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Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

July 14, 2014

Technicians of the Sacred : A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania

Technicians of the Sacred : A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania
by Rothenberg, Jerome, editor
398.2 TEC 1985

I was once asked to name 3 books that changed the way I thought. We were at the Aristocrat on College Avenue, before it burned and reopened. I had to think while munching my black bean Tex-Mex salad.

James Hillman’s Re-Visioning Psychology had changed the way I thought about the human soul, and Benjamin DeMott’s The Imperial Middle had changed the way I thought about class. Neither of these titles is available at IndyPL, anymore, but you can get them on interlibrary loan.

Jerome Rothenberg’s anthology Technicians of the Sacred changed my ideas about what poetry could be. This is indeed a "range" of poetries. It was the launching of an effort called "ethnopoetics," which was an attempt "to present the tribal poetries as values in themselves rather than as ethnographic data."

Poems from Europe didn't appear in Rothenberg's first (1968) edition, and it's wonderful now to have Ezra Pound's translation of "Praise Song of the Buck Hare" included.

I am the buck hare, I am,
The shore is my playground
Green underwood is my feeding.

I am the buck hare, I am,
What's that damn man got wrong with him?
Skin with no hair on, that's his trouble.

And the buck hare goes on. From a nomadic tribe somewhere in Russia, I think.

Want to travel around the world, and the world within? Open this ground-breaking collection.

                 --Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology

 

July 7, 2014

Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home

Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home
by Carville, James and Mary Matalin
B Carville, James CAR

The old saying “politics makes strange bedfellows” certainly is true for this couple. She loves Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, he sings the praises of the Clintons. They are passionately, adamantly, unashamedly firmly entrenched in their own beliefs, one a staunch Republican, the other a diehard Democrat. They married late in life, had two daughters when Mary was in her 40s, James past the mid-century mark. She loves her critters and adopts all homeless varmints that come her way; James hisses and waves his arms when they come near his beloved La-Z-Boy. He loves routine, she likes to wing it through each day; he’s an early-to-bed-early-to-rise fellow, while she’s a night owl. He holds tight to the purse strings; she wheedles him into letting go long enough to purchase some classic piece of furniture. They’re like night and day. They’ve thought of killing (perhaps not quite literally) each other, but never of leaving. Somehow they make it work. Despite stark differences in their beliefs about politics and almost everything else, they have learned the fine art of give and take, learned to compromise. A lesson that all of us—including the politicians in Washington—would do well to learn.

                       --Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library

 

June 30, 2014

The Dharma Bums

The Dharma Bums
by Kerouac, Jack
FIC KER

Jack Kerouac’s 1958 publication of The Dharma Bums is his much anticipated follow up to his groundbreaking 1957 book On the Road. Many consider the these two works companion pieces due to their detailed description of Kerouac’s journey across America and his eventful relations with some of America’s most influential “Beatniks” of the Beat Generation Era. However, where Dharma Bums separates itself from On the Road is in its vivid spirituality and Kerouac’s crazed infatuated search for the eternal soul.

The peripatetic Ray Smith, the main character sitting in for Kerouac, takes epic and spiritual journeys through the rugged American wilderness with his companions Japhy Ryder, a fictional version of naturalist Gary Snyder, and Alvah Goldbook, standing in for famed poet Allen Ginsberg. These three men’s presence in this book is truly pivotal because it shows the diversified lifestyles and outlooks held by the three mad Beat Generation giants,  and because their roles in this book exemplify the vision and dream of the “Beat Movement.” This book is centered on the idea of returning humanitarianism to an uncultured and disconnected 1950s America.

Kerouac has prophetic visions and vibrations of future generations abandoning their television sets and so-called idealistic lifestyles, and seeing and feeling everyone packing up their rucksacks for a spiritual enlightening journey through the crossroads of America.

Kerouac’s Christian background comes to the forefront in some manner throughout the course of the book by him showing extreme compassion for individuals not only in his circle but also to those who are on the outside looking in. Kerouac’s search for spiritual enlightenment and eternal soul is powered for his search for Zen, a term Kerouac embraced in 1950s America before many even know what it actually was. Kerouac’s epic journey us and down the west coast with his rucksack on his back containing nothing but the bare essentials are laced with midnight meditations under the desert and woodland stars. The reader often finds Kerouac and his town companions embarking days at a time on spiritual mountain climbs through some of the most rugged woodlands in America. The final scene is absolutely beautiful. Kerouac sitting isolated atop Desolation Peak in deep meditation taking in the scenery and extending extreme gratitude for all the life that has been bestowed upon him.

Kerouac also gives an account of the Sixth Gallery Reading in San Francisco which he declares is, “The birth place of the poetry renaissance.”

If you are familiar with Kerouac’s works The Dharma Bums is a great piece to add to your collection if you haven’t already. If you aren’t familiar with Kerouac then this is a great book to dive into the great madness that is Jack Kerouac.

The Dharma Bums is also available as a downloadable audiobook               

              --Recommended by Jeremy Sexton, East Washington Library

 

June 23, 2014

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
by Moore, Edward Kelsey
FIC MOO

Get ready to sit back and relax and take a trip to Plainview, Indiana during the 1960’s. The reader goes on a journey with three friends Barbara Jean, Clarice, and Odette through four decades. What happens during this coming of age story is at times funny and sad, with a dash of paranormal activity. Most of the story takes place at the small town’s diner which is known as Earl’s Diner. It is here where the three friends meet, eat good food, and have great conversation. Fantastic read on true friendship. It is a well written story, a first novel by native Hoosier musician and writer Edward Kelsey Moore; and it will leave you wanting more.

                               --Recommended by Denyce Malone, Flanner House Library

 

June 16, 2014

Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives

Monty and Rommel: Parallel Lives
by Caddick-Adams, Peter
940.54 CAD

Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and Germany’s Erwin Rommel fought each other during World War II in France 1940, North Africa 1942-43, and France 1944. Each cultivated good press relations, and was popular in his own country, but they had quite different reputations. “Monty” was meticulous in preparation and deliberate in execution, while Rommel was a fast-moving, risk-taking improviser. These different approaches to combat reflected their experiences a generation earlier when they fought (heroically) as junior officers in the First World War.

Monty’s WWI unit was overrun and dispersed amid great confusion, requiring exhaustive marching with little food or water, fueling his later obsession with physical fitness, careful planning, and thorough briefing of all subordinates. Rommel’s successes as a young officer all derived from flexible thinking and risky exploitation of enemy weaknesses. Both officers spent the inter-war years thinking, training, teaching, writing, and becoming outstanding practitioners of their craft.

                          --Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library