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March 13 Deadline for April ACT Exam

DBRLTeen - March 2, 2015

Standardized TestBe sure to register online by Friday, March 13 if you plan to take the April 18 ACT exam. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our  online guide to SAT/ACT preparation. The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow.

Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY).  If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call  (800) 324-4806.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!

Originally published at March 13 Deadline for April ACT Exam.

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2015 Spring Program Preview

DBRLTeen - February 27, 2015

2015 Program Preview
Design a Bookmark Contest
Entries Due Tuesday, March 31
Help us get ready for Summer Reading by designing an original bookmark based on the theme “Every Hero Has a Story.” Winning artwork from each library will be printed on bookmarks to be distributed late spring through summer. Please prepare two-dimensional artwork using crayons, markers or any other medium, or create it on the computer. Photography is also acceptable, as long as it is your own! Your entry should be drawn onto or sized to match the entry form. Download an entry form or pick one up at your library or the bookmobile. Ages 18 and younger.

March Madness Teen Book Tournament
March Madness is approaching, but why should basketball fans have all the fun? At your library or online at teens.dbrl.org, you can help us name a Mid-Missouri teen book champion. Each week in March we will be narrowing our pool of the 16 most popular teen books to a single champion. Vote March 4-11 for the Elite 8; vote March 12-18 for the Final 4; vote March 19-25 for the final two contending titles; and, vote March 26-April 1 for the book tournament champion. We’ll announce the winner on April 7! For added excitement, each round you vote, your name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like free book sets or a Barnes & Noble gift  card.

Studio Open House
Columbia Public Library
Thursday, March 12 • 4-7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 • 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Studio is the library’s newest public space: a digital lab that offers technology to help you explore your creativity. This space will be growing throughout the year to adapt to the needs of our patrons. Take a tour and learn more about how the library can help you cultivate skills for your latest project. Hands-on activities and demonstrations will be featured for teens and adults. Kids are welcome, too.

Project Teen: “Insurgent”
In honor of the release of the movie version of “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth, visit the library for some faction-related crafts and pizza. Ages 12-18.

Callaway County
Public Library
Thursday, March 26
at 12:00 p.m.
No registration required. Columbia Public Library
Thursday, March 26
at 1:00 p.m.
Registration begins
March 10.
To sign up, call
(573) 443-3161. Southern Boone County
Public Library
Tuesday, March 31
at 3:30 p.m.
No registration required.

Stop-Motion Animation Workshop
Columbia Public Library
Friday, March 27 • 2-4 p.m.
Using LEGO bricks and other materials, you’ll create your own mini-movie in this hands-on workshop. The library will provide the instruction and all tools necessary for you to photograph and edit your film, but feel free to bring your own props, camera or other recording device, too. Ages 8 and older. Registration begins Tuesday, March 10. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Callaway Youth Poetry Contest
Callaway County Public Library
Wednesday, April 1
As part of National Poetry Month in April, we invite Callaway County youth to submit original poems with a chance to win an award and have your work displayed at the Callaway County Public Library and at www.dbrl.org. Awards will be given in three age categories: 5-8, 9-12 and 13-18. Get entry forms starting in April at the library or bookmobile; entries are due April 30. An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 at the Callaway County Public Library. Co-sponsored by the Auxvasse Creative Arts Program.

Project Teen: Decorate Your Space
Callaway County Public Library
Saturday, April 25 • Noon-1:30 p.m.
Create a decorative memo board to hold your notes or photos. We’ll have the supplies you need and pizza will be provided. Ages 11 and older.

Wii U Family Game Night
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 • 6-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 • 6-7:30 p.m.
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 2015″ or a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8.” Pizza served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration begins two weeks before program. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Originally published at 2015 Spring Program Preview.

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New Creative Digital Lab @ Your Library

DBRL Next - February 27, 2015

Studio CameraThe Studio is the new creative digital lab that will be opening next month on the first floor of the Columbia Public Library. We will use this space to host computer classes and special programs for all ages and to offer assistance to those working on their own creative projects. This new space will be evolving throughout the year, so be sure to like the library’s Facebook page for updates and photographs!

Studio Open House
Thursday, March 12, 4-7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Take a tour and learn more about how the library can help you cultivate inspiration for your latest project. You can learn more about our digitization program, explore apps and other technology helpful for children and parents, test drive devices at the e-reader petting zoo and have fun with our green screen photo station. Open house demonstrations are geared toward teens and adults, but kids are welcome, too. Refreshments served.

Digital Playground
This is our new series of children’s programs designed to spark creativity using technology and exploratory play. Our April 23 session will focus on colors while the May 7 session will focus on music and sound. Registration for these events will begin two weeks before the program.

Personal Archiving 
At this revamped class, we’ll share tips for preserving photos, videos, digital files and social media accounts and then demonstrate the library’s new digitization equipment. This class will qualify attendees for further hands-on instruction in the use of the scanning and digitizing equipment. This class will be held on April 27; registration will begin two weeks before the program.

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New DVD List: Downton Abbey Season 5 & More

DBRL Next - February 26, 2015

downton abbey season 5

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction, now available through your library.

downton abbeyDownton Abbey
Season 5
Website / Reviews
As season five begins in 1924, the radio is the latest miracle, a new Labour government heralds changes through the land and Downton’s traditional ways are besieged on all fronts. Robert, Mary and Branson must navigate these shifting sands together to ensure the future of the estate.

overnightersThe Overnighters
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Shown at the True False Film Fest in 2014, this modern-day Grapes of Wrath is an intimate portrait of job-seekers desperately chasing the broken American Dream to the tiny oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota. A local pastor starts the controversial “overnighters” program, allowing down-and-out workers a place to sleep at the church.

fargo season 1Fargo
Season 1
Website / Reviews
The Coen Brothers Best Picture Oscar Nominee transforms into the season’s most talked about TV debut. It features a new “true crime” story and new characters, all chilled in the trademark dry wit, murderous mayhem and “Minnesota nice” of the original classic film.

to be takeiTo Be Takei
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Take a hilarious, entertaining and moving look at the many roles played by eclectic 77-year-old actor/activist George Takei. Over seven decades, he boldly journeyed from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George in his profound trek for life, liberty and love.

arrested development season 4Arrested Development
Season 4
Website / Reviews
The Bluths return for a fourth season as the series is brought back from the dead by Netflix. Featuring the entire original cast from the first three seasons, the fourth season incorporates a non-linear storyline that leaves the viewer wanting more from the ever-dysfunctional Bluth family.

makersMakers
Season 2
Website / Reviews
Similar to the first season, this PBS series features a history of the modern women’s movement. This season’s themes include war, space, comedy, business, Hollywood and politics. Columbia, Missouri native filmmaker Grace Lee (“American Revolutionary“) directs the politics episode.

newsroomNewsroom
Season 1, Season 2
Website / Reviews
The TV show Newsroom takes a behind-the-scenes look at a high-rated cable-news program at the fictional ACN Network, focusing on the on and off camera lives of its acerbic anchor, a new executive producer and their newsroom staff.

Other notable releases:

The post New DVD List: Downton Abbey Season 5 & More appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Previous Docs From True/False 2015 Directors

DBRL Next - February 25, 2015

true false 2015

We’ve compiled a list of previous documentaries available at DBRL from the directors who are presenting films at the upcoming True/False Film Fest. Check out their old films before you attend the fest for their new films!

Morgan Neville
True/False 2015 film: “Best of Enemies” (Robert Gordon co-director)
Past films as director: “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” “Troubadours,” “Respect Yourself” (Robert Gordon co-director), “Muddy Waters” (Robert Gordon co-director), “Shakespeare Was A Big George Jones Fan” (Robert Gordon co-director), “Iggy and the Stooges

Matthew Heineman
True/False 2015 film: “Cartel Land
Past film as director: “Escape Fire

Alex Gibney
True/False 2015 film: “Going Clear
Past films as director: “The Armstrong Lie,” “We Steal Secrets,” “Mea Maxima Culpa,” “Catching Hell,” “Magic Trip,” “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “Freakonomics,” “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” “Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Jerry Rothwell
True/False 2015 film: “How to Change the World
Past film as director: “Deep Water

Andrew Jarecki
True/False 2015 film: “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Past film as director: “Capturing the Friedmans

Brett Morgen
True/False 2015 film: “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Past films as director: “Crossfire Hurricane,” “Chicago 10,” “The Kid Stays in the Picture

Joshua Oppenheimer
True/False 2015 film: “The Act of Killing,” “The Look of Silence
Past film as director: “The Act of Killing

Sam Green
True/False 2015 film: “The Measure of All Things
Past film as director: “The Weather Underground

Bill & Turner Ross
True/False 2015 film: “Western
Past film as director: “Tchoupitoulas

Liz Garbus
True False 2015 film: “What Happened, Miss Simone?
Past films as director: “Love, Marilyn,” “Bobby Fischer Against the World,” “Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!, “The Execution of Wanda Jean

To see more about the films showing at True False 2015, check out the list of films on the True/False website. Be sure to check out our True/False Film Fest films at DBRL to see lists of past True False films.

The post Previous Docs From True/False 2015 Directors appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Classics for Everyone: Cry, the Beloved Country

Next Book Buzz - February 23, 2015

Book cover for Cry the Beloved Country“Cry the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply.”

Alan Paton’s South African novel is full of lyrical phrasing like that. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. The action takes place in the late 1940s, amid apartheid practices and attitudes. There’s another sentence in the book I believe could be the title, as far as it describes the story: “All roads lead to Johannesburg.”

When Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo hears that his sister needs him, he leaves the small village of Ndotsheni for Johannesburg.  Since he’s going anyway, he decides to try to find his only son, Absalom, who moved to the city and stopped writing home. Also, Stephen’s brother who went there several years ago. Oh, and one of the pastor’s friends has a relative there. Would he possibly be able to check on her as well? Kumalo finds his family members, one by one, but the reunions are not joyful occasions. People move to Johannesburg because it’s where the jobs are, but it is an overcrowded city full of corruption, vice and crime. Everyone lives in fear.

The wealthy white farmer who lives near the pastor’s village also has a son in Johannesburg, a son who has been working for racial justice, until he is shot dead by burglars who expected to find nobody home. Kumalo remembers him as “a small bright boy.” Paton’s wording is everything when it comes to capturing the emotion of a scene: “…he was silent again, for who is not silent when someone is dead, who was a small bright boy?”  An even more tragic turn comes when Absalom Kumalo confesses to the crime, explaining how he fired the shot in panic.

The realities of apartheid are consistently woven into the fabric of the story. When a black man falls, a white man would like to help, but he finds himself at a loss, because “it is not the tradition” that people of different races should touch each other. The white churches are magnificent. The Ndotsheni church has multiple leaks when it rains. The children in the village have no milk.

But this book is not all pathos and tragedy. Though it is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of suffering.* As the two fathers cross paths and attempt to resume their lives, they both draw deep from the well of compassion to create meaning from their losses, to give the world a continuation of whatever positive they saw in the spirits of their respective sons.
 

*Refers to a well-known quote by Helen Keller

The post Classics for Everyone: Cry, the Beloved Country appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Classics for Everyone: Cry, the Beloved Country

DBRL Next - February 23, 2015

Book cover for Cry the Beloved Country“Cry the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply.”

Alan Paton’s South African novel is full of lyrical phrasing like that. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. The action takes place in the late 1940s, amid apartheid practices and attitudes. There’s another sentence in the book I believe could be the title, as far as it describes the story: “All roads lead to Johannesburg.”

When Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo hears that his sister needs him, he leaves the small village of Ndotsheni for Johannesburg.  Since he’s going anyway, he decides to try to find his only son, Absalom, who moved to the city and stopped writing home. Also, Stephen’s brother who went there several years ago. Oh, and one of the pastor’s friends has a relative there. Would he possibly be able to check on her as well? Kumalo finds his family members, one by one, but the reunions are not joyful occasions. People move to Johannesburg because it’s where the jobs are, but it is an overcrowded city full of corruption, vice and crime. Everyone lives in fear.

The wealthy white farmer who lives near the pastor’s village also has a son in Johannesburg, a son who has been working for racial justice, until he is shot dead by burglars who expected to find nobody home. Kumalo remembers him as “a small bright boy.” Paton’s wording is everything when it comes to capturing the emotion of a scene: “…he was silent again, for who is not silent when someone is dead, who was a small bright boy?”  An even more tragic turn comes when Absalom Kumalo confesses to the crime, explaining how he fired the shot in panic.

The realities of apartheid are consistently woven into the fabric of the story. When a black man falls, a white man would like to help, but he finds himself at a loss, because “it is not the tradition” that people of different races should touch each other. The white churches are magnificent. The Ndotsheni church has multiple leaks when it rains. The children in the village have no milk.

But this book is not all pathos and tragedy. Though it is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of suffering.* As the two fathers cross paths and attempt to resume their lives, they both draw deep from the well of compassion to create meaning from their losses, to give the world a continuation of whatever positive they saw in the spirits of their respective sons.
 

*Refers to a well-known quote by Helen Keller

The post Classics for Everyone: Cry, the Beloved Country appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Book Review: The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

DBRL Next - February 20, 2015

Book cover for The Queen of Tearling by Erika JohansenIf you are familiar with other book reviews I’ve written here, you know that I read mostly YA fiction. But about once every three months I get filled with the overwhelming desire to read adult fiction, usually a new adult fantasy.

A month ago this need came over me, and I started using one of our lovely online databases, NoveList Plus. This database is great if you are trying to find read-alikes to a title, author or series you loved, and it is free to use with your library card. I searched for “The Bone Doll’s Twin” by Lynn Flewelling, the first in a great fantasy trilogy that still stands out when I think about some of my favorite reads.

The first book recommended for me as a read-alike for “The Bone Doll’s Twin” was “The Queen of Tearling” by Erika Johansen. Another great and amazing thing about NoveList is that it tells you a reason WHY the book is recommended as a read-alike, so you aren’t flying blind. NoveList told me that, “Princesses cast off their disguises and return from exile in order to assert their claim to hotly contested thrones in these fantasy novels, which boast sympathetic characters, extensive world-building, and detailed political and magical systems.”

To me, that sounded like a pretty good reason for the recommendation, so I went ahead and put a copy on hold.

At first I found “The Queen of Tearling” slow. It isn’t action packed like the YA I’m used to reading. The pace is a slow, delicate climb, but the writing is so beautifully done, pace didn’t matter to me. I couldn’t put the book down.

A 19-year-old girl must take her role as queen and rule a country that desperately needs her. There’s just one problem. She’s never been told about the issues troubling her country, and every time she believes she’s figured something out, another new issue arises. As assassins try to end her life, she must find a way to stabilize her country and protect it from a threatening empire.

The characters are strongly developed and enchanting. Johansen makes the bad guys sympathetic, even as you hate them, and Kelsea, the main character and queen, is strong, powerful and, thankfully, not a cliché. Johansen makes a point of expressing how plain Kelsea is. She’s not the tall gorgeous princess we are so used to reading about. She is, well, human. The great thing is, she’s still an amazing character, and an amazing woman.

After finishing the book I was curious to see what type of response it had garnered and did some searching. I found out that “The Queen of Tearling” had earned some real hype, including a movie deal with Warner Bros. It seems actress Emma Watson was strongly drawn to the book too. Check out the information here, from the New York Post. 

That’s right. Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame thought “The Queen of Tearling” was such a good book she decided to be the executive producer for its movie production and play the main character’s role. I’m excited to see such a well written book get the attention it deserves, and I probably will end up seeing the movie when it comes out, but I am left wondering how Kelsea, a plain and unattractive girl, is going to be played by the gorgeous Emma Watson. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, make sure to catch up on this read, and expect at least two more books. Johansen planned on “The Queen of Tearling” being the first of a trilogy.

The post Book Review: The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen appeared first on DBRL Next.

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The Promise of Groundhog Day

DBRL Next - February 18, 2015

Book cover for Groundhog Day by Don YoderOn Feb 2, 2015, in the small northern Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, Phil the groundhog popped out of his hole to check his shadow. According to legend, spring may be less than six weeks away, depending on whether the sun is shining. Six weeks from February 2 brings us to the middle of March, which, in Missouri, is a time that often seems to be still stuck in winter. But there is an inherent hopefulness in this odd holiday that extends beyond the shadows and sunshine of the first season of the year.

A couple of weeks ago, browsing the library’s collection, I came across the self-help book “The Magic of Groundhog Day: Transform Your Life Day by Day” by Paul Hannam, and it made me think a bit further on the topic. Focusing on the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, Hannan states that the term “Groundhog Day” has entered the modern lexicon as a place or state of mind that represents repetition and drudgery. Finding meaning despite the humdrum is what is important (as Bill Murray did near the end of the movie). Hannan writes that mindfulness is the key: “Where you choose to consciously place your attention ultimately determines how happy you are.” He also noted: “You can change your personal reality but you cannot change reality itself, like the past or how other people think and act.”

Book cover for Paddlenorth by Jennifer KingsleyAs useful as mindfulness techniques are for many of us in dealing with the tedious components of daily life, sometimes we need to shake ourselves out of the physical reality of our existence and venture far beyond our comfort zone to find renewal. Jennifer Kingsley does this in her fine new book “Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild.” Of the arctic, Kingsley writes “if you measure yourself against the Earth–to test perspective on life and distance–there is nowhere better. Our planet is about 10 percent tundra, but relatively few of us will ever set foot on it.” As Kingsley traveled up the Back River in the Northwest Territories with her six companions (she made the journey in 2005), a transformation occurred: “most of the people closest to me would never see me in the places I love most. When those letters arrived on the Back River, I felt both loved and forgotten. Both feelings gave me freedom. The letters snipped another thread between me and them, here and home.”

What does it mean when your familiar completely disappears? In his memoir “My Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal,” Peter Wolf sketches out a life mainly spent fleeing the confines of a privileged and stuffy upbringing as a Jewish boy in New Orleans, to life at Exeter and Yale and the far flung reaches of the academy. Flanked by harrowing accounts of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the book is filled with a longing for a childhood in a city that has long since vanished. The memoir was written partly to fill in the blanks for all that was lost during the hurricane. Wolf put it this way: “I decided that in my own way I will try to preserve what I can, and understand what I have not, by writing this memoir.”

On a final note, it is worth mentioning that contemporary ruminations about Groundhog Day and renewal are rooted in ancient European traditions. Societies lived and died depending on the weather during the Middle Ages and weather prognostication was part ritual, part art. See Don Yoder’s book “Groundhog Day” for history and trivia regarding this holiday and its ancient meanings. In the end of his book, Yoder writes, “Our ancestors were geared into the universe and linked with the natural environment in ways that we today have either completely forgotten or no longer fully accept.”

However you find meaning in this little holiday in the depths of a sometimes cruel month, remember that warm sunshine and the springing of new life are just around the corner.

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2015 ALA Teen Book Award Winners Announced

Teen Book Buzz - February 16, 2015

2015 ALA Award Winners

Every January the American Library Association hosts its annual Youth Media Awards Press Conference. At this time, authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature are recognized for the amazing works they have published over the last year

Have you read any of this year’s award-winners? What did you think? Who might you have picked for this year’s top awards?

Alex Award Winners are the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adult.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award honors a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

  • Middle School Award Winner: “Rain Reign” by Ann M. Martin
  • High School Award Winner: “Girls Like Us” by Gail Giles

Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults.

Originally published at 2015 ALA Teen Book Award Winners Announced.

Categories: Book Buzz

2015 ALA Teen Book Award Winners Announced

DBRLTeen - February 16, 2015

2015 ALA Award Winners

Every January the American Library Association hosts its annual Youth Media Awards Press Conference. At this time, authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature are recognized for the amazing works they have published over the last year

Have you read any of this year’s award-winners? What did you think? Who might you have picked for this year’s top awards?

Alex Award Winners are the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adult.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award honors a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

  • Middle School Award Winner: “Rain Reign” by Ann M. Martin
  • High School Award Winner: “Girls Like Us” by Gail Giles

Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults.

Originally published at 2015 ALA Teen Book Award Winners Announced.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Emily St. John Mandel

DBRL Next - February 16, 2015

Station_ElevenPost-apocalyptic fiction is as popular and ubiquitous as this simile is confusing and ineffective. For some it is a gloomy respite from the constant barrage of good news, utopian grocers and complementary snacks. For others it is a chilling vision of events horrifyingly near at hand. For others still it is a genre of stories that they read for pleasure.

Unlike the supplies in these stories, there is a massive selection of such books to peruse. Readers know that one of the following, in order of likelihood, will be what brings civilization to its knees: zombies, super flu, war, aliens, weather or vampires. We know roughly how things will play out and that the most important people left will be attractive and/or magical. We know it will be nearly as excruciating to experience as it is fun to read about. But what we don’t know, and what has long been one of my chief concerns about life in a hellscape, is whether or not there will be traveling bands of actors and musicians, and if there are, whether or not they will eventually run into trouble. Emily St. John Mandel’s gnarly novel, “Station Eleven,” answers my questions while being really fun to read.

One of this novel’s nifty tricks is to jump around in time and among characters. It opens, just prior to the “Georgian Flu” outbreak it uses to decimate the population, with one of its main characters dying on stage, and then proceeds forward and backward in time to check on characters connected to the dead thespian. One connected character is the child actress that helped provide a twist to his production of “King Lear,” and twenty years later was one of the world’s foremost traveling actors. Another is a paparazzo that hounded the actor until switching careers to be a paramedic and attending the actor’s fateful play. Another, the dead actor’s agent, starts a “Museum of Civilization” (its most popular exhibits include stilettos and cell phones) in an airport where several people take refuge after the outbreak. (The airport is home to one of the novel’s best and most distressing images: a plane, landed safely on the runway but with its doors sealed to forever contain infected passengers.)

This novel quickly introduces a plethora of questions (like why is the nefarious prophet’s dog’s name taken from an extremely limited edition comic that happens to be another character’s most prized possession?), and as the answers start to come the book becomes extra-impossible to put down. “Station Eleven” bounces between post-apocalyptic suspense and pre-apocalyptic drama, but its characters and language are always well-crafted and immersive. It is doubtful the looming Armageddon will be anywhere near as enjoyable.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Emily St. John Mandel appeared first on DBRL Next.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Emily St. John Mandel

Next Book Buzz - February 16, 2015

Station_ElevenPost-apocalyptic fiction is as popular and ubiquitous as this simile is confusing and ineffective. For some it is a gloomy respite from the constant barrage of good news, utopian grocers and complementary snacks. For others it is a chilling vision of events horrifyingly near at hand. For others still it is a genre of stories that they read for pleasure.

Unlike the supplies in these stories, there is a massive selection of such books to peruse. Readers know that one of the following, in order of likelihood, will be what brings civilization to its knees: zombies, super flu, war, aliens, weather or vampires. We know roughly how things will play out and that the most important people left will be attractive and/or magical. We know it will be nearly as excruciating to experience as it is fun to read about. But what we don’t know, and what has long been one of my chief concerns about life in a hellscape, is whether or not there will be traveling bands of actors and musicians, and if there are, whether or not they will eventually run into trouble. Emily St. John Mandel’s gnarly novel, “Station Eleven,” answers my questions while being really fun to read.

One of this novel’s nifty tricks is to jump around in time and among characters. It opens, just prior to the “Georgian Flu” outbreak it uses to decimate the population, with one of its main characters dying on stage, and then proceeds forward and backward in time to check on characters connected to the dead thespian. One connected character is the child actress that helped provide a twist to his production of “King Lear,” and twenty years later was one of the world’s foremost traveling actors. Another is a paparazzo that hounded the actor until switching careers to be a paramedic and attending the actor’s fateful play. Another, the dead actor’s agent, starts a “Museum of Civilization” (its most popular exhibits include stilettos and cell phones) in an airport where several people take refuge after the outbreak. (The airport is home to one of the novel’s best and most distressing images: a plane, landed safely on the runway but with its doors sealed to forever contain infected passengers.)

This novel quickly introduces a plethora of questions (like why is the nefarious prophet’s dog’s name taken from an extremely limited edition comic that happens to be another character’s most prized possession?), and as the answers start to come the book becomes extra-impossible to put down. “Station Eleven” bounces between post-apocalyptic suspense and pre-apocalyptic drama, but its characters and language are always well-crafted and immersive. It is doubtful the looming Armageddon will be anywhere near as enjoyable.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Emily St. John Mandel appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Happy Valentine’s or as Good as It Gets

DBRL Next - February 13, 2015

Photo of a Rose by Svetlana GrobmanWe got married on Valentine’s Day. My husband thought that it was romantic. (Well, he also figured that it would help him remember our future anniversaries.) I thought it was cute and also special, since there was no Valentine’s in my home country, Russia. Yet whatever our ideas about the joys and responsibilities of marriage were, our Valentine’s wedding turned out to be a true commitment.

I’m not talking about the everyday challenges of married life: suppressing your true feelings about endless football, basketball and what-ever-ball games, picking up things lying around the house (like his size-large gloves on our dining table), suffering through Chinese meals he loves so much and patiently repeating questions that he cannot hear because he’s watching some bloody thriller on TV. You expect these things after you say, “I do.” I’m talking about difficulties that are outside our control, like every year we want to celebrate our anniversary, we have to compete with a whole slew of people who go out on Valentine’s Day just for fun.

It took us a few years to realize what we had gotten ourselves into, since on our first anniversary we (meaning me) had to plan a long time in advance anyway. That year, Valentine’s happened to fall on Friday, so we drove to St. Louis (a two-hour drive) for an “Evening of Romantic Music,” performed by the St. Louis Symphony. Since we had to buy tickets a couple months earlier, it seemed only logical to reserve a hotel room and a dinner to go with it well in advance, too.

Everything worked like a charm that time. The orchestra was good, the music was beautiful and romantic (with the exception of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, which I personally find erotic and not good PR for women :) ). And after the concert, every woman was given a piece of chocolate and a rose.

For our second anniversary we drove to Kansas City (also a two-hour drive) to see the Russian opera “Eugene Onegin.” That also had to be carefully arranged, since the opera seemed to have attracted every Russian living in a 100-mile-radius of Kansas City. (There were a few Americans there, too — probably spouses or companions of the Russians :) .)

Book cover of The Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the CollectionLater, things began getting harder. For our third anniversary, I planned another out-of-town outing, which included visiting an art museum and other stuff like that. Yet the weather turned bad, and although the temperature was 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the roads were covered with sleet. (How rain can turn into ice when the temperature is above freezing is beyond me!) So, instead of enjoying the experience, all I could think about was whether we’d get home alive.

After that, I decided that February is not a good month for traveling, and we should celebrate our anniversary locally. There were other reasons for that, too. For one thing, Valentine’s Day rarely takes place on weekends, and unless you don’t have to work or you’re retired (which my husband now is, but I am not), next day you have to go to work. For another, sleeping in a strange bed has much less attraction for me now.

The thing is, I am a creature of habit. I eat the same cereal every day. I sleep on the same side of the bed. And when we go to the movies, I like to have my husband to the left of me, so I can lean on his shoulder if I feel sleepy, and when we attend concerts, he has to be on my right, so I can squeeze his hand with my right hand when I get excited.

Book cover for Ultimate Food JourneysI like going to the same restaurants, too, and I usually order the same dishes in each one of them. Yet, as soon as I get used to a particular restaurant, it closes down. If that is because I always order the same meal or because we don’t eat out often enough — or both — I cannot tell. All I know is that it’s getting harder and harder to make reservations at those few I like.

Some of them don’t even take reservations for two people. (How do they expect couples to celebrate Valentine’s? To my knowledge, communal living, which was so popular in the 1960s and 1970s, is long gone!) Some restaurants don’t take reservation for holidays, and some seem to be full even if you call them just after New Year’s! They first say that it is too early, but when you call them close to Valentine’s, it’s already to late :) . Of course, it’s all relative. A friend of ours, who once found himself stuck in Tokyo, feeling lonely, decided to go to a nice restaurant. Yet they wouldn’t serve him at all! The reason being that he went there alone.

Another thing about celebrating an anniversary on Valentine’s Day is that there is too much chocolate around, which is a terrible temptation for chocoholics like me :) . Once, during our Valentine’s dinner, I ate a whole flowerless chocolate cake (my husband doesn’t like chocolate)! It tasted great while I was eating it, but, for the rest of that day, I didn’t feel so good. Since then, I’ve ordered chocolate-covered strawberries, so I eat less chocolate and more vitamins.

Photograph of an Orchid by Svetlana GrobmanAnd what about flowers? You’ve got to have roses for Valentine’s, right? Yet again, roses triple in price on that day, and I don’t even like them that well. One year, I told my husband that I like orchids much better (we had no orchids in Moscow, so they seem special to me, too). The problem with that is that I have a green thumb, and as soon as orchids appear in our house, they just stay there. And since my husband buys new orchids every year, recently, I looked around and realized that our house resembled a jungle, and I was spending all my free time watering orchids!

Well, once again, our anniversary is coming around, marking the eighteen years we have spent together. To tell the truth, despite all my complaints, I still like the fact that we got married on Valentine’s. I like talking about it and, more importantly, I still love my husband. And although the passion that brought us together all those years ago may not be as burning as it once was, there is no tragedy in that. For what really counts in people’s lives is mutual trust and respect, and also that hand you can squeeze in the moment of excitement and that shoulder on which you can lean in a moment of weariness or distress and feel valued and protected by the person by your side. And that is as good as it gets.

Happy Valentine’s to you all!

The post Happy Valentine’s or as Good as It Gets appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Images of the Past: Docs Featuring Archival Footage

DBRL Next - February 11, 2015

how to survive a plague

Creating documentaries can take a lot of time, but it can be even harder when you don’t shoot the footage yourself. Check out these documentaries that use old footage to tell a story from the past.

the black power mixtapeThe Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” (2011)

Footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States is edited together by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker. Includes footage of Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver.

how to survive a plagueHow to Survive a Plague” (2012)

The story of two coalitions whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. The activists bucked oppression, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time.

let the fire burnLet the Fire Burn” (2013)

A found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. In 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial Black Power group MOVE came to a deadly climax. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated, resulting in the tragic deaths of 11 people.

The post Images of the Past: Docs Featuring Archival Footage appeared first on DBRL Next.

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What to Read While You Wait for The Girl on the Train

Next Book Buzz - February 9, 2015

Book cover for The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train”  by Paula Hawkins  follows the mundane life of down-and-out Rachel who commutes daily into London by train. Before long she realizes she has been observing a couple every morning as they enjoy breakfast up on their roof top. Rachel begins to fantasize about their life, creating names for the couple while wishing their life was all hers. Then one day she notices a stranger in the garden, and the woman she fondly named Jess is no longer there! Written in the same vein as “Rear Window,” you will soon find yourself entangled in this psychological thriller. Place a hold on this popular best-seller, then pick up one of these similar books that draw in the curious observer.

Book cover for A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil HoganA Pleasure and a Calling” by Phil Hogan

Mr. Hemming, such a nice man. He is a real estate agent for a small community and likes to spy on his clients. He does this by keeping keys to the homes he has sold — all of them.  Then his creepy little secret life gets put on hold when they find a dead body in one of his homes.

 Book cover for Death Match by Lincoln ChildDeath Match” by Lincoln Child

Eden Incorporated — surveillance, artificial intelligence, state of the art matchmaking. It’s a perfect company. They create the perfect couple, the perfect match. Young, attractive, they have everything — it’s perfect. Now, a double suicide on their perfect living room floor. How is it that if everything was so perfect, they are dead? Isn’t Eden perfect?

Book cover for The Other Woman's House by Sophie HannahThe Other Woman’s House by Sophia Hannah

Unable to sleep, Connie Bowskill uses her husband’s laptop to log on to an Internet real estate site to view a home she has become obsessed with. While taking the virtual tour, she is witness to a woman lying face down in a pool of blood! Flustered by what she sees, she awakens her husband to show him, but when they return to site the photo is no longer there!

Have other similar titles to recommend to your fellow readers? Let us know in the comments!

The post What to Read While You Wait for The Girl on the Train appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

What to Read While You Wait for The Girl on the Train

DBRL Next - February 9, 2015

Book cover for The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train”  by Paula Hawkins  follows the mundane life of down-and-out Rachel who commutes daily into London by train. Before long she realizes she has been observing a couple every morning as they enjoy breakfast up on their roof top. Rachel begins to fantasize about their life, creating names for the couple while wishing their life was all hers. Then one day she notices a stranger in the garden, and the woman she fondly named Jess is no longer there! Written in the same vein as “Rear Window,” you will soon find yourself entangled in this psychological thriller. Place a hold on this popular best-seller, then pick up one of these similar books that draw in the curious observer.

Book cover for A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil HoganA Pleasure and a Calling” by Phil Hogan

Mr. Hemming, such a nice man. He is a real estate agent for a small community and likes to spy on his clients. He does this by keeping keys to the homes he has sold — all of them.  Then his creepy little secret life gets put on hold when they find a dead body in one of his homes.

 Book cover for Death Match by Lincoln ChildDeath Match” by Lincoln Child

Eden Incorporated — surveillance, artificial intelligence, state of the art matchmaking. It’s a perfect company. They create the perfect couple, the perfect match. Young, attractive, they have everything — it’s perfect. Now, a double suicide on their perfect living room floor. How is it that if everything was so perfect, they are dead? Isn’t Eden perfect?

Book cover for The Other Woman's House by Sophie HannahThe Other Woman’s House by Sophia Hannah

Unable to sleep, Connie Bowskill uses her husband’s laptop to log on to an Internet real estate site to view a home she has become obsessed with. While taking the virtual tour, she is witness to a woman lying face down in a pool of blood! Flustered by what she sees, she awakens her husband to show him, but when they return to site the photo is no longer there!

Have other similar titles to recommend to your fellow readers? Let us know in the comments!

The post What to Read While You Wait for The Girl on the Train appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Voting for Sweet 16 Ends February 20

DBRLTeen - February 9, 2015

2015 March Madness Booklist

VOTE NOW through February 20 for the Sweet 16!

Daniel Boone Regional Library has received nearly 50 ballots in our March Madness Teen Book Tournament! Through a series of votes, we are narrowing our list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. Voting for the Sweet 16 will end on Friday, February 20. We’ll take a few days to tabulate the results and then announce those titles that will advance in our single elimination bracket on Tuesday, March 4.

Which titles will be among the Sweet 16?  “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins?“City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare? “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl?Voice your opinion by voting today! Don’t forget that by supporting your favorite book, you’ll also be entered to win prizes like a gift card to Barnes & Noble. 

Who can participate?

March Madness is open to all teens ages 12-18 who live in either Boone or Callaway County, Missouri.

How It Works:

  • Round 1: VOTE NOW through February 20 for the Sweet 16.
  • Round 2: Vote March 4-11 for the Elite 8.
  • Round 3: Vote March 12-18 for the Final 4.
  • Round 4: Vote March 19-25 for the final two contending titles.
  • Round 5: Vote March 26-April 1 for the book tournament champion.
  • April 7: The champion is announced!

Each round that you vote, your name is entered into our prize drawing! Limit one ballot per person, per round.

Originally published at Voting for Sweet 16 Ends February 20.

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The Work of Denis Johnson

Next Book Buzz - February 6, 2015

Book cover for Train Dreams by Denis JohnsonIf you’re a Denis Johnson fan, part of the excitement about a forthcoming book is anticipating where he will take you this time. He is not an author to be pigeonholed. His wonderful novella, “Train Dreams,” was originally serialized in “The Paris Review” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. (Nobody won that year — the Pulitzer Committee couldn’t come to a final decision.) The story follows a day laborer’s travels in the American West during the early 20th century. Before that Johnson published another novella, “Nobody Move,” this time serialized in Playboy. It tells an archetypal noir story about a group of shady characters in pursuit of a bag of cash. You can get an idea of the diverse subjects he is interested in through his nonfiction collection, “Seek.” There he writes about hippies, militia groups, gold mining in Alaska, Christian biker gangs and war-ravaged Liberia.

Book cover for The Laughing Monsters by Denis JohnsonSome of his experiences in Liberia were inspiration for his newest book, “The Laughing Monsters.” This book treads some similar territory to a previous one, “Tree of Smoke.” That was Johnson’s “Big Novel,” which won the 2007 National Book Award. It focuses on a spy-in-training during the Vietnam War engaged in psychological operations against the Vietcong, but its scope is broad. Covering a span of 20 years, it is as much about the character of America as the war in Vietnam. “The Laughing Monsters,” on the other hand, is a novella with a small cast of characters, set in the present day, and covers a short period of time. Like “Tree of Smoke,” it concerns intelligence operatives who have represented western governments, although their original countries of origin are convoluted, and their loyalties/allegiances are dubious. These operatives are also traveling through damaged and war-torn countries on missions, and maybe counter-missions, while opportunistically pursuing personal profit. It might be the closest thing to a comedy Johnson has written, although there aren’t many belly laughs to be had. The New York Times picked the book as one of it’s 100 notable books for 2014 and described it as “cheerfully nihilistic.”

Book cover for Tree of Smoke by Denis JohnsonTwo of the main characters in “Tree of Smoke” are soldiers in the Vietnam War, the brothers Bill and James Houston. Bill Houston is also one of the central characters in Johnson’s first novel, “Angels.” Bill meets a wife running away with her two kids on a Greyhound bus. Together they bounce around the fringes of America through bus stations, bars and cheap motels. They encounter lots of dispossessed, strange and dangerous people. They inevitably get into trouble and make bad decisions, which get them into even more trouble. The book’s bleak subject matter could come off as exploitative in another author’s hands, but Johnson’s deft characterization and artful sentences make this story of marginal characters about something bigger than them. While it isn’t necessary to read “Angels” before reading “Tree of Smoke,” there is an added poignancy to reading about Bill Houston’s past when you already know his future.

The setting, time period and character types of Johnson’s stories can vary greatly from book to book, but there are shared characteristics within his body of work. Like most writers, he returns to certain themes and fascinations. You can see his interest in the spy genre in “The Laughing Monsters,” and “Tree of Smoke.” They are more like the spy stories of Graham Greene or John LeCarre than Ian Fleming, but the trappings of spycraft are there, as is the thrill of reading about it. He’s also a fan of crime, noir and hard-boiled fiction. (He adapted the Jim Thompson novel, “A Swell Looking Dame” for the screen.) His novel “Already Dead” is a complex noir about a descendant of a wealthy family who’s at risk of losing what remains of his fortune. After crossing a member of a drug syndicate, he’s on the run from two of his goons, including one who likes to punctuate punches to the face with quotes from Nietzsche.

While the protagonist in “Already Dead” might already be dead, the protagonist in “The Name of The World” is living a “posthumous life,” or so he has felt since his wife and child were killed in a car crash. An excellent addition to the genre I’m going to call “University Novels,” “The Name of The World” is about an academic in a small college town who finds himself forced to “act like somebody who cares what happens to him” despite his tentativeness about re-engaging with life. It is another short, poignant and beautifully written novel by Johnson.

Denis Johnson started his writing career as a poet. His first book of poetry was published when he was 19. I think this is the reason so many of his novels are short, but they never suffer for it. The books are as long as they need to be and crafted as precisely as his sentences. Sometimes he illuminates the emotional weight of his stories with language and images that are borderline hallucinogenic. There are always elements that surprise in his work and a consistency of quality, whether it’s short stories or plays, fiction or nonfiction. Despite some of his awards and critical acclaim, he remains an underappreciated writer in many ways. Just as he deserves the accolades he has received, he deserves to be read widely.

The post The Work of Denis Johnson appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Work of Denis Johnson

DBRL Next - February 6, 2015

Book cover for Train Dreams by Denis JohnsonIf you’re a Denis Johnson fan, part of the excitement about a forthcoming book is anticipating where he will take you this time. He is not an author to be pigeonholed. His wonderful novella, “Train Dreams,” was originally serialized in “The Paris Review” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. (Nobody won that year — the Pulitzer Committee couldn’t come to a final decision.) The story follows a day laborer’s travels in the American West during the early 20th century. Before that Johnson published another novella, “Nobody Move,” this time serialized in Playboy. It tells an archetypal noir story about a group of shady characters in pursuit of a bag of cash. You can get an idea of the diverse subjects he is interested in through his nonfiction collection, “Seek.” There he writes about hippies, militia groups, gold mining in Alaska, Christian biker gangs and war-ravaged Liberia.

Book cover for The Laughing Monsters by Denis JohnsonSome of his experiences in Liberia were inspiration for his newest book, “The Laughing Monsters.” This book treads some similar territory to a previous one, “Tree of Smoke.” That was Johnson’s “Big Novel,” which won the 2007 National Book Award. It focuses on a spy-in-training during the Vietnam War engaged in psychological operations against the Vietcong, but its scope is broad. Covering a span of 20 years, it is as much about the character of America as the war in Vietnam. “The Laughing Monsters,” on the other hand, is a novella with a small cast of characters, set in the present day, and covers a short period of time. Like “Tree of Smoke,” it concerns intelligence operatives who have represented western governments, although their original countries of origin are convoluted, and their loyalties/allegiances are dubious. These operatives are also traveling through damaged and war-torn countries on missions, and maybe counter-missions, while opportunistically pursuing personal profit. It might be the closest thing to a comedy Johnson has written, although there aren’t many belly laughs to be had. The New York Times picked the book as one of it’s 100 notable books for 2014 and described it as “cheerfully nihilistic.”

Book cover for Tree of Smoke by Denis JohnsonTwo of the main characters in “Tree of Smoke” are soldiers in the Vietnam War, the brothers Bill and James Houston. Bill Houston is also one of the central characters in Johnson’s first novel, “Angels.” Bill meets a wife running away with her two kids on a Greyhound bus. Together they bounce around the fringes of America through bus stations, bars and cheap motels. They encounter lots of dispossessed, strange and dangerous people. They inevitably get into trouble and make bad decisions, which get them into even more trouble. The book’s bleak subject matter could come off as exploitative in another author’s hands, but Johnson’s deft characterization and artful sentences make this story of marginal characters about something bigger than them. While it isn’t necessary to read “Angels” before reading “Tree of Smoke,” there is an added poignancy to reading about Bill Houston’s past when you already know his future.

The setting, time period and character types of Johnson’s stories can vary greatly from book to book, but there are shared characteristics within his body of work. Like most writers, he returns to certain themes and fascinations. You can see his interest in the spy genre in “The Laughing Monsters,” and “Tree of Smoke.” They are more like the spy stories of Graham Greene or John LeCarre than Ian Fleming, but the trappings of spycraft are there, as is the thrill of reading about it. He’s also a fan of crime, noir and hard-boiled fiction. (He adapted the Jim Thompson novel, “A Swell Looking Dame” for the screen.) His novel “Already Dead” is a complex noir about a descendant of a wealthy family who’s at risk of losing what remains of his fortune. After crossing a member of a drug syndicate, he’s on the run from two of his goons, including one who likes to punctuate punches to the face with quotes from Nietzsche.

While the protagonist in “Already Dead” might already be dead, the protagonist in “The Name of The World” is living a “posthumous life,” or so he has felt since his wife and child were killed in a car crash. An excellent addition to the genre I’m going to call “University Novels,” “The Name of The World” is about an academic in a small college town who finds himself forced to “act like somebody who cares what happens to him” despite his tentativeness about re-engaging with life. It is another short, poignant and beautifully written novel by Johnson.

Denis Johnson started his writing career as a poet. His first book of poetry was published when he was 19. I think this is the reason so many of his novels are short, but they never suffer for it. The books are as long as they need to be and crafted as precisely as his sentences. Sometimes he illuminates the emotional weight of his stories with language and images that are borderline hallucinogenic. There are always elements that surprise in his work and a consistency of quality, whether it’s short stories or plays, fiction or nonfiction. Despite some of his awards and critical acclaim, he remains an underappreciated writer in many ways. Just as he deserves the accolades he has received, he deserves to be read widely.

The post The Work of Denis Johnson appeared first on DBRL Next.

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