January 5, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Those statistics are provided in passing during this interview with Librarian Lois Laube. She is a team member of the Indianapolis Special Collections Room on the Sixth Floor at Central Library, and Jon Barnes interviews her about a new exhibit there: One City, Many Voices: Ethnic Communities in Indianapolis.
Click on the picture to start the interview.
The exhibit, which will run for all of 2015, features books, maps, posters, photographs and other materials related to the different ethnic groups that have contributed to the making of our city.
January 2, 2015 by Reader's Connection
From Librarian Sherry Utterback: When I was young, as in under 10, any trip to the library was special. Our neighborhood branch was Emerson, and the quantity of books there amazed me. The rare trip to Central Library was really special. In a more modern comparison, going to Emerson was a day trip to King’s Island while going to Central was a two week stay-on-property extravaganza at Disney World. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
At Central Library, I remember being fascinated by two things: first, the glass block sections in the floor around the balcony, and second, the names of all of the authors inscribed around the building. I thought: “I’m going to read all of those someday”. Time passed, and I forgot about my reading project. When I came to work at Central 15 years ago, my memory was jogged, and I thought “I really should get started on this”. A few weeks ago, I realized that in all of this time, I have not made one move toward fulfilling that goal. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. I also realized that 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of Paul Cret’s architectural gem, and if I am going to read all 76 of the original (pre-expansion) authors, I’d better get moving. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
First, I needed a list of the authors, and a plan. Enter former Associate Director of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library and library historian Lawrence Downey whose book A Live Thing in the Whole Town provided me not only with the list I need, but also a systematic order in which to read. Following the “Downey Plan”, I will start with Herodotus and end with (Sidney) Lanier on a journey that I think of as Read Around Central. Join me if you like, even if it is to read one or two authors who are new to or interest you. Hopefully, it will be both fun and enlightening. At the very least, if you choose to come along for the whole trip, you will be able to point up to the inscribed names and brag that you have read every one.
December 30, 2014 by Reader's Connection
I hadn’t heard of Patrick Modiano before he won the Nobel Prize back in October, but when I read about his novel Missing Person, I thought This is for me! A private eye with complete amnesia, embarking on a new case: figuring out who he is. I love private eyes and identity vacancies.
Guy Roland (not his real name) has been working for a PI name Hutte, but Hutte retires, so Guy decides to look into his own past. The case gets cracking rather quickly. People seem to recognize Guy from their own pasts. There are clues everywhere.
. . . The bald skull of a barman fixing a cocktail that he alone knew how to do. If I could only remember the name of this cocktail, which was also the restaurant’s name, it would awaken other memories, but how?
Very occasionally I would see people who wanted visas. It came back to me suddenly . . . But I was acting for someone else, whose office I was using. A consul? A chargé d’affaires? I have not forgotten that I used to phone him for instructions. Who was he?
I don’t know how seriously I’m supposed to be taking this. When I wrote a post in 2010 about fiction involving amnesia, I made it clear that I enjoyed the stuff, and loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Unconsoled, which is a wandering tale–exasperating, no doubt, for some readers–about an amnesiac pianist. So I’m not a wimp when it comes to amnesia lit.
But the characters in Modiano’s novel are like so many post-it notes, fluttering around. Am I supposed to try to grab them, try to make sense of them, the way mystery readers try to grab clues? SPOILER ALERT, SORT OF. In the novel’s closing section, Guy Roland (whose real name turns out to be . . . um . . .) discovers that his repressed past involves French capitulation to Germany during World War II. This isn’t really much of a spoiler, since word went out, when Modiano won the Nobel, that French amnesia regarding their cooperation with the Nazis has been one of the author’s central obsessions. END OF ALERT. Are the readers of Missing Person supposed to feel something for the dilemma of the characters, near the end? The build-up has been so stringy that it’s hard for me to care. Am I expected to?
My post back in 2010 was inspired by Jonathan Lethem’s book The Vintage Book of Amnesia : An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss. I checked it out again, now, to see if Missing Person appeared on Lethem’s bibliography of amnesiac fiction. Modiano isn’t mentioned in the book at all.
It’s possible that Lethem hadn’t heard of Modiano, as so many Americans hadn’t. But Lethem is a terrifically literate guy. Maybe he had read Missing Person and hadn’t liked it.
It could be that I just need to let Modiano’s tale seep in. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and close with a passage that I like.
You need to remember that Guy Roland had worked for a private eye named Hutte.
Strange people. The kind that leave the merest blur behind them, soon vanished. Hutte and I often used to talk about these traceless beings. They spring up out of nothing one fine day and return there, having sparkled a little. Beauty queens. Gigolos. Butterflies. Most of them, even when alive, had no more substance than steam which will never condense. Hutte, for instance, used to quote the case of a fellow he called “the beach man.” The man had spent forty years of his life on beaches or by the sides of swimming pools, chatting pleasantly with summer visitors and rich idlers. He is to be seen, in his bathing costume, in the corners and backgrounds of thousands of holiday snaps, among groups of happy people, but no one knew his name or why he was there. And no one noticed when one day he vanished from the photographs. I did not dare tell Hutte, but I felt that “the beach man” was myself. Though it would not have surprised him if I had confessed it. Hutte was always saying that, in the end, we were all “beach men” and that “the sand”–I am quoting his own words–“keeps the traces of our footsteps only a few moments.”
Don’t let old acquaintance be forgot. Not all of them, anyway. Other people can, on occasion, help you figure out who you are.
Happy New Year.
December 26, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Said a red-suited man from the Pole,
“This blog here could poison a mole.”
I said, “Mr. Claus,
Your words give me pause.”
He cackled and went off to bowl.
I bought that poem at half price at an after-Christmas sale. Let’s look ahead to 2015.
What better way to start the year? The Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library will meet from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. on January 2nd–and on every succeeding Friday: January 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th.
They will be reading and discussing Jean Toomer’s Cane. A poem will be read each week and, unless the group has made some unfortunate New Years resolution, refreshments will be eaten.
The Franklin Road Library will host a discussion of Sal Lizard’s Being Santa Claus : What I Learned About the True Meaning of Christmas on Monday, January 5th at 6:30 p.m.
Pleasantly amusing and tender stories of holiday cheer from the man in the red suit. When Lizard agreed to don a Santa suit one Christmas for a local radio station and hand out toys to impoverished children, little did he realize that he had stepped into a role practically made for him. Having a natural white beard and hair helped with the role, but once he put on “the suit,” he found that people of all ages just seemed to become “more generous, openhearted, and happy.” With Lane’s assistance, Lizard writes a humorous account of some of the memories accrued from two decades of playing Santa. That first season with the radio station led to more public appearances, some in malls and some in hospitals, where Lizard had to learn to shut down his own emotions and truly play the role of St. Nick, despite the ache he felt at seeing so many sick children . . . As the years progressed, he found himself embodying the spirit of Santa year-round, which led to healthy lifestyle changes and embracing the spirit of Christmas, which, to Lizard, “happens anytime someone reaches out to another with love; when someone gives just for the sake of helping another fellow human being; when a child’s eyes light up with the wonder of believing in miracles.” Simple stories that remind readers there is more to Christmas than the stress of shopping, partying and striving to make everything perfect. — Kirkus Reviews
In this compelling historical novel, the infamous Typhoid Mary is given great depth and humanity by the gifted Keane. Irish immigrant Mary Mallon is eager to better her station in life and unafraid of hard work. When she is finally made a head cook, she is hired by some of the best families in Manhattan but unwittingly leaves a trail of disease in her wake. A “medical engineer” ultimately identifies her as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever and quarantines her on North Brother Island, where she is separated from her lifelong companion, Alfred Briehof, and forced to live in isolation. She is released three years later under the condition that she never cook again. But her inability to understand her condition, her passion for cooking, and the income she had become used to all conspire to lure her back into the kitchen. Keane not only makes of the headstrong Mary a sympathetic figure, she also brings the New York City of the early twentieth century to teeming life . . . — Booklist
Fever is also on order as an audiobook on CD.
Unforeseen catastrophe and how we cope with it is fiction’s raison d’etre, yet few novelists can turn the innocent “before” and the shattered “after” into fiction as accessible, specific, authentic, graceful, touching, and radiant as Quindlen’s. In her sixth magnetizing novel, we know early on that something horrible is going to happen in the Latham household, which we experience through the keen senses and swirling thoughts of Mary Beth. Contentedly married to an ophthalmologist (an ironic profession, given how many clues to the impending tragedy she and her husband fail to see), she runs a landscape design business and attends ardently to her children: beautiful and creative teen Ruby, and slightly younger twin sons, who are so unalike they barely seem related. Kiernan, Ruby’s boyfriend, is also an integral part of the hectic, happy household. Mary Beth’s narrative voice is not only reliable but also irresistible, and after she survives the unthinkable, her struggle to reconstruct her life evolves into a penetrating inquiry into the bewilderment of grief. But for all of Quindlen’s bold and invaluable insights into anguish and recovery, what stands out most are her charming and insightful portrayals of mercurial, marvelous teenagers, her fluency in the complexity of family dynamics, and her deep understanding of mother love. — Booklist
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, January 8th at 10:30 a.m.
WWII was the most destructive war in history and caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items remain missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe’s great art, and they were called the Monuments Men. (Coincidentally or not, this book appears only briefly after Ilaria Dagnini Brey’s The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II, Reviews, June 1.) Edsel has presented their achievements in documentaries and photographs. He and Witter (coauthor of the bestselling Dewey) are no less successful here. Focusing on the organization’s role in northwest Europe, they describe the Monuments Men from their initial mission to limit combat damage to structures and artifacts to their changed focus of locating missing items. Most had been stolen by the Nazis. In southern Germany alone, over a thousand caches emerged, containing everything from church bells to insect collections. The story is both engaging and inspiring. In the midst of a total war, armies systematically sought to mitigate cultural loss. — Publishers Weekly
As Henry VIII’s go-to man for his dirty work, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) isn’t a likely candidate for a sympathetic portrait. He dirtied his hands too often. In the end, Henry dropped him just as he had Cromwell’s mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, who counseled the king before him. But as Mantel (Beyond Black) reminds us, Cromwell was a man of many parts, admirable in many respects though disturbing in others. Above all, he got things done and was deeply loyal to his masters, first Wolsey and then the king. Nor was Henry always bloated and egomaniacal: well into his forties, when in good spirits, the king shone brighter than all those around him. VERDICT Longlisted for the Booker Prize, this is in all respects a superior work of fiction, peopled with appealing characters living through a period of tense high drama: Henry’s abandonment of wife and church to marry Anne Boleyn. It should appeal to many readers, not just history buffs. And Mantel achieves this feat without violating the historical record! There will be few novels this year as good as this one. — Library Journal
Julie Otsuka’s novel The Buddha in the Attic will be discussed twice this month.
In the early 1900’s, numerous Japanese mail order brides came to America seeking better lives. Otsuka’s latest novel paints a delicate, heartbreaking portrait of these women. Using a collective first-person narrator (“On the boat we were mostly virgins.”), Otsuka looks at the experiences of these “picture brides,” organizing their stories into themes which include: their arrival in America; their first nights with their husbands; their interactions with white people; their children; and finally, the experience of World War II. Each section is beautifully rendered, a delicate amalgam of contrasting and complementary experiences. Readers will instantly empathize with these unnamed women as they adjust to American culture . . . By the time readers realize that the story is headed toward the internment of the Japanese, they are hopelessly engaged and will finish this exceptional book profoundly moved. — Publishers Weekly
Trouble follows Dr. Randall Atwater when the distinguished biologist travels to a Los Angeles science convention and meets Jacqueline Tate at a taxi stand. The sexy freelance science writer says she’s often mistaken for Rihanna, and soon enough the married doctor invites her to dinner, the opera and…his hotel room? Falling hard in the belief that he’s “the one,” Jacqueline shares her excitement with bestie Kris, who cautions getting involved with a married man. Randall moves on to other conventions, and of course you-know-who shows up at each one. Jacqueline is well aware that a tight mini, plunging neckline, and stiletto heels will make it hard for Randall to resist her. But Randall’s wife, Sherri, suspects something is up and wonders if hubby is cheating with this gorgeous woman.Jacqueline certainly is seductive enough, but can she pry Randall from his wife and family? Dude, never underestimate the power of a woman who wants something badly enough . . .The story’s hero? Sherri–readers will cheer for her. — Library Journal
The Perfect Affair is also available as a downloadable e-book.
On May 21, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh set off to be the first man to cross the Atlantic alone in an airplane, he profoundly changed the culture and commerce of America and its image abroad. Add to that Babe Ruth’s efforts to break the home-run record he set, Henry Ford’s retooling of the Model T into the Model A, the execution of accused anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and Al Jolson appearing in the first talkie, and 1927 became the pivot point when the U.S. began to dominate the world in virtually everything–military, culture, commerce, and technology. Bryson’s inimitable wit and exuberance are on full display in this wide-ranging look at the major events in an exciting summer in America . . . Among the other events in a frenzied summer: record flooding of the Mississippi River and the ominous beginnings of the Great Depression. Bryson offers delicious detail and breathtaking suspense about events whose outcomes are already known. A glorious look at one summer in America. — Booklist
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, January 25th at 1:00 p.m. The discussion topic will be “Tolkien: Second Breakfast.”
“Soup Basics” will be the theme of The Cookbook Discussion Program at the Nora Library this month. On Monday, January 26th at 6:00 p.m., four books will be featured.
The Best Soups in the World by Clifford Wright;
The Soup & Bread Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas;
500 Soups by Susannah Blake;
The New Book of Soups by the Culinary Institute of America.
Special guest will be Chef Brad Nehrt, Culinary Arts Instructor at the J. Everett Light Career Center. Read one or more of the cookbooks, try a couple of the recipes, and bring a sample of your favorite one.
The fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses, during which the two branches of the mighty Plantagenet royal line fought one another for the throne, once again proves fertile ground for historical fiction. Gregory, one of today’s most popular historical novelists, inaugurates a new series set in that tumultuous period of English history, focusing on the lives of important women. The title of this series debut refers to Elizabeth Woodville, who was born into minor nobility but, thanks to her stunning beauty, caught the eye of the devastatingly handsome Yorkist king Edward IV and married him (despite her family’s support of his enemy-cousins) in what began and remained a controversial marriage. The king’s roving eye aside, the new Queen Elizabeth struggled year after year to advance her brothers and sisters and to protect, in this backstabbing environment, the children of her previous marriage as well as her sons by the king. It is a well-told story, a kind of royal soap opera (but with strong factual underpinnings), richly detailed and fast moving. Gregory’s legion of fans will be delighted. — Booklist
December 23, 2014 by Reader's Connection
I mentioned this in October, but that was on the fly, at the end of a blog post, and this festive week seems like a good time to bring it up again: Three libraries across the state are each receiving a $2,500 grant, thanks to this year’s Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award winners.
The public library grants are in addition to the cash prizes awarded to the winners.
“The Friends of Monroe County Public Library will add the grant funds to its collection endowment, as a permanent investment yielding an annual gift for purchase of content,” said Sara Laughlin, director of the Monroe County Public Library.
Timmerman said he chose the Muncie Public Library, “because it’s the library where we take our kids to build their imaginations. I’ve ridden the library’s stuffed dragons alongside my daughter in the kids’ area. I also did some of my research for Where Am I Eating there.”
The Jasper Public Library was selected by Regional Author winner Norbert Krapf, who once told a college friend, “If I’d only move east, I’d have something to write about,” and who says now, “I was right, but for the wrong reasons.” He moved to Long Island, “and what did I write about? My midwestern origins, my background, my southern Indiana and German heritage.”
Past grants to public libraries have helped purchase signs or fund special reading programs for children, among other projects.
Since the Award’s inception, more than $47,500 has been awarded to libraries from The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, in conjunction with The Glick Fund.
Click on the Indiana Authors Award icon for a full list of Indiana public libraries to receive grants from winning authors.