October 27, 2016 by Reader's Connection
On Tuesday, November 1st at 6:30 p.m., Leah Gunning Francis will be at the Irvington Branch to discuss her book, Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community.
The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests. Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them. — Publisher’s note
Two weeks later, on Tuesday, November 15th at 6:30 p.m. Philip Gulley will lead a discussion of his novel A Gathering in Hope
Gulley is well known for his popular Harmony series featuring Quaker pastor Sam Gardner and the happenings in tiny Harmony, Ind. Gulley, himself an Indiana Quaker pastor, has a new publisher and embarks on a new series with the lovable Gardner. He’s in his 14th year at the Harmony Friends Meeting and still clashing with Dale Hinshaw and Fern Hampton, but new battle lines are drawn when Sam, pinch-hitting at the local Unitarian church, inadvertently performs a same-sex wedding. With his wife looking for a job and the congregation up in arms, it seems like a good time to consider an “opportunity for ministry” at Hope Friends Meeting. Gulley’s many fans will enjoy renewing acquaintance with Sam, wince at his struggles, and grin at his triumphs, and eagerly turn pages as he makes his way through a maze of decisions and inner turmoil. More conservative readers may take issue with the same-sex marriage, although he may have lost those a couple books back. A worthy and anticipated follow-up to the Harmony series. — Publishers Weekly
A Gathering in Hope is also available as an eBook.
Category Announcement, Author Visit, Event | Tags: A Gathering in Hope, Bookmamas Bookstore, Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Irvington Library, Leah Francis Gunning, Philip Gulley, Read Local
October 26, 2016 by Reader's Connection
The Man Booker Prize and the Man Booker International Prize were awarded in London on Tuesday evening.
Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout. He is the first author from the United States to be given this award.
Beatty’s satirical latest is a droll, biting look at racism in modern America. At the novel’s opening, its narrator, a black farmer whose last name is Me, has been hauled before the Supreme Court for keeping a slave and reinstituting racial segregation in Dickens, an inner-city neighborhood in Los Angeles inexplicably zoned for agrarian use. When Dickens is erased from the map by gentrification, Me hatches a modest proposal to bring it back by segregating the local school. While his logic may be skewed, there is a perverse method in his madness; he is aided by Hominy, a former child star from The Little Rascals, who insists that Me take him as his slave. Beatty gleefully catalogues offensive racial stereotypes but also reaches further, questioning what exactly constitutes black identity in America. Wildly funny but deadly serious, Beatty’s caper is populated by outrageous caricatures, and its damning social critique carries the day. — Publishers Weekly
The Sellout is also available as an eBook.
Han Kang of South Korea and her translator Deborah Smith won the Man Booker International Prize for her novel The Vegetarian.
In her first novel to be published in English, South Korean writer Han divides a story about strange obsessions and metamorphosis into three parts, each with a distinct voice. Yeong-hye and her husband drift through calm, unexceptional lives devoid of passion or anything that might disrupt their domestic routine until the day that Yeong-hye takes every piece of meat from the refrigerator, throws it away, and announces that she’s become a vegetarian. Her decision is sudden and rigid, inexplicable to her family and a society where unconventional choices elicit distaste and concern that borders on fear. Yeong-hye tries to explain that she had a dream, a horrifying nightmare of bloody, intimate violence, and that’s why she won’t eat meat, but her husband and family remain perplexed and disturbed. As Yeong-hye sinks further into both nightmares and the conviction that she must transform herself into a different kind of being, her condition alters the lives of three members of her family—her husband, brother-in-law, and sister—forcing them to confront unsettling desires and the alarming possibility that even with the closest familiarity, people remain strangers. Each of these relatives claims a section of the novel, and each section is strikingly written, equally absorbing whether lush or emotionally bleak. The book insists on a reader’s attention, with an almost hypnotically serene atmosphere interrupted by surreal images and frighteningly recognizable moments of ordinary despair. Han writes convincingly of the disruptive power of longing and the choice to either embrace or deny it, using details that are nearly fantastical in their strangeness to cut to the heart of the very human experience of discovering that one is no longer content with life as it is. An unusual and mesmerizing novel, gracefully written and deeply disturbing. — Kirkus Reviews
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