie Sisters. Beavers, bears, horses, alcohol, gold, guns, and grievous injuries play a part in the brothers’ gritty quest, woven with stylized, deliberately choreographed sentences reminiscent of the Coen brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit.
Kevin Wilson’s first novel The Family Fang enters the quirky, surreal world of parents Camille and Caleb Fang, performance artists who are perfectly comfortable using their children as props in their pieces of public drama. Daughter Annie (“Child A”) and son Buster (“Child B”) return home after personal and professional humiliations, only to discover their crucial roles in the Family Fang’s loftiest work of art. Wilson has a gift for addictively dry humor and refreshing prose, and it’s rumored that Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman are slated to star in a film adaptation.
Another debut comes from Eleanor Brown, who successfully gambles with an unusual first-person plural narrative in The Weird Sisters. The title and its eponymous sisters are all named for Shakespearean characters, and the setting is a deeply academic family in which everyone is always reading. Rose, Bean, and Cordy take risks to step beyond birth-order expectations in a story rich with memorable descriptions and turns of phrase.
“I have never looked into my sister’s eyes,” writes Lori Lansens in the voice of her character Rose, who takes turns narrating The Girls with her conjoined twin Ruby.
“Raise your right hand,” Rose continues. “Press the base of your palm to the lobe of your right ear. Cover your ear and fan out your fingers — that’s where my sister and I are affixed, our faces not quite side by side, our skulls fused together…I have carried my sister like an infant since I was a baby myself, Ruby’s tiny thighs astride my hip, my arm supporting her posterior, her arm forever around my neck.” While the 29-year-old sisters may be forced to share nearly everything physically, they still maintain secrets and an emotional distance in unusual ways.
Lionel Shriver’s novel Big Brother delves into interdependence of a different stripe when Pandora attempts to rescue her enormous brother from his life-threatening obesity by becoming his full-time live-in weight-loss coach, jeopardizing her own marriage to a fitness freak in the process.
For a warm-weather romantic respite, visit the cool Pacific Northwest setting of the Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas, whose beautifully edited and consistently strong, smooth writing lends extra dimension and appeal to her contemporary and historical novels. The first three books of the series — Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, Rainshadow Road, and Dream Lake — introduce the three Nolan brothers and their sister Victoria, exploring complex sibling relationships and hints of supernatural influence.
Share your own sibling-related book suggestions in the comments, and watch for our next list of summer reading ideas.
Librarian Teresa Becker contributed to this article.
- Changing Hands carries new and used books, and friendly staff members can help you with special orders
- 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85013 — 602-274-0067
- 6428 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, 85283 — 480-730-0205
- Find a dazzling array of books in the Phoenix Public Library and Maricopa County Library systems
- Visit the Maricopa County Reads Summer Reading Program website and register yourself — or your whole family — to read your way to a free book
- Brown, Eleanor. The Weird Sisters (2011)
- Dallas, Sandra. True Sisters (2012)
- deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers (2011)
- Kluger, Jeffrey. The Sibling Effect: what the bonds among brothers and sisters reveal about us (2011)
- Koren, Yehuda & Eilat Negev. In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The remarkable story of the Lilliput Troupe: A dwarf family’s survival of the Holocaust (2005)
- Shriver, Lionel. Big Brother (2013)
- Lansens, Lori. The Girls (2007)
- Tzemach Lemmon, Gayle. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: five sisters, one remarkable family, and the woman who risked everything to keep them safe (2011)
- Wilson, Kevin. The Family Fang (2011)
Coming up: Delicious tales, scientific curiosities, and stories of love gone wrong
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
The boards of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) and Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) continue to work on the legal documents that will allow the full consolidation of our operations this summer. We are also working closely starting this summer with the Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill communities as they evaluate the opportunity to establish a second Business Improvement District.
I want to thank Ed Zuercher, Phoenix City Manager and DPI Board Member, for his calm, steady leadership in advancing a new budget for the City of Phoenix. Remarkably while city-wide tax revenue continues to stagnate, revenue from the downtown area has dramatically accelerated supporting services all over the city. Might there be lessons we have learned downtown that could be applied in other parts of our city? This is something to ponder and discuss at future get-togethers.
The Downtown Phoenix Journal “Conversation” series consists of interviews with DPI board of directors and other downtown stakeholders. DPJ Associate Editor Jill Bernstein sat down with Mike Ebert, a founding partner of RED Development, the real estate development firm responsible for building the two-block CityScape project.
A Building Revival
The University of Arizona and City of Phoenix announced plans to construct a $136-million research building on the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The 10-story Biosciences Partnership Building will be situated at Seventh and Fillmore streets, just south of the Arizona Cancer Center now under construction.
Habitat Metro and Sunbelt Holdings announced plans to build Portland on the Park, a $75 million condominium development. Portland on the Park will feature 170 units, ranging in size from 745 to 2,381 square feet, in towers of four, 12, and 14 stories.
Groundbreaking for the new Arizona State University Arizona Center for Law and Society on the block in-between Polk and Taylor and First and Second streets is scheduled for July 7, 2014 (although the date of the groundbreaking ceremony has yet to be scheduled).
A Home to Serve Others
BHHS Legacy Foundation has created a convenient and cost-effective space in midtown Phoenix to house non-profit organizations whose mission is to improve healthcare for people in need. Legacy Place at 360 E. Coronado Rd. is home to the Legacy Foundation, Legacy Connection, Experience Matters, ALS Association (Arizona chapter), National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, and Mission of Mercy. Room is available for other similar non-profits.
DPI and DPP representatives testified before two Phoenix City Council subcommittees on issues that have been recognized as key priorities of DPI’s Community Advisory Panel and the boards of DPI, DPP, and Phoenix Community Alliance. Under the “improving connectivity” banner, overall support with a couple suggestions was given on the Downtown Phoenix Comprehensive Transportation Plan before the Downtown, Aviation, and Redevelopment Subcommittee. Regarding “improving place,” overall support to the Neighborhoods, Housing, and Development Subcommittee was given for a pilot program to develop additional parklets in the downtown core and Grand Avenue. A parklet is a small space that serves as an extension of a sidewalk to provide amenities and green space for people using the street and sidewalk. The first example in Phoenix is located in front of Matt’s Big Breakfast in the Evans Churchill neighborhood.
On May 12 we lost a strong and tireless advocate for Phoenix’s neighborhoods. Donna Neill, founder and long-time head of the Neighborhood Activity Inter-Linked Empowerment Movement (NAILEM), a neighborhood organization based in west Phoenix’s Westwood area, died after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Donna was a force of nature and will be sorely missed.
Music to My Ears
I’m continually amazed at the “hidden gems” I hear about someone, some place, or something unique in and around our downtown that, really, everyone should know about. Here are two music-related gems I’ll spring on you: Chaton Studios, a recording studio near the Coronado Neighborhood where records are made with some of the music industry’s biggest names, and the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery on Grand Avenue, one of the top guitar making schools in the nation.
On Saturday, May 17, thousands of urban adventurists toured 20 light rail corridor restaurants during the 8th Urban Wine Walk. Attendance shattered previous records.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events: Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix Convention Center, June 5-8 ~ First Friday Artwalk, June 6 2014 Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, Phoenix Convention Center, June 6.
Downtown Phoenix is home to Arizona School for the Arts (ASA), a unique campus where the performing arts are deeply infused into an academically rigorous curriculum. Next week, on the evenings of May 28 and 29, the ASA Showcase 2014 at the Orpheum Theatre offers a special opportunity for the public to sample the range of student talent.
Leah Fregulia Roberts helped found ASA in 1995; she started as a curriculum specialist and English teacher and worked her way up to her current position as Head of School.
“This is a dual program,” says Roberts, describing ASA’s mission as a college preparatory and performing arts school with top-ranked academic programs. English, social studies, math and science form a required core program beginning in the 5th grade. “Middle school students have to take a fifth academic class split between piano for half the time and what we call ‘life skills,’ which is really academic skills, college planning, et cetera for half the period.”
“High school has the same academic core,” she continues, “but they replace piano and life skills class with foreign language. …So they’re getting the most rigorous programs that all college prep kids are getting — the only difference is that their additional programs all center around the performing arts.”
Since ASA students must take piano and choir classes through the 8th grade, says Roberts, “Music is really the foundation.” Older students can choose to focus on an instrument, choir, dance, or theater arts, but those core programs remain equally important.
“I know we have a reputation for the arts,” says faculty member Johnathan Robinson, “but the academics are actually very, very good and strenuous as well.” Robinson is pursuing his doctorate in clarinet performance at Arizona State University, and he’s taught single reed and bassoon studies at ASA since 2011.
“I’m always amazed by the kids because they’re very articulate,” he says. “They get the best of both worlds…public speaking and performance…it transfers over into the music as well. The academics definitely help the arts.”
Robinson believes the nurturing atmosphere of ASA sets the school apart. “It’s the culture,” he explains. “It’s a very communal-type base where everyone knows everyone, so we’re all very supportive of each other, and I think the students benefit the most from that.”
Despite ASA’s reputation for elite arts and academics, cutthroat behavior isn’t a problem, says Robinson. “It’s never a super-competitive environment — all the kids applaud for each other after all their tests…I guess they realize where their strengths lie, and what they need to work on to fix it…. I think that…speaks to the culture itself, that we’re very accepting of what we can and can’t do.”
ASA students also enjoy the benefits of partnerships with numerous other arts organizations like the Musical Instrument Museum and Phoenix Chamber Music Society, says Head of School Roberts. “That’s the special sauce on top of a really great arts program,” she says with a smile. “They get exposure to all these other artists…and performances across the Valley.” In this past season, for example, ASA students appeared as the children’s chorus in Arizona Opera’s production of La Bohème.
Graduating senior Max Beckman looks forward to jazz studies in upright bass performance at ASU, but he’s already spent a semester in a combo with Scottsdale Community College, and he plays in a community band with Young Sounds of Arizona.
“I’m very active outside of ASA,” Beckman says. “I have two regular gigs, one at Carly’s Bistro…and one at Copper Star Coffee.” He’s attended ASA since the 5th grade. “I like…the freedom that you have to build your own arts curriculum,” he adds. “I’m choosing to go on with my art forms…I think I was pretty lucky because of that.” At school Beckman participates in Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Combo, and Symphony Orchestra, as well as serving as a teacher’s assistant with low strings.
On May 28 and 29, he’ll play with all three ensembles in ASA’s Showcase 2014 concerts at the Orpheum Theatre, the school’s annual end-of-year production. “We’re playing a pretty cool orchestra piece — it’s called The Firebird Suite [by Igor Stravinsky],” Beckman says, “…and then the jazz combo is playing some cool jazz and hard bop tunes, like Blue Rondo à la Turk and St. Thomas.”
“It’s the opportunity for the students to showcase their arts achievements for the year and for us to really highlight what’s been going on in our programs,” says Roberts, “and it’s also one of the few times…when we get to integrate the arts amongst one another…whether it’s in the massed choir or one of the bigger bands or the combined orchestras; the entire ballet program performs, so it’s every student on the stage.”
“There’s always a theme,” she continues. “This year [it’s] the four elements: earth, water, fire and air, so all selections will embody one of those elements in some way.” Roberts sees the elements as analogies for ASA’s “essential building blocks” of academic quality, arts quality, a culture of safety and excellence, and community partnerships. Although the students perform regularly throughout the year, Showcase is “the big fundraising performance of the year,” Roberts adds.
Each night features a different program, but both evenings will include an ASA Theater Department production of Bertolt Brecht’s 1944 play The Caucasian Chalk Circle along with ballet performances set to excerpts from Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Wednesday, May 28 offers a piano arrangement of Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries,” and Thursday night includes orchestral performances of Tchaikovsky’s popular waltz from The Sleeping Beauty and Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance.”
“It’s kind of…a kaleidoscope of everything that we do throughout the year,” describes faculty member Robinson. “You get a tasting of every arts area that we have to offer…it’s like the best of the best.” ASA students finished their final exams on May 21, leaving them free to focus on Showcase rehearsals.
Olivia Freeman, an ASA graduating senior and saxophonist who plans to attend Chicago’s DePaul University, is currently sitting first chair in Wind Ensemble. “We’re playing Vesuvius [Thursday night],” she says, “…a very interesting piece and very intricate — there’s a lot of little melody lines within the bigger piece.”
Freeman entered ASA from the public school system. “There was a huge difference,” she says. “When I came to ASA I was asked to analyze…my thought process. It was basically asking me to think in a whole new different way, so that was obviously a tough transition at first, but now I think it’s helped me in the long run through problem-solving….” She adds, “I’ve learned how to work in a group successfully.”
Head of School Roberts points out that, although the waiting list for ASA can be quite lengthy after the 5th grade enrollment, openings for new students often become available between the 8th and 9th grades. “Sometimes…people forget to take another look at us in high school,” she says. Showcase 2014 is a great opportunity to see ASA’s students in action.
All photos courtesy Arizona School for the Arts.
If you go:
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams:
When: Two different programs are scheduled:
- Pre-show — ASA Jazz Combo performs outside each night at 6:15 p.m.
- Concert: Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m.
- Concert: Thursday, May 29, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Purchase tickets here. Tickets are $55/$40/$25, with proceeds benefiting ASA
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MYSTERIES UNEARTHED AT ARIZONA SCIENCE CENTER
Visitors discover “Lost Egypt” at new interactive exhibition
Lost Egypt is an immersive quest for knowledge that reveals how archaeologists use modern science and technology to uncover and understand the ancient civilization of Egypt. Through hands-on challenges, authentic artifacts and guidance from real archaeologists, visitors will unearth the mysteries of Egypt, its culture and its people. The exhibition explores how mummies, artifacts and other material remains contribute to our scientific understanding of past cultures.
“From the pyramids to body preservation, there is a mystique and fascination with ancient Egypt that is unlike any other historic culture,” said Chevy Humphrey, President and CEO of Arizona Science Center. “Visitors will be intrigued by the artifacts and the ways modern scientific advancements are uncovering new information about this era every day.”
Highlights include a real human mummy and several animal mummies, as well as scans, forensic facial reconstructions and for the first time ever, a life-size rapid prototype (a type of 3D computer model) of a mummy in a stage of “unwrapping.” Visitors will also be transported into ancient times where they will discover a re-creation of an Egyptian tomb and authentic art and artifacts from the daily life and funerary culture of ancient Egypt.
Some of the worlds’ foremost authorities on Egypt are featured in the exhibition. Visitors will be able to connect with them through video interviews and photographs from the field.
“Lost Egypt makes an unforgettable connection between past and present customs, cultures and sciences,” added Humphrey. “This exhibit is particularly inspiring for young people, illuminating the roles they can play as future archaeologists, scientists, engineers, technicians and life-long learners.”
Lost Egypt is divided into four content areas:
1. Orientation Entrance, features a modern Egyptian street scene that transports visitors to Egypt where they learn about some of the archeologists working in Egypt today.
2. Field Site, where visitors explore the tools, techniques, science and technologies used at the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders on the Giza Plateau.
3. In Ancient Egyptian Culture, visitors see a human mummy, funerary artifacts and exhibits about the art and language of ancient Egypt.
4. In the Laboratory, visitors discover animal mummies, X-rays and CT scans of human and animal mummies, facial reconstructions and rapid prototypes of ancient Egyptians.
Lost Egypt is located in the Sybil B. Harrington Galleries on Level 3 of Arizona Science Center. The exhibition will be open between May 31 and Sept. 1, 2014. Tickets are $26.95 (adult), $23.95 (senior) and $19.95 (child), which include general admission. Arizona Science Center members are able to enter for $8 (adult) and $6 (child).
Photos courtesy of the Arizona Science Center.
Every city has its hidden gems—those under-the-radar places you walk by a million times, never realizing that history is being made behind the unassuming walls. One such example in Phoenix is Chaton Studios, a state-of-the-art recording studio located near the Coronado district in downtown.
The creative force behind this Chaton Studios is Otto D’Agnolo, a record producer, audio engineer, musician, singer and songwriter.
D’Agnolo received his audio production training in the early ’80s in his home state of Illinois before relocating to Phoenix in 1989. Soon after, he went to work at a recording studio in Paradise Valley, then known as Chaton Recordings.
“I worked there for 10 years, and when they wanted to close up shop, I said, ‘should I go to California for a job or build a studio?’ So I offered to buy all their gear and license the name and build my own studio,” says D’Agnolo.
He re-established the business, calling it Chaton Studios, and moved it to its current location in central Phoenix.
In his time as a record producer, he has worked with some impressive talent, including artists like Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Lou Rawls, Nils Lofgren, and Jordin Sparks, to name a few.
D’Agnolo also records and releases his own music, which has been featured on national television shows, like Jersey Shore, One Tree Hill and Punk’d. And due to his undeniable physical and vocal resemblance to John Lennon, he fronts a tribute show devoted to the legendary Beatle called “Working Class Hero.”
When he’s not lending his more than 30 years of experience to major label acts and independent artists alike, he’s contributing projects to Phoenix’s creative cache.
He developed a website called therecordingartist.com, which recently featured a live broadcast of local bands producing a track over the course of three hours. Fans bought memberships to the site so they could watch the process unfold. The show featured local artists like Sarah Robinson and the Midnight Special, Banana Gun, Dry River Yacht Club, and Ghetto Cowgirl. The show was in production from 2012-2013, and it is D’Agnolo’s hope that it will be live again soon.
D’Agnolo is putting his experience to work for the next generation of Arizona’s artists. “So many parents have kids with talent and don’t know how to help them. Someone like me can evaluate them and provide objective feedback,” he says.
“One of my hopes is that parents living and working downtown, whose sons or daughters want to pursue a career in music, discover that they have someone right here that they can go to for information and assistance in helping those careers stay on track.”
With his proven track record, he’s shown that artists don’t have to go to L.A. or other larger cities for high-quality music production. “Production work can be done in a lot of places,” he says, “so I think it’s sad when bands feel like they have to leave the Phoenix market to record. Because they don’t have to.”
Additionally, Phoenix has a wealth of music and recording talent that attracts artists from other cities according to D’Agnolo. “I have a client who’s flying here from San Diego constantly to do his country record because of the musicians here. I have another artist who has been working in Nashville and she’s coming back to work here.”
After years of making records with some of the music industry’s biggest names, helping independent artists elevate their careers, and attracting clients from all over the world to work with him, D’Agnolo has shown that this “hidden gem” is an essential element of Phoenix’s artistic and cultural landscape.