Great satirists thrive when stuff in the world is goofy or evil. So, given the idyllic nature of the world these days, it’s hard to imagine that there’s much good satire out there or that satirists would manage to earn enough to keep themselves fed and sheltered rather than wasting away in the gutter where they probably belong. But, even with our utopia’s total lack of need for satirists, Gary Shteyngart has managed to keep himself fed, sheltered, gutter-free and, as you’ll see if you google “Shteyngart + vodka,” frequently drunk.
Shteyngart has earned the sustenance and drunkenness. That satire is pointless in our current climate is inarguable, but we still have a few years left before hilarious literature in which nearly every sentence contains a delightful turn of phrase becomes the province only of those who attempt to produce it. He’s a funny guy and a great writer, and I hope he’s able to eat comfortably at least until he’s no longer of any value to our society. (You’ll notice I linked to a picture of him being funny rather than pick from the bountiful text examples of his hilarity. I do this because, as the GlobalTeens social network from his brilliant novel “Super Sad True Love Story” says in one of its many helpful tips, “Switch to Images today! Less words = more fun!”) Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Gary Shteyngart”
When I was a girl, I liked browsing through my parents’ books about famous art museums — the Hermitage, Louvre, Prado, etc. These books illustrated the best works of Western art, but they didn’t cover anything modern.
When I was a girl, I liked browsing through my parents’ books about famous art museums — the Hermitage, Louvre, Prado, etc. These books illustrated the best works of Western art, but they didn’t cover anything modern. When I grew older, I began attending art exhibits. Some of them I liked, some I didn’t. Still, the art that attracted me rarely progressed beyond the first half of the 20th century. So I was intrigued when, recently, I ran across two books by British sociologist of culture Sarah Thornton.
The first one, “Seven Days in the Art World” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), is a fascinating view of a world that is often shrouded in mystery. To reveal its substance, Thornton approaches this world from different points of view. She travels to places where art is taught, created, discussed, exhibited and sold – seven destinations in all. She talks to artists, dealers, collectors, art critics, museum curators and art students, and she attends auctions, exhibits and art classes. Thornton doesn’t limit herself to examining art esthetics only. She explores art world economics, too, since endorsements and promotion – through art dealers, gallery exhibits, media coverage, shows, etc. – are no less important for the artist’s success than the work itself. So, how do we know what is a genuine work of art and what’s nonsense? “Sometimes you don’t,” Thornton says, “but often you feel it in your bones.” Continue reading “Literary Links: Art”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“The Boys of ’36”
Website / Reviews / Trailer
This documentary is based on the 2014 One Read book “The Boys in the Boat” and recently played on PBS. In 1936, nine boys from the University of Washington took the rowing world and a nation by storm when their eight-oar crew team captured the gold medal at the Olympics in Berlin. The boys’ victory, and their obstacles, inspired a nation. Continue reading “New DVD List: The Boys of ’36 & More”
I have a great story about this blog post. The same day I started work on it, I began de-cluttering at home, organizing the piles of books my family tends to amass. As I picked up an old paperback Star Trek novel, bought used, a newspaper clipping fell out. The headline read “Roddenberry Fills Heroic Void.” The article discussed a talk given in Jesse Auditorium by Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek television series. I could find no mention of the date or even the name of the newspaper, but with a bit of sleuthing through the library’s collection of University of Missouri yearbooks, I confirmed the event happened on February 17, 1976.
Among quotes from the talk, this one stood out: “Roddenberry predicted giant and efficient telecommunications systems will be available within 12 years that will make TV look primitive.” He was off by only three years, as the World Wide Web went public in 1991. Quite a visionary. His mid-sixties TV series featured communications devices that looked a lot like cell phones, information storage devices that looked a lot like iPads and a starship crew that looked a lot like the entire human race had learned to work together cooperatively. Continue reading “Star Trek, Boldly Going for 50 Years”
Truer words have never been spoken (and don’t worry, I’m not biased). I got my own library card in the first grade. I signed it (with my beginner’s cursive), looked at it lovingly and promptly handed it to my dad for safe-keeping in his wallet. Sure, I had been a regular fixture in my local library since I was too young to remember, but the books I took home were always checked out to my mom or dad. That all changed once I got my own library card. It would take a few years for me to fully appreciate what my library card could do for me, though. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, and it’s also a time to consider what brings you “library happiness.” Continue reading “September Is Library Card Sign-up Month!”
The kids are back at school, and maybe that has some readers feeling overwhelmed by the orientations, sports practices, rehearsals and other related events suddenly filling up the family calendar. Or perhaps the back-to-school spirit has you ready to learn something new. Whether you want to read for escape or for self-improvement, this month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the 10 titles publishing in September that librarians across the country recommend.
“Leave Me” by Gayle Forman
“Aren’t there days when you just want to leave it all behind? After a life threatening event, that’s exactly what Maribeth Klein does. Maribeth, wife, mom of 4-year old twins, and editor of a glossy magazine is told to rest. Sure! The choice she makes is not the one for most, but following Maribeth on this journey is compelling nonetheless. Fast paced narrative and terrific writing make this one hard to put down. Recommended!” – Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2016 List”
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2016 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
In his debut novel (and the first in the Red Rising trilogy), Pierce Brown introduces a dystopian story that should appeal to readers who enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy. Teenaged Darrow lives in an under-earth colony on Mars that toils to make the surface livable for future inhabitants. Oppressive rule is all he’s known, but a dramatic turn of events soon forces Darrow to fight for a better life for his community. If that sounds a bit cliche, I suppose it’s because I didn’t find much new to keep my interest in this story. Other than the setting and the sex of the main character, it feels very much like “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Whereas that was the second book in a trilogy (with the benefit of the slow-build to revolutionary action and character development from the first book), this book seems to move the reader quickly down Darrow’s (stealth) revolutionary path. I found it difficult to feel empathy for the main character’s motivations without experiencing more of his world before he took steps toward revolution. I think I’m in the minority in not caring for this book, though, so if you like dystopian novels, give it a try! Continue reading “Reader Review: Red Rising”
The rules of society are sometimes flaunted by criminals. Who are these people, and what makes them tick? Check out these documentaries that feature various outlaws.
“The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” (2010)
A shocking and outlandish year-in-the-life documentary about the White Family of Boone County, West Virginia’s most notorious extended family. The film includes shoot-outs, robberies, gas-huffing, drug dealing and using, pill popping, murders and tap dancing. Continue reading “Against the Grain: Docs About Outlaws”
As a young adult, I sometimes feel like a fraud — a kid just playing pretend at being a grownup. I think most people have feelings like this occasionally, but the unnamed narrator in Gillian Flynn’s latest is a fraud and has made a living at it her entire life. Growing up poor, she and her mother would beg on the streets, and they had an intricate system: they knew who to ask, how to ask, when to embellish and which specific embellishment to use on a particular mark.
As “The Grownup” opens, the narrator makes ends meet by a rather unsavory profession, which she simply calls working in “customer service.” When she gets the chance to work as (read: pretend to be) a psychic, she jumps on it, knowing that her ability to manipulate people would make for easy money. She takes on Susan as a client, a housewife with a rocky relationship with her seemingly evil stepson and a house that appears haunted. Is the narrator finally in over her head? One thing is certain: something malicious exists, but where it originates and what can be done to stop it will keep you guessing. Continue reading “Staff Review: The Grownup”
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Last year I broke my foot and had to have surgery. That meant recovery time, which actually meant reading time. During the week following my surgery, between bouts of nausea and fatigue, I read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I also exclusively drank Harney & Sons Green Tea with Coconut Blend. Now anytime I drink that coconut green tea, the scent bombards me with reminders of magic, time travel, alchemy and romance.
While my magical fantasy + coconut green tea pairing happened organically, it inspired me to think up some other tea and book pairings.
Classics like “Jane Eyre,” an enduring romance centered around a strong, non-traditional heroine, or Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” in which a fisherman battles with a marlin, need a classic tea, no? I suggest an English Breakfast tea (decaf, if you’re reading past your bedtime). Continue reading “Book and Tea Pairings”