As the old saying goes, “…judge a book by its cover.” The eye-catching cover of “A Hanging at Cinder Bottom” by Glenn Taylor caught my eyes, and the contents held them. If my team of editors, web developers, interns and chefs has done its job, the cover should be to the right. A keen eye will spot a monkey on a pedestal. Beware though: the monkey doesn’t show up until deep into the novel, and he doesn’t appear on a pedestal, but the wait and subterfuge about his standing gear is worth it. He’s a brave and loyal little rascal, and he wins his owner’s bets by being able to drink a bottle of beer and smoke a cigarette in under two minutes. Now, we’ve all seen our share of smoking, alcoholic monkeys, but this monkey is special. His owner, Tony Thumbs (he’s missing a thumb), loves him, and this gentleman reader was moved by the revelation that Tony, out of concern for the monkey’s health, only asked his little pal to pull the trick on occasion, when it might prove useful in making friends.
While it shouldn’t take more than a quality monkey to sell you on “A Hanging at Cinder Bottom,” it is a ripping yarn written with a poet’s dedication to word choice, and it is about much more than an awesome monkey. There is also a stage show featuring a man perfectly playing the tune “Yankee Doodle” with his farts.
The novel opens in 1910 with life-long loves Abe Baach, a card sharp and conman, and Goldie Toothman, a brothel madam capable of throwing a playing card with deadly precision, awaiting the gallows for murdering the mayor. With ropes around necks and Abe’s promise to “tell the truth before I die” or “walk out of hell in kerosene drawers and set the world on fire” ringing in the crowd’s ears, the evil sheriff collapses on the stage and lets loose some profound flatulence, and with that ringing in the crowd’s ears:
“The sun came free of the clouds then, and the people looked skyward, and there was only the north-born sound of the tardy noon train’s wheeze. The engine was not yet fully stopped at the station when men began to jump from inside the empty coal hoppers. They hit the hard dirt beside the railbed and rolled and got to their feet quick. They ran on wrenched ankles, headlong into the people staring at the heavens.”
And there, as we hope those men are injuring their ankles in an effort to save our charming heroes, the novel leaps back to 1877, and then to 1897, so that we might better understand why our protagonists would run afoul of the most powerful people in the county. Then the novel returns to 1910 and the months leading up to the hanging, where the bulk of our time is spent, and we get the story of the long con that puts them in the nooses we find them in at the beginning. While you might guess the general thrust of the ending, the specifics will delight you. Someone will eventually film the closing sequence, and while it will be impossible to improve on the novel and a reader’s imagination, it will be great fun to see someone try. Here’s hoping they cast the right monkey.
UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Chris W. of Boone County, our Lux Pass winner! Thanks to all who entered.
Saturday, January 30, at 10:30 a.m., the Columbia Public Library will be hosting our fourth annual “How to True/False” with 102.3 BXR and 1400 KFRU. You’ll get a step-by-step explanation of all things True/False, including a Q&A session with fest organizers. They will also share an exclusive sneak peek at a few films before the official fest schedule is released.
Space is limited, so plan to arrive early. For easier parking, consider using the library’s north lot, across from Landmark Bank at the corner of Garth and Walnut.
In celebration of our partnership with the True/False Film Fest, we are giving away two free Lux passes to one lucky winner. You must register online to enter. These passes, valued at $200 each, will give you nearly unlimited access to the festival’s most popular films and special events. The winner will be selected at random and contacted on Monday, February 1. One entry per person, please. You must live in Boone or Callaway County to be eligible. Good luck!
The post Win a Pair of Lux Passes to the True/False Film Fest appeared first on DBRL Next.
Why I Checked It Out: “Walk on Earth a Stranger” is by Rae Carson! That’s why! I mean, I loved her “Fire and Thorn” series, so that was really the only reason I needed to put this on hold and excitedly wait for its release.
What It’s About: I didn’t know the book was a historical fantasy until I got it in my hands and started reading. It’s set during the great California gold rush, and follows Lee Westfall, a young girl with the ability to magically sense gold. Can you already see the complications that might cause? A gold rush and a girl who can sense gold? The book focuses on her struggle to cross the country and keep her secret safe.
What I liked About It: It’s a very unique idea. It’s not a knock-off, or a combination of two different stories already published. It is fresh and different. It also covers a historical time period that YA books have yet to really focus on.
Besides that, Rae Carson is an amazing writer and Lee Westfall is a great character who is easy to love. Overall the book was a bumpy, suspenseful wagon ride across the country.
What I didn’t Like About It: Although original, “Walk on Earth a Stranger” was a little expected. Once Lee sets off for California, you kind of knew what was going to happen. People were going to die while they crossed the country from the expected Oregon trail traveling blunders– wagon train attacks, starvation, and illness.
After a point, some parts of the long journey across the country dragged. I did get to a point where I was like, “Can’t we just get to California already!?” That aside, I still had no trouble reading it in a couple weeks, and not once did I even consider putting it back on the shelf. I would still highly recommend it.
Similar Titles: If you haven’t read Rae Carson’s other trilogy yet, I would highly suggest checking out the first book in the series, “The Girl of Fire and Thorns.” While more fantasy than “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” it is still a great read!
And remember, “Walk on Earth a Stranger” is the first in a trilogy, with the next book coming out sometime next year.
Originally published at Staff Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing last year at the True False Film Fest, this film follows three renowned climbers as they navigate nature’s harshest elements and their own complicated inner demons to ascend Mount Meru, the most technically complicated and dangerous peak in the Himalayas. Meru is the story of that journey – one of friendship, sacrifice, hope and obsession.
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Another True False Film Fest pick, this film finds recovering addict and amputee John Wood in a battle to reclaim his mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction. The stranger-than-fiction chain of events soon sets John heading to his certain demise.
“The Hunting Ground”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing in 2015 at the Missouri Theatre, this film is a startling expose of sexual assault on US campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Weaving together footage and first person testimonies, the film follows the lives of several undergraduate assault survivors.
“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing at the 2015 True False Film Fest, this film explores Kurt Cobain like never before in the only fully authorized portrait of the famed music icon. Directed by acclaimed film maker Brett Morgen, who blends Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, movies, animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest friends.
Trailer / Website / Reviews
A remarkable true story of identity and journey into sisterhood. Raised on different continents, with no idea the other existed, and connected 25 years later through social media, Samantha and Anais discover that they are identical twin sisters separated at birth. The film explores the ideas of family, adoption, nature vs. nurture and the power of social media.
Other notable releases:
“Seymour” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Burroughs” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“1971” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Fear the Walking Dead” – Season 1 – Website / Reviews
“One Cut One Life” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Hannibal” – Season 3 – Website / Reviews
“Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Doc Martin” – Series 7 – Website / Reviews
“Emptying the Skies” – Website / Reviews / Trailer
“Shameless” – Season 5 – Website / Reviews
We recently added “The Roosevelts” to the DBRL collection. The seven episode series played on PBS earlier this year, and is the latest from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns who has done other series such as “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The War,” “The National Parks,” and “Prohibition.” Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Profiles Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. This seven-part, 14 hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Over the course of these years, Theodore would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd President of the United States. Together, these three individuals not only redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, but also redefined the role of the United States within the wider world. The series encompasses the history the Roosevelts helped to shape: the creation of the National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. It is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage, and the conquest of fear.
An intimate and candid look at the life and art of legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, as revealed through the creation and performance of six of his songs, and remembered by the man himself. The six songs featured in the film are: Something’s coming, Opening doors, Send in the clowns, I’m still here, Being alive and Sunday. Art and life are intertwined for Sondheim, and it is a story of both.
We recently added “Tim’s Vermeer” to the DBRL collection. This film played at the True/False Film Festival in 2014, and currently has a rating of 89% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did seventeenth century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning ten years, his adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, to the north coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and even to Buckingham Palace to see a Vermeer masterpiece in the collection of the Queen.
The film “Rich Hill” (91 min.) examines the rural community of the same name that lies seventy miles south of Kansas City, Missouri. This impoverished Midwestern town is the setting for this documentary that examines the turbulent lives of three boys and the fragile family bonds that sustain them. Directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, this film was a selection of the 2014 True/False Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
We recently added “Jodorowsky’s Dune” to the DBRL collection. This film played at the True/False Film Festival in 2014, and currently has a rating of 98% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from the film website:
This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema’s greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune – and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.
We recently added “Finding Vivian Maier” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown earlier this year at Ragtag Cinema and currently has a rating of 95% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Now considered one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Vivian’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photos, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.
October 31: “Citizen Four” starts at Ragtag. (via)
November 3: “20,000 Days on Earth” 5:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. at Forum 8. (via)
November 3: “Girl Rising” 6:00 p.m. at Missouri Theatre. (via)
November 3: “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines” 6:00 p.m. at the MU Student Center. (via)
We recently added “Valentine Road” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown last year on HBO and currently has a rating of 90% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from the film website:
In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as the aftermath.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 • 6:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
The documentary “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” (82 min.) is the latest from Columbia-native filmmaker Grace Lee (“The Grace Lee Project“). This film focuses on Grace Lee Boggs, a 98 year old Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. In this film we see how Boggs continually challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. The screening is a collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.
We recently added “12 O’clock Boys” to the DBRL collection. The film played at various film festivals in 2013 and currently has a rating of 91% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
A notorious urban dirt bike pack in Baltimore that pops wheelies, weaves at excessive speeds through traffic, and impressively evades the hamstrung police. Their stunning antics are viewed through the eyes of adolescent Pug, a bright kid from the Westside obsessed with the riders and willing to do anything to join their ranks.
We recently added “Generation Like” to the DBRL collection. The film played earlier this year on the PBS series Frontline and is a followup to the 2001 documentary “The Merchants of Cool.” Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Explores how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media, and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with these young consumers. Here is a powerful examination of the evolving and complicated relationship between teens and the companies that are increasingly working to target them.