The Arabic name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds, and the Arabic name for Temple Mount is Haram al-Sharif. (I could have begun, “The Hebrew name for….”) The double-naming underscores the confusion and complexity that is Israel-Palestine.
The so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict confounds policymakers, diplomats, government officials, citizens. The situation, if this is the appropriate word, resists simplicity because, to put this simply, historical consensus—what happened and who is at fault—is impossible.
But what, if not their land, do Israelis and Palestinians share?
Heartbroken by the conflict, Nathan Englander investigates the failure of solution in his second novel, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Unlike his previous short story collections (“For the Relief of Unbearable Urges” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank“) and novel (“The Ministry of Special Cases“), Englander’s latest work, not unlike his subject, defies categorization or genre. A plot-driven political and spy thriller, a love story, a farce—this novel is an admirable literary combination but fails to compel. The humor falls flat: what’s the joke and where’s the punchline, I thought. The dialogue, despite a few enticing passages, is stilted, wooden, even cliché. The discontinuous timeline and various threads Englander attempts to interweave are strained, rushed. The fits and starts, so to speak, never resolve. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: Dinner at the Center of the Earth”
Here’s a look at some of the most exciting books being published by first-time authors in November.
“The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine
Philanthropist Daphne Parrish and her husband Jackson live a life of wealth and power — the life that invisible Amber Patterson craves. Her envy of Daphne drives her determination to manipulate her way into the life she deserves. Amber insinuates herself into the family’s life, befriending their daughters and becoming Daphne’s friend and confidante all the while growing closer to Jackson. But when a part of her past is revealed, her carefully constructed plan threatens to crumble around her.
“Mr. Dickens and His Carol” by Samantha Silva
In this charming imagining of how Dickens came to write “A Christmas Story,” Charles Dickens is having a difficult Christmas: his latest novel isn’t selling and his publishers are demanding that he write a Christmas story to keep them from losing money. Dickens reluctantly sets out to write the story, but finds he has no idea where to begin. A late night walk during which he encounters an unlikely muse brings back his Christmas spirit and sparks the inspiration he needs to write the holiday classic.
Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: October”
Whether you have your own garden’s harvest or produce hauled home from a farmers market to preserve, the satisfaction of putting food by for later consumption is identical. A colorful cache of stored summer and fall bounty to choose from in the bleak gray of winter is a reassuring and splendid thing indeed. Continue reading “Put Your Harvest on a Shelf”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is a situation familiar to many, but may not be fully understood by everyone. What does it feel like to be bullied? What can be done to stop the situation? Check out these docs that examine the issue of bullying.
This is a character-driven documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year. Provides an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices. You can also check out the companion book to the film in our collection.
“A Brave Heart” (2016)
Follows the inspiring journey of 26-year-old, 58-pound Lizzie from cyber-bullying victim to anti-bullying activist. Born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Velasquez was bullied as a child in school for looking different and, later online, as a teenager.
“Bully 911” (2006)
This informational DVD is designed to make children feel considerably more confident when coping with bullies by teaching them the tools to escape without getting hurt. Includes a bonus feature with an extensive forum on bullies that addresses all issues of bullying with parents, kids and child psychologists.
Did you know that Missouri has more than 450 species of bees, including several kinds of bumble bee? Many of those natives have evolved to pollinate very specific plants such as blueberries, squash, tomatoes or peppers. Did you also know that the honeybee is NOT a native of the US? Bees, both our native bees and the honeybee, are responsible for pollinating around 75% of the produce that we eat, and they maintain the habitats on which many other animals rely. That’s a big responsibility. Continue reading “The Future of Bees!”
50,000 can be a daunting number, but I’m here to bear witness that it can also be an achievable number. Last year, for the first time, I successfully crossed the National Novel Writing Month finish line, pounding out 50,000 words worth of original writing during the month of November. I followed that up with securing a lucrative publishing contract and a nationwide speaking tour. Okay, the previous sentence was fiction. What I did gain was a sense of accomplishment, greater confidence in my writing abilities and the sense that doing a big thing is possible if you devote yourself to it regularly. Continue reading “Writers, Start Your Engines: National Novel Writing Month”
I’m so excited to share with you October’s LibraryReads list — one of my favorite authors (Alice Hoffman) is releasing a new book! We also have a perfectly-timed book about the traditions surrounding death that looks incredibly interesting, and, interestingly enough, a book by Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks) about typewriters. Enjoy!
“Seven Days of Us” by Francesca Hornak
“The Birch family will be spending the Christmas holiday in quarantine, thanks to eldest daughter Olivia’s recent relief work in a disease-infested Liberia. She has returned to England but must be in quarantine for seven days. This family has never spent that much time in each other’s company. Each person has secrets that are slowly revealed over the course of the seven days. It is particularly interesting to watch them become the family that they should have been all along: supportive and loving. An enjoyable read.”
~Cheryl Braud, Iberia Public Library, New Iberia, LA Continue reading “October 2017 LibraryReads List: Top 10 Books Librarians Love”
As a professional book recommender, I’m constantly recommending books. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the same sorts of books I do, so I must resort to asking what sorts of books a person likes before I can offer my precise recommendation. Over and over again, I hear, “I want a work of fiction about a fictional movie that’s inspired by the making of the film ‘Cannibal Holocaust.’ Also, it needs to have a subplot about a socialist revolution that intersects with the main plot in perfect but horrifying fashion,” they’ll inevitably say. Prior to reading “We Eat Our Own” by Kea Wilson, I could only offer tearful apologies and some of the candy I keep in my pockets: I knew of no such book. Now, however, I can enthusiastically recommend “We Eat Our Own” by Kea Wilson, and keep my candy.
Wilson’s novel follows several different characters. We start with “Richard,” whose name is in quotes because he’s only referred to by the part he’s playing until near the end of the novel. “Richard” is an unknown American actor who is brought into the production because having an American actor lowers distribution costs, and the previous American actor abandoned the project because there was no script. Also, crucially, he is the same shoe size as the departed actor. As it’s set in the ’70s, he has no reliable and civilized way of informing his girlfriend of his immediate departure, so he writes a note that she won’t see for weeks, and makes his way to South America. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Kea Wilson”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year, sadly, I have a friend who has recently started chemo for breast cancer. It’s not surprising, I suppose, when you think about the numbers, but it would preferably be a disease in our distant memory. As it stands, according to the CDC: in 2014 236,968 women and 2,141 men in the United State were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 41,211 women and 465 men in the United States died from breast cancer.
Thinking back, I have known several people who have had this disease. Thankfully, the treatments and the survival rates have improved greatly over the years. As for my friend, she has a great support system and a positive attitude. I believe those are key components in conquering any struggle. Continue reading “October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“The Vietnam War”
Website / Reviews
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. The series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony from all sides — Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Continue reading “New DVD List: The Vietnam War & More”