October 24, 2016 by Reader's Connection
November traditions include cooking (check out Nora’s cookbook discussion on the 21st) and the fact that the Portal discussion group at Glendale actually discusses one book, rather than a theme (have a look at the 27th).
I’m always proud to live in Indy when any of our discussion groups goes for this one. Please click here for some helpful tips about dealing with this book.
Yo-ho! Look alive! The Shared Reading Group at East 38th Street has moved back to the Spades Park Branch
At that location, on all the Fridays in November–the 4th, 11th, 18th, and as far as I know even the 25th, the day after Thanksgiving–they will read aloud from Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady.
Poems and refreshments follow this group wherever they go.
Thomas Wolfe’s short story “The Lost Boy” will be discussed at the Franklin Road Branch on Monday, November 7th at 6:30 p.m. The discussion will be led by Dr. Mark Canada, professor of English and member of the Thomas Wolfe Society.
Three generations of Whitshanks have lived in the family home in Baltimore since the 1920s, in which they have loved, squabbled, protected secrets, had children, and, in some cases, led inauthentic lives. Using her signature gifts for brilliant dialog and for intricately framing the complex messiness of parental and spousal relationships, Tyler beautifully untangles the threads that bind and sometimes choke all of them, especially Red and Abby, the last Whitshank homestead occupants. In 2012, Red and Abby are in their late 70s, and their fractious children rally to the modern dilemma of the sandwich generation–caring for aging resistant parents in their home safely, while raising their own children. VERDICT It’s been half a century since Tyler debuted with If Morning Ever Comes, and her writing has lost none of the freshness and timelessness that has earned her countless awards and accolades. Now 73, she continues to dazzle with this multigenerational saga, which glides back and forth in time with humor and heart and a pragmatic wisdom that comforts and instructs. — Library Journal
“You’re all I read any more. You’re the only ones who’ll talk about the really terrific changes going on, the only ones crazy enough to know that life is a space voyage, and not a short one, either, but one that’ll last for billions of years. You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstandings, mistakes, accidents and catastrophes do to us. You’re the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distances without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.”
That’s Eliot Rosewater speaking to a group of science fiction writers. Perhaps I should always do this, always quote a novel’s characters rather than reprint a book review.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is also available as an eBook.
Memorable, often funny prose complements the crafty plot of Bradley’s fifth Flavia de Luce novel. The year 1951 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of St. Tancred, who gave his name to 11-year-old Flavia’s local church in the village of Bishop’s Lacey. That the occasion will include the opening of the saint’s tomb excites Flavia, whose curiosity about the excavation leads her to find the body of a murder victim. The precocious and irrepressible Flavia (who was booted from the Girl Guides for “an excess of high spirits”) continues to delight. Portraying a 11-year-old as a plausible sleuth and expert in poisons is no mean feat, but Bradley makes it look easy. The reader never loses sight of Flavia’s youth, but also never wonders at the likelihood that someone with her qualities exists. — Publishers Weekly
When their mother goes missing from her nursing home, three estranged siblings must fulfill the requests left in her will before they can find closure—or receive their inheritance. Mattie Benson feels trapped in Grand Oak Acres Nursing Home. Abandoned by her adult children and missing her deceased husband, she takes matters into her own hands and leaves the facility. A Mattie’s Call is issued, and soon, the siblings learn things about their mother they never knew—namely, her ability to bring them together through the conditions of her will. Gabrielle, the eldest daughter, must stop living life on her looks, get a job, and move out of the family home. This feat proves difficult for a forty-nine-year-old woman accustomed to the generosity of wealthy men. Joshua, the runaway groom, must reconnect with the son he never knew existed. He isn’t against the idea, but facing the only love of his life proves more difficult than he anticipated. Alice, Mattie’s baby girl, has been trapped in a loveless marriage for years. The stipulation that she complete her college degree scares her more than climbing a mountain, but an unforgivable moment with her husband proves she must move forward with her life. Stumbling and ultimately rising to the challenge, the siblings get to know one other as their parents’ legacy mends old wounds and paves the way for new beginnings. — Publisher’s note
Mattie’s Call is also available as an eBook.
On Monday, November 14th at 6:30 p.m., the Poetry & Lyric Discussion Group at the Beech Grove Branch will discuss William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s song, “Both Sides Now.”
Maraniss spent only his first six and a half years in Detroit, so he was surprised when he “choked up” after seeing a car commercial extolling the Motor City. That affection inspired this fast-paced, sprawling, copiously detailed look at 18 months—from 1962 to 1964—in the city’s past. During that time, big things happened in Detroit. Motown burst onto the music scene after the Motortown Revue left the city on a nationwide tour. Ford developed a new car, kept secret except from the prestigious J. Walter Thompson advertising agency; unveiled at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, the Mustang became an instant, bestselling hit. Detroit fought fiercely for the 1968 Olympics, but despite support from native son Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, and Governor George Romney, Detroit lost to Mexico City. Detroit was embroiled in the civil rights movement, as well, with Cavanagh and union head Walter Reuther among many leaders taking a strong stand for racial equality. Reuther even rounded up money to bail out demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, and he never wavered in his commitment to freedom and justice. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an early version of his “I have a dream” speech at the city’s much-publicized Walk to Freedom, in which Reuther, Cavanagh, and 100,000 others marched; it was, said one participant, “a model of peaceful protest and racial cooperation” during a time of national unrest . . . Maraniss’ brawny narrative evokes a city still “vibrantly alive” and striving for a renaissance. An illuminating history of a golden era in a city desperately seeking to reclaim the glory. — Kirkus Reviews
On Monday, November 21st at 6:00 p.m., the Nora Branch‘s Cookbook Discussion will focus on cookbooks about Thanksgiving.
1. Find a cookbook from the library that fits this month’s theme. The cookbook pictured here is just one of many possibilities.
2. Read the cookbook and sample a few recipes.
3. Pick up a review form at the Nora Library, fill it out, and bring it with you to the meeting.
4. Optional: make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to the meeting.
5. Join us for an enjoyable discussion of the cookbooks and some delicious taste testing.
Special Guests: Chefs Brad Nehrt and Karen Williams, Culinary Arts Instructors at the J. Everett Light Career Center
Please register for the program by calling 275-4472 or by coming into the Nora Library and signing up at the Information Desk.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner McCullough exhibits his artist’s touch in re-creating the lives of the Wright brothers, their father, and their sister Katharine from historical documents. Mining their letters, notebooks, and diaries, McCullough shows the Wright brothers (snubbed by the British as mere bicycle mechanics) for the important technoscientists they were. With only high school educations, they personified self-reliance and ingenuity, making their own calculations and testing their mechanical skills as they experimented with gliders. Their solution to controlling the gliders’ flight was wing warping, enabling the gliders to bank like a bird’s wings. As early engine designers and mechanics, when they couldn’t find a light enough engine, they designed one that their mechanic built in six weeks. A few days after Langley’s $70,000 failure, the Wright brothers made several powered flights–for less than $1,000–to prove that humans could fly. When the US military rejected their services, the Wrights signed a contract with a French syndicate. From 1910 on, the brothers were much occupied by business and patent infringement lawsuits. Wilbur contracted typhoid and died in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948. The brothers were remarkable for their analytical minds, their skiIl as early pilots, and their brilliance as experimental scientists. This work is their great, eminently readable story. — Choice
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Branch on Sunday, November 27th at 1:00 p.m.
In November, instead of discussing a theme, everyone reads the same book. This year it’s John Corey Whaley’s novel Noggin.
In the not-too-distant future, 16-year-old Travis Coates loses his head once—literally—after a deadly bout with cancer left him for dead. His head, cryogenically frozen as part of an experimental process to bring cancer victims back to life using donors, is the only thing that’s left of him until he wakes up with it attached to the body of Jeremy Pratt in the Saranson Center for Life Preservation five years later. From there on out, Travis’ life gets just as crazy as Whaley’s bizarre setup. Lots of changes have taken place in five years, and Travis soon finds himself losing his head again, in the figurative sense. He has to drag his best friend back out of the closet, discovers terrible secrets about his parents, and pursues his old girlfriend, who is now 21 and engaged to another, great guy, to readers’ cringe-inducing embarrassment on his behalf. Readers will recognize the Printz winner’s trademark lovable characterizations in Travis’ newfound BFF Hatton, who dubs him “Noggin” on his first day back at school. They’ll also recognize the poignantly rendered reflections on life, love, death and everything in between. A satisfyingly oddball Frankenstein-like tale of connectivity. — Kirkus Reviews
When Carson McCullers was a teenager, she came to New York City to study piano at Juilliard. She never matriculated; she lost the purse with her tuition money in it. Such small, unredressed tragedies as these are at the silent, solitary heart of McCullers’ first novel, which centers on a deaf-mute and a teenage tomboy living in a small Georgia town in the 1930s. McCullers’ characters reach out to one another for sympathy and understanding, but not all of them can complete the connection, and their isolated thoughts form a choir of amazing, transcendent poignance — music only the reader can hear. Time Magazine, All-Time Hundred Novels (Their list of the best novels since 1923, the year Time came into existence.)
Two stories will be discussed at the Beech Grove Branch on Monday, November 28th at 6:30 p.m.
One of them is Stephen King’s “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.”
King’s story appears in his collection Different Seasons, which is also available as an eBook, and the “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” story, all by itself, is available as an eAudiobook.
In addition to the stand-alone edition pictured here http://www.indypl.org/cgi-bin/fullbib.pl?bibno=1724809, the story also appears in a collection A Christmas Memory ; One Christmas ; & The Thanksgiving Visitor, which is also available as an eBook. There’s also a children’s book (the whole story, as far as I know) with an accompanying CD.
October 24, 2016 by Reader's Connection
Whenever any book discussion group is brave enough to tackle William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury , I try to help. The group at Central Library will be discussing this masterwork on Tuesday, November 1st at 6:00 p.m., and below is the guide I issued for Fountain Square readers when they discussed the book a couple years ago. These tips are aimed at anyone who’s bewildered by the unraveling Compson family.
The first of the novel’s four sections is narrated by Benjamin Compson, who has been described as a thirty-three-year-old man with a three-year-old’s mind. The narrative slips around in time, and the reader is likely to have questions. (How many characters named Quentin are there, here? One of them is a female, right?)
MY FIRST TIP: If you want some clarification, Click here and read the Compson Appendix. Faulkner wrote the appendix in 1945, sixteen years after the novel was published in 1929, and it first appeared in The Portable Faulkner. The author was enthusiastic: “I should have written this new section when I wrote the book itself . . . By all means include this in the reprint. When you read it, you will see how it is the key to the whole book, and after reading it, the 4 sections as they stand now fall into clarity and place…”
Yes, the appendix is weird and Faulknerian, and there are inconsistencies between the appendix and the novel (you can read about them here) but I think this 1945 addition is more helpful than it is hazardous, and it’s unfortunate that most recent editions haven’t included it.
MY SECOND TIP: Keep your eyes on them italics.
I wish I could say, Keep your eyes on that color-coded text. Faulkner wrote, At the time of the book’s publication, “If I could only get it printed the way it ought to be with different color types for the different times in Benjy’s section recording the flow of events for him, it would make it simpler, probably. I don’t reckon, though, it’ll ever be printed that way, and this’ll have to be the best, with the italics indicating the changes of events.”
In 2012, fifty years after Faulkner’s death, The Folio Society did indeed print an edition of the novel with different colors in the Benjy section indicating different periods of time–it’s pictured above, and here’s an article about that project–but all 1,480 copies are sold, and I don’t think the libraries that bought a copy will be happy to send it out on Interlibrary Loan. So Central Library’s readers will have to make do with italics as time-shift indicators.
WAIT A MINUTE! I HAVE A THIRD TIP: Don’t give up. The second section of the novel, narrated by Benjy’s older brother Quentin, is no picnic, either. But I think this is one of the most rewarding novels ever written. Despite the oblivion into which she may be heading, I’m happy just thinking about Miss Quentin on the night before Easter, swinging herself on that rainpipe from her window and making off with Jason’s money.
October 20, 2016 by Reader's Connection
There are three reviews from the state of New York this month. Three reviews! This edition of LibraryReads was obviously rigged. Completely rigged. It’s disgusting. Oh, wait. Indiana has two reviews this time. Never mind.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
With only a touch of her usual magical realism, Hoffman crafts a tale that still manages to enchant. In Faithful, a young girl who survives a car accident that almost kills her best friend spends the next decade doing penance to try and alleviate her guilt. Despite her best efforts to avoid it, love, hope, and forgiveness patiently shadow her as she slowly heals. Shelby is a complex character and through her internal growth Hoffman reveals that she is a person worthy of love, a bit of sorcery that readers will hold dear. Simply irresistible. — Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, NY
The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
It’s been fascinating to watch the Tearling saga evolve into a riveting blend of fantasy and dystopian fiction with characters developing in unexpected but satisfying ways into people I really care about. With the introduction of new characters in the town, a third timeline is woven into the story, leading to a plot twist that I did not see coming at all. This book has given me lots to think about–community, leadership, the use and abuse of power–and makes me want to reread all three books. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Child goes back to the well and gives readers another glimpse into Jack Reacher’s past as a military cop — and what a worthwhile trip it is. It’s 1996 — after Reacher receives a Legion of Merit medal, he’s sent to “Night School” with two other men, one from the FBI and another from the CIA. Soon the trio learns that they’ve been selected for a covert mission. Child layers his page-turning story with careful and sometimes dryly humorous details.This suspense series keeps getting better — it’s a joy to read. — Elizabeth Eastin, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, NY
When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz
Charlotte crosses paths with Max, a former criminal profiler turned private investigator, at the condo of the recently deceased friend of her step sister Jocelyn. Max and Charlotte begin investigating and find themselves in the killer’s sights as they follow a twisted path into the past. Krentz is an expert at seamlessly blending suspense with romance. Her strong characters and their evolving relationship, plus a complex, twisted plot, all combine to make romantic suspense at its best. — Karen Emery, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN
I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb
I’ll Take You There is delightfully entertaining, funny and a bit mystical with wonderful connections to old movies and movie stars. Felix Funicello runs a Monday night film club which meets in an old theater. One evening, he is visited by the ghost of a female director from the silent film era. She takes him on a journey to his past where Felix sees scenes on the screen which help him gain an understanding of women who have been important to him throughout his life. This novel is insightful and inspirational in connecting scenes from the past with our present day society. — Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Library, Lake Mills, WI
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Spanning over twenty years and two continents, Smith’s new novel is a charming account of one woman’s coming-of-age. Smith’s unnamed narrator, a mixed-race child lives in one of London’s many low-end housing units. She meets Tracey and the two are bonded over the shared experience of being poor and “brown” in a class that is predominantly white. As the two stumble towards womanhood, the differences become more stark and divisive, and their friendship is fractured by Tracey’s final, unforgivable act. This book will appeal to lovers of character-driven fiction. — Jennifer Wilson, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN
When Victoria inherited the throne at the age of eighteen, she was still sleeping in the same bedroom as her mother. Her first act as queen was to move her bed into a different room. This headstrong deed foreshadowed the determination with which she ruled an empire. Her fierce devotion to her country and family shines in the pages of Baird’s compulsively readable biography. She becomes a warm and relatable figure through Baird’s research. Her reign saw unimaginable changes in society, science, and technology, but through it all, Victoria remained. — Ann Cox, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
A grandson sits by his dying grandfather’s bedside as his grandfather slowly reveals the light and shadows of a marriage and of a family that kept secrets as a way of life. He learns of his grandmother’s life growing up during World War II; her coming to America and living with a man who kept to himself, even lying to her about his short time in prison. Chabon’s signature style includes carefully observed characters that are both new and familiar and shimmering prose that reflects and refracts light much as moonlight does. — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ
Normal by Warren Ellis
Adam Dearden has been ferried to Normal Head, an asylum dedicated to treating only futurists. Shortly after Adam arrives at Normal, a patient disappears from his locked room, leaving only a huge pile of insects behind. Adam unearths a conspiracy that will have readers flipping pages quickly, reminding us that ‘we are now in a place where we will never again have a private conversation.’ Witty and insightful, Ellis’s writing has much to say about technology and gives readers much to think about in this brief novel. Highly recommended. — Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX
Orphans of the Carnival by Carol Birch
Julia is an accomplished young woman who can sing, dance, ride horseback and speak three languages. Unfortunately for her, most people can’t get past what they see because Julia’s face is covered with thick hair, giving her an apelike appearance. Orphaned as a small child but raised in a wealthy household, Julia decides to travel the world as a carnival performer. This beautifully written work of historical fiction allows readers to consider what it means to be “other,” to always be on the outside looking in. — Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA
October 17, 2016 by Reader's Connection
From now until 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, October 29th, you can bid on items at this year’s web auction.
The 29th is the day of the Indy Author Fair, and that evening the 2016 Indiana Authors Awards will be presented at a dinner that runs from 6:30 to 9:30.
At 8:45, the bidding will finish. You don’t have to be present at the dinner to win.
I’m not encouraging you to bid on the items that I’ve pictured here. In fact, I’ve bid on them, and would rather you didn’t.
But click here or on the Get Registered Now! picture to sign up for the auction.
Then go to the auction site (click here or on any of the other pictures) and look at what-all’s up for sale. Meals, hotel stays, jewelry, signed books, sporting events, cave exploration, musical events, out-of-town jaunts, gift bags, a Pacers Bike Share membership and more.
And when you register, you are sent a link to a page like this, where you can monitor how your bids are going.
Oh, yargh! I’m already outbid on two of my items.
Oh, well. Lots of time between now and 8:45 on the 29th.
Enjoy the Indy Author Fair, enjoy the auction, and if you aren’t bidding against me, good luck.
Oh, double-yargh! I went all the way through this blog post and haven’t mentioned the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, without which this auction, and much of the library’s programming, would not happen.
October 14, 2016 by Reader's Connection
My Indiana Bicentennial Reading Challenge includes this: 18. Read a magazine, cover to cover.
I’ve read three magazines cover to cover, which means I can skip some of the other challenges, such as 20A (re-reading a book that I hated) or 20B (reading a book that I’m afraid I’ll hate).
The May 2016 issue of Poetry Magazine featured contemporary Australian poets, and I didn’t enjoy the poems, first time around.
I did enjoy Jaya Savige’s essay “Creation’s Holiday”: On Silence and Monsters in Australian Poetry, which deals with political silencings but also with the silences of immense Australian spaces.
Fathomless silence has thus long functioned as something like the Mont Blanc of Australian poetry. In David Malouf’s “Notes on an Undiscovered Continent,” it manifests as a gnawing vastness: “Silence: so absolute it fills the mind with a slow-worm’s giddy/horror of distances, our counterweight to the Himalayas.” Almost seventy years earlier, it overwhelmed Henry Lawson, who declared his preference for “the thud of the deadly gun, and the crash of the bursting shell” to “the terrible silence where drought is fought out there in the western hell” (“The Bush Fire,” 1905–though it is difficult to imagine him saying this a decade later).
One of the epigraphs at the top of Savige’s essay was from a pop star who had died just three or four months before the issue showed up in my mailbox; and this may have helped to draw me into the essay.
Now I need to give the Australian poets another read.
By contrast, I enjoyed almost everything I read in the June issue of Poetry.
I don’t have a favorite poem from that issue. If you insist on my picking one, I’ll allow myself to be influenced by poet and critic Hayden Carruth:
“The poetry of the ages is an argument with God, but few poets have picked up that argument in recent years. Stanley Moss does.”
Here’s a link to Stanley Moss’s poem “Winter Flowers”. Click only if you’re in the mood for that argument.
I also enjoyed just about everything in the October issue of The Sun; and with only three and a half weeks until Election Day, I feel compelled to reprint some excerpts from Sparrow’s campaign journal.
Sparrow, if you didn’t know, lives in Phoenicia, New York. He has run for President many times before, without ever getting a single vote.
The journal excerpts, reprinted by permission of The Sun and the candidate himself, begin in the summer of 2015.
And on into 2016 . . .
Just now, in the interest of public calm and my own job security, I removed an entry in which one ex-candidate was referred to as “a vicious, shifty-eyed totalitarian.” So some of the journal entries are more cantankerous than others.
Please remember to vote on November 8th, even though voting for or against Sparrow won’t be an option. Have a look at our All About Voting info guide.
The cover art for the May issue of Poetry is by Andrew Faris: “Rebound,” 2015
The cover art of the June issue of Poetry is by Anna Maria Maiolino: “The Disappeared, from Photopoemaction Series,” 1979/2014
The photograph on the cover of the October issue of The Sun was taken (in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood) by Autumn Lee. The mural, titled LIBERTY, is by street artist Tristan Eaton.